Young Achiever – Sponsored by Wales & West Utilities

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The Inspire Wales Awards are an initiative of the Institute of Welsh Affairs in association with the Western Mail.

To celebrate the achievements of the men and women throughout Wales who make a significant contribution to society, the Institute of Welsh Affairs has teamed up with the Western Mail for the Inspire Wales Awards. The awards reward those in the fields of business, education, science, arts and media, the environment and sport, as well as seeking champions in citizenship and young achievers. Entries are encouraged from the public, private and voluntary sectors. In this profile, we reveal the finalists in the Global Wales category.

Paul Thomas

Having been hospitalised for three months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour Paul left school three years ago without any GCSEs. Yet the youngster has been determined to gain qualifications and has enrolled at Studio 34 – a Bridgend-based specialist education programme designed for students who had struggled at school for one reason or another. Paul has already achieved a BTEC Award in Introduction to Using Interactive Media Level 1 with high grades in most units as well as passes in courses in Photoshop and Customer Care. Since his diagnosis Paul has continued to battled the tumour but despite a number of treatments it keeps growing back. He no longer feels comfortable walking for fears his knees may give way and he has suffered several fits. Yet through the adversity Paul says he has grown in confidence since signing up to Studio 34.

Jessica Griffiths
Jessica has been nominated by her headteacher at Glyncoed Comprehensive School in Blaenau Gwent for her outstanding achievements in a number of aspects regarding the corporate life of the school. She has also been put forward for the Young Achiever award for her contribution to community life in Blaenau Gwent and in representing the community on the European stage. Among some of the most significant contributions she has made include representing the region and Wales at Youth Camps across Europe as part of Blaenau Gwent’s twinning programme, visiting Germany, Italy, France and Belgium and representing the Blaenau Gwent Youth Forum at the TUC Conference in North Wales – at which she made a formal address on child poverty in Blaenau Gwent. Academically she is also very strong with each of the 10 GCSEs she is due to take later this year predicted at grade A or above. She is also studying for grades six in singing and piano and grades five in flute and violin.

Nathan Bamford
Despite having learning difficulties Nathan has become skilled in the traditional ways of woodwork and craft. The youngster has been inspired by his tutors and after three years has become so competent that he is know passing his knowledge on to others. Alongside his practical skills Nathan has completed qualifications and gained certificates relating to the woodlands and forestry of Wales. And as a proud Welshman he claims the country is one of his greatest muses. He feels had he been based anywhere other than Wales he would not have had the opportunities he has been given by Tir Coed – an alliance of countryside organisations aiming to promote the benefits of the woodlands throughout Wales.

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Copy written by Sam Malone, Media Wales. Photos courtesy of Media Wales.

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