First Minister Mark Drakeford has today announced the St David Awards finalists for 2019.
The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales, which recognise the extraordinary achievements and contributions of people in, or from, Wales and from all walks of life.
Announcing the finalists, the First Minister said:
“Being involved with the St David Awards for the first time, I was struck by the inspiring talent Wales has across so many different areas.
“These awards are a celebration, acknowledging some amazing and remarkable people. Each of the finalists have made a significant difference – overcoming adversity and achieving something truly inspirational.
“All of our St David Awards finalists are exceptional – every person and organisation is a credit to our nation. I look forward to celebrating their achievements at the awards ceremony on 21st March.”
The award categories are: Bravery, Citizenship, Culture, Enterprise, Innovation, Science and Technology, International, Sport and Young Person.
The finalists are:
Andrew risked his life trying to stop a car from driving into a crowd of around 20 people outside a pub in Whitchurch, Cardiff. He suffered serious injuries to his leg but his actions prevented other people from being seriously injured. Andrew acted on instinct and showed courageous behaviour to put others before himself. Witnesses say that without his intervention, there could have been many injuries and possible fatalities.
Ceri and Aaron Saunders
Ceri and Aaron gave no thought to their own safety when they saw someone in trouble in the sea on the Gower Peninsula. The pair were spending the weekend on a camping trip in the area and while out for a walk, the mother and son saved a 10-year-old boy from being swept out to sea near Broughton Bay. The RNLI said the situation was very dangerous and the boy was lucky that Ceri and Aaron took action and helped save his life.
Darran put himself in a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation to support police officers when a man approached him and a co-worker waving a knife. He quickly informed police officers and then followed the man as he ran away. Following the chase, the police were able to detain the knifeman. Darran was praised by a judge at the subsequent trial and commended for his brave actions – he said he was just doing his job.
Cardiff Street Pastors
Cardiff Street Pastors is an initiative involving 25 local churches. Trained volunteers patrol Cardiff city centre on Friday and Saturday nights to help those in need. The team of more than 60 street pastors work with South Wales Police, Cardiff Council, Cardiff University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and local businesses and has volunteered thousands of hours of service to Cardiff’s night-time economy.
Emma set up the DPJ Foundation in 2016 after her husband Daniel, an agricultural contractor, took his own life due to struggles with his mental health. The charity helps people in the rural community with mental health problems, especially men in the agricultural sector. Emma speaks at agricultural events to raise awareness of the foundation’s work to support other businesses, which may then recognise the signs of mental health struggles among their customers. Emma has raised around £75,000 to support the foundation’s work.
Glenys is one of the founding parents of Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales, which provides specialist therapy to children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and support to their families. Her son Thomas has cerebral palsy and Glenys was frustrated by having to travel to London to access specialist therapy. Together with a few other parents, she helped set up and open Bobath in 1992. To mark Bobath’s 20th anniversary, Glenys undertook a 100km Sahara Trek and raised £20,000 for the charity.
Janet Rogers MBE
Janet is a volunteer and member representative on the Board of Trustees at the Ponthafren Association. The charity was set up in 1992 to provide a range of mental health support services in North Powys and Janet was a trustee for 9 years. Janet is responsible for looking after Ponthafren’s community garden in Newtown and she has shared her own experiences of mental health with other organisations in Wales to help them make positive differences to people’s lives.
Until his retirement in August, Elfed was the chief executive of the National Eisteddfod, a post he held for 25 years. Under Elfed’s leadership, the Eisteddfod developed significantly, offering new opportunities for visitors to the festival. Elfed ensured the Welsh language and Welsh heritage were central during the Eisteddfod’s development. Elfed’s final Eisteddfod typified what he achieved over the past 25 years – relevancy to contemporary life in Wales and attracting thousands of Welsh speakers, non-Welsh speakers and learners annually.
Fiona is the CEO and owner of the annual Green Man Festival, which started in 2003. It is the largest contemporary arts and science festival in Wales, one of remaining large independent UK music festivals, and it is held in the Brecon Beacons. She is the only woman with controlling ownership of a large commercial UK festival and in a competitive market, Green Man sells out each year, attracting 25,000 people a day from around the world to Mid Wales. The Green Man Trust Charity was founded in 2013 and has supported 3,000 artists, trained 2,000 people, 200 science engagement projects and 27 Welsh community projects.
Hijinx Theatre Company
Hijinx is a pan-Wales theatre company which always casts neuro-divergent and learning disabled actors in its award-winning theatre productions. Hijinx uses theatre to tackle the complex social problems of integrating learning disability into the workplace and into society. It is driven by the ambition to reduce inequality and believes everyone should have the right to access a rich cultural education and lead a dynamic, creative life.
Tamara and Liam lead Wales' largest producing theatre. In the last 2 years, Theatr Clwyd has created 23 critically-acclaimed productions and more than 700,000 people have seen shows produced and presented by the organisation. Theatr Clwyd’s many achievements over the past 24 months include the creation of a number of new community companies, engaging with a variety of age groups.
Scott established Hilltop Honey in 2011 and since then the company has seen exceptional levels of growth with turnover increasing from £234,000 to more than £4 million. Hilltop Honey was the first company to go to market with an organic Fairtrade honey and now all of their products are available in reusable glass jars or 100% recyclable bottles. The company donates 25% of its profits to a children’s charity.
Jem is the CEO of Naissance, a company selling natural and organic health and beauty products. Based in Neath, the company has grown considerably and now employs 134 staff in the UK and Germany and produces more than 1,000 products. Jem has built partnerships with sustainable and ethical growers around the world, sourcing the finest quality raw materials and ensuring that growers receive the best price for their products. One example of this is a cooperative of women in Ghana where 600 women support a community of more than 2,400 individuals.
