2009 Winners & Shortlisted

All content in these “Leadership Stories” has been provided by the finalist themselves. All information has been accepted in good faith. Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium. Any views expressed are those of the individual concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.

Businesses with more than 250 employees  

Cathy Davies, Corporate Service Manager, Legal & General

Legal & General is one of the UK’s largest companies and is responsible for investing over £304 billion worldwide (as at 30 June 2008) on behalf of investors, policyholders and institutions. It has over 5.8 million customers and nearly 8,000 staff.

An inspiring team leader who puts her team first, with the belief that exceptional results will follow from a team that feels informed, supported and encouraged.

Cathy’s achievements include a reduction in complaints of 46%, a 97% customer rating of very good or excellent for a new phone team she developed, and a saving of £1.5 million thanks to her initiative to consolidate projects.

She has done this not by herself, but by inspiring her team to achieve exceptional results. She instils a sense of pride in the team, and always takes time to reward achievement, whether through formal acknowledgement or a warm thank you. Cathy has encouraged her team to put the customer at the heart of their work, find out what they think and adapt to meet their expectations.

As well as her day-to-day responsibilities, in her own time she is an assessor for the Institute of Customer Services, helping others achieve professional qualifications, and set up a Staff Morale Team, through which she has organised staff events and raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

Her team not only look up to and respect her, but also view her as a friend. The incredibly warm praise from them is testament to the difference she makes to their working lives.

Greg Evans, Site Director, Magnox North – Wylfa & Maentwrog Power Stations (winner)

Wylfa is a nuclear power station on the north coast of Anglesey which meets more than 40% of Wales’ electricity needs and has 650 employees.

Greg has inspired his workforce to excellence despite the challenges of an uncertain future, encouraging each of them to achieve their full potential. His leadership style comes from his passion not his position.

Greg inspires Wylfa’s employees to have confidence in themselves, explore every opportunity available to them and achieve their ambitions. His balanced leadership style means that he is close enough to relate to those who work with him, but far enough ahead to inspire them.

Greg has been described as a visionary; he is not self-limiting and believes excellence is always possible. He has led Wylfa to become a centre of Nuclear Excellence and works closely with various organisations on their Human Performance Improvement initiative.

He instils a sense of excellence in everyone at the site, encouraging them to think twice about everything they do and aim to make it better. By challenging people to perform outside their comfort zone, Greg has led a transformation at Wylfa, helping every member of staff to grow in both their personal and team performance.

Beyond Wylfa, Greg has a genuine interest in developing the skills of young people on Anglesey. He established an engagement programme with local secondary schools to create world class skills in North West Wales, enthusing the next generation of nuclear professionals and supporting a sustainable future for the UK nuclear industry.

Mandy Johnson, Qualifications Manager, Legal & General

Legal & General is one of the UK’s largest companies and is responsible for investing over £304 billion worldwide (as at 30 June 2008) on behalf of investors, policyholders and institutions. It has over 5.8 million customers and nearly 8,000 staff.

Since joining L&G ten years ago, Mandy has spearheaded initiatives that have changed and improved learning and development strategies within the business, increasing efficiencies and adding value to the bottom line while inspiring others and leading by example.

Mandy puts the development of others at the heart of all she does. Thanks to her, L&G has introduced a formal management qualification route which has so far been achieved by 1,892 managers. Mandy led her team to design and deliver the vocational programme, which was designed to meet business needs and add real value to the bottom line. Mandy’s leadership and passion for this course has resulted in L&G becoming an Institute of Learning and Management ‘Centre of Excellence’.

Another of Mandy’s key achievement has been the establishment of an Open Learning Centre, which extends professional and personal learning opportunities to all of L&G’s staff. The centre is now in its sixth year and hundreds of staff borrow resources on topics covering everything from time management to learning Welsh and Yoga.

Through personal coaching, Mandy has transformed both the working and personal lives of a number of people by inspiring them to realise their talents. As an assessor for the Institute of Customer Services, an NLP Master Practitioner and a Career Councillor, she can provide a 360° approach to training and mentoring. Most of all, she brings passion and enthusiasm to all she does, and inspires it in others.


