Ian ‘H’ Watkins' emotional reunion with teacher who made him feel ‘safe’ during ‘dark’ period

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Welsh singer and artist Ian ‘H’ Watkins has opened up about being bullied during his time at school — but shared how ‘safety’ came from one of his old school teachers. The Steps star, 48, revealed all during a recent segment for BBC’s The One Show, which he shared to Instagram on Tuesday, June 11.

During the segment Ian described how his time at secondary school was “difficult”, plagued with bullying because he was gay. He explained how, in order to avoid this, he would spend his time in the art room at Treorchy Comprehensive School.

Returning to the same room in 2024, Ian reunited with his old art teacher Adrian Owen, who has since retired. After being asked how he felt to return to the school, Owen said: “It's fantastic to be back, but it's terribly sad as well. I missed all this stuff.”

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Ian 'H' Watkins and Mr Owen
Ian with iconic Treorchy Comp art teacher Mr Owen -Credit:BBC

Ian then asked his former teacher whether he was “surprised” that he’d returned to Wales because of art. He replied: “I think if you're born here, it's in your blood, it's in your soul. Even landscapes, the essence of atmosphere you get is definitely from this place.”

In a separate interview, Owen added: “Ian was a fantastic pupil. He was creative, he was adventurous with his stuff, and he was great to teach.”

In an emotional revelation, Ian told Mr Owen: “In school, there was a lot of dark times. I used to walk outside these doors and I'd get bullied, and I would be made to feel different. This (the art room) was my safe space, and that's because of you.”

Tearing up, the beloved art teacher from Treorchy replied: “That's very touching. Thank you for saying that. I think that's one of the big things that you take as a teacher, is that you are proud of the achievements of the kids that you've taught.”

Ian with the rest of Steps -Credit:Getty Images for The National Lottery
Ian with the rest of Steps -Credit:Getty Images for The National Lottery

After leaving school, Ian was accepted into Cardiff Art College, but decided to defer for a year to become a performer. He returned to painting after starting a family, and began creating striking mixed media pieces depicting the vast beauty and encompassing nature of Welsh landscapes. For the latest TV & Showbiz news, sign up to our newsletter.

You can catch up with Ian's film on The One Show on BBC iPlayer.