Writer and educationalist born in Rhyl, North Wales in 1956. Ambrose Conway is the pen name of David Hughes, who considered his name to be too beige and too used to be of any value in Wales or beyond. He is one of nine David Hughes’ he knows personally, and did not want the credit (or more likely, notoriety) for his writing to be attributed elsewhere. His nom de plume is derived from John Ambrose, former teacher at Rhyl High School and Head of Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin (a seminal influence in his teenage years) and his mother’s family name.
Leaving Rhyl in 1975, Ambrose studied at the University of York for five years, completing a BA in Economic and Social History and Politics, an MA in Southern African Studies and a PGCE. His innate sense of timing meant that he entered the job market in the teeth of the last recession. He considered himself lucky to secure a first teaching post at Swavesey Village College in rural Cambridgeshire. The Fens played havoc with his sinusitis which had first flared up in York and he moved in 1984 to Hartford High School in Cheshire, which, due to the salt pans in adjacent Northwich, he subsequently found to be a sinusitis hotspot.
His writing to date had been for the education press on school improvement and inclusion and it was in this period that he first considered trying to capture stories that had worked in class to engage teenagers in reading.
In 1995 Ambrose moved to a senior position in an inner city school in Nottingham City which was to form the most challenging element of his career to date. He was proud to be part of the dedicated team working to take Alderman Derbyshire School in Bulwell out of special measures. His choice of abode, repeated past mistakes however as Southwell, on the northern boundary of the Trent Valley, had an unenviable local reputation as the sinusitis capital of Nottinghamshire. A turbulent but rewarding career path followed during which his first novel was developed for publication and regular contributions were made to the Times Educational Supplement and the Sec Ed magazine. Ambrose also spoke and contributed to national and international educational conferences in this period.
The inspiration for his writing came from the Welsh oral tradition and tales such as the Mabinogion, which had been related so graphically by John Ambrose. The work of Barry Hines and John Sillitoe, the fine detail and the life studied from a single perspective, influenced the style of his writing.
Memories of his childhood on the locally notorious Reso council estate in Rhyl formed the inspiration for his first two novels, The Reso (2007) which is set in the 1960s and Beyond the Reso (2009) which moves the action forward to the 1970s. The final book in the trilogy, Resolution, covering his years at university and his first teaching post, was published in 2011.
Although originally intended as a reader for teenagers with social and moral explorations and free learning resources and National Curriculum materials and tagging documents developed on the associated website, a second readership has been drawn from those who grew up in the sixties and seventies and wish to wallow in the long forgotten detail and sensations of those times.
The Reso is currently being considered as part of a major regeneration project for Rhyl and the hinterland. Funding has already been found to train young people not in education and employment in video skills and project management in order to improve their employability.