Blaenau Gwent volunteers celebrated at GAVO awards evening
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
Tonight, hardworking and dedicated volunteers from across Blaenau Gwent were recognised at a special awards evening at Llanhilleth Miners Institute
Awards presented with Highly commended and Winners:
Trustee & Director
This Trustee and Director award recognises the often unseen work of those who make a huge difference in all of our community groups and charities.
Our nominees for the Trustee and Director award are: Pat Tovey and Stephen Bowyer. Pat has been the chair and driving force behind the Ebbw Fach Community Centre. Her love and passion has transformed the centre to what it is today, a friendly and welcoming space where people can reduce loneliness make new connections and participate in the various activities.
Stephen has been a volunteer with BGFM Radio since 2008 and since becoming a director he has been instrumental in pulling the group back from near collapse, even using his own funds to support the group. Stephen always encourages every individual to grow and be themselves and always puts others first and himself last.
Highly Commended - Pat Tovey
Winner - Steve Bower
This award will celebrate those who give their time to supporting and developing local sports projects. Our nominees for the Sport category are: Leonard Hutton and the Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Sports Club. Leonard Hutton is the Chairperson of Garnlydan Football Club for the last 30 years. You can guarantee if you go past the pitch, you will see Lenny working hard whether that be on the mower, painting, digging - basically any job he can find to better the club. Before Covid, Lenny also coached the junior boys and they idolised him. Lenny was instrumental in helping arrange many tours and trips and would also come straight from work to run the boys training sessions and give up his Sunday mornings to go to the boy’s matches. Garnlydan is a very deprived area and it’s always a struggle to get the finances you need to keep the club running but Lenny is always there putting his own money into the club time and time again to ensure the club can keep going forward.
Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Sports Club has provided a really inclusive place which allows everyone to play sports together, regardless of experience or ability. You do not have to be a wheelchair user to take part, which gives families and friends the chance to play together – sometimes for the first time. They promote disabled sports using the 'wheelchair' to level the playing field for a more inclusive experience. The club plays host to wheelchair rugby union 7's through to wheelchair table tennis and everything in between.
Some members who have never had the confidence to go outside due to their disabilities are now playing sports for the club competitively and even for Wales. It really has been life changing for many individuals.
This award is little bit different as the panel found impossible to pick just one winner and have decided that both are deserving of the award.
Joint Winners - Leonard Hutton & Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Club
The environmental award celebrates those who encourage communities to become more sustainable and go the extra mile to protect the planet. Our nominees for this award are: Brian Morgan and Dave Kane.
Brian is a valued member of Providence Baptist Chapel who is driven to improve the community for all. Brian has put his heart and soul into this garden, the passion to develop this space, for the community has been immense. He has been the driving force behind this project turning an overgrown area into a thriving, colourful, garden which community members are talking about. At the beginning of the pandemic, we sadly lost a long serving member of the church, so Brian thought of making the garden as a memorial. Lots of people have lost loved ones in the pandemic and have shared stories with him. Brian is a very good listener, a caring member of the community, but his passion and drive for this project has been incredible.
Dave and his assistant Yoda, a small and slightly chunky little dog have taken on the role of Park Wardens at The Trevor Rowson Wildlife and Heritage Park on Farm Road in Nantyglo. Since Christmas 2021 alone, Dave has collected around 150 bags of rubbish whilst monitoring the park for any vandalism, which sadly is a frequent occurrence. In the Spring of 2022, Dave began planting our small orchard of fruit trees, to join the established plum trees already on the site. He has nurtured and watered these trees which will hopefully produce fruit in a few years’ time. Many of our visitors are elderly, Dave always knows who they are and what time they will arrive. This is very comforting for people, as they know there’s someone looking out for them.
Highly Commended - Dave Kane
Winner - Brian Morgan
Welsh Culture & Heritage
The Welsh Culture and Heritage Award is a new one this year. It recognises the work of those that ensure our culture is central to our vibrant communities, and protect our heritage and culture for future generations. Our nominees for the award are: Glyn Walters and Aberystuth History and Archaeology Society.
