Wales Sport Awards 2017 Inspirational Finalists Revealed.

Sport Wales and BBC Wales have today (30 October) announced the final fifteen nominees who will compete for the community awards at this year’s prestigious Wales Sport Awards.

The finalists were short-listed from a record number of nominations across five different categories.

The five awards celebrate the hard work and impact that Wales’ volunteers, coaches, and organisations have had on community sport in Wales.  The finalists’ inspiring stories will be recognised and shared with the nation at the awards evening on Monday 4 December, to be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

The finalists for 2017 are:

Volunteer of the Year

Fateha Ahmed – Swimming, Cardiff
Rebecca Caddell – Rugby, Brynaman
Rebecca Jones-Morris – Athletics, y Felinheli

Community Coach of the Year

Chris Rogers – Equestrian, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Mark James – Boxing, Newport
Sara Jane Cuffin – Gymnastics, Holyhead

Inspiring Young Person of the Year

Hannah Nolan – Multi-sport, Llandudno
Eban Geal – Multi-sport, Angelsey
Jodie Coupland – Multi-sport, Bridgend

Organisation of the Year

Disability Sport Wales
Ospreys in the Community
The Outdoor Partnership

Sporting Experience of the Year

Us Girls Wales
Young Ambassadors Programme
Disability Sport Wales – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board: The Health Disability Sport Partnership.

Lawrence Conway, Chair of Sport Wales commented:

“Every year our expert panel of judges face the difficult task of selecting their finalists, and the calibre of this year’s candidates made it just as challenging.

“We have an inspiring mix of projects and people from a range of backgrounds dedicated to delivering sport and recreational activity in the community.

“The finalists showcase the diversity of sport and what the people of Wales are getting excited and motivated to participate in.  We look forward to celebrating their work in December.”

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Wales said:

“With a record number of nominations, the quality of this year’s finalists showcase the sheer commitment and hard work that underpins sporting activity across communities in Wales.”

 

#WSA2017

 

ENDS

 

More information on the finalists. Further details available on request.

Volunteer of the Year

Fateha Ahmed – Swimming/Cardiff

Fateha launched a project where Muslim women in Cardiff could swim and exercise in private.  The swimming sessions have had a huge impact on these women who were not previously physically active.  It has allowed them to become healthier and introduced a social life, as well as address common mental health concerns including stress, anxiety and depression.

Rebecca Caddell – Rugby/Brynaman

Fixture secretary, caterer, fundraiser and founder of Brynaman RFC’s junior section, Rebecca has been the driving force behind the section’s activities and growth since its inception in 2012.  Rebecca manages her MS whilst also managing relationships across the whole club – listening to and caring for every single member.  Rebecca’s innovative ideas have also been recognised, including her ‘kit bag’ where children’s outgrown training kit is washed and offered to the younger members.

Rebecca Jones-Morris – Athletics/Y Felinheli

Dedicating an average of 500 voluntary hours a year, Rebecca’s dedication to developing Menai Track and Field into a thriving and sustainable athletics club is evident through her success in raising significant funds and securing grants.  Furthermore, she has used her wealth of experience to inspire a new generation of athletes, coaches, volunteers, team managers and officials.

Community Coach of the Year

Chris Rogers – Equestrian/Rhondda Cynon Taf

Chris is changing lives in the RCT area at her club and her weekly equestrian vaulting classes. Children with and without a disability are not only being taught how to vault, but about safety, looking after equipment and how to work with the horses on site.  Both the Talygarn Vaulters and the school pupils that attend have noticed considerable differences in the students’ physical fitness, balance, co-ordination and confidence since Chris’ involvement.

Mark James – Boxing/Newport

Over the past 12 months Mark has cemented his community boxing club (Somerton ABC) into the heart of the local community.  Mark goes the extra mile – establishing all-important partnerships and sponsors, developing a sustainable workforce, engaging with the area’s diverse community with considerable efforts with young people.  Mark is known to take care of the little details, and arrives 45 minutes early to each session to hang all 12 boxing bags and erect the portable boxing ring.

