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 Young Achiever category.
Talented drummer Oliver Harding has taken inspiration from meeting some great Welsh musicians, such as Ian Thomas, Laurence Cottle and the late Stuart Cable, to excel in his field – even at the tender age of 16. The Builth Wells High pupil has defied the limited opportunities of living in rural Mid Wales to become one of the top 10 finalists in the UK Young Drummer of the Year for the last two years. Oliver – from Llandrindod Wells – is the only Welsh finalist in the competition this year, and has taken time out each month to travel to Manchester for drum lessons and to Swansea Jazz club for jam sessions. His hard work recently landed him a full scholarship to Berklee University, in Boston, for a five-week summer school programme. Oliver’s enthusiasm has crossed over to others in his school, with an uptake in drumming across the board, and despite being only 16, he is now a mentor to others, helping budding musicians through their exams.
Volunteer Tegan Morgan, from Cwmbran, has been working tirelessly in youth centres for the past two years, after a fellow volunteer’s message struck a chord. The 18-year-old Llantarnam School pupil credits the mantra “would you like the same lifestyle for your children?” as her motivation for driving her work in Torfaen – working in youth centres across the country, including special needs centres. Her inspirational work this year includes encouraging young people in Torfaen to practise safe sex in a bid to tackle the county’s STI and teenage pregnancy rates, as part of the three-year Sex Matters project. Tegan’s peer leadership has helped educate young people in schools, youth centres and at the Youth Offending Team and has helped motivate herself to be a positive community role model. She has expertly balanced her extensive youth volunteering work with training to be a qualified youth worker, while trying to improve the image of Welsh education – defying her years.
Merthyr teenager Mitchell Allen took inspiration from coaching judo to a five-year-old boy with spina bifida and used it to the benefit of the rest of his local community. With a mother and two little sisters also judo enthusiasts, 17-year-old Mitchell has worked for four years to run his local judo club in Merthyr Tydfil and another in Caerphilly. He has since inspired more than 200 aspiring judoists – men, women, children from the age of five upwards and able-bodied or disabled children, clocking up more than 2,000 hours of community work in the process. Despite his youth, Mitchell has shown great maturity in balancing his judo coaching with time and money pressures as well as exams, and representing Wales internationally as a judo player. And although he is due to go to university in September to study forensic science, he plans to continue his vital community work. His tireless efforts have been recognised in the Making A Difference Awards in 2008 and 2010 and South Wales Police awards.