Glyn has filmed and curated a community and cultural video archive spanning several decades in Blaenau Gwent. The archive contains local community, political, historical, cultural, family and sporting events in Blaenau Gwent. Glyn has also been involved with several history projects including Blaenau Gwent Chartists project, EVI history display; he has supported technical school reunions at EVI, where many people came together after a period of 40 / 50 years to reminisce. Glyn’s wish is to donate his library to the community, so that the community has a legacy of events to be proud of. Glyn gave his time freely to do this, and has spent countless hours over decades curating this archive.
Aberystruth History and Archaeology Society have run the largest community history and archaeology project to happen in Wales for the past 20 years. They are all volunteers and have gone out in all-weather to get this project completed. And the project was recognised by the Royal family with a visit from HRH Princess Anne. The project is also making a 3D virtual reality educational model of the Cwmcelyn Valley that will be used in schools throughout Blaenau Gwent. They help people of all ages and abilities to get involved in their local history and archaeology.
Highly Commended - Aberystruth History Archaeology Society
Winner - Glyn Walters
Health & Wellbeing
Physical and mental health are important to us all. This award will celebrate those volunteers that help us with some of the challenges that life can present. Our nominees for the award are: Cymru creations and Ebbw Fach Community Group.
Cymru Creations have been running free community beneficial projects since 2016. They ensure the community are involved at every step and create projects based on what the community has told them. This means members of the community can take part in something fun whilst providing an opportunity to gain new skills, work experience and create new friendships. By being able to take part in such a variety of activities it provides a mental health boost to members of our community and for many provides a reason to get out of the house and socialise. Cymru Creations are always looking at new ways to make a positive impact on their community, and have recently purchased the Queens Ballroom, with the plans of turning it into a community hub that can be used by a variety of organisations to host low cost or free beneficial events for the whole community.
Ebbw Fach community group are a vital helpline for some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Their Happy Café is run by the volunteers and has mental health at the heart of it. The volunteers run the community garden which has a community allotment, a fairy garden for children, and a space where fayres are held to bring everyone together. The volunteers also run a parent and toddler group, various craft groups, and support the local park run. All these groups support the physical and mental health of the local community and are a lifeline for those who feel isolated and lonely without them.
Highly Commended - Cymru Creations
Winner - Ebbw Fach Community Group
High Sheriff's Award - Presented by Malgwyn Davies Esq OBE CStJ
Winner - SSAFA
Young people make a significant and positive impact on society, helping us shape our communities. This award recognises the incredible efforts of our younger volunteers in Blaenau Gwent. This award had one outstanding nomination – so I will announce the winner now. The Blaenau Gwent Youth Council.
The Youth Forum is all about 'Young People Having A Say'. It provides opportunities for young people living in Blaenau Gwent County Borough to have a voice on issues that affect them, and to become actively involved in local decision making. Chloe Lines is this year’s Blaenau Gwent’s Youth Mayor with priorities around raising awareness of the impacts of bullying and what support is available. Mara Moruz is the Deputy Youth Mayor with priorities around climate change and the environment.
Winner - Blaenau Gwent Youth Council
The International award acknowledges those who have made a contribution to international efforts and help to make the world a better place for us all.
The Blaenau Gwent Film Academy runs classes in all aspects of filmmaking for 7-17 year olds. Running for over 5 years, the Academy has over 200 young members. They have had a major international impact, with films going on to be shown in many different countries. Their film entitled ‘Life of a Plastic Cup’ has won a top award at a film festival in India, the film about plastic pollution is being used in schools across New Deli to help young people living in India understand how plastic waste is such a problem for the environment. The same film was asked to be part of a special environmental road show across America. It also has been shown in London and Spanish Film festivals and has had a big impact on teaching young people about plastic pollution.
Winner - Blaenau Gwent Film Academy
Parent & Child
This award acknowledges those who go the extra mile for our next generation. Parent and Toddler groups, coffee mornings, and PTAs are just some of the ways our volunteers help improve the lives of the children in Blaenau Gwent. Our nominees are: Fynley’s paint and play and Wild Tots.
