Two farmers from Llanrwst have jointly won the BBC Wales Get Inspired Sports Unsung Hero 2015 this year for their work with Llanrwst Swimming Club.
Busy working farmers and grandmothers Jane Roberts and Nerys Ellis from Ysbyty Ifan near Betws-y-Coed have been running the Llanrwst Swimming Club for 32 years. Now in their 60s, the hours they spend at the club are all voluntary and their work doesn’t just end at the poolside. Both Jane and Nerys make the 24-mile round trip from their remote farms to the pool every week and are involved with all aspects of organising, promoting and planning swimming classes for children and young people of all abilities as well as arranging gala events at the club.
Known locally as “Aunty Jane” and “Aunty Nerys”, the pair, who have children and grandchildren of their own, have taught generations of local children to swim and gain their swimming badges, dedicating their time to encouraging youngsters, irrespective of starting ability and including children with special needs to become competent and confident swimmers.
Jane and Nerys’ dedication means that countless children and young people have had the opportunity to learn valuable life-savings skills in a rural area which includes many lakes and rivers. They have also given young swimmers the opportunity to regularly socialise with other children living across rural Conwy.
Their reputation, enthusiasm and passion has been championed by scores of parents including Dawn Claydon, Llanrwst Swimming Club lifeguard, who nominated them:
“They not only teach children to swim but also teach awareness and warn children of the dangers of deep water – these are life-long skills. Their commitment is just outstanding and that’s why I wanted to nominate them. I’m so thrilled they have won.”
Jane and Nerys were surprised to win. Nerys said:
“We had no idea we’d won, it was a complete shock but it’s marvellous.
“It’s vital that there is a local swimming club for the youngsters and that it continues as it doesn’t matter where they are in the world, they need these skills”
“I never dreamt this would happen, I’m lost for words. I love teaching the children, especially my five-year olds, they are just lovely. I just want to thank the parents and Dawn for nominating us.”
Geoff Williams, Head of Sport, BBC Wales commented:
“Jane and Nerys epitomise the whole Unsung Hero ethos having given their valuable time and expertise over many years to help others. They are worthy winners of the Award.”
Jane and Nerys will be recognised at the 2015 Wales Sport Awards on Monday, December 7, at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff. They will then compete against other Unsung Heroes from Northern Ireland, Scotland and English regions for the BBC Get Inspired Sports Unsung Hero at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event in Belfast on December 20.
Last year’s overall winner was Jill Stidever from Leicestershire, who was awarded for her work helping children with special needs to swim.
The BBC Get Inspired Sports Unsung Hero Award recognises and rewards outstanding contribution by individuals at the grassroots level of local sport, who give up their time on a voluntary basis so that sport can be played and enjoyed by people throughout the UK. Over 150 Unsung Heroes have been honoured over the last decade.