My name is Sion and I’m currently taking part in the UpRising Environmental Leadership Programme, which is one of the Our Bright Future projects.
It all started with a missed call and a text from Libbi, the UpRising Programme Coordinator for Cardiff. The text read “Give me a call when you can, I have an opportunity you might be interested in”. I had just finished work and I was waiting for a bus to go home so I gave her a call back. She then asked if I wanted to give a speech on climate change at a Welsh Government event. I was taken aback! For a long time now, I have had a great passion for combating climate change, and I’d always wanted to have the opportunity to speak to people in power to try and influence them to make positive changes. Still in a state of shock, I agreed to the opportunity. Upon ending the call, I immediately felt nervous and excited in equal measures. I couldn’t stop smiling but at the same time, I could barely believe it! This was the opportunity I had been waiting for.
The event was called “Prosperity for All: A Low Carbon Wales”, in which the Welsh Government would set their plan to reduce their emissions leading up to 2050. I had around two weeks to prepare before the event. Over the next few days, I started to think about the types of things I wanted to say and then a week before the event I wrote the first draft of the speech. I sent it to Libbi and read it to my family, receiving positive feedback from both. I was confident that my speech was good, but I now needed to nail the execution. I practiced and practiced and edited my speech until I was happy.
The day of the event was now upon me. I had to wake up early as I had an interview with BBC Cymru live on Welsh radio about the event. The interview went well so I went back to sleep for an hour before putting on my suit and heading to the Exchange Hotel where the event was being held. This was formerly the coal exchange, the biggest coal trading business in the world and the place where the first ever million-pound cheque was signed. It was rather poignant that a place that was formerly used to trade the dirtiest fossil fuel would now host a historic event in which Wales would try and tackle their emissions.
I was taken to the green room where I met Sophie Howe, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Officer and Mark Drakeford, the First Minister for Wales, amongst others. After some small talk, it was time to take our seats. The day began with a talk from Mark Drakeford who was followed by Sophie Howe and then me. My nerves were building up with every passing second of listening to the people before me and before I knew it, it was my turn. I composed myself one final time before making my way to the stage. And despite my nerves, the speech went well, and I received a standing ovation (watch the speech here by scrolling to 2:07:41).
I then got taken to a room where a group of young people had the opportunity to ask Mark Drakeford some questions before completing some interviews for BBC Wales. After than I took my seat back in the main room where I listened to the rest of the speakers before lunch. At lunch, numerous people came to congratulate me on my speech and to exchange contact details to work together in the future.
This experience has shown me the doors that can be opened by Our Bright Future. It also shows that if you get a good opportunity you should always take it, no matter how daunting. Often the situations that are most uncomfortable and require us to push ourselves, are the ones we learn from the most. I have got my name out there and I am still in contact with many people that I met at the event. Since then more opportunities have come my way and I was even invited to a Welsh government consultation! The great opportunities that Our Bright Future offer enable people to network with key influencers in the sector. I would, encourage anyone who is thinking about getting involved with any of the projects does so. I did and it resulted in one of the proudest moments of my life!
Follow Sion on Twitter to follow his campaigning.