Actif Carmarthenshire Sports Awards 2022
Carmarthenshire's sporting talents were celebrated at the Actif Carmarthenshire Sports Awards 2022 on Thursday evening, 16th February.
Held for the 23rd time, it took place at the Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli and organised by the Carmarthenshire County Council Sports and Leisure team. The ceremony is one of the most prestigious evenings in Carmarthenshire’s sporting calendar.
The evening was hosted by Rugby union referee and presenter, Nigel Owens MBE for the second year in succession.
The annual Actif Carmarthenshire Sports Awards recognised the sporting achievements and successes of individual athletes and sports clubs, as well as acknowledging the contribution made by dedicated coaches and hardworking volunteers who make a difference through sport and their communities.
More than twenty individuals, four teams and three clubs were up for a total of 12 awards. A range of sports and backgrounds were involved again this year, including Athletics, Baton Twirling, Bowls, Cricket, Cycling, Dancing, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Karate, Judo, Netball, Rowing, Rugby, Shooting, Skiing, Swimming and Water Polo.
As well as the Sports Personality of the Year Award, the categories included Young Sportsman and Sportswoman, Disabled Sportsperson, Sports Volunteer, Inspiring Young Person, Community and High Performance Sports Coach, Sports Team, Young Team, Community Club of the Year and Outstanding Services to Sport category.
The shortlisted nominees, families, supporters, sponsors, county council staff and VIP guests gathered at the venue in the centre of Llanelli Town Centre and welcomed main sponsors, University of Wales, Trinity St David.
Our other category sponsors were Coal Bunker Glamping Pods, Scott Ltd, Enzo’s Homes Ltd, Gavin Griffiths, Cycle Champs, Castell Howell Foods, Sport Wales, TAD Builders and Coleg Sir Gar. We thank them all for their generous and continued support.
Thank you to everyone who nominated an individual, team or club for this year's awards and joined us at the Ffwrnes Theatre on Thursday evening. A big thank you too to all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to organise and deliver another successful sports awards event.
Good luck to everyone over the next 12 months as we look ahead to another big year of sport. The Actif Communities Team look forward to opening and inviting nominations for the 2023 awards later on this year!
Find out more about this year's shortlist by clicking on the award category below.
Actif Carmarthenshire Sports Awards 2022 Shortlist
Sports Personality of the Year
Category sponsored by: University of Wales, Trinity St David
Emma Finucane (Cycling)
Emma, a graduate from Towy Riders Cycling club, initially trained for endurance and road racing, however her potential was soon seen as a sprinter and on the track.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back, competing on a National and International stage. Emma competed at the Commonwealth Games in both the team and individual sprint events, achieving Bronze in both!
This was the 2nd year Emma has competed at a senior elite level and has quickly settled into competing with the best in the World at just the age of 20. Emma is currently on the GB academy programme.
Alisha Butchers (Rugby)
Alisha started playing mixed rugby at age 6 for mixed mini and junior teams before playing for Carmarthen Quins Girls and Penybanc RFC. Alisha has played for Scarlets and Wales at regional and international age grade before moving to Worcester and then Bristol Bears.
In January 2022, Alisha was one of the first women to receive a full time contract with the Welsh Women's Rugby Team and has been a huge part of the team over the last 12 months.
Alisha was awarded the player of the tournament in the 2022 Six Nations Championships, and player of the year by the Welsh Rugby Writers Associations.
Sara Nicholls (Bowling)
Sara, a member of Llandeilo Bowls Club has made huge sacrifices throughout this and previous years to play lawn bowls for Wales. Sara was selected to represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in the ladies pairs.
Reaching the quarter finals against New Zealand, they narrowly missed out on a medal by 1 point having led for most of the game. Sara has also played a number of test matches for Wales competing against other National sides.
Her commitment and dedication to the sport is total and she enthuses everyone with her passion and enthusiasm for lawn bowls.
Young Sportsman of the Year
Category sponsored by: Coal Bunker Glamping Pods
Ieuan Jones (Gymnastics)
Ieuan is a member of Dimax Gymnastics Club and competes in the sport of Tumbling.
In April 2022 Ieuan competed at the Welsh Championships where he became the Welsh Champion in the 17-21 age category at just 16 years of age. Just a few weeks later, in Birmingham Ieuan exceeded his Welsh title by becoming the 'British National Age Group Champion' for the 17-21 age category, after he put on a fantastic display that included new runs.
Following this achievement, Ieuan was selected for the British Championships at senior level. Ieuan is a popular gymnast and his dedication and perseverance is an inspiration to others.
Daniel Johnstone (Swimming)
Daniel, a member of Nofio Sir Gar Swimming Club competed at several National and International events during the 2021/22 season.
