Judging Panel 2018

Meet the Wales Sport Awards judging panel for this years’ community awards …

Lowri Morgan

Lowri Morgan is a world-class endurance athlete, BAFTA and multi-award-winning TV presenter, journalist, speaker and adventurer. After overcoming adversity, after a serious sporting accident 18 years ago and despite being told that she would never be able to run properly again, Lowri has competed in, and won, some of the most extreme races in the world.
The mother-of-one has been a TV presenter for over 17 years, working with companies including live TV with BBC Sport, ITV, Channel 4 and S4C and more recently with international broadcasters presenting documentaries about overseas tribes.

James Ledger

James, 25, competed for Team Wales at this year’s Commonwealth Games in the T12 (athletes with visual impairment) 100m event.
The athlete, originally from Swansea and now living in Cardiff, has been fortunate enough to represent Wales and GB globally. As someone growing up with a disability, he hadn’t thought this was something that could happen to him.
James co-ordinates the National Youth Board, as part of Disability Sport Wales to give young people with a disability in Wales a voice and help shape the future of sport.

Geoff Williams

Geoff Williams, Head of Sport at BBC Cymru/Wales has overseen coverage of major sporting events like The Olympic Games; Commonwealth Games; Rugby World Cup and Euros 2016 for audiences in Wales. He bring to the panel a wealth of broadcasting and sport experience.

Bronnie Griffiths

Student Bronnie, from Aberdare, is a valued member of the Young Ambassador Programme in Wales. The 20-year-old is currently studying Sport Leadership and Development at the University of South Wales. She started the YA journey as a Gold Ambassador at Sixth Form and says being part of the programme has improved her wellbeing.

Sunil Patel

Sunil is the Campaign Manager for Show Racism the Red Card charity and established the Wales office in 2006.  His personal experiences of dealing with racism and his passion for sport, has been the key ingredients that motivates Sunil and his desire to see a level playing field for all.  The charity is the leading anti-racism education charity in Wales. Outside of work, Sunil can be seen at football pitches around Cardiff on a Saturday morning with his two young sons or playing cricket during the Summer.

Sophie Howe

Sophie was appointed as the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales in February 2016. Her role is to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales, and to support the public bodies listed in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to work towards achieving the well-being goals. Prior to this role, Sophie was the first Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and the only woman in a police commissioner leadership role in Wales. Sophie was the youngest Councillor in Wales when she was elected as a County Councillor in Cardiff at the age of 21.
She is currently a member of the Wales Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and is Chair of the international Network of Institutions for Future Generations. She lives in Cardiff with her husband Ceri and their five children.

Ashok Ahir

Ashok is the Director of Communications for the UK Government in Wales.
He was the Chair of the organising committee for the 2018 National Eisteddfod and is a member of the Eisteddfod board.  He was previously Executive Editor of Politics at BBC Cymru Wales for many years, before establishing a successful bilingual communications agency.



Hannah – One Year On

What a difference a year makes.

  • On the path to training to become a teacher
  • A huge boost in confidence
  • Memories to last a lifetime.

Three things that youngster Hannah Nolan credits winning last year’s Inspiring Young Person Award at the Wales Sport Awards last year.

In 2017, we heard how the North Wales sport volunteer not only helped others, but also helped pull herself out of a dark place.

Hannah, who helped with the Healthy Image Project at Conwy Youth Service, said she was at ‘an all-time low’ with depression and anxiety and needed a reason to leave the house.

When she won the award, she had volunteered over 150 hours in her local community, while juggling school work, exams and helping to care for her Nan who was recovering from Lung Cancer.

“Being announced as the winner of the award felt absolutely surreal” remembers Hannah. “I couldn’t believe I had won, and it was the most amazing feeling in the world.”

Since winning the award, she has continued to volunteer but has also started on the road to becoming a teacher.

She explains: “Since December 2017, my confidence in everything I do has sky-rocketed and has actually given me the motivation to go further, not only continuing to help people through volunteering, but to become a teacher working one-to-one with children in need of support.”

She says winning the award helped her gain clarity: “I continued volunteering in my community trying to inspire the children and show them that anything is possible when you put your heart into it.” It also boosted her own career plans as she started researching ways to become a teacher.

She has recently started college on a course that can help make this possible.

“I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for this award, all the support I received and the confidence I gained, I don’t think I would have ever gone through with starting my life and journey into teaching.”