Sara Jane Cuffin – Gymnastics/Holyhead

Sara’s tireless work at Ynys Môn Gymnastics Club means that children and young people from the area can enjoy classes six days a week, all lead by Sara herself.  Sara goes above and beyond to cater for the community’s needs, and has proudly developed brand-new classes for children with disabilities to experience the fun and safe environment of her classes.

 

Inspiring Young Person of the Year

Hannah Nolan – Multi-sport/Llandudno

Hannah’s life has been turned around through sport and she volunteers at countless Conwy Youth Service physical activity sessions and events.  Described as a role model and an inspiration, Hannah is considered a critical member of the community’s projects and a fantastic asset to engage with young people of her age.

Eban Geal – Multi-Sport/Angelsey

As the first Young Ambassador from Anglesey and North West Wales to come through the pathway from a Bronze Young Ambassador in primary school to a Bronze Plus, Silver and now a Gold Young Ambassador at secondary school, Eban takes great pride in his work running numerous multi-sport and physical activity sessions in the area.  Having completed over 300 hours of volunteering work, he uses his experiences and learned skills to inspire and mentor his peers.

Jodie Coupland – Multi-sport/Bridgend

Jodie faced a tough and unsettled start to life but a ‘last chance’ opportunity to take part in Dame Kelly Holmes’ Get on Track programme helped her get her life back on track.  She has since volunteered her time to promote and deliver the same programmes in communities across south Wales and has become a role model and an inspiration to those who meet and work with her.

 

Organisation of the Year

Disability Sport Wales

Disability Sport Wales supports a community programme which is significant in its scale and impact. With nearly 23,000 club members and over a million participation opportunities per year, it is widely regarded as being one of the world leading programmes for the delivery of disability sport.

As well as raising in-excess of £1m additional income through commercialisation and sponsorship since 2012, the organisation has also put Wales on the map with great success elite events including the 2017 World Para-Athletic Championships.

Ospreys in the Community

This young charity in Swansea has created a wide range of innovative programmes that aim to provide, motivate, inspire and empower the community to play an active part in sport.  Whilst running sessions for people with a disability, for both girls and boys, working with schools and supporting Welsh medium sessions for tots, the charity has engaged with an impressive 10,000 people between June and August this year alone to ensure the sport is accessible to all.

The Outdoor Partnership

This year participation initiatives have inspired over 14,000 individual participation activities in outdoor sports at club, county, regional and national levels through participation, education, volunteering and employment programmes.  The north-west Wales charity is changing lives with innovative approaches including taster sessions, festivals and an increasingly popular volunteers programme.  The commitment of the project’s volunteers is astounding. If the same contribution had to be purchased it would cost a minimum of £1.7m per annum – equivalent to 2432 full-time jobs.

 

Sporting Experience of the Year

Us Girls

Run by sports charity StreetGames, the programme aimed to significantly increase regular participation in sport and exercise among inactive girls aged 13-19 living in poverty or semi-poverty in Wales.  A flagship social media campaign – UsGirlsBesties – captured the participants’ exciting and positive experiences of physical activities, including Us Girls Rocks festivals which brought girls together from all over the country.  The programme achieved staggering results of attracting new ‘hard-to-reach’ female participants, new volunteers, coaches and leaders, and targets were surpassed among BME communities and disability demographic.

Young Ambassadors Programme

A programme aiming to empower and inspire young people to become leaders through sport, it has had a significantly successful year with numerous ambassadors reaching their gold and even platinum status, as well as award-winning voluntary work dedicated by ambassadors across the country, and several now utilising their skills in employment within the sport sector.  Since its inception in 2010, around 12,000 Young Ambassadors have been trained across Wales, volunteering thousands of hours to school and community sport, making a difference to young people’s lives and making a significant impact on sport in Wales.

Disability Sport Wales – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board: The Health Disability Sport Partnership.

A joint partnership between Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Disability Sport Wales (DSW) and the first of its kind in the UK, the Health Disability Sport Partnership aimed to develop a strong and sustainable relationship between the Health and sport networks across North Wales, in order to achieve a common aim of ‘improving the health and wellbeing of disabled people across North Wales through increased participation in physical activity, including sport’.

Supported by countless third sector partners, 560 disabled people were signposted to physical activity opportunities and that three went on to represent Wales in their chosen sport.  Reports show that participants felt greater confidence, increased socialisation, and gave them a sense of belonging.

