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First Minister's Special Award 2016 winner

The First Minister’s Special Award for 2016 has been awarded to international rugby referee Nigel Owens.

The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones AM said:

There are many reasons why I admire him and his various achievements, but let me elaborate on just two of them.

In his chosen profession, he is widely regarded as being the best in the world, and while carrying out that role he is a fabulous ambassador for Wales. He has also offered inspiration to many people – particularly young people - about how to be true to themselves and to live the life they choose.

He was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France and at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Most memorably, he was referee for the 2015 Rugby World Cup final in England. He’s respected by players and supporters alike, and is known for his sharp wit and easy touch.

He has also of course, battled with his own personal issues. Despite being part of a very macho world, he decided, in his words ‘to stop living a lie’ and declared to the world that he is gay. Since then he has spent a lot of time speaking about his sexuality, and I believe will have helped many young people in particular come to terms with their own sexuality and to have the confidence to discuss it with their families and friends.