Global Wales – Sponsored by the University of Wales

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. Today, we reveal the finalists in the Global Wales category.

Aran Jones

Former English teacher Aran Jones wanted to increase the number of Welsh-language learners across the globe – so co-founded an online resource to do just that with He recorded an initial course of 15 online lessons, with help from his wife and two friends – and its popularity has led to a total of 60 lessons, accessed by more than 14,000 Welsh learners worldwide. Addressing a shortfall in audio support resources, Pwllheli-based Mr Jones has also overseen a thriving support forum for budding learners –  which has led to an immersion course that has attracted visitors to Wales from the United States, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as an online Eisteddfod. His tireless promotion of Wales and Welsh – all as an unfunded volunteer – has led to an expansion of Wales’ reach in the world and been a unifying force for learners of Welsh outside of the country.

Iestyn ap Dafydd

The co-founder of, former civil engineer Mr ap Dafydd has been a driving force in developing the online resource to reach even the furthest Welsh diaspora. Responsible for the South Wales version of the lessons, he has also taken a hands-on approach to the site’s forum and has been instrumental in setting up the “Welsh bootcamps” in West Wales that has attracted an international subscription – with the four planned for this year almost fully booked. Mr ap Dafydd, from Hengoed in Caerphilly, has been as vital in raising finance, devoting up to 20 hours a week to the resource, as he has been in championing Wales around the world, as the first point of contact for users of the site. He has also pioneered a one-stop-shop blog resource for Welsh learners, in conjunction with marketing and innovation in support resources for learners – such as the website’s joint “live video” project.

Captain Jayne Hemmings

With 17 years of service to the Army Cadet Force Association in Wales, Cpt Jayne Hemmings has been instrumental in promoting the force and bringing Wales to the world. Cpt Hemmings – from Abergavenny – was pivotal in bringing the Exercise Huarango Dragon project to fruition last year, which took 12 cadets to the Ica desert basin in Peru, having each raised £1,800 for the project. The project looked to tackle widespread deforestation in the area – planting 5,000 indigenous Huarango trees and educating cadets on the environment and local people about Wales. The mother-of-two has also led a new project to twin the Peruvian and Welsh communities, and is pioneering a future 20-day exchange between deprived areas in Wales and Ica, which is pencilled in for next year. Her endless enthusiasm for promoting Wales as a forward-thinking country with an environmental conscience through the expedition has already guaranteed a second trip in Easter 2012.

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

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