Young Volunteer of the Year Finalist – Joseph Jones

“It feels weird to pick up awards for doing something I love,” says the very humble Joseph Jones in response to the news he has been shortlisted for the Wales Sports Awards 2016.

Yet the recognition is well deserved. Already this year, Joe has picked up the Millennium 50 award which rewards 50 hours of sports based volunteering.

The Llandudno 19-year-old joined the Healthy Image programme with the Conwy Youth Service two years ago and has since helped out at countless sessions and events.

The programme aims to inspire young people in Conwy to become more active and have a positive experience in different sports. It promotes healthy lifestyles and helps to reduce risk taking behaviours.

He coaches a multitude of sports including football, tennis and badminton.

It’s certainly no mean feat when you consider he is in his final year at college and he also cares for his Mum who had a stroke six years ago:

“My Mum wants to be as independent as she can but if she needs help, I’m there for her.”

And she is certainly proud of her son:

“She says I’ve matured a lot since volunteering and she’s proud that I’m a role model for younger kids.

“I just love seeing the enjoyment on their faces. We don’t see them drinking as many fizzy drinks or eating as much fast food now. Their fitness levels have improved too. I guess I enjoy giving back to the community – in fact, it makes you feel great!”

Joe has grown up with a speech impediment but he says coaching has given him a new found confidence:

“I wasn’t comfortable in speaking situations. But volunteering has given me a huge amount of self belief because it’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

It’s true. He recently helped to deliver a health awareness session to more than 200 pupils at a local school – something he thought he would never accomplish due to his stammer.

For Conwy Youth Service, he is one of their most reliable, committed and motivated volunteers. So humble or not, it seems Joe might have to start getting used to the limelight.