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

Inspirational people from all walks of life are being honoured in the second annual Inspire Wales Awards. The awards – a partnership between the Western Mail and the Institute of Welsh Affairs – recognise the contribution of those in the fields of business, education, science and technology, arts and media, the environment and sport. They also aim to mark the work of young achievers, those who promote Wales to the world and the Welsh language in the workplace, as well as champions of citizenship. In this profile we reveal the finalists in the Educator category.

Lisa Marie Brown

As a tireless worker to improve prospects for unemployed young people, Lisa Marie Brown was nominated for the Educator award for her role as a pioneer in helping to engage young people not in education, employment or training (Neets) in innovative educational programmes. Now heading her own consultancy firm, Lisa Marie Brown has played an integral part in setting up programmes to support more than 2,500 young people into employment, education or training. These include projects such as Design Factor, Pinkspiration, Mobile Construction Classrooms and the high-profile Real Apprentice, which was featured on the BBC and has helped 25 young people, which is due to be rolled out across the UK. Having worked as information manager for the Penarth Youth Project, and the Wales manager for the Construction Youth Trust, Lisa Marie Brown has demonstrated her dedication to inspiring young people for the last eight years. She will continue the creative drive that saw her recognised as Marketer of the Year by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, among other awards.

Marten Lewis

A former electrical engineer, Mr Lewis has spearheaded a big change in Haverfordwest-based Darwin Centre since earning the post of centre manager six years ago, which aims to engage children and the public in the world around them. Among his most significant achievements is to develop the Centre’s STEM agenda, increasing students’ future skills for the needs of employers, and increasing funding through a partnership with a gas-importing operation. He developed a new curriculum-based education programme and science programme, Science Aglow, in his first year in the position, which involves eight schools each year, reaching 250 students. Under his leadership, more than 4,000 school pupils have benefited from the work of the Centre, and has seen projects expand year-on-year because of relationships with schools, cultivated by Mr Lewis. His reach is also seen every Thursday in a local radio slot, which promotes the Centre’s projects and explains the activities to the public – leading to the Darwin Centre being an example of good practice to other charities.

Gail Griffiths

In a context of high unemployment among young people in the South Wales Valleys, Ms Griffiths took the decision eight years ago to found and run a music magazine run entirely by volunteers, using her experience of more than 20 years in the media industry. As managing editor of Pontypridd-based social enterprise Plugged In, Ms Griffiths runs free workshops to tutor disadvantaged young people in the Valleys and gives young people a rare chance to create a portfolio of music-related work to help land employment. Within two issues, Ms Griffiths began distributing Plugged In across Wales to more than 200 locations, and is available internationally via download. A mother of a young family herself, she juggles the responsibility of family life with involving around 50 young people in producing each issue, and must work tirelessly to secure funding for print costs for each run. Now on its 11th issue, Plugged In has reached out to more young people and expose unsigned bands in Wales –and the Welsh music industry – to the wider public.

Copy written by Graham Henry. Photos courtesy of Media Wales.

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