To nominate somebody for a community award for 2018, visit here and nominate by Friday 5th October.

Search is on for Wales’ Sporting Best

The Wales Sport Awards are back and at midday today, nominations open to find the community sport stars of the country.

As well as celebrating the very best of elite sport in Wales, the awards are looking for organisations, individuals and sporting experiences that are gripping the nation at a grassroots level.

The categories for nomination are:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Community Coach of the Year
  • Inspiring Young Person
  • Getting Wales Active (new award)
  • Organisation of the Year
  • BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero

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

Lawrence Conway, Chair of Sport Wales, says:

“Often, a volunteer, a coach or a programme, helps inspire someone to achieve at sport, but also to enjoy it for years to come. These awards offer the country a chance to thank those who help make Wales an active nation. We want the Awards to continue to capture the innovative, thrilling and diverse nature of Welsh sport. To do that, we need you to nominate. Let’s celebrate Welsh sport together.”

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales, says:

“The awards are an opportunity to honour outstanding achievements in Welsh sport, from volunteers at grassroots level to elite players at the top of their game. As we look back over the year, we celebrate the brilliant success of individuals and groups across the nation and we’re asking people to nominate those who’ve made a real difference.”

Last year’s winner of the Young Inspiring Person category, Hannah Nolan, has fond memories of her award: “Winning felt absolutely surreal, I couldn’t believe it” she said. “It was the most amazing feeling in the world and a brilliant experience with so many lovely people around supporting me and congratulating me.”

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

Nominations close at midday on Friday 5 October.

The Awards will take place at Celtic Manor on Tuesday 4 December.

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

We’re back!

That’s right, on December 4th at the Celtic Manor, Sport Wales and BBC Cymru Wales are teaming up once again for the Wales Sport Awards.

The very best and most inspiring of elite and grassroots sport will join together to celebrate the passion we have for our sporty and active nation.

Got someone in mind that you want to shout about?

The nominations for the Community Awards open next week (Tuesday 18 September), but there’s no reason why you can’t get a head start and get those thinking caps on!

  • Do you know a young person who goes above and beyond to help motivate others to get active?
  • Are you eager to help get a hardworking volunteer recognised for all the hours they give to their community?
  • Perhaps you’ve been inspired to try a new sport yourself and think the organisation or session deserve an award?  

Need to refresh your mind on what happened last year? No problem!

After a difficult time with mental illness, Hannah Nolan gave back to her community by volunteering in sport and was recognised as the Inspiring Young Person of the Year. 

Transforming lives through sport, Disability Sport Wales took the Organisation of the Year Award. 

The ladies were out in force, as Us Girls picked up their award for Sporting Experience of the Year.

Mark James was recognised as Community Voulunteer of the Year for his dedication in coaching boxing in Newport.

While, Mike Blake swapped the high-vis jacket for a suit to collect the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award, for his 40 years + time helping Eryri Harriers in North Wales.

Fateha Ahmed took the Volunteer of the Year accolade after the amazing work she did the help get Muslim women in Cardiff swimming. 

With lots more awards up for grabs on the night, from Team of the Year (Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey) to the coveted BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year (Jonathan Davies), we are very excited to meet this year’s winners.

To keep in the loop, follow #WSA2018 or see the News section


Rugby Union centre Jonathan Davies was tonight (Monday, 4 December) crowned the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2017 at the Wales Sport Awards. Jonathan finished ahead of runner-up Geraint Thomas, with Natalie Powell finishing in third place.

Jonathan has been one of the stand-out performers of 2017; voted the British and Irish Lions man of the series in New Zealand. The centre played every minute of the three Tests against the All Blacks as the Lions secured an historic series draw.

The 29-year-old began this year’s Six Nations with a try in Wales’ opening 33-7 win over Italy. Jonathan’s regional side, the Scarlets, beat Irish side Munster in Dublin in the Pro12 Final, and he was one of the Scarlets’ six try scorers in their 46-22 victory, which saw them claim the title for the first time since 2004.

Other outstanding achievements in Welsh sport were honoured at the event, as Sport Wales and BBC Wales joined forces once again to hold the country’s biggest annual sporting celebration at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.