Businesses with up to 250 employees


Catherine James, HR & Development Manager, James & Jenkins Garages

James & Jenkins Garages is a family run organisation operating across South Wales which includes Renault and Vauxhall franchises, a bodyshop and servicing division, vehicle hire and petrol garages.

Thanks to Catherine James & Jenkins has a loyal, motivated and committed workforce which is ready for expansion in the future and a business strong enough to endure the current economic climate.

Catherine joined James & Jenkins at a point when the business was struggling – sickness was high, time keeping was poor and motivation levels were at an all time low. Thanks to her efforts, the organisation is fitter, more efficient and more productive than it’s been for four years, and overheads have been reduced by £200,000.

When Catherine joined the business she knew nothing about the motor trade or rental business, but invested time and effort to learn about every service offered at James & Jenkins, gaining the trust and respect of staff as she went.

She has created a culture of trust where people actively want the business to succeed, which has led to an incredible turnaround in performance. The customer services department, for instance, now achieves average mystery shopper scores of 80% – up 30% on previous years.

Catherine has forged fantastic links with the community, organising team building events to raise money for local charities. As well as staff being proud of and motivated by these events, they have significantly improved communication between departments.

Even more impressive is that Catherine’s role at James & Jenkins is part-time, as she also runs her own business in management and development. She is a leader in every sense of the word and has the power to motivate, support, discipline and inspire all at once.

Sam Lloyd, Managing Director, 7side (winner)

7side provides UK and international company reports and documents, company formation services and software and property services including HIPS, EPCs and personal searches.

Through promoting from within and encouraging his colleagues, Sam has made 7side a business that competes on a global scale.

When Sam became Managing Director of 7side in 2004 he inherited an organisation that had a top-down management style with little transparency, empowerment or inclusion. In the face of some initial scepticism, Sam has taken bold steps to transform the company and engender a culture of pride, ownership and positivity.

Starting from the top down, he worked with the board to set a new vision for 7side, then went on to create a new set of values and business plan, a process in which the whole company was included.

Sam is the driving force behind 7side’s growth, and his extraordinary commitment has seen it become one of the leading businesses in its sector. Against a trend of competitor price cuts, he emphasised the quality 7side could offer, increasing rates and profitability. He got buy-in from his partners to invest in new technology, marketing and sales techniques allowing 7side to attract leading customers on a global scale.

His interaction with all colleagues makes employees feel valued. Actions speak louder than words, and to achieve this Sam has introduced a profit share scheme, annual conference and impressive training programme. All colleagues have completed accredited training, and seven people have been promoted from within to management level.

He makes a point of celebrating successes and has a daily walkabout to talk to all colleagues. It is the small but important touches that make Sam’s leadership style stand out.


Kate Matthews, Managing Director, freshbaked Training

freshbaked Training employs 22 staff and provides vocational training and qualifications to the private and public sectors in leadership & management, learning & development and information technology.

Kate puts staff welfare at the forefront of the business plan, making flexible working a reality not just a mission statement.

Kate has cultivated an inclusive culture at freshbaked Training and encourages the whole team to make suggestions for improvements. She ensures that all members of staff are involved in the development of the business plan, and remain updated on how their team is progressing towards its objectives.

One of Kate’s key strengths is her ability to spot potential in others and she works hard to maximise the talent within the organisation, encouraging people to take the lead in their own areas of expertise.

As a busy mum of two young children, Kate recognises the importance of supporting her employees’ work-life balance and actively encourages them to take up flexible working regardless of parental status, role or length of service. She also promotes opportunities for women by offering rewarding part-time employment opportunities, and has recruited and promoted pregnant women on several occasions.

Kate has created a secure environment for people to progress personally and expand their skills outside of their comfort zone. Most of all, through leading by example, she has demonstrated that it is possible for women to have a successful career without compromising their right to start a family.

Voluntary and not for profit organisations


Nick Bennett, Chief Executive, Community Housing Cymru

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) is the membership body for housing associations in Wales and has 16 members of staff. CHC lobbies and promotes on behalf of its members and provides information through publications, conferences, training and networks.

