A musician and broadcaster who was championed by Elton many years ago, was given an Honorary Fellowship from Swansea Metropolitan University this summer. He celebrated by giving an impromptu performance.
Mal Pope, who was born in the Bryhyfryd area of Swansea, was exposed to music at an early age. By the late Sixties, he was writing songs. When he was 12, he decided to send a tape to John Peel at BBC Radio One; he ended up being invited to London to record a session for the show. This was such a success that he was then signed with Elton’s Rocket Label. For the next six years he spent most of his school holidays in London recording with his producer, David Costa, and his debut single reached the charts.
After finishing school, Mal moved to London to continue composing, but in 1982 he returned to Wales to work for BBC Radio Wales in Cardiff, where he still works as a presenter.
Besides writing songs, Pope has also done several musicals, the most recent being Cappuccino Girls.
Upon collecting his Honorary Fellowship, Pope performed a couple of his compositions and said:
“The smile hasn’t left my face since I got up this morning. I have a long association with the university, my mum did a teacher training course at Swansea Met and she’s incredibly proud.
“Whoever said a prophet is without honour in his own country has obviously never been to Swansea.”
An Honorary Fellowship is the highest award that a university can bestow. Such honours are considered by the institution to be an opportunity to recognise a distinguished contribution made by individuals, in various walks of life, who are not employed by the institution.