On receiving his award Berwyn Rowlands said: “I feel humble receiving this honorary fellowship from UWTSD but at the same time I feel very proud to be recognised in this way for my contribution to the cultural life of Wales and LGBTQ+ visibility through the Iris Prize and other projects. Reflecting on the past 40 years, I feel proud that Wales is today a country that celebrates diversity - this was not possibly always the case."
In presenting Berwyn Rowlands to the congregation, Shone Hughes, Chief of Staff at UWTSD said: “I’m delighted to present Berwyn Rowlands to receive an honorary fellowship of the University. Berwyn has made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Wales particularly in relation to equality and diversity within the arts. “He is an entrepreneur who has not been afraid to push boundaries and it is no surprise to me that he has been recognised with so many accolades. As a fellow native of Anglesey, I know that Berwyn has worked tirelessly to make a difference to the cultural life of Wales.”Berwyn showed his entrepreneurial skills while he was a pupil of Ysgol David Hughes, Ynys Môn, setting up Aelwyd yr Urdd Llangoed as well as a magazine while he was at still at school. Later, when he moved to Aberystwyth he established a Cwmni Cadwyn, a theatre-in-education company which toured Wales with commissioned productions. In 1989, with the then director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Alan Hewson, Berwyn set up Premiere Cymru and produced the Welsh International Film Festival until 1998. In 1995 he produced the feature length drama for S4C Llety Piod starring Bill Nighy and Sandra Dickinson. Berwyn’s talent and love for publishing continued from his school days with such titles as Ffocws, a bi-monthly bilingual magazine for the Welsh media industry, from 1994 until 1998. In 1997 he was appointed Chief Executive of Sgrîn, the Media Agency, and during his tenure Sgrîn co-ordinated the establishment of a pan-Wales film location service, Wales Screen Commission and the National Screen and Sound Archive in partnership with the National Library of Wales.
In 2006 he left Sgrîn and set up The Festivals Company. Through this company he established the Iris Prize, an international competition for LGBTQ+ short films awarded annually in Cardiff. The Festivals Company has grown from strength to strength, with public recognition being awarded to Berwyn through numerous awards including outstanding contribution to LGBT life in the 2020 LGBT Awards. He has been recognised as an influential LGBTQ+ person in Wales, earning a place on the Western Mail’s Pinc List each year since the list was first published in 2015. In 2015 he was also listed in the Wales Arts Powerlist as one of fifty people making a mark on Welsh culture due to the success of the Iris Prize. He was presented with a St David Awards award for Culture by the First Minister of Wales in 2022 recognising his work with the Iris Prize.