EIFION WILLIAMS has worked for the NHS for 40 years and has now graduated from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) with an MTh degree in Christian Theology, after successfully juggling studying with his work and family life.

He lives in Llanelli and is married with three children who also work for the NHS.

Eifion is the Financial Director of Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW); the body is responsible for the training and education of all staff within NHS Wales.

Education and helping people to develop is important to Eifion and in 2011 he received an MBE for his work and services to the NHS in Wales. 

He commented: “My parents instilled the importance of education into us as children, because they saw it as how we achieve our potential in life.

“I have seen education as the means of supporting my career progression and personal growth. I have studied and obtained qualifications on a range of topics from Cardiff University, The University of South Wales, Swansea University and Aberdeen University.

“I have worked in the NHS for some 40 years, 27 of those years as a Finance Director. I am thoroughly committed to the values and goals of the NHS which is to provide universal health care to all, free at the point of delivery.

“The task for me has been to support managers and clinicians to achieve that goal whilst also ensuring we stay within the resources that Government has provided for the task.

“Promoting training and education so that others achieve their potential has been an important aspect of my work, and I have given it prominence within the teams that I have led.”

The flexibility, content and means of delivering some of the courses through distance learning is what attracted Eifion to study at UWTSD.  He was also impressed with the track record and quality of the tutors based at the University’s Lampeter campus.

As a Christian, he chose to pursue the Christian Theology course within the range of degrees that was offered.

He continued: “It has been challenging, but in a good way.

“The course has taken me well outside my knowledge base or usual go-to areas of interest and I have never failed to be impressed by the course material and tutor support that was available.

“Undertaking the course has been an excellent experience. It has been a good topic of conversation with my children, who have been undertaking their educational courses, and they have enjoyed the topics in our discussions.

“I chose a dissertation that comprised of researching and considering a medieval fresco and an area of theology in the one piece – because I couldn’t choose between either as a single topic!

“The need to make sense of why both were important and co-joined in my dissertation was a challenge to nearly the halfway point! 

“What was superb was that my supervisor went along the journey with me, without trying to make me choose a different path or curtail my interest in both, but rather, helped me do the work that ultimately made the connections and bring coherence to the work.

“Dr Angus Slater was a superb supervisor, constantly helping me expand my thinking and highlighting further areas to research and consider.”

Dr Angus Slater, Lecturer in Theology and Interfaith Studies at UWTSD, said: “Eifion has been an absolute pleasure to teach and supervise throughout his studies and I am so glad he will be returning to us in October.

“So many of our theology and religious studies students come from diverse backgrounds and have such different stories to tell that it makes each year a vibrant and exciting experience.

“Our programmes really try to build on that, offering opportunities to follow the individual interests a student may have – whether it is medieval fresco work or something else!”

Having enjoyed his time at UWTSD so much, Eifion has now decided to return and will be undertaking an MRes course later in the year. 

He added: “I’m really pleased with the outcome. Probably more so than any other educational degree, and nearly on par with my professional qualification some 35 years ago!

“I have now applied to do an MRes degree with UWTSD and fully expect the good experience to continue, whilst also being challenged to get outside my comfort zone and thereby grow personally.

“I am a (very!) mature student and would encourage others who are either close to, or have retired, to consider doing a degree in an aspect of interest that they have.

“I never once felt with UWTSD that I was doing something that I shouldn’t be doing or somewhere I didn’t belong.

“It’s never too late, and the education experience is probably more enjoyable than when I was much younger as an undergraduate!”