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Sports awards winners revealed

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THE achievements and hard work of sportspeople, coaches and volunteers in the county were celebrated at the prestigious Sport Pembrokeshire awards ceremony on Friday (Nov 24) – one of the highlights of the local sporting calendar.

Now in its 11th year, the gala ceremony at Folly Farm was attended by more than 600 guests, and hosted by Bill Carne and Cllr Huw George.

Fourteen award-winners were announced in a variety of categories, together with the winners of two special awards – the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Special Achievement Award.

The winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award was Paralympian and former international Boccia champion, Jacob Thomas (main picture) of Bethesda near Narberth.

Jacob, aged 23, claimed several international titles and achieved a place in the final sixteen in the London 2012 Summer Paralympics prior to his retirement last year.

Among his successes were the coveted gold medal at the World Student Games in Brazil, the pairs’ bronze at the European Championships, and bronze and silver in the World Championships in Beijing.

Jacob was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Geoff Williams, Head of Sport at BBC Wales.

He praised Jacob’s exceptional achievements and said that he was a ‘true champion in every sense of the word’.

“With his extraordinary degree of skill, determination and perseverance, Jacob is quite simply one of the most inspirational figures ever to come before us in the Sport Pembrokeshire Awards,” said Geoff.

The Special Achievement Award, presented by the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr Paul Harries, was won by Marie Tilley of Narberth.

Pictured is Marie Tilley, the winner of the Chairman’s Special Achievement Award, with the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Cllr Paul Harries.

After her sister and son were diagnosed with diabetes, Marie set up ‘Marie’s Mission’ in 2014, a quest to raise funds to help improve the treatment and diabetes and contribute towards finding a cure.

Since then, she has completed many endurance events, including cycling the punishing La Marmotte in France – 110 miles of mountainous terrain – and raised more than £15,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

She has also set up ‘Marie’s Marvels’ – a running and fitness group comprising more than 30 women – and is currently establishing two further fitness groups for youngsters.

“Her dedication to helping others, while managing her own son’s condition, is nothing short of inspirational,” said Cllr Harries.

The awards ceremony also featured a screening of a music video by Tom Fletcher, previously of McFly, featuring the amazing skills of Tenby WCMX champion Lily Rice, winner of the 2016 Junior (U16) Disability Sport Award.

Councillor Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said: “The Sport Pembrokeshire awards are an opportunity to celebrate  the achievements of sportspeople across the County and recognise the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. I’d like to extend my warmest congratulations to all nominees, finalists and winners.”

The Sport Pembrokeshire awards were organised by Sport Pembrokeshire, Pembrokeshire County Council’s sport development team, which also sponsored the awards together with the Western Telegraph, Valero, Radio Pembrokeshire and Folly Farm.

The winner of the award was Libi Phillips (Wheelchair rugby), whose sister Madi accepted it on her behalf from Tom Rogers of Arriva Trains Wales. The finalists were Leon Davies (Gymnastics) and Antony Triebel (Gymnastics).

Sponsors of individual categories included Strength Academy Wales, Arriva Trains Wales, Sport Wales and the Pembrokeshire Youth Service.

The winners of the 14 award categories were:

Sport Pembrokeshire Awards 2017 – Winners

Coach of the Year – Chris Barker (Squash)

Female Sporting Achievement – Abbie Williams (Triathlon)

Male Sporting Achievement – James Tomlinson (Athletics)

Boys (U16) Sporting Achievement – Iori Humphreys (Athletics)

Girls (U16) Sporting Achievement – Lowri Hart (Badminton)

Disability Sport Award – Jack Lloyd (Bowls)

Junior (U16) Disability Sport Award – Libi Phillips (Wheelchair Rugby)

Unsung Hero – Sam Rossiter (Cricket)

Club Organiser of the Year – Mel Marshalsey (Netball)

The award-winners Just Tri Junior Triathlon Club are pictured with David Walker from the Pembrokeshire Youth Service and Sion Jenkins from the Just Tri club.

Team Achievement of the Year – Sam and Daisy Coleman (Powerboating)

Junior  (U16) Team Achievement of the Year – Ysgol Preseli under 16’s rugby team 2016/17

Contribution to School Sport award – Rick Walton

Student Contribution to School Sport award – Nina Garcia (Greenhill School)

Club of the Year – Just Tri Junior Triathlon Club

News

Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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Sport

Walking rugby is a game for all ages and abilities

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WALKING RUGBY has taken off throughout Wales in the last 12 months and is benefitting participants in more ways than one.