The partnership is helping reduced the burden of physical inactivity on the health board in a sustainable fashion.

 

BBC WALES AND SPORT WALES START SEARCH FOR BEST OF WELSH SPORT IN 2017

The search is on for inspiring individuals and organisations involved in sport as nominations open for the Wales Sport Awards 2017.

BBC Wales and Sport Wales are today (11 September 2017) looking for the community coaches and volunteers in Wales who are rousing more people to take part in sport and exercise.

As well as celebrating the individual stars of grassroots sport, the judges are looking for organisations and sporting experiences that are gripping the nation and inspiring more people to make being active part of their lives.

The categories for nomination are:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Community Coach of the Year
  • Inspiring Young Person
  • Sporting Experience of the Year
  • Organisation of the Year
  • BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero

The Wales Sport Awards, hosted jointly by BBC Wales and Sport Wales, is the country’s biggest annual celebration of the very best of elite and grassroots sport.

Lawrence Conway, Chair of Sport Wales said, “Someone taking part in sport and regular physical activity and exercise has usually been inspired by a brilliant coach or volunteer, and their first experience can keep them participating for a lifetime.

 “There are people and moments that are exciting, innovative and motivational. They are happening across the country and we want to find the very best so we can celebrate them and spread the message throughout Wales.”

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales said, “What better way to celebrate the very best of Welsh sport – be it on a community level, or in the elite world. The Wales Sport Awards are an opportunity to recognise the talent and hard work of so many inspirational individuals and organisations right across the country, and right across the sporting spectrum, and to proudly celebrate their achievements.”

Nominations for the community awards are now open at www.walessportawards.co.uk where you can also find more information about the categories.

Nominations close at midday on Friday 29 September (BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero nominations close on 22 October).

The Wales Sport Awards will take place on Monday 4 December at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

The ceremony includes the presentation of the prestigious BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.

#WSA2017

GOLDEN NIGHT FOR JADE JONES AND WALES MEN’S FOOTBALL TEAM AT WALES SPORT AWARDS 2016

Double Olympic Taekwondo Champion Jade Jones was tonight named the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2016 at the Wales Sport Awards.

The 23 year old from Flint, was presented with the trophy by Sir Gareth Edwards at the ceremony in Cardiff this evening (Monday, 5 December).

Jones was chosen by the Welsh public after winning Olympic gold in Rio this summer, retaining the title she claimed at London 2012.

It’s the second time Jones has collected the prestigious award, having also won it in 2012.

She becomes the eighth person to win the title more than once, joining an elite club including Ryan Giggs, Howard Winstone, Colin Jackson, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Ian Woosnam, Joe Calzaghe and Lynn Davies.

And, after reaching the semi-finals of the European Football Championship at their first major tournament since 1958, the Wales Senior Men’s Football Team took the Team of the Year accolade.

There was also a Special Recognition Award for Wales manager Chris Coleman who masterminded the team’s success at Euro 2016.

Sport Wales and BBC Wales joined forces again to hold the country’s biggest annual sporting celebration at Hoddinott Hall, part of the Wales Millennium Centre, in Cardiff Bay.

In the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award Jade Jones finished top of the public vote, ahead of runner-up Gareth Bale and third-placed Elinor Barker.

Other outstanding achievements in Welsh sport were honoured at the event.

The winners were:

  • Coach of the Year – Robin Williams (Rowing)
  • Lifetime Achievement (Elite) Award – Billy Boston (rugby league)
  • Lifetime Achievement (Community) Award – Nick Evans (Cricket, Pembrokeshire)
  • Volunteer of the Year – Chris Landon (Cycling, Cardiff)
  • Young Volunteer of the Year – Joseph Jones (Multi-Sport, Llandudno)
  • Young Coach of the Year – Daniel Johnsey (Swimming/Fitness, Monmouthshire)
  • Carwyn James Junior Sportsman of the Year – Jake Heyward (Athletics)
  • Carwyn James Junior Sportswoman of the Year – Lauren Williams (Taekwondo)
  • Coach to Disabled People – Deb Bashford (Wheelchair Basketball, Caernarfon)
  • Unsung Hero – Vicki Randall (Netball and Football, Cwmbran)
  • Community Coach of the Year – Paul Crapper (Cycling, Abergavenny)

Coach of the Year Robin Williams masterminded a 39 race winning streak – covering Olympic, world and European championships – for his women’s rowing pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, culminating in a gold medal defence of their title in Rio.

