Inspiring Caernarfon teen wins national Wales Sport Award

A young wheelchair tennis star will be recognised for her voluntary work in sport by receiving the Inspiring Young Person accolade at the Wales Sport Awards 2018.

Caernarfon teenager Fran Smith has put in hundreds of volunteer hours despite her struggle with chronic fatigue and other health issues.
Fran, 19, will receive the accolade at the Wales Sport Awards 2018, held at the Celtic Manor on December 4.

The Cardiff Met student is well respected in the world of disability sport, including wheelchair basketball, tennis and boccia.

Volunteering is a family affair and Fran credits her caring nature to her mum, Deb Bashford, a wheelchair user herself and passionate sports volunteer.

“She’s taught me so much in life” explained Fran, whose mum also won a Volunteer Award at the Wales Sport Awards two years ago.

She added: “When you grow up with a severely disabled mother who never lets anything stop her, you think why should I let anything stop me?”

The mother and daughter duo often spend time together helping at Caernarfon Celts wheelchair basketball club in their Gwynedd hometown.

Her proud mum added: “I encouraged Fran to get involved, but she took it to the next level.

“At just 19 years old, she has gone above and beyond what I could have ever imagined. It is mind blowing. I am so proud of her.”

A few years back, inspiring teen Fran said she “hit rock bottom” in her life, but volunteering and competing in wheelchair tennis helped her through it.

She explained: “I didn’t know what to do with my life and I never want other people to feel the way I did when I was at my lowest point.”

Coach, volunteer and mentor Fran proudly sits on the Disability Sport Wales Youth Board to help inspire others.

According to Gwynedd Disability Sport Wales Officer Marcus Politis, she has “maturity way beyond her years.”

He said: “Fran is a stand-out volunteer and with her commitment to local, regional and national projects, she has developed into a model professional.”

Her university agrees. Dan Heggs, Head of Department and Principal Lecturer in Psychology at Cardiff Met added: “We are delighted that Fran has been recognised for the fantastic attitude she displays day to day and the time she gives to volunteering and ultimately enthusing others to engage with sport.

“She is a very inspiring individual and I’m confident that she has a successful future ahead of her.”

Sarah Powell, CEO at Sport Wales added: “Yet again, we have a very high standard of community award winners who demonstrate the amazing work happening in grassroots sport.

“I have no doubt that hearing about these groups and individuals will help motivate and inspire others to enjoy sport and the many opportunities it offers.”

For more information about this year’s event, visit or follow #WSA2018