Biography of Director and Founder, Dilys Price OBE
In 2011 Dilys became an UnLtd Fellow with an award of £5000 as part of the Millennium Awards Fellowship and was invited to become a Member of the International Dance Council.
Citation and Presentation of an Honorary Fellowship, Cardiff Metropolitan University, July 20011 to Dilys Price ,OBE; TC ; B.Ed (Hons) ;M.Ed .
Citation at presentation
Dilys was born in Aberdare and raised in the Bible College of Wales Swansea ,where her father was the gardener in this home for missionary’s children and Jewish children who were refugees from Nazi Germany.
After completing her secondary education in the Bible College School she was accepted to study at the famous Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London. As a young dance student, she was privileged to have been taught by the master himself and he has remained a major influence on her life and work. Much of Dilys’ Touch Trust programme is based on his principles and practices.
In 1960 she joined the staff here at UWIC and her early career focused on primary physical education and dance. As the academic portfolio changed Dilys became a key member of the team managing and delivering the Human Movement Studies degree. Dilys was responsible for the Dance Studies area. Although Dilys was primarily dance oriented, she had a great passion for working with special needs children and she was a pioneer in the UK in introducing adapted physical activity into the undergraduate curriculum. APA involves looking at ways and means of creating meaningful physical activity for special needs groups and where appropriate integrating them into mainstream.
She was the Special Needs and Dance tutor for many years for the British Association of Lecturers and Advisers in Physical Education, and Chairman of a British Amateur Gymnastics Working Group producing Recreational Gymnastic Awards for Special Needs. In Wales, she organised the first Special Olympic activities and Play to Grow Clubs. She was a founder member of the Wales Sports Association for Special Needs and was a consultant for Movement Activities for a variety of special needs groups.
Dilys always found innovative ways of engaging and involving her students. Whilst working with the children in Ty Gwyn Special School she encouraged the students to fundraise by organizing a sponsored Sky Diving event. The students undertook the project with typical Cyncoed enthusiasm but they introduced an added extra that changed Dilys’ life – they booked her onto the event as well. Dilys made her first parachute jump at the age of 54 – she is now the oldest female skydiver in the world and has completed almost 1100 jumps – many of them to raise funds for her special charities.
Inspirational teachers and leaders often have great vision, creativity and passion to energise the people around them – but are not always blessed with systematic and efficient organizational and planning skills. I have personal experience – Dilys became heavily involved with the PVSH Charity which focused on creating sporting opportunities for disabled people and she wanted to create a wheelchair-friendly environment at Cyncoed. The world leading centre at the time was in Illinois. Dilys asked me to accompany her on a study visit and factfinding mission to help develop the provision in Wales and possibly create a student exchange programme. This would be my first trans-Atlantic trip so Dilys made the arrangements for the visit and we flew off to Illinois. When we arrived on the campus of Illinois State University and had an initial walkabout I turned to Dilys and said “I can’t see as many wheelchair users as I expected – what do you think?” It transpired that we were at the wrong university campus – we were supposed to be at the University of Illinois, 60 miles away. Needless to say we solved the problem and we now host the Wales Sport Centre for the Disabled at Cyncoed and we had a successful exchange programme with Illinois State University for 15 years.
It is hopefully clear to you by now that Dilys has sought to help her special people whatever their needs – educational, sporting or simply to enhance their quality of life. After she retired from UWIC in 1990 her driving passion became the creation of a “Happiness Centre” to enhance the lives of the most profoundly handicapped children in our society through the use of music, art and touch therapy.
The Touch Trust was born 14 years ago. Dilys and a group of her friends were in the Wadi Rum desert as guests of King Hussein of Jordan and Dilys used a parachute jump over the desert to publicise her plans. They had radio interviews, newspaper articles and even a letter from the King’s Royal Office wishing them well on their project. It was an exciting start to what was to become an even more exciting journey leading to the opening of opening of the Touch Trust here at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2004.
Dilys and her team have created a ‘Cathedral of Light’ where they provide touch therapy and train others in this life-changing programme. To be placed side-by-side with such arts organizations as Welsh National Opera and Diversions Dance Company was a real achievement and testament to Dilys’s drive and determination.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Dilys continues to strive for even bigger and better things. With regular Touch Trust sessions happening five days a week at WMC and extending into evenings and weekends to meet the demand, Dilys is now setting up Touch Trust Centres of Excellence all over Wales run by Touch Trust-trained staff. Dilys and her team is being asked to contribute to the setting up of new courses in further education colleges in the UK and abroad and delegations from as far away as Panama and China have come to meet Dilys and ask her advice on setting up similar centres and how to train their staff.
Dilys’s ultimate goal is to set up a Community Centre and College of the Arts for young school leavers in Wales who are hungry for a more stimulating educational and recreational environment.
In July 2003 Dilys was awarded the OBE for Services to the Disabled.
She’s still skydiving regularly. She calls them her “jumps for joy” and all the money she raises goes to Touch Trust to expand its work and to improve the quality of life for more people with profound disabilities.