Great Britain rugby league legend Billy Boston was presented with the Lifetime Achievement (Elite) award. The 82-year-old winger, who was born in Cardiff’s docklands, known as Tiger Bay, scored a remarkable 478 tries in 487 appearances for Wigan, the greatest try-scorer in the club’s history. He was also a pioneer for black players.

The Lifetime Achievement (Community) honour was given to Nick Evans – a man hailed as a driving force of women’s cricket and community coaching in Wales.

Chris Landon was named Volunteer of the Year for his work organising cycling events across the country, while the Young Volunteer of the Year award went to Joseph Jones for his work in promoting health and well-being for young people in his Conwy community.

Daniel Johnsey took the Young Coach of the Year prize after recovering from life threatening injuries to help inspire other people to take part in sport.

The Carwyn James Sportsman of the Year prize was given to 17-year-old middle distance runner Jake Heyward from Cardiff who won the European Youth 1500m title. While taekwondo athlete Lauren Williams from Newport won the Carwyn James Sportswoman of the Year after taking gold at the Junior World Championships and European Senior Championships in 2016.

Deb Bashford’s work to provide sport for people with a range of disabilities earned her the crown of Coach to Disabled People.

Inspirational netball and football coach Vicki Randall from Cwmbran collected BBC Wales Sport’s Unsung Hero Award. She will now go on to represent Wales in the UK final, which will be announced during BBC Sports Personality of the Year on BBC One Wales on Sunday, December 18.

To complete the list of winners, Paul Crapper, who coaches hundreds of women and young people of all ages, won the Community Coach of the Year.

Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said: “It makes me proud that we are achieving so much success in Welsh sport and we are able to champion the people who are the true heroes.”

“The finalists recognised tonight are the lifeblood of sport in Wales. Every athlete started somewhere, usually at a community club, where their passion for sport was ignited.”

“These individuals at the grassroots inspire the next generation of participants, volunteers and coaches. They deserve to be on the same stage as the elite athletes as without them sport in Wales could not develop so well.”

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales added: “I cannot remember a year when sport brought the nation together like it did in 2016.”

“All the award winners have remarkable stories. Some triumphed on the global stage in front of huge TV audiences, while others made their mark away from the spotlight at community clubs around the country.”

“But all of them have inspired us with their talent, passion and dedication and it has been a privilege to celebrate their achievements tonight.”

The Wales Sport Awards 2016 will be available on BBC iPlayer for the next 30 days.

Or visit our website: walessportawards.org.uk

#WSA2016

CHRIS COLEMAN TO RECEIVE SPECIAL HONOUR AT WALES SPORT AWARDS 2016

The man who guided Wales to the semi-finals of the European football championships will be honoured this evening (Monday 5 December) with a Special Recognition Award at the Wales Sport Awards 2016.

Wales manager Chris Coleman will receive the award for his outstanding achievements in charge of the national team, at the glittering ceremony at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff Bay.

The 46 year old, originally from Swansea, become a national hero after leading Wales to Euro 2016, their first major championship in 58 years.

At the tournament in France this summer, Coleman’s team reached the last four, beating Belgium, Northern Ireland, Russia and Slovakia on the way.

Under his management, Wales are also unbeaten so far in their World Cup qualifying campaign, ending the year in 12th place in the FIFA world rankings.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales said: “This special award is a fitting accolade for a man who brought the nation together this summer. None of us will ever forget how special it felt to follow the brilliant Wales team that Chris Coleman put together at Euro 2016. It will be a thrilling moment tonight to see his exceptional achievements celebrated in style.”

Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, added: “Chris has provided inspiration to the people of Wales that has even transcended his team’s sporting achievements. His fist pumping passion, combined with his encouragement to dream, learn and strive for success have touched people across the nation. We will all remember the summer of 2016 for a long time to come. I am delighted we are able to recognise his contribution with this Special Recognition award.”