Whether he is making a speech or simply at an internal staff meeting, Nick engages, motivates, entertains and inspires people. He is fearless, passionate and dedicated, and his leadership has made CHC the success it is today.

When Nick Bennett joined Community Housing Cymru, the Welsh Federation of Housing Associations as it was then known, had been without a chief executive for nine months, gone through a painful redundancy process and the organisation’s standing with its stakeholders was low.

Nick has inspired and led the organisation to become one that has new offices, a new name, a highly motivated and committed staff team and a newfound respect and support within the housing association sector.

Before he made any changes, Nick listened to key stakeholders and staff to ensure he had 100% support and took everyone with him. He had a clear sense of direction for the organisation and faith in his staff team that they would deliver.

CHC has contributed to political policies on housing, campaigned for additional funding within housing and successfully called for a review into the regulation of housing associations.

On top of his role at Community Housing Cymru, Nick is a member of the All Wales Convention Panel, the OFCOM Advisory Panel for Wales, and the Welsh Language Board. Despite having a full calendar of meetings, speeches and functions, he always has time to engage with staff and explain complex issues.

Karen Dusgate, Chief Executive, Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association

Since Karen became Chief Executive in 2003, she has transformed the culture of MTHA into an organisation that embraces communication, involvement and empowerment for every member of staff.

Karen’s leadership has transformed MTHA into an organisation with an open, inclusive culture where each member of staff feels valued and knows exactly how they contribute to overall success.

All staff are involved in developing the business plan, strategy map and organisational as well as personal objectives. Because each person knows how they can make a difference they put more into their work, and genuinely want to succeed.

If necessary Karen can be tough, and will tackle difficult situations head on with impressive results. She has influenced and changed the structure of the Board, which has improved effectiveness. Through her leadership, Karen has empowered staff, Board and partners to develop, improve and provide much needed services to tenants, residents and communities in the borough of Merthyr Tydfil, one of the most deprived areas in Wales.

Karen has led MTHA to go above and beyond its remit and actively engage with tenants and residents, developing their skills such as financial awareness and life skills. She is committed to using local contractors and encourages them to employ trainees to regenerate local communities.

Karen has a long term personal sense of investment in the success of the Association. She is not focused on her own individual gain but the long term benefit of the organisation, its staff and customers.

Hugh Morgan OBE, Chairman, Autism Cymru.

Autism Cymru is Wales’ national charity for autism

Hugh set up Autism Cymru in 2001 and since then has been instrumental in transforming autism care in Wales and beyond.

Hugh’s aim for Autism Cymru is to improve the lives of people with autism in Wales. Since he set up the charity in 2001 it has provided practical support through training to more than 6,000 practitioners and parents in the field of Autism, pioneered the creation of a Chair in Autism Research in Cardiff University and worked with the Welsh Emergency services to create an Autism Attention Card. The charity also works closely with Local Education Authorities to create autism-friendly schools.

Hugh’s crowning achievement is the realisation of a national strategy for autism. Hugh tirelessly campaigned to persuade the Welsh Assembly Government to develop the world’s first national strategy for autism, a programme which would help a person with autism from the moment they were diagnosed to later life.

Not only has this strategy had a transformative effect on autism care in Wales, as the first of its kind in the world, it has set Wales on a global platform in the field. Hugh hasn’t stopped at Wales, and has set up the Celtic Autism Alliance in partnership with Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland to share resources and knowledge. He was awarded an OBE in 2007 in recognition of his efforts.

Hugh is now seconded on a part-time basis to the Welsh Assembly Government to implement the national autism strategy and ensure its success. However he hasn’t stopped his work for Autism Cymru, and continues to develop partnerships and support from every avenue to ensure the charity can continue to keep autism on the agenda in Wales.

Colette Watkins, Manager, The Gellideg Foundation Group (winner)

The Gellideg Foundation is a community group which empowers local people to turn their lives around.

Charismatic, motivating and principled Colette has shown outstanding determination and courage in the development of a community group which has become a voice for people living in poverty across Wales.

Ten years ago Colette took a step into the unknown by agreeing to lead a fledgling community group in a disadvantaged area.