Fynley’s Paint and Play was set up by Maria Williams in 2020 in memory of her grandson Fynley Thomas who passed away at the age of three due to a condition associated with PIGQ. The group goes out of their way to puts on craft days for the children, even creating special workshops for Valentine’s day, Christmas, Easter and other special events. They also host knit and natter groups, providing a friendly space for people to get together, and also offers food bank services for those in need.
Wild Tots is a parent and toddler group with a difference – based in the great outdoors, where children have the freedom to explore nature, learn new things and foster a lifelong love of the outdoors. Wild Tots enables children to develop a robust understanding of how to actively play outside providing fundamental sensory and wellbeing experiences for children- and their families. The group was set up in 2016 by the Local Authority and led by a team of volunteers, called Wild Leaders. Our volunteers give up their time to plan and deliver sessions regardless of the weather and go above and beyond to support our Wild Tots families.
Highly Commended - Fynley's Paint and Play
Winner - Wild Tots
This award celebrates those that help the environment by reducing food waste, while also helping people in need. Our highly commended nominee has recently withdrawn their application and so I will only announce the winner in this category. The winners are Pentref Tyleri CBC.
Pentref Tyleri CBC is a community interest company that was established in 2020 to explore models for community-led regeneration in the Tyleri valley. As a member of the Blaenau Gwent Sustainable Food Partnership, Pentref Tyleri is also working to improve local people’s understanding of - and access to - healthy and nutritious food. They have hosted events such as the low carbon lunch, which taught how a climate friendly plate can benefit the planet, your health, and your local community. They support a garden to table approach by growing their own crops to serve to the community, often providing free soups during community events. With daily training and support throughout the Kickstart Scheme, Caffi Tyleri have a talented, confident and capable young workforce who are currently exploring other income-generating activities that would also provide community benefit.
Winner - Pentref Tyleri CBC
Inspirational Volunteer - Presented by The Lord Lieutenant of Gwent Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE
This is a very special award for volunteers who the judging panel felt was a true inspiration to us all. The nominees are: Garnlydan Community Spirit and Trevor Williams.
Garnlydan Community Spirit aim to improve the health and well-being of all the residents by improving access to facilities, activities and developing the surrounding environment. They aim to improve community spirit within the area, bringing the people together to take ownership of their local space. The group has held table top sales, Halloween and Christmas activities and secured over £6,000 in funding to run a Big Community Jubilee Lunch. They have also secured funding for Gardening projects and are in the process of setting up allotments in the area. They have organised litter picks and arranged for the local shop to hold litter picking equipment for anyone wishing to use it. They have held community consultations to find out what locals want in the area. They have given their time selflessly and their enthusiasm and passion for improving the local community and the well-being of the residents is second to none.
Trevor joined the Hospice of the Valleys 10 years ago. He initially started as a Patient Transport Driver and in 2017 added the role of delivery van driver up until the Covid Pandemic hit. Before Volunteering Services started back up in late 2020 Trevor completed a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) course, he has tested hundreds of items to be sold in the charity shops which has raised well over £1000 for the Hospice. Along with doing this vital role within the Hospice, Trevor also helps run the Brynmawr and Tredegar Shops 2 days a week. Despite being 78 this year, Trevor is showing no signs of slowing down. He has recently driven a minibus full of Hospice fundraisers to the 3 peaks challenge, which took 23 hours. Starting at Bryn Bach Park they then travelled to Snowdonia then onto Caernarfon and Cadair Idris and then finally to Pen Y Fan before getting back to Bryn Bach Park the following night. Raising thousands of pounds for the Hospice. The Hospice couldn’t function without the help of all its volunteers, but Trevor goes above and beyond to support the Hospice. Trevor has Volunteered over 3000 hours during his Volunteering for the Hospice. His nominator Justin says: “There is no one better placed to win an award. He is and continues to be an outstanding role model.”
Highly Commended - Garnlydan Community Spirit
Winner - Trevor Williams
Congratulations to all our winners and highly commended and a big thank you for your continued commitment to volunteering in Blaenau Gwent.
We look forward to doing it all over again next year!