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Rugby fan from Tredegar wins their story on a seat at Principality Stadium

Shane Williams MBE

A Welsh rugby fan from Tredegar has won a competition to have his story on a seat at the nation’s home of rugby, Principality Stadium.

Paul Higgins, 58, from Tredegar, was awarded the prize in a competition run by Principality Building Society after sharing an emotional memory from inside the Stadium. As a cancer survivor, Paul considers this particular day as the turning point in his life when overcoming his diagnosis, while watching Wales play at home.

Paul Higgins, from Tredegar, wins his story on a seat at the Principality Stadium

As proud partners of the Stadium, Wales’ largest building society launched the competition to find Welsh rugby fans’ best memories and unique stories from over two decades of games at the Stadium. Over 500 people across Wales entered and shared their unforgettable stories.

Paul is one of 12 winners whose story will be attached to a seat at Principality Stadium, ensuring these stories can live on and be enjoyed by fans when the doors are opened once again.

After being diagnosed with bone cancer, Paul shared with Principality how, when he felt like his world came tumbling down, his brother-in-law bought them tickets to Wales v Fiji in 2014. He recalls the day being a catalyst in realising to not give up hope and to keep fighting.

Speaking about that day, Paul said: “When my brother-in-law, Andrew, bought me a ticket to watch Wales play at Principality Stadium, it felt like the challenge I needed to feel a sense of normality again. I was so relieved when I got there that I was able to enjoy every minute of the experience – the atmosphere, the fans, the singing, the laughing, the cheering – I felt like myself again for a couple of hours. This day inspired me to fight the cancer and repay Andrew’s kindness. After a year of treatment, I was well enough to buy tickets for our next game together, and ever since I have always paid for both of our tickets to thank him for bringing me to a game that was a turning point in my life.”

Paul and the 11 other winners have also been invited to watch a match when stadia are permitted to welcome fans back to relive those special moments.

A panel of judges – including Wales’ top try-scorer Shane Williams – were responsible for choosing 12 of their favourite stories from the hundreds of entries.

Shane said: “There were hundreds of amazing entries for the competition and it was a big challenge trying to pick the winners, but Paul’s and the other 11 winning stories really stood out to me. It’s clear the Principality Stadium is home to so many special memories for people across Wales. We’re grateful to everyone that shared their stories and now the winners will always be part of Principality Stadium history.”

Julie-Ann Haines, chief executive of Principality said: “With fans not being able to fill the seats during this last year’s rugby matches at Principality Stadium, we wanted to celebrate the stories of the hundreds of thousands of Welsh supporters who have sat in those seats over the years. It’s a place which holds special memories for so many, including Paul on the day in which he realised he had the strength to persevere. Paul’s story is a reminder that the Stadium is a home from home for Welsh rugby fans and continues to bring people together. We’re pleased to be able celebrate these winning stories and cheer on the boys in what has been a thrilling tournament so far.”