Gellideg was run down, its community spirit gone. Armed only with a vision to put the well-being of the men and women of Gellideg first, Colette and a group of six other local mothers decided to make a change.

Since then, Colette has taken in her stride financial management, organisational development, staff management and business strategy to grow the GFG into an organisation which employs more than 40 people and has an annual turnover of over £1.5 million. It now provides services including health and well-being initiatives, training and skills development programmes, volunteering opportunities and after school, youth and holiday clubs.

Colette has never been motivated by financial or political gain, but always by the desire to make a difference. She worked long hours to attend meetings, speak to residents about personal issues and address conferences in Wales and in the UK. Because of her hard work and leadership Gellideg is a better place to live. Residents have more opportunities and support, but vitally there is an expectation that they deserve better and can contribute to their own development.

One of Colette’s key achievements has been to give residents a voice in the decisions which affect their lives. She puts people experiencing poverty first, an approach which has changed the way that statutory and voluntary bodies work in Merthyr Tydfil and beyond. Colette is not only a champion for Gellideg, but also a voice of influence calling for more accountability towards people in poverty in Wales.

Business Leadership in the Community

Rachel Bedgood, founder, Complete Background Screening (winner)

Complete Background Screening works with the Criminal Records Bureau to provide screening and vetting services for criminal reports, credit searches, employers, tenant references and qualification verifications, providing a one-stop shop for pre-employment screening.

A Welsh entrepreneur whose leadership has created a successful business with the local community at its heart, Rachel has shown others that it is possible to create a thriving business and offer women a rewarding career in a disadvantaged area.

At the centre of Rachel’s business ethos is her desire to put something back into the community. Rather than set up the business in more obvious locations such as Cardiff Bay or the Treforest Industrial Estate, she stayed in Ynysybwl, an area where employment is very low and businesses often struggle.

Through the success of CBS Rachel is leading the way for businesses in the area. She has invested in a derelict property in the centre of the town, transforming it into a modern office space. She leads by example, showing others that you can succeed with the right product and approach.

The staff at CBS are all mothers who have struggled to maintain a professional career and raise young children. Many professional businesses tend to trade in more prosperous parts of Wales, resulting in travel costs and being away from home for longer for women who want to work in these sectors. Rachel has shown others that you can run a successful business and offer employees the flexibility to juggle a career and family life.

Through CBS, Rachel is contributing to the development of a more vibrant community in a traditionally declining area of Wales. She has invested her time, effort and money into her local community, and is leading the way to regenerate Ynysybwl. Her success shows that that with the right approach it, and other parts of Wales, can be a success story.

Steve Donnelly, Founder, Spotlight North Wales

Spotlight North Wales is a conference which brings together public, private and not for profit sectors to connect the North Wales business community, build relationships and raise the region’s profile.

Steve provided the vision, motivation, inspiration and leadership without which the dream of Spotlight North Wales may not have been realised.

Steve led the initiative to set up a showcase conference which would promote North Wales, engage with the wide range of businesses from the area and address the diverse challenges they face.

While it was a vision shared with many, it was Steve’s energy, drive, enthusiasm and hard work that turned Spotlight on North Wales into a viable operation. From taking minutes to calling on his extensive network of contacts, Steve went the extra mile to ensure Spotlight North Wales’ success.

He succeeded not only in engaging with people but enthusing them, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors to work together on the event. He ensured the conference could provide a lasting legacy for North Wales by bringing onboard professional bodies which could give people and businesses skills in management, HR, marketing and accountancy. Throughout it all he presented a positive and enthusiastic attitude, driven by his passion for the dream.

In November 2007, the first ‘Time to Shine’ conference took place. It was a massive success with almost 50 exhibitors and 366 visitors in attendance, and a final profit of more than £5,000. One year on, the November 2008 conference ‘Sustainable Futures’ was a similar success, and the Spotlight on North Wales conference is now an annual, sustainable event.

Steve’s vision was for the conference to connect North Wales and raise its profile. It has already achieved this, seeing partnerships and new initiatives developed between participants outside the event itself. Thanks to his leadership, Spotlight North Wales has created a legacy that will help the region succeed well into the future.