The winners were:

  • Team of the Year – Cardiff Devils
  • Coach of the Year – Christian Malcolm (Athletics, Newport)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Alan Curtis (Football, Swansea)
  • Special Recognition Award – David Watkins
  • Carwyn James Young Sportswoman of the Year – Catrin Jones (Weightlifting, Anglesey)
  • Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year – Ben Woodburn (Football, Liverpool FC)
  • Volunteer of the Year – Fateha Ahmed (Swimming, Cardiff)
  • Inspiring Young Person of the Year – Hannah Nolan (Multi-sport, Llandudno)
  • Organisation of the Year – Disability Sport Wales
  • Sporting Experience of the Year – Us Girls
  • Unsung Hero – Mike Blake (Fell Running, Caernarfon)
  • Community Coach of the Year – Mark James (Boxing, Newport)

Cardiff Devils took the Team of the Year accolade after finishing top of the Elite League and winning the Challenge Cup and the Earhardt Conference, crowning one of their best years in history.

 Coach of the Year Christian Malcolm has made an immediate impact following his transition from athlete to coach. As a relay coach, Christian’s men won gold at the World Championships setting GB and European records, while the women won silver. Then at the IPC Paralympic World Championships, he coached Jordan Howe to silver and Rhys Jones to a personal best in finishing in fourth place.

 Alan Curtis was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Alan has spent a lifetime in football since making his debut for Swansea City in 1972. And he’s still there today, following sojourns at Leeds United and Southampton, a loan spell at Stoke City, and Cardiff City. Since retiring as a player the former Wales international (6 goals in 35 games for his country) has been an integral part of the Swansea City set up – including a number of spells as First Team Coach and Caretaker Manager – and is currently Loan Player Manager.

There was also a Special Recognition Award for David Watkins, a former dual code Rugby Union and League international who started his playing career for Newport RFC in 1961.

Catrin Jones won the Carwyn James Sportswoman of the Year. Catrin, a former gymnast, switched to weightlifting and has medalled at European junior level, won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games and been the best in Britain at senior level.

The Carwyn James Sportsman of the Year prize was given to Wales and Liverpool FC’s Ben Woodburn. Ben shot to fame in 2017 – already Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer, he scored a goal on his Wales debut –  the winner against Austria, no less, which made him, at 17 years old, Wales’s second youngest goalscorer.

Fateha Ahmed was named Volunteer of the Year for her work organising and running private swimming sessions for Muslim women in Cardiff, while the Inspiring Young Person of the Year award went to Hannah Nolan of Llandudno. Hannah inspires young people to be active through Conwy’s youth service and benefit from sport in the same way that sport volunteering has lifted her from long periods of depression.

The Organisation of the Year award went to Disability Sport Wales which boasts over a million inclusive community participation opportunities per year and a host of world media winning athletes.

The Sporting Experience of the Year was awarded to the Us Girls project run by the StreetGames charity. The programme achieved staggering results of attracting new ‘hard-to-reach’ female participants, new volunteers, coaches and leaders.

Veteran fell-running organiser Mike Blake collected BBC Wales Sport’s Unsung Hero Award. Mike, now in his 70th year, has been a member of north Wales-based Eryri Harriers for nearly 40 years, and in that time has organised over 300 races, all voluntarily, with all proceeds going directly to local schools, community groups and mountain rescue.

He 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 at 6.45pm on Sunday, 17 December.

To complete the list of winners, Mark James, who devotes his time coaching boxing skills at his local club in Newport, won Community Coach of the Year.

Lawrence Conway, Chair of Sport Wales, said: “We received a record number of inspiring nominations for this year’s awards and tonight’s finalists showcase the passion and hard work going on in the communities here in Wales.

“I am proud of all the volunteers, coaches, leaders and organisations who are helping to build a more active and healthier nation, and it was a real honour to see them recognised as the true heroes of Welsh sport.

“Their achievements will no doubt encourage others across the country to get engaged in the community and help shape their Welsh sport of the future.”

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales added: “Tonight has been an opportunity to celebrate the success of inspirational teams and individuals who have made a real contribution to Welsh sport. The Wales Sport Awards have again recognised the talent and dedication of people right across Wales.”

The Wales Sport Awards 2017 will be available on BBC iPlayer for the next 30 days and will also be shown on the BBC Red Button at 5.30pm on Saturday, 9 December.

Ospreys in the Community – Organisation of the Year finalist.

Rugby is at the heart of the community in Swansea, thanks to a registered charity who is helping empower local people through sport.