Fans can watch the Wales Sport Awards 2016 live on the BBC Wales Sport website, the BBC Sport app, BBC iPlayer and the Red Button from 7.30pm tonight. The event is also live on BBC Radio Wales.

Fourteen awards will be presented at the ceremony including Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and the prestigious BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year Award.

The Wales Sport Awards is an event, organised in partnership by BBC Wales and Sport Wales. It aims to recognise the best achievements at elite and community level in Welsh sport.

For more information visit walessportawards.org.uk

#WSA2016

PEMBROKESHIRE CRICKET STALWART TO PICK UP LIFETIME ACHEIVEMENT AWARD

After more than 40 years as a driving force of Welsh cricket, Nick Evans will receive the community lifetime achievement award at Wales Sport Awards 2016.

The 76 year-old from Narberth in Pembrokeshire has been credited as a pioneer of community coaching and for the development of the women’s game.

He will be recognised for his achievements in sport at the ceremony on Monday 5th December.

“People take the mickey that I still play and coach at my age,” he laughs. “But it keeps you young. I can still bowl, I’m still fit so why not? Being around young people rubs off on you doesn’t it? Though I do get a bit lost when they start talking about Facebook and iPads.”

Nick helped set up the Pembrokeshire Association of Cricket Coaches in 1979 and since then he has introduced thousands of young people to cricket.

They include current Glamorgan players Andrew Salter and Jack Murphy as well as Wales footballer Joe Allen and former rugby international Jonathan Thomas:

“It’s so rewarding to see players coming through, even if they don’t end up playing cricket. Joe Allen was always an amazing sportsman and he was a brilliant bowler and was good at keeping wicket. I used to pick him up and drop him off after practice and I remember the day he signed for Swansea.”

The 76-year-old still dedicates virtually all of his spare time to playing, coaching and administering cricket in Pembrokeshire. He is the Regional Manager and that means overseeing all the Managers and Coaches in the various age groups. In the 1980s and ‘90s, he was a pioneer for women’s cricket in Wales and is recognised by many for his groundbreaking work:

“I got women’s cricket going in Pembrokeshire in the 1980s and I was then invited to set up a Wales women’s side.”

Today, he is President and committee member of the Pembrokeshire Association of Cricket Coaches and coach to the Under 10 to Under 15 Pembrokeshire regional players (boys and girls).

Earlier this year, he was handed the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Cricket Wales Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards.

“I never would have thought I’d be collecting awards for doing something I love,” says Nick. “I never did it for those reasons. I’ve had so much enjoyment, meeting friends for life and travelling the world along the way.”

Nick is certainly a globetrotter, having enjoyed tours with South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the Caribbean, South America and Sri Lanka.

“I’ve put a lifetime into cricket. But I have loved every minute.”

Nick’s achievements will be recognised at the Wales Sport Awards 2016 on Monday 5 December at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, where he will share the stage with the night’s other big winners including Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and the prestigious BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.

Fans can watch the Wales Sport Awards 2016 live from 7.30pm on Monday 5 December at bbc.co.uk/sportwales and also on BBC iPlayer and the Red Button. The event will also be live on BBC Radio Wales.

The Wales Sport Awards is an event, organised in partnership by BBC Wales and Sport Wales. It aims to recognise the best achievements at elite and community level in Welsh sport.

For more information visit walessportawards.org.uk

#WSA2016

 

Cwmbran coach Vicki Randall is BBC Wales Sport’s Unsung Hero 2016

A volunteer netball and football coach from Cwmbran, who has encouraged more than 200 girls to play sport every week, has today been named as BBC Wales Sport’s Unsung Hero for 2016.

PE teacher Vicki Randall, 29, set up Cwmbran Youth netball club in 2009 with just five girls. It now has 14 teams. Three players have recently been selected for Wales’ under 17 squad. She also organises a weekly ‘netball tots’ club for children aged between one and five.

Vicki also runs Risca Netball Club, managing all five of their teams in the South East Wales League.

She turned to coaching after being forced to give up playing netball and football because of injury. She has had nine operations on her knee and has continued to coach, sometimes on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Vicki also set up Cwmbran Celtic Ladies football team in 2012, guiding them to promotion to the Welsh Premier league two years later. She also started a reserve team to encourage women to take up the sport.

