Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 10:27 UK

Teaching award for ex-rock roadie

Swansea teacher Natalie Richards scoops newcomer award

A former roadie for rock group Catatonia, who switched to a career in teaching, has won a top award.

Natalie Richards was named Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Outstanding New Teacher of the Year at the Teaching Awards at the London Palladium.

Mrs Richards, a drama teacher at Bishop Gore School in Sketty, Swansea, was described as a "fantastic mentor" to younger teachers and staff.

She has been teaching for three years and was nominated by a pupil.

The school sent along a party of pupils to support her at Sunday's ceremony.

Mrs Richards was said to be respected by pupils for her belief that everyone has talents.

Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and Natalie Richards
If you've got a love for passing on your own skills to other people then teaching is definitely something for you to be in
Natalie Richards, pictured with Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies

One pupil said she was "not the most amazing teacher I've ever met, she's the most amazing person I've ever met".

Since she joined the school, Mrs Richards has run productions of Arabian Nights and The Crucible and has started a lunchtime talent club.

As a fundraiser and runner she also ropes in pupils to train and compete with her in Sport Relief events.

After the ceremony Mrs Richards said it was "completely overwhelming but... good fun at the same time".

"I'd always wanted to be a teacher and my love for music and the arts pushed me into teaching really," she said.

"I wanted to inspire others and I always remembered my drama teachers from school and I always wanted to be like them."

The teacher said as well as working for Catatonia, she had also worked in other jobs, including human resources.

She added: "I hope if anything comes of this other people who are thinking of going into the profession should do it.

"If you've got a love for passing on your own skills to other people then teaching is definitely something for you to be in."

The Teaching Awards were founded by Lord Puttnam 10 years ago and are open to every school in the UK, and reward excellent teachers, headteachers, teaching assistants, governors and sustainable schools.

Catatonia formed in the early 1990s, reportedly after guitarist Mark Roberts saw Cerys Matthews busking in Cardiff's main shopping street.

They released their debut album in 1996, and they first achieved significant chart success with the single Mulder and Scully in 1998.

More hits followed with songs like Road Rage, and Matthews also got into the charts with Baby It's Cold Outside, a duet with fellow Welsh star Tom Jones.

The band broke up in September 2001, and Matthews carved out a new career both as a solo singer and with an appearance on ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.

Head teacher chalks up top award
22 Oct 07 |  North Yorkshire
'Busking' teacher picks up award
21 Oct 07 |  Hampshire
Let the pupils rate their teachers
14 Sep 07 |  Education

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