Lee Jones, Head of Trading Standards, Bridgend County Borough Council

The responsibilities of the Trading Standards department includes fair trading, special investigations, animal health, the dog warden service, age restricted sales and licensing.

Lee is a real go getter whose ‘can do’ attitude and decisive leadership has turned around Bridgend Trading Standards.

Thanks to Lee the morale within the department is at an all time high. His door is always open to his staff and he is willing to share his knowledge and experience. Lee supports his team and younger members of staff, contributing to development of the team as a whole.

His work has meant that trading standards has made a real difference in the community. He has worked to develop partnerships both within the local authority and its key external partners which have made a real impact.

One of his most successful projects has been his contribution to managing antisocial behaviour in Bridgend. Much of this was owing to underage alcohol sales and Lee secured one of the first licence suspensions of a licence in the whole of the UK, which has significantly contributed to reducing youth problems in Bridgend associated with the purchase of age restricted products.

He has also set up a ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ to protect vulnerable citizens who have experienced rogue traders calling at their properties.

Professionally, he has also led groundbreaking work for Netwise, a project that battles internet crime throughout Wales and is a key figure in the enforcement of intellectual property crime.

Public Sector Organisations

Phil Burkhard, Programme Manager, Heads of the Valleys Innovation Programme

The Heads of the Valleys Innovation Programme was established in 2006 to help create a more vibrant business landscape in one of Wales’ poorest regions, by reinvigorating the economy through innovation.

Phil has found a new way to bring the concept of innovation to life in the Heads of the Valleys, inspiring organisations to generate and action their creative ideas to benefit themselves and the wider community.

The Heads of the Valleys region is one of Wales’ most deprived areas but this is being turned around thanks to a range of key initiatives, including HOVIP, as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategic Regeneration Programme.

Phil’s vision is to inspire businesses (including social enterprises) to be more innovative in order to survive and thrive, raise the business profile of the Heads of the Valleys and revitalize the wider community.

Initiating change is not an easy task but Phil has succeeded in convincing stakeholders in the region, including central and local government, education providers, businesses and not-for-profit organisations to join him in ensuring HOVIP is a success.

To date, the programme has helped over 70 businesses achieve in excess of £130,000 in financial benefits alone. More than that, HOVIP has lifted the spirit of the area and promoted greater self-belief.

Phil’s open leadership style brings out the best qualities in each member of the team, motivating them to achieve outstanding performance. He frequently meets partners to focus support, review progress and learn from experience.

He believes that leadership is about creating a vision and then inspiring and working with partners to turn this into a reality, but most of all Phil believes that this is underpinned by establishing trust, integrity and credibility.

Phil has focused HOVIP on delivering value for its share of the £1 billion, 15 year investment in the Heads of the Valleys’ regeneration. Most of all, Phil has made HOVIP an ongoing success by achieving great results through great people.

Janet Hayward, headteacher, Barry Island Primary School

Barry Island Community Primary School has 190 children and operates in one of the Vale of Glamorgan’s most deprived areas.

Janet has initiated a mini revolution in teaching, transforming Barry Island Primary School into a beacon of excellence in south Wales. Thanks to her inspiring leadership, pupils at Barry Island Primary consistently achieve high standards no matter what their social background.

When Janet joined the school, she faced a challenge in turning the school around. She restructured the school management team, bringing in new teachers and focusing their work on driving up standards. Barry Island is a relatively small school, and in many ways fairly unexceptional. However it has created a buzz in the community and amongst educational professionals: a stream of visitors from schools across south Wales now come to see at first hand the teaching practice initiated by Janet.

The Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Jane Hutt AM, has identified the school as being “at forefront of excellence in teaching and learning in Wales” and it achieved seven of the highest possible ‘Grade 1’ standards in a recent Estyn inspection. The inspectors confirmed that the school’s vision ‘Together, learning and being our best’ was realised.

Janet’s leadership style doesn’t shirk away from challenges. She tackles change not by following the path of least resistance, but by confronting weaknesses. One example of this was the creation of a community garden on scrubland adjacent to the school. The children and community have a piece of green space where they had none previously.

Janet refuses to accept mediocrity and challenges others on to strive for more, whilst never losing site of her ultimate goal – giving the children of Barry Island School the best possible education.