She typically spends four evenings a week coaching sport after work, often more than one session per evening. At weekends, she spends most Saturdays organising netball matches and tournaments, before devoting up to seven hours on a Sunday to her football teams.

Vicki was nominated by Ann Daley from Pontypool whose daughter plays netball with Cwmbran Youth.

Ann Daley says: “Vicki has given so much to so many, volunteering all her free time. She has had a massive impact in raising levels of participation in sport for girls and women in South East Wales. Vicki really is an Unsung Hero.”

Vicki’s achievement will be recognised at the Wales Sport Awards 2016 on Monday 5 December at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, where she will share the stage with the night’s other big winners including Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and the prestigious BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.

Fans can watch the Wales Sport Awards 2016 live from 7.30pm on Monday 5 December at bbc.co.uk/sportwales and also on BBC iPlayer and the Red Button. The event will also be live on BBC Radio Wales.

The Wales Sport Awards is an event, organised in partnership by BBC Wales and Sport Wales. It aims to recognise the best achievements at elite and community level in Welsh sport.

Young Volunteer of the Year Finalist – Megan Curling

She may only be 16 but Megan Curling is on a mission: to change the lives of girls in Bridgend for the better.

A tall order indeed but already this impressive teenager, a Gold Young Ambassador for Bridgend, is making a difference:

“In my school, girls have become more confident. We put on activities such as rollerblading, basketball and skills sessions.

“I enjoy sport so I like seeing other kids enjoy it too. It’s good to see them active and having fun. They don’t necessarily have the support and encouragement to be active at home so it’s important we do it.”

Megan not only has a mature attitude when it comes to recognising the importance of physical activity, she also brings flair and a spark to activities that perhaps only a 16-year-old could:

“We focus on the girls who don’t do much sport so we do things a bit differently to entice them in – for example, we offer them the chance of getting their hair styled after a sports session.

“We also put on rollerblading in the dark – anything to draw them in,” she chuckles.

As well as her commitments at Maesteg Comprehensive, she also goes back to her old primary school to deliver multi-skills sessions.

And on top of all that – plus her studies, of course – she manages to squeeze in the time to coach seven-year-olds at the local trampolining club.

Megan’s drive to make a difference has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, she was invited to London to help pitch to global business CGI in order to secure sponsorship for Bridgend’s annual Girl Power event.

Having successfully gained CGI as a sponsor, Bridgend then asked for Megan’s help once again at the Girl Power event where she impressed influential partners such as the Welsh Government, Communities First as well as CGI’s Vice President.

She certainly boasts an impressive CV and with bags of energy too, it’s safe to say we haven’t heard the last of Megan Curling.

Volunteer of the Year Finalist – Delyth Jones

It seems Delyth Jones lives and breathes to be at the pool:

“Well, yes. A lot of people do say I live at the place,” she laughs.

Her time commitment rivals that of her full-time job in the NHS. She is poolside every day apart from Saturday and when she is actually at home, she is armed with phone, laptop and paperwork:

“There’s always something going on – official documents for galas, entry forms, organising events…” The list goes on.

It all started when her children began swimming lessons and progressed into the club:

“I started helping out and one thing led to another. Now 12 years later, I’m still there. The club is really on the up, increasing in members, and I love being a part of that. We’re like a big family really,” she explains.

But all clubs have their ups and downs and 12 months ago, the Dragons’ coach left. Finding it hard to recruit a new skipper, Delyth made it her mission to keep things going:

“I decided if it was the last thing I did before the club closed, I had to do everything possible to keep it ticking over until we found a new coach.”

She was instrumental in keeping the swimmers motivated and interested until they found a new head honcho in January this year.

Delyth also takes a lead on the Denbighshire Development Team (DDT). Made up of the four swimming clubs in the county, she arranges training at Stockport several times a year as well as competition in Sheffield every October:

“I don’t think you ever realise all the things you do, not unless you were actually asked to sit down and list them. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“To see the kids grow in confidence is so special. When they first walk poolside for a competition and in front of a crowd, you can see they’re nervous. But after the first few times, they’re so self-assured.