At the Welsh National Championships held in Swasnea in April 2022, Daniel came 1st in the 50 metre backstroke, 2nd in the 100m and 200m backstroke. To qualify for the event is difficult with strong competitors but to finish as Welsh Champion is a fantastic achievement.
Daniel has shown great resilience and determination this season, and despite suffering with a bad shoulder injury he focused on his recovery and went on to compete at the British Summer National and the National County Team Championships.
Jordan Blassberg (Water Polo)
Jordan, a pupil at Bryngwyn School, competes for Wales in Waterpolo. Jordan, as part of the Welsh Squad for his age group, competed at the European Nationals where the team came 12th overall.
During the competition, Jordan scored 3 goals, was awarded man of the match against Ireland and gained 5 international caps for Wales.
Having competed for Wales on a number of occasions Jordan was selected for trials for the Great Britain team where he was then invited to train as part of the extended squad.
Young Sportswoman of the Year
Category sponsored by: Scott Ltd
Sadie Rees (Ballroom Dancing)
Sadie Mai is 15 years old, attends Strade school and competes in ballroom and Latin dancing. Sadie travels to Cardiff three times a week to train and even more journeys are made when competitions are approaching.
This season, Sadie has excelled in dancing and can call herself the British Junior Ballroom Latin Formation Champion, European Junior Couples Formation Champion and in March 2022 Sadie competed at the World Formation Championships where her team 'Dance Crazy' became World Champions.
In addition to this, Sadie was selected as vice captain of the Welsh team – which is the biggest honour of all.
Emily Shawyer (Shooting)
Emily is 21 years old, competes in shooting and is currently ranked Welsh and British number one. Since winning GBRs first Gold medal at an International Shooting Sport Federation event last year Emily has been determined to keep improving and progressing.
She's dominated the sport retaining her British No. 1 ranking and won a fantastic medal haul including 3 consecutive Golds and a Silver in the Junior Women event; and 2 Golds, a Silver and a Bronze in the Junior Mixed Team event.
Emily ends her final Junior season as Junior Champion of the ISSF Target Sprint Grand Prix Series 2022 and Ranked Number 1 in the World!
Awen Roberts (Cycling)
Awen is 17 years old and competes in cycling. Awen has had a fantastic year competing for Great Britain all over Europe.
Her achievements include finishing 3rd at the Junior Women European Elimination in Portugal, second at the National Junior Women Road Race Championships in Yorkshire and 7th at the European Junior Women Scratch Championships.
Awen is committed to training, an excellent team cyclist and has much potential as a junior rider.
Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
Category sponsored by: Enzo's Homes Limited
Nia Holt (Cycling)
Nia is a member of the Wales Racing Academy and after a 10-year hiatus, which included raising a family, Nia made a comeback to compete to the sport and has taken it by storm in 2022.
Nia success includes finishing 2nd at the British Paracycling Women's Tandem 200m Championships 2022 at the Geraint Thomas Velodrome Newport in March, finishing 12th in the UCI World Cup Women's B Time Trial in Belgium in May, and alongside her pilot, Amy, finished in a respectable 5th position in the Women's Tandem B - 1000m Time Trial At the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.
Chris Spriggs (Bowling)
Chris Spriggs represents Wales in not one but two sports - both bowls and Rugby League.
In the Summer of 2022 Chris was a part of Wales’s Para Bowls Team that competed in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – his first time at such an event.
Chris is also a member of the Welsh Rugby Team, one of 8 teams that took part in the Rugby League World Cup. Chris is an inspiration to his team mates in both sports and is often found helping and supporting others in his clubs.
Luke Jones (Hand Cycling)
Luke is a hand cyclist and past winner of the Disabled Sportsman and disabled sportsperson. Luke has had a fantastic year competing for national titles in both Wales and across the border in England.
In July 2022 Luke finished 4th at the National Disability and Para Cycling Road Series rounds 5 and 6, in Bath, and then went on to become Champion in both the National Disability and Paracycling Closed Road Circuit Championships at Rhyl in August, and the Mixed Time trial Championships Mixed in Beeston Castle.
Inspiring Young Person of the Year
Category sponsored by: Castell Howell
Frances Mackie (Netball, Athletics, Cricket)
Frances is 15 years old and a pupil at Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor school and volunteers in a variety of settings in both her school and the community. Frances is Platinum Young Ambassador and sits on the school's Health and Well-being council, chairing meetings and ensuring that pupils voices are being heard moving forward.
In the community Frances volunteers for Carmarthen Harriers and Kidwelly Cricket club on a weekly basis, inspiring and helping others to be active.
More recently Frances has been successful in gaining a seat on the Young Ambassador National Steering group as a voice for young people in Wales. Frances is an exceptionally talented and 100% committed to sