Heroic trailblazers: real-life legends of Wales

From food innovators to inventors and creative talents, these real-life legends help make Wales the great place it is.  Talented people carving out great experiences, products and places to be proud of.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

1.) Lyn Evans

Lyn Evans is the director of the Linear Collider collaboration at CERN. Dubbed 'Evans the Atom' by the British Press, he was pivotal in the development of the Large Hadron Collider. Born and raised in Aberdare, South Wales, he even introduced Welsh culture to his colleagues in Geneva, inviting Morriston Orpheus Choir to perform at CERN!

Lyn Evans of CERN

Lyn Evans, CERN

 by Courtesy of CERN.

2.) Michael Sheen

Sheen was born in Newport and grew up in Port Talbot. He’s had a dazzling career on both stage and screen, notably playing the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in several films, including The Queen. He was central to the performance of The Passion, a 72-hour National Theatre Wales production in 2011, which included more than 1000 local amateurs. Sheen supports a number of Welsh charities and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Michael Sheen by Geraint Lewis/National Theatre of Wales

3.) Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews MBE shot to fame with Catatonia in 1998 and has since recorded a number of solo albums in English and Welsh. She’s also set up her own record label, landed a presenting slot on BBC 6Music and co-founded an annual outdoor festival (The Good Life Experience) in Hawarden, North Wales, which is described as ‘a weekend of fun and discovery with music, books, food and the great outdoors’.

Cerys Matthews speaking to a crowd at The Good Life Festival

Cerys Matthews at the The Good Life Festival by The Good Life Festival

4.) Luke Evans

Originally from Pontypool, Luke has been treading the boards of the West End in London for years now. He has starred in a number of films, including Clash of the TitansRobin HoodThe Hobbit and The Crow. Given his rapidly ascending star status - and villainous turn in upcoming Hollywood blockbusters like Beauty and the Beast, we think Luke’s star will continue to rise. This is one emerging legend worth looking out for.

5.) James Lynch

Lynch is the driving force behind Fforest, a collection of unique accommodation options ranging from cabins and bell tents to a restored Georgian farmhouse, where families can enjoy life’s simple pleasures. The past decade has seen the business expand to include the site’s very own pub and the Pizza Tipi. Fforest will celebrate its first decade in 2017 with the fforest GATHER, where delicious food, great music and learning new skills in some of Wales’ lushest landscape is the focus.

Portrait of James Lynch sat down

James Lynch by Warren Orchard

6.) Phillip Pullman

Phillip Pullman grew up in North Wales. He is best known for the His Dark Material fantasy trilogy for children, and the first of these books, Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass in the US) was made into a film in 2007 starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. He has written over 20 books and has won a multitude of awards, including the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Children’s Fiction Award in 1995, and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 2002. Philip Pullman is also Patron of Literature Wales.
A headshot image of Phillip Pullman

Phillip Pullman by Wolf Marloh

7.) Eric Jones

Britain’s most successful solo climber, Eric Jones is best known for the first British solo ascent of the Eiger in 1980 and daring climbs of the Matterhorn and South Col on Everest. He was also the first person to BASE jump from the Eiger in 1986; now in his eighties, he still goes skydiving as well as climbing. His love of adventure began in Wales and started with a three day climbing course in the Ogwen Valley in 1962. He and his wife live in Tremadog, where they run a café and campsite located within 10 minutes of 200 climbs.

Eric Jones wearing climbing gear and climbing a rock face

Eric Jones by Eric Jones

8.) Liam Burgess

A home grown Willy Wonka, Liam Burgess is the founder of Welsh chocolate company Nom Nom, having taught himself largely through trial and error. The company is run from a milking shed on a farm in West Wales, and the available flavours vary from week to week. With distinctly Welsh flavours, such as Halen Môn (Welsh sea salt) Caramel, Bara Brith, Penderyn Welsh whisky and Welsh Cake flavor, this is a sweet treat to savour.

A portrait image of Liam Burgess sampling his own chocolate

Liam Burgess

 by Nom Nom

9.) Bethan Gray 

Bethan Gray is a furniture designer from Cardiff. She draws her inspiration from her family’s Indian, Arabian and Persian heritage as well as her own travels. She has worked in partnership with international names such as Harrods, John Lewis and Hobbs. In 2016 she was named in The Evening Standard’s list of the most influential people in London.

Bethan Gray sitting with some of her designs

Bethan Gray by Bethan Gray

10.) Dr Sarah Beynon

Dr Sarah Beynon’s childhood fascination for bugs and insects has become her career and her cause. She runs Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm from a 100-acre farm on the outskirts of St David’s. Focusing on capturing the imaginations of children as well as entertaining and educating the whole family. The Bug Farm is also home to the Grub Kitchen, featuring a wide-ranging and tasty menu including dishes like smoked chipotle cricket and black bean chilli.

Portrait image of Dr Sarah Beynon standing against a white wall looking off to the left

Dr Sarah Beynon