Inspiring Welsh Citizenship

Geraint Talfan Davies explains the thinking behind a new awards scheme just launched by the IWA.

Ever since the IWA was established in 1987 we have been fired by the vision of a Wales in which all its citizens play a full and engaged part in creating a progressive society. From the outset, too, we were convinced that encouraging enterprise of all forms was important – not just in private enterprise, but an enterprising spirit in the public, private and voluntary sectors, enterprise that is about energy and creativity, about ideas, innovation and action.

There is plenty of that around in Wales – though not enough – and we cannot sing its praises often enough. We wanted, therefore, to highlight the contribution that Welsh men and women are making to their own society, to raise the profile of innovative and inspirational Welsh citizens.

So yesterday, together our media partner, the Western Mail, we launched the IWA Inspire Wales Awards to recognise and reward excellence, to underline the importance of innovation in the public, private and voluntary sectors, to encourage active involvement in Welsh civil society, to champion equal opportunities and to create role models for others.

In this first year of the scheme we have designated ten categories, though this may change in future years as we see the need to highlight particular fields of activity. The ten categories for 2010 are:

  • Business Leader of the Year – Sponsored by Leadership & Management Wales. It is crucially important that, in a part of the country that is so dominated by the public sector, that we do everything we can to stress the importance of developing our indigenous business sector.
  • Educator of the Year – surely nothing is more important for securing our future than the quality of education.
  • Science and Technology – Wales has made a bigger contribution to developments in science and technology than is generally recognised. But we need to celebrate what is being done in the here and now. Again, this is crucial to our future.
  • Environmentalist of the Year – sponsored by South Wales Shredding Ltd and WRAP Cymru. As we tackle climate change we know that there are many committed and creative people in this field trying, in big ways and small, to enhance Wales’s contribution to solving global problems.
  • Welsh at Work – sponsored by The CADCentre (UK) Ltd. The Welsh language is an essential part of our identity as a nation, and we want to recognise innovative ways in which the language has been used in the workplace and business.
  • Arts, Media and Creative Industries – sponsored by Active Music Services. Like the language, the arts, media and creative industries say so much about who we are. They help define us, but they also make an enormous contribution to society, economically and socially. In a recession they can also be a powerful means of social cohesion.
  • Active Citizen of the Year – There is a lot of talk about public disengagement from politics, but there is also plenty of evidence that people, young and old, when they feel passionately about some cause are more than able to galvanise others into action – people who are not willing just to stand by and complain, but to take action. In many ways they enhance the quality of our democracy.
  • Global Wales – Wales is a small country, but in the era of globalisation we have to project ourselves to a wider world. It’s a big task, but there are people who have carried the banner for Wales very effectively beyond our borders.
  • Young Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Wales and West Utilities. At this very difficult time, it is very important that we emphasise the contribution that young people can make when they are given encouragement and space.
  • Sporting leadership – I should emphasise that this is not another award for sportsmen and women, but a category designed to recognise those who people inspire others to participate and achieve at local, regional or national level.

Now we are looking forward to seeing some inspiring entries in all categories. The closing dates for nominations  will be on the 16th, 23rd and 30th of April, depending on category. So the search is on, and on Tuesday 15th June, at the City Hall, Cardiff, we will be celebrating the achievements of the 30 finalists and announcing our category winners at an awards dinner.

We have already won the support of a wide range of sponsors, but there are still some sponsorship opportunities remaining. For information about entering yourself, about nominating others or about sponsorship, please contact the event organiser Emma Brennan at [email protected] or 029 2066 0820.

Geraint Talfan Davies is Chair of the IWA.

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