Peter Vaughan, Deputy Chief Constable, South Wales Police

South Wales Police is one of the largest forces in the UK. It provides policing services to the 1.2 million people living in South Wales and employs over 5,000 people.

Since becoming Deputy Chief Constable, Peter has made a huge difference both within the force and to the South Wales communities it serves, through the force’s vision – Keeping South Wales Safe.

Peter took up office at a time when South Wales Police was emerging from a period of change that was creating a climate of uncertainty and affecting performance. He worked hard to win the confidence and trust of the Chief Constable, Police Authority and the entire staff within the service, introducing a back to basics approach to strengthen the fundamentals of good governance and performance. This created a sense of order and discipline and put the citizen and public confidence firmly at the heart of the organisational strategy.

With such strong foundations laid, performance has steadily improved throughout his term in office and the force has a real sense of optimism and belief for the future. confidence and a sense of purpose for the service

An engaging, empathetic and inclusive leader, Peter keeps in touch with the grass roots of the organisation and always has time for people. His leadership is clear, simple and resonates with the workforce, and he delivers it consistently with conviction and belief and his personal qualities inspire others to follow him.

He has invested heavily in building the relationships and networks that create success, and leads other partners whose support can help develop a more prosperous South Wales.

Peter is an inspiration to the service and those who work within it, recognition of his talent and achievements would be a huge endorsement of his massive contribution to public life.

Team Leader Category Awards

Amanda Davies, Group Chief Executive, Seren Group

Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association aims to provide a better quality of life for all through improving the local environment as well as crime prevention.

A tireless team leader who never stops thinking about how she can benefit the residents of Flintshire.

Thanks to Denise, Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association (FNWA) has become one of the most active and impressive organisations of its kind. Her work does not just stop at crime prevention, she wants to make her community a better place for everyone.

She actively encourages the regeneration of run-down and problem areas. It is because of Denise that an area known locally as The Flash in Buckley has been transformed from a rundown wasteland that was a focus for anti-social behaviour to an area that is safe to sit, walk and play in.

Her communication skills have been central to the scheme’s success. She produces a newsletter informing residents of what the Association is doing, and thanks to her, the area is piloting OWL (Online Watch Link), a scheme that sends crime alerts to coordinators by phone, text, letter and e-mail.

Commenting on Denise’s leadership of FNWA, its President Lord Barry Jones, said: “I have never seen such impactful leadership skills which have generated such passion and commitment from staff members and volunteers, younger and older.”

Similarly high praise has come from Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales Police, who described the work of Flinsthire Neighbourhood Watch Association as “outstanding”.

Denise leads her staff with enthusiasm and commitment. She engages with people of all ages and backgrounds and never stops thinking about how Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association can benefit the area’s residents.

Mark Thomas, Programme Leader, Bridgend Street Pastors (winner)

Bridgend Street Pastors is an inter-denominational Church programme set up in response to urban problems. It engages with people on the streets to care, listen and talk

Mark is the pastor at Hope Baptist Church in the centre of Bridgend. He has brought together churches and other agencies in the town to form the Street Pastors scheme, making the town a safer place.

The Bridgend Street Pastors scheme was established in Bridgend in response to the issues experienced in the town’s centre on Friday and Saturday nights. Mark recognised that a concerted effort was needed to make the town centre safer, and decided to run a Street Pastor scheme similar to that operated by the Ascension Trust in London.

The Trust advised that he would need the support of more than one church for the scheme to go ahead, so Mark personally approached each church in the area, the police and local authority to back the scheme and get it off the ground.

Mark oversaw the training of the programme’s first 20 volunteers, who took to the streets in July 2007. The Street Pastors now work every Friday and Saturday night and run a triage centre with the police and St John’s Cymru on certain nights of the year. A further four training programmes have since been held and there are now 50 volunteers from 17 churches.

Mark has used his networks and standing in the community to bring 17 churches of different traditions together and support the scheme. In addition he has gained the trust of the police at a senior as well as beat level.

Without Mark’s vision and tireless efforts and commitment the Street Pastors scheme would not have got started in Bridgend.

