Marathon man makes the link

25th November 2005 at 00:00
Andrew Templeton (left) has two aims in life: to run a full marathon and get every school in Wales linked with partners abroad.

He is a little closer to realising the first - he ran a half-marathon in Cardiff just a few weeks ago and found it "not too bad". (He keeps fit by cycling and playing badminton as well.) But the education officer for British Council Cymru is pursuing his other aim just as energetically.

Wales already has a higher proportion of schools engaged in international partnerships than other parts of the United Kingdom, he points out.

"The perception of Wales is that it's inward-looking and in many respects that's correct," he says. "But in education and schools we're outward-thinking."

It was Mr Templeton's love of outdoor pursuits that first opened his eyes to the wider world. The son of a Welsh nationalist mother and an English-speaking father, he grew up bilingual in Swansea and attended Welsh language schools. His spare time was spent paddling a canoe or clinging to a rock-face in Wales.

But then, through the British Schools Exploring Society, he was selected for an international programme in the Rockies in British Columbia. Once he had spent time with people from so many different backgrounds, there was no stopping him. He took a first degree in history and international relations at Staffordshire University, followed by five years teaching English as a foreign language in Nepal, Russia and Thailand before returning to the UK to take an MA in international relations at Bristol.

When he applied for the British Council post, he had spent 18 months working for the North of England Refugee Service in Newcastle.

His wife Vinita is a Thai Buddhist from Malaysia, the granddaughter of an Indian Sikh, whom he met while they were both studying in Staffordshire.

(Their marriage is "a non-British Council sponsored international link," he remarks.) Mrs Templeton now practises as a solicitor in Swansea, while her husband motors around the country visiting schools.

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