Steve is the business owner of Hannaman Material Handling, in Deeside. The company specialises in providing full 360 material handling solutions to its customers by supplying and servicing forklift trucks, access platforms, fleet management systems, operator training and industrial floor care equipment. Following a career in the armed forces, Steve bought the company in 2013 and has turned it into a modern, effective and profitable business with a growing reputation for the supply of quality products and excellent service support.
Dr Laith al-Rubaiy
Dr Al-Rubaiy is a gastroenterologist from Cardiff. After graduating from the Basra School of Medicine in Iraq, he came to the UK in 2005. Having only visited his homeland on a number of occasions during his time in Wales, he decided to volunteer with the AMAR Foundation to provide medical treatments to some of Iraq’s poorest citizens. As well as helping to set up a mobile clinic, Dr Al-Rubaiy, is a clinical lecturer at Swansea University’s School of Medicine.
From Carmarthenshire, Liam studied at Yale-NUS College (Singapore) and Yale University (USA), majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Returning to Wales in 2017, Liam became the Director of E-Qual Education, a company he co-founded in 2011 and now employs more than 100 people in Wales. Liam is an avid supporter of the Seren Network, the Welsh Government’s flagship initiative to assist pupils to gain places in top universities, for which he mentors students and guides schools to learn more about international opportunities.
Rhinal, who grew up in Pontypridd, gave up a high-profile career working with A-list celebrities to travel the world and help people less fortunate than herself. After donating all her travel budget to slum children in India, she travelled home to Wales with no money. She has now set up a charity called the Pursuit of Happiness, through which she gives workshops on human rights in partnership with international organisations like Amnesty International, looking after the environment and mindfulness.
Innovation, Science and Technology
Cerebra Innovation Centre
Cerebra is a charity dedicated to helping families with children with brain conditions discover a better life together. It has established a partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to establish the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC). Based at the Swansea College of Art, a team of engineers design and build innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. Their designs are exciting as well as functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help. Products and advice are provided free of charge.
Go Safe Cymru
GoSafe Cymru is a partnership between Wales’ police forces, the 22 local authorities and the Welsh Government with the aim of making Welsh roads safer for everyone by influencing the attitudes and behaviours of all road users. With dashcams becoming more popular and an increase in helmet cameras, there has been a large increase in video evidence being sent to Wales’ police forces. The GoSafe website enables the public to upload their video evidence and complete a statement about the offence they have witnessed. It receives 200 submissions each month.
Ian, a retired businessman from Aberdare, has used his chronic and life-limiting condition to build a successful business offering digital health solutions. With business partner Dave Taylor, he set up Bond Digital Health Ltd in Cardiff and worked with local universities to create a smart diary and app platform to help patients with chronic conditions to monitor their health. Mr Bond is also working in collaboration with Hywel Dda University Health Board to help develop an electronic diary app that will help COPD patients self-manage their condition.
Geraint Thomas OBE
2018 was an amazing year for cyclist Geraint, who won the iconic Tour de France road race last summer. He became the first Welshman to win the event and only the third British rider after Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. His achievement was celebrated at a homecoming event in Cardiff with more than 10,000 people present to congratulate him on his achievement and the National Velodrome of Wales in Newport was renamed the Geraint Thomas Velodrome.
Jess Fishlock MBE
Jess has been a member of Wales Women’s national football team since 2006. In 2017, Jess became the first Welsh player (woman or man) to earn 100 caps. She’s also won the Welsh Footballer of the Year title times. Jess has appeared 113 times for the Wales team and scored 29 goals. She was a key part of the squad in its attempt to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, playing in every game despite the intense travel commitments. She is currently on loan to Olympique Lyonnais in France from Seattle Reign FC in the USA.
Menna Fitzpatrick MBE
At just 19 years old, Menna Fitzpatrick became the most successful British winter sport Paralympian in history at the 2018 games. Menna is visually impaired, having only 5% vision, and along with her guide Jennifer Kehoe, won a bronze, 2 silvers and a gold in the Pyeongchang Paralympics. She carried the flag for Team GB at the closing ceremony of the games and at the end of January this year, Menna and Jennifer won 2 gold medals at the Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy. Menna became the youngest person on the recent Queen’s birthday honours list, receiving an MBE for her service to sport.
Bethan is currently a sixth form pupil but from a young age she has been helping her father to care for her mother who has epilepsy. When she was 6, Bethan was introduced to karate to give her a focus away from her responsibilities at home. By the age of 12, Bethan was a black belt and a qualified karate instructor. Once qualified, Bethan opened her first not-for-profit karate club for other young carers between the ages of 6 and 9. The club supports them to develop confidence, self-esteem and have a break from their caring responsibilities.
17-year old Hannah is an anti-bullying campaigner from Cardiff and uses her own experience of being bullied to help others. At 7, Hannah moved from London to Cardiff. Following the move, Hannah was bullied for years at school and online. At 13, she took the first step by confiding in her mum about the bullying. She received counselling and after her complaints were ignored by teachers, she decided to move schools. She is now an outgoing young woman, happy at her new school where she has many friends and supportive teachers. Hannah is an anti-bullying ambassador for the Diana Awards and she speaks to others her age to encourage them to speak up and not suffer.
Lowri is a survivor of child sexual exploitation and has been incredibly brave in going public about what happened to her. She provided evidence against her abuser, resulting in his conviction and imprisonment. While the offences committed against her and the subsequent criminal justice process had a significant impact on her health and wellbeing, she has volunteered to support agencies to improve their response to child sexual exploitation. Lowri has given up a considerable amount of her time to engage with practitioners, senior leaders and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner to provide feedback about how policing and other services could improve the service delivered to children. Lowri is currently studying a course in social care as she is committed to helping protect vulnerable children.