BBC weather presenter Derek Brockway has urged young people to follow their dreams after he was awarded the British Empire Medal, saying: “If I can do it, anyone can.”
The meteorologist, who grew up on a council estate in Barry, South Wales, to working class parents said humble beginnings should not be a block to ambition.
Brockway has been recognised in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his contributions to broadcasting and his charity work.
Brockway has taken on challenging hikes including in Nepal, Peru, Cuba and Patagonia to raise money for Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre, for which he is an ambassador.
Recalling the moment he found out about the award, he said: “I was at home when I had a letter from the Cabinet Office, and when I opened it, it was a bit of a surprise, to be honest. It really caught me out of the blue.
“But it’s a really great honour and my mum’s over the moon.
“I can’t believe I’ve been with BBC Wales for 25 years, time has gone so quickly.
“I’m very lucky because I love my job. I’ve always been interested in the weather since I was an eight-year-old boy and so presenting the weather is my dream job.
“It’s just really positive, even if occasionally you might get someone saying, ‘Oh guys, you got it wrong today’, it’s all very friendly. And it’s nice to have that reaction from people because not everybody on television does today.”
After studying for his A-levels at Barry Boys’ Comprehensive School, in 1986 he joined the Met Office as an observer working mainly at Cardiff Weather Centre but with spells at Cardiff Airport, Birmingham Airport, and eight months in the Falkland Islands.
He qualified as a forecaster and in 1995 landed a job at Birmingham Weather Centre and became a presenter on the radio. He then moved to London where he had his first taste of TV, broadcasting on GMTV in 1996.
He then headed home to Wales and replaced Helen Willetts as the main weather presenter on BBC Wales Today.
“At the end of the day, I was brought up on a council estate in Barry with working class parents, and I feel I’ve done pretty well in my career,” Brockway said.
“If I can do it, anyone can.”
Speaking about his work for Velindre, he said: “None of us know what’s around the corner, so many people are getting cancer these days. We’re just so lucky to have Velindre there, they help so many people.”
One of the presenter’s first charity walks was for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his friend and colleague Rowena Kincaid. The filmmaker from Cardiff died of breast cancer shortly before the walk in September 2016.
He also helped set up Derek’s Dazzlers in 2019, a running team made up of 50 former or current Velindre patients, who completed the Cardiff Bay 10k.
Looking ahead to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend, Brockway said: “It does look as if it’s going to be sunny and warm. Perfect for the celebrations. So just hope it doesn’t change.”