Welshman flushed with success after 'twinning' 100 toilets
Bridgend council worker Gweirydd Williams is a real super-hero for people around the world desperate for clean sanitation ...
A Welshman is making a big splash in a quirky campaign to twin toilets in the UK with loos in the poorest countries.
Environmental health officer Gweirydd Williams has just become the first UK individual to twin 100 loos through Toilet Twinning, a partnership between Christian charities Tearfund and Cord.
The initiative, which links loos in the UK with latrines in developing nations, is raising funds to provide vital sanitation in the most inaccessible places on the planet, from Afghanistan to Zambia.
Gweirydd, who works for Bridgend County Borough Council, hit his 100-twin target with his latest fundraising venture – a ‘Onesie Challenge’ across the Severn Bridge. With about 25 other ‘Mad Toilet People’, Gweirydd raced across the mile-long Severn Bridge and back, dressed as a super-hero.
"I don’t care what people think of me: I’m only interested in spreading the word about sanitation," says Gweirydd. "If it stops children getting ill and protects women from being assaulted because they have their own private and safe loo, that’s all that matters to me."
Gweirydd was first inspired to get involved in sanitation work through his church. Their link with a Filipino pastor led to him making several mission trips to the Philippines where he saw first-hand the dangers of open defecation.
Then, in 2011, when he was caught up in a car crash and ‘feeling a bit despondent’, he began praying about how to reignite his passion for mission – and happened upon a leaflet about Toilet Twinning.
"When I saw it, I believe God told me to get involved with this project and to raise enough for 100 latrines in four years," says Gweirydd. "This all goes back to the 1990s when God gave me a vision about putting something back into my chosen career, environmental health. It’s all to do with God’s timing."
Over the past two-and-a-half years, Gweirydd has twinned loos through fundraisers including a sponsored back-waxing. For each £60 raised for Toilet Twinning, he awards a certificate with a photo of the twinned latrine (and its GPS coordinates) to beneficiaries of his choosing. These have included his workplace, his local MP and a dog kennel.
His work in Bridgend involves dealing with infectious diseases, making him very aware of the devastating consequences of poor sanitation on families’ health, education and livelihoods. "Having a clean and safe loo is literally a life-saver," he says.
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley, who joined Gweirydd in his Onesie Challenge (see photo left), says: "It’s estimated that 2.5 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo – so the world needs many more Gweirydds to take a stand. He’s a true Toilet Twinning champion!"
Toilet Twinning is a partnership between development charities Cord and Tearfund. Its aim is to improve sanitation globally by providing working toilets, clean water and basic hygiene education.