Ospreys in the Community (OitC) was set up in 2015.

“It uses the power of sport and the Ospreys brand to help people in the region make positive life choices” explains Steve Dalton OBE. Steve is Managing Director of Sony UK Technology Centre one of the supporters of the project.

“They are a forward-thinking organisation and in such a short space of time have grown to be a leading light in Welsh community sports” he adds.

This Summer, between the months of June and August alone, the organisation engaged with 10,000 people!

They aim to make sport accessible for all and work with deprived areas and hard to reach groups to make that happen.

They support the Ospreys Wheelchair Rugby team but also set up the only youth Wheelchair Rugby team in Wales. They work with groups such as teenage girls, the unemployed and disengaged school pupils, as well as in partnership with other organisations such as Disability Sport Wales, the Urdd and BME Sport Cymru.

Last Summer they hosted three beach rugby festivals where over 1,700 pupils from 50 schools took part. For many of the children it was their first introduction to the sport and some have gone on to join local clubs and school teams.

2017 was another big year for the organisation – the first Community Foundation attached to a PRO14 team to be set up. No stranger to being ‘first’, this year they also became the first rugby organisation in Wales to be a Duke of Edinburgh Award’s Licensed Organisation.

80% of the Foundation’s income has come from commercial activity, as Steve explains: “The team work with a large number of sponsors and local companies and their highly successful and collaborative approach, has seen them deliver several ground-breaking initiatives.”

Us Girls – Sporting Experience of the Year finalist.

GlowSports, Dodgeball and Running are the name of the game for girls across Wales, who are moving and loving it, thanks to Us Girls Wales.

With around 36,000 teenage girls living in poverty in Wales, Us Girls set about to reach them through sport.

Run by national sports charity StreetGames, it started in April 2015 thanks to Sport Wales Calls4Action funding.

“Us Girls aimed to make the programme sustainable by helping community sport and youth institutions make female sports participation a routine part of their core work” explains employee Paul Roberts.

In just two years, the programme has offered 26 lead projects totalling 45 hours per week across the country. Over 3,000Us Girls sessions have been delivered in the community – many of which are in Communities First areas of deprivation.

They follow the principles of the StreetGames Doorstep Sport model, making sure that activity is delivered by the right people, in the right style, at the right place and time.

Bringing sport TO the girls has seen a massive impact, with lots of success stories. Over 5,600 new ‘hard to reach’ females participated in the project, which included older girls mentoring younger girls, through the Big Sister scheme. There have also been 48 Us Girls events in its two-year history – including an Us Girls Rocks festival!

Those who take part are at the heart of the decision-making process for Us Girls, with lots of consultation.

“It was devised in consultation with the participants at every stage either through chats, at pamper sessions, coffee mornings or using technology” says Paul.

Thanks to partner work, the way in which organisations appeal to girls when it comes to sport is changing for the better.

One example of this is the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wales

“After embracing the Us Girls programme, our traditionally male-dominated demographic has shifted to a 2:1 female:male ratio among participants in North Wales” says Grant Poiner, their National Development Officer.

“We would not be where we are now, in terms of female participation, without the partnership with StreetGames and the learning and support of the Us Girls programme” he adds.

Young Ambassadors Programme – Sporting Experience of the Year finalist.

The Young Ambassador (YA) programme in Wales has gone from strength to strength.

“It offers fab opportunities for a young person and it is great for employability – you get so much experience, it is hard to fit it all on the CV!” says Beth Nesham, who has been involved in the YA programme over the past 7 years.

She has seen the programme grow from its infancy to where it is today, with around 3,000 active YA’s.

She continues: “Being a YA harnesses a sense of security, while also putting you outside of your comfort zone. You face challenges but still feel safe with the YA Family.”

A partnership led by Sport Wales and the Youth Sport Trust and delivered by key partners, the Young Ambassador programme aims to empower and inspire young people to become leaders through sport.

For some, the personal journey is huge.

“When I was starting as a YA, I was in a Unit for people with anxiety and it was pretty bad” says Fintan Edwards. “It came about for me when my confidence was starting to grow again and it gave me that extra boost. It gives me a purpose.”

“Now, I see myself as a normal person doing what I enjoy” he adds.

There are currently Young Ambassadors across primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and communities in all 22 Local Authorities across Wales championing school and community sport and physical recreation.