“And they always want to do better next time. That’s why it’s so amazing – they are always striving to achieve a goal.”

And while daughter Lois, now 17, plans to retire from the club in a year or so, Delyth shows no signs of hanging up her clipboard just yet:

“No way! I absolutely love what I do. I can’t walk away from that!”

 

Coach to Disabled People of the Year Finalist – Emily Griffiths

She claims swimming is “the most unsociable sport ever” but Emily Griffiths cannot imagine a life where she isn’t coaching poolside.

She is the Head Coach of the South Wales Titans – a Paralympic swim academy straddling Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend; cultivating talent from pools in each of the three areas:

“Our aim is to help swimmers progress into a mainstream club or, depending on the level of disability, it may be more appropriate that they stay with us.

“We’d love to find a future Paralympian and unless we get people in the pool now, we won’t find the one.”

But it’s not just about future champions:

“We get swimmers who come to us who have often heard the word “can’t”. We have a boy who was told he couldn’t swim butterfly and he was really desperate to do it. He came to us and the other day he swam a length of the stroke. Both he and his Mum were crying. It might not look like textbook butterfly but it works for him.”

Emily grew up in Gloucester and was training and competing when she became injured:

“I was 16 and like a bear with a sore head. My Mum told me I had to get out of the house and do something because I was doing her head in.”

And so she made a beeline back to the pool where she started coaching the little ones. It wasn’t long before she heard the disability squad also needed help.

She has since moved to Bridgend and has been nurturing the talents of the Titans for just two years. Since she has been at the helm, not only have members increased, but personal bests have been achieved right across the board.

2016 has been an especially busy year. She was selected to coach Team UK at the Invictus Games and then appointed Head Coach for the Warrior Games. Her hard work has also earned her a spot as a Swim Wales coach for the Para-Swimming National Championships.

She can be found poolside four evenings every week as well as a Sunday morning. And she juggles her coaching commitments with her day job as a Sports Recovery Coordinator for Help for Heroes. But she wouldn’t have it any other way:

“Swimming has been my life. I don’t think I’ll ever not be involved. No one day is the same and no one swimmer is like any other. Working with a range of disabilities and impairments really keeps me on my toes.

“It can be tiring sometimes but there’s always something new to learn. And when the swimmers say thank you at the end of the session? Well that’s all you need isn’t it?”

Young Coach of the Year Finalist – Daniel Johnsey

Daniel Johnsey says he is alive today because of swimming. He was 11 and waiting for a school bus when he was knocked down by a car travelling at speed.

He suffered a severe head injury, a broken pelvis and arm while his left foot was almost severed. In a coma for 10 days and in a ‘locked in’ state for five months, Daniel has since undergone 32 operations:

“Swimming is the only reason I am here today,” Daniel explains. “I had always enjoyed going to the pool, I was really sporty, and it meant I had strong lungs.”

And now 11 years later, he is giving back to the sport that saved him, giving up his free time to coach at Newport Seals Disability Swimming Club:

“I’ve been a swimmer for as long I can remember. Before my accident, I was on the verge of breaking into the Welsh squad.

“After my accident, the club – and of course my Mum and Dad – helped me get back on my feet.

“I then started helping out – just handing out equipment and helping to tidy up and it went from there. I love helping the kids and I enjoy seeing them get better and better.”

As well as his work at Newport Seals, Daniel has been working with Monmouthshire County Council’s Disability Sport officers helping young people step from a small disability specific gym class into the mainstream fitness suite at Caldicot Leisure Centre.

He has also coached at Active Gwent’s insport series event in Newport and volunteered over 50 hours at the Mongames summer programme in Caldicot. It was there he coached a young girl who hadn’t been able to perform a tumble turn in swim lessons. By the end of the summer, Daniel had worked his magic.

The coaching has given him a huge surge in confidence. In recognition of his contribution to the community, he even carried the Olympic torch in 2012. He now plans to try and find a paid role in fitness or swim coaching.

For his proud Mum, Sarah, who was told he would never walk again, his progress has been mind-blowing:

“The fact that he can even walk is a miracle and he has worked so hard to get to where he is today,” she explains. “He doesn’t even realise what he has achieved; he’s just so laid back.”