Hi, I’m Elin. Thanks for taking an interest in my life. I’ve written a little taster about the most important people (and animal!) in my story:
Elin Cecilia Richards
That’s me, we just met. Elin is the Welsh version of Ellen, and I’m called Cecilia after my great-grandmother. It’s a pretty name and on the whole I quite like it but I’ve always thought that it doesn’t quite match my face. I’m not trying to be dramatic or anything but my face is not my best feature because I was born with a cleft lip and palate. It affects the way I look and the way I talk. Maybe you know someone with a cleft? If you don’t know anything about it, you can read more here: www.clapa.com.
I used to feel really unhappy with myself but after all that happened last year I’m much more contented. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still rather be a bit taller and would love my hair to be a bit shinier and swishier, but I’m happy. All this contentedness is new for me and it wouldn’t have happened if last year had been a more straightforward kind of year. It was a crazy time and it changed my life forever.
Rhodri is my wonderful big brother. He sings and dances his way through life as though he lives in a West End musical. Rhodri has been my protector all my life and although he is often very difficult to live with (imagine living with someone who thinks it is acceptable and perfectly normal to belt out songs from The Sound of Music at 7am on a Sunday morning), I do love him. The ‘Solution to Elin’s Problems’ was his idea. At the time I thought it was ridiculous but my big brother turned out to be right (although I will never admit it to him).
Mum and Dad
I have lovely parents. Mum and I share a passion for horses. She took me out riding as soon as I could toddle and, like her, I have grown up to be a fine horsewoman. Even though my parents have never tried to wrap me in cotton wool, my Dad is still a bit protective. He found my appearance hard to accept when I was a baby and even now he worries about me. He tries to pretend he is cool and laid back but I can spot the wrinkle of concern in his brow whenever I’m about to do something new.
Hebe is my beautiful chestnut mare. At 15 hands she is a little on the large size for me, but I ride well and have no problems handling her. She is high spirited and we complement each other perfectly. Hebe has always kept me sane. When I’m out riding my troubles melt away. Any upset I may feel over bullying and name calling disappears with the clip clop of her hooves and the swing of her head. A good gallop later and my worries have been left far behind. I can set off on a ride feeling tense and upset, but when I return to the stables I feel like a different girl, calm and mellow and ready to face the world.
Sean is a year older me and we’ve been best friends since we were little. Our mothers rode together and we would tag along. Sean is not as natural in the saddle as I am, but he is a great riding companion. He always makes me laugh and he is the person I find it easiest to talk to. Usually I am very quiet; years of people asking me to repeat myself have taught me to keep my mouth shut. But with Sean I can talk and talk. He doesn’t seem to mind my chatter. My friends think he is a bit of a creep but I still love seeing him at the stables.
Elisabeth and Sally
Elisabeth and Sally were once my best friends. They are pretty and popular and clever. Not so clever that they are intimidating, but clever enough to be impressive. It’s not an easy feat to pull off but these two girls have mastered the art of appealing to boys from both ends of the classroom (back seats and front row). I always wished I could be like them but since I couldn’t change the way I look I was happy just to hang around with them. Then after the events of last year, I learned who my true friends are.
Mark Jenkins is lush! He is one of my brother’s friends, handsome and sporty. All the girls in my year fancy him from afar. Elisabeth thinks he is interested in her. She says that he looks at her all the time. Up until last year I don’t think he had noticed me at all but since then things have changed quite a bit and I got closer to him than I ever imagined possible…
Jason Williams and Gareth Tyler
I expect you know these kind of boys: thick set in build and thick in the head. These boys and their kind made my life in secondary school miserable. Always keen to call me names, push me, mock me, anything to get a laugh from their mates. What they didn’t realise is that you can only push a fiery red head so far before she snaps. And when I say snap what I mean is punch. Really hard.
Jenni the school counsellor
Jenni-with-an-‘i’ is brought in to counsel the school trouble-makers and misfits. And me. I hated being bundled in with the crowd of kids who needed counselling, but after what I did in the French lesson I think most people agreed that I needed help. “A screw loose” is how Jason Williams described me. So Jenni was brought in with her metaphorical screwdriver to help tighten things up.
Mr Roberts (Head teacher), Mrs Stewart (Drama teacher), Mr Dupont (French teacher)
These are some of my teachers. I don’t feel I need to say much more than that. They teach and supervise, remonstrate and encourage. They’ve got Welsh accents (except Mr Dupont, who is French). They like their classrooms quiet and orderly and when they’re late they don’t expect to see small Welsh girls standing over thuggish school bullies waving a fist in the air, whilst said bully lies on the floor nursing a rapidly swelling cheek.
But that’s enough for now- I don’t want to give too much of the story away. If you’d like to find out more about my experiences during the most horrible and wonderful year of my life, you can buy Girl Perfect for Kindle here.