The winners of Wales’s national St David Awards 2020 were announced last night by First Minister Mark Drakeford.
This year’s awards were originally scheduled to be held in March but were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a message to all the St David Awards recipients, the First Minister said he hoped the “everyday but extraordinary” winners will find comfort in their recognition.
The award categories are: Bravery, Humanitarian, Community Spirit, Young Person, Innovation, Science and Technology, Business, Culture, Sport and the First Minister’s Special Award.
This year’s special award winner is former international rugby player Gareth Thomas, who now campaigns against stigma around sexuality and HIV.
The First Minister said:
“What is most captivating is that all of our nominees think their actions are nothing to sing about. Well they are. They are everyday people doing extraordinary things that have helped to change lives for the better. I am honoured to recognise them in our national St David Awards.
“I have chosen Gareth Thomas for my Special Award as he is a role model for people of all ages, but particularly young people. He has been open and honest about his sexuality and his HIV status and his story has been inspiring. His approach will help break down barriers and stereotypes, increase understanding and will help others in a similar situation to never be ashamed of who they are.”
The St David Award 2020 winners are:
Joel Snarr and Daniel Nicholson – Bravery award
In May 2019, Joel Snarr and Daniel Nicholson were driving on the A40 when a small aircraft hit the overhead power lines and crashed onto the road in front of them.
Both men – unknown to each other at the time– leapt out of their cars and ran towards the burning plane. The pilot and his teenage niece and nephew, were trapped inside and unable to open the plane doors. Spotting a crack in the back window, Daniel managed to break it to rescue the teenagers, before Joel dragged the pilot to safety.
Within minutes, the plane was engulfed in flames, but all three rescued were unharmed. At the time Joel was suffering from PTSD following his experiences as a former bomb disposal expert but, acting on instinct, he joined Daniel to risk his life to run towards the burning plane.
Rachel Williams – Humanitarian award
Rachel Williams is a tireless campaigner against domestic abuse. Her 18 years as a victim of domestic violence came to an end in 2011, when her abuser shot her with a sawn-off shotgun before committing suicide. Tragically, six weeks later, her 16-year-old son took his own life as he struggled to cope with his enduring trauma.
Rachel is at the forefront of pushing the UK domestic abuse Bill through Parliament, and in September 2019, she hosted the first survivor-led domestic abuse conference in South Wales – Stand Up to Domestic Abuse (#sutda), which brought together survivors and professionals. Rachel’s friends say she is brave, kind and passionate, but is most outstanding for dedicating her life to helping women all over Wales.
Wasem Said – Community spirit award
At the helm of Tiger Bay amateur boxing club is Butetown-born, Wasem Said. Membership has grown under his leadership to more than 300 children and young people, some of whom Wasem has helped steer away from drugs and knife crime, which Wasem himself fell into as a teenager before turning his life around. Wasem believes boxing can help strengthen a community, as through the sport, his members learn discipline, respect, healthy living and how to build their own self-esteem.
Tyler Ford – Young person award
Swansea-born Tyler Ford is not your average 12-year-old. He has nine World Kickboxing Champion accolades, is a triple gold medallist in the World Martial Art Games and was the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, at the age of eight. Tyler is the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association national boxing Champion and British Mixed Martial Arts Champion and has won more than 200 gold medals in international competitions.
Tyler manages to juggle his kickboxing and school work with charity work, being an ambassador for Bullies Out and Bully Beware and volunteering to help other children, hospitals, and the RSPCA centre. He gave his World Champion gold medal to one of his young fans in hospital and raised funds for a specially adapted wheelchair so the child could leave his hospital bed.
Professor David Worsley – Innovation, Science and Technology award
Originally from Pembrokeshire, Professor Worsley is Vice President of Innovation at Swansea University and Tata Steel Professor. During his 30-year career, he has secured more than £140m of research funding, with his current portfolio being one of the largest of its kind in the UK. Professor Worsley brings universities in Wales and around the world together to find shared solutions for the future, focusing mainly on solar energy.
His pioneering achievements – in the field of active buildings, which integrate solar energy generation and storage technologies for heat, power and transport – have led him to win multiple engineering and sustainability awards.
Moneypenny – Business award
Brother and sister duo Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacher CBE, set up the business communications service Moneypenny 20 years ago. Today it employs 650 people at its headquarters in Wrexham, with offices in London and Charleston, USA. With the business valued at around £100m it is growing at a rate of around 20% a year.
The company invests heavily in its staff, earning it a place on the Sunday Times list of Best Business to Work For, for nearly 10 years.
In 2015, Moneypenny set up We Mind the Gap, a charity offering traineeships with coaching and mentoring to young people in Wrexham. This programme has now been expanded to include Flintshire, Manchester and Liverpool.
Russell T Davies – Culture award
Swansea-born Russell T-Davies is one of the leading British television writers of our generation. His ground-breaking series Queer As Folk, Bob and Rose and The Second Coming made Russell a multiple award winner, with his revival of classic science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood capturing the hearts of fans all over the world. He has since created the trilogy Cucumber, Banana and Tofu, A Very English Scandal, Years and Years for BBC One/HBO and is currently filming his five-part drama Boys for Channel 4. There are too many BAFTA and Rose d’Or awards to list, but in 2015, Russell received the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for his Outstanding Contribution to Writing.
Alun Wyn Jones – Sport award
Alun Wyn Jones led the Welsh rugby team to the Six Nations Grand Slam and the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup. With 134 caps, he is Wales’ most capped player and is one of only seven players who have beaten South Africa, Australia and New Zealand while touring these countries with the Lions.
The St David Awards 2020 is available to watch at: https://gov.wales/st-david-awards
A special programme about the St David Awards will be broadcast on ITV Wales at 10:45pm on Thursday 16 July.
Nominations for next year’s awards are now open. For more information go to https://gov.wales/st-david-awards