Young Leader (14 – 25 years old)

Andrea Evans is a Youth Worker at St John Cymru Wales

St John Cymru is a Welsh voluntary first aid organisation with more than 4,700 members across the country. With over 60% of its members under 25 it is also one of the country’s leading youth movements.

Andrea, 22 years old, is a devoted, dedicated and inspirational youth leader at St John Cymru Wales. Her determination and passion to help others is even more remarkable considering the significant personal adversity she has overcome, demonstrating an outstanding commitments and focus.

Andrea has been a member of St John Wales since the age of 10 and dedicated a huge amount of time to the charity. Her enthusiasm and passion for youth work earned her a county Cadet of the Year award in 2001, which gave her an opportunity to meet the members of the Royal Family.

At the age of 16 she contracted meningitis and, after eight months of battling the illness, complications led to her requiring a kidney transplant and the amputation of both of her legs. However, personal adversity has not stopped Andrea from remaining positive and she refuses to let her disability to overcome her. As soon as she recovered, Andrea returned to St John Cymru Wales with the more determination to help others.

Her work and involvement throughout the charity earned Andrea respect and appreciation from her peers. In 2007, she was made Youth Leader of the St John Cymru Radyr division, and she is also a core member of the ‘Our Voice’ team, which advises on youth activity within the charity and organises the annual Youth Conference. She was also awarded the Wales Youth of the Year awardfor 2008.

But most importantly, Andrea sets an example to all of us showing that nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.

Emily Robertson, ‘I Can’ Project Coordinator, African Community Centre Wales

Birchgrove Comprehensive School provides education to local children aged 11 to 16.

Amy is a young leader who inspires others to make real and positive changes. From participating in the interviews for a new prospective head teacher to just making others smile, whatever she’s doing, her energy, commitment, enthusiasm and zest for life shine through.

At just 16, Amy has made an unparalleled contribution to school life and her list of achievements is impressive.

As Head Girl and Secretary of the school council she carries out her duties with enthusiasm and energy. She is a great leader to the school’s prefects, and mentors younger pupils to support and encourage them. Most of all she treats others with respect.

She has led the team of 40 prefects with standards of professionalism that would impress anyone. Her mature attitude belies her age, and shines through in all she does to represent the school – she even sat on the interview panel for the school’s prospective new headteacher.

Her achievements do not come from selfish motivation, but her enthusiasm for life and a genuine desire to help others. She not only encourages other pupils she inspires teachers to make a difference and strive for excellence. Amy naturally wants to make positive changes, and her infectious enthusiasm takes others along with her.

With a mixture of charm, intelligence, humour and vision, Amy has made an indelible mark on Birchgrove’s staff and pupils alike.

Amy Jefferies, Head Girl and Associate Pupil Governor, Birchgrove Comprehensive School

African Community Centre Wales promotes integration and cultural understanding through breaking down barriers within the community.

Emily is an inspirational person, whose innate desire to put vulnerable and displaced people first is exceptional. She dedicates an inordinate amount of time to volunteering, working with numerous organisations as well as the Community Centre.

Emily started her voluntary work while at university, where she organised demonstrations against the war in Iraq and injustices in Palestine as well as running events to raise money to battle social injustices. After completing her studies, Emily spent a year volunteering in Paris with migrant communities, HIV/AIDS centres for women and other social projects.

Her voluntary work developed back in Wales, and she is now the coordinator of the ‘I Can’ children and young people’s project, which aims to increase confidence and self esteem in African and Caribbean children. Since taking up her post, she has set up a mentoring programme, where successful people from all sections of the community are trained to serve as positive role models to young people at the centre. She has taken this scheme beyond the centre and worked with the Local Education Authority to set up the programme in over 15 schools in the area.

Emily also works with asylum seekers and refugees, and provides direct and one-to-one support to families in distress in Swansea to help ensure children are integrated and feel safe in their new communities.

Currently Emily is also helping to set up a new charity which helps fund education for children who were educated in Wales but have been deported since their families lost their asylum claims in the UK.

She has won awards for two of her projects that signify shared values in action and human rights. Most of all she encourages others to volunteer and be a part of the community centre and get involved.