For many, they don’t want the journey to end!

Take Bronnie Griffiths, a student at Cardiff Met, who is now involved in the first Higher Education YA programme in the UK.

“I’ve developed personal and professional skills” explains Bronnie. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. It is thanks to the programme that I decided to go to university” she adds.

It has been another busy year for the Young Ambassadors. Many have been recognised for local, regional, national and UK wide awards. They’ve also seen the 7th National Gold YA Conference attended by 100 YA’s and 50 officers – and more importantly, planned and delivered by the YA’s themselves.

The YA programme has seen huge growth since it started in 2010. Since then, around 12,000 Young Ambassadors have been trained across Wales, volunteering thousands of hours to school and community sport and making a real difference to young people’s lives.

The Health Disability Sport Partnership – Sporting Experience of the Year finalist.

A Health Disability Sport Partnership (HDSP) has been a ‘game changer’ for disabled people in North Wales, according to those who have benefitted from it.

“Acceptance through sporting opportunities is so important” says volunteer Deb Bashford, who herself was paralysed at the age of 11. “For that hour, they are not the disabled person, they are just a member having fun in a sports club.”

The joint partnership between Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Disability Sport Wales (DSW) is the first of its kind in the UK.

It began in 2013, thanks to a successful three-year Calls 4 Action grant from Sport Wales.

“It was set up to develop a relationship between the health and sport networks across North Wales, with a common aim of improving the health and wellbeing of disabled people through increased participation in physical activity” explains Catherine Chin, Health Disability Sport Officer.

Due to its success, the project will continue and there are ambitious plans to roll it our across the country.

Disabled people are less physically active than non-disabled people. Just 3.4% of this population in North Wales were taking part in physical activity at the start of the partnership in 2013, compared with 41% of non-disabled people.

They wanted to bridge this gap.

“A pathway was designed so that Health Care Professionals could signpost disabled people from health services to physical activity opportunities in their local community, via Disability Sport Wales” explains Catherine.

She adds: “It has made a real difference, both physically and mentally, in transforming the lives of disabled people and their families, through the power of sport.”

During the first 3 years of the project 560 disabled people took up an opportunity to get active, with four talented athletes going on to represent Wales in their sports.

Deb, who is part of Caernarfon Celts Wheelchair Basketball Club, is full of praise for it: “At the age of 11, my world was turned upside down and I would have done anything in the world to have this pathway back then” she recalls.

35 years on, she says that sporting activities have helped her speak out about her own experiences.

“I considered suicide aged 13” she admits. “But I now embrace my disability as a tool to help others going through a similar journey.”

She adds: “Sporting opportunities like this make a massive difference.”

The Outdoor Partnership – Organisation of the Year finalist.

Sport and the outdoors go hand in hand.

One organisation in North West Wales is taking full advantage of what our great outdoors has to offer.

“We use the outdoors and natural resources to improve people’s lives and inspire them into participation” explains Chief Executive Officer, Tracey Evans.

As well as the success of their core programmes, the Outdoor Partnership has gone above and beyond to drive forward inclusivity in the outdoor sector.

“We have a number of programmes working with specific target groups” explains Tracey.

Since it was set up over ten years ago, the charity has been responsible for establishing around 80 activity clubs and groups, boasting a membership of 7000+.

Tracey adds: “Ten years ago, there was no volunteer culture in the outdoor sector but today we have a large volunteer workforce – a huge achievement.”

This year, over 400 volunteers took part in a mentoring scheme and for the first time in the organisation’s history – more women than men took part.

Working with under-represented groups is an important part of what the Partnership does and they’ve inspired hundreds in the past year.

Bethan Davies, Inclusion Development Officer explains: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve been striving to become a more inclusive organisation and supporting this development across other clubs and partners in Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy.”

Nearly 700 people with impairments have taken part in sport taster sessions and the charity were the first organisation in Wales to be awarded the Disability Sport Wales insport 3rd Sector Ribbon standard, back in May.

Meanwhile, their This Girl’s Adventure programme has inspired over 260 women and girls to try activities, ranging from sub aqua to surfing. Many of these felt empowered to go on to take their coaching qualifications, opening up many opportunities in the outdoor activity sector.

Fiona Reid, CEO of Disability Sport Wales adds: “They’ve worked hard in establishing a strong foundation to create inclusive cultural changes and offer quality opportunities for everyone.”