The participants – male and female of all ages and abilities including one man who lost his sight 13 years ago – talk of clear benefits to their physical health and crucially, their mental health through being involved in the groups.

The number of Walking Rugby groups in Wales grew organically from two in December 2018 to 16 just twelve months later and new groups are starting up all the time.

A range of organisations from rugby clubs to charities, Health Boards and third sector bodies are seeing the benefit of the inclusive rugby format and engaging more than 300 participants on a weekly basis.
The Aneurin Bevan Mental Health unit has worked with the Dragons Community team to set up a team of their own, training weekly at Rodney Parade.

Kevin Hale, Community Support Worker for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board Forensic Psychiatry Service, who set up the Dragons NHS Walking Rugby team said, “From a mental health point of view it’s been priceless, the social benefits, in particular, are tremendous. Many of the players were very shy at the start and quite withdrawn but confidence levels and communication skills have grown massively and they have told us Walking Rugby has helped them in other areas of their lives.

“It started off as a means to get some of our service users active and also to have some social time afterwards to discuss any issues they’re having. It’s gone from strength to strength and we’ve opened up the opportunity so that anyone can join us at Rodney Parade on a Tuesday afternoon.

Christian Hyde now plays for the Dragons NHS team despite having lost his sight through diabetes.
“I played rugby from the age of 8 to 26. After losing my sight, I had to stop playing – and refereeing. You really miss being part of a rugby environment so being back involved in the game is huge for me and something I never thought I’d do.

“I’m already involved with the visually impaired rugby at Cardiff Blues but being a Dragons supporter, I’m thrilled to be able to train at Rodney Parade and to be involved in matches again like the recent festival. To have ten teams turn up shows the enjoyment we’re all having.”

Anne Jackson plays for Pontyclun Walking Rugby. She said “I’m the only woman at the club at the moment and we could do with more. It really is for everyone. It’s wonderful. It keeps you active – I’ve got fitter since playing Walking Rugby. We train twice a week on a Monday evening and Wednesday morning. We laugh most of the time, we all get on very well.”

Former Wales full-back and Cross Keys coach Morgan Stoddart coaches the Cambrian Walking Rugby group in the Rhondda. He said, “We regularly get 15 or 16 players at our twice-weekly training sessions, we had 12 teams at recent Walking Rugby festivals in Treorchy and Cambrian so it’s gaining popularity all the time.

“Quite a few of the players played rugby in their youth and others haven’t played much sport at all throughout their lives. One lady, Frances Jones, is a regular player and still going strong at 84!

“They enjoy the exercise and also the friendship and camaraderie they gain from it. I enjoy it too, it’s a real change from competitive league rugby as it’s so open to male and female players of all ages and abilities.”
While the format is fully inclusive to all ages, genders and abilities, its main appeal is to Wales’ older and socially isolated population. With more than 877 000 people over 60 in Wales (just under 30% of the population), and that figure set to rise to over one million by 2030*, social isolation and mental health issues are a real issue.

The Welsh Government Strategy for Older People in Wales (2013-2023): Living Longer, Ageing Well, states that loneliness is a real health risk – ‘the same as smoking and twice that of obesity.. that staying physically active protects mental and physical health and that older people say that if they are able to participate in social and leisure activities, they are more likely to say they feel well.’

Based on this evidence, it is no surprise that some GPs are now referring patients to Walking Rugby for the physical and social benefits it brings.

Greg Woods, WRU Enterprise Manager said: “Anyone can play Walking Rugby, whether you’re a lapsed rugby player or new to the game. It’s a social, enjoyable activity with obvious physical and mental health benefits. There is clearly a growing demand for more Walking Rugby opportunities around Wales and we are working with the current groups and a wide range of other partners to not only cater for that demand but provide support to the volunteers running the clubs and work with others to set up new outlets.”

WRU Community Director Geraint John added: “It’s exciting to see the growth of Walking Rugby and to think of its future benefits to the health and well-being of the people of Wales – both the current or recent rugby-playing population and those who could join the rugby family through the Walking Rugby format”.

If you want to start a walking rugby club, get in touch for advice and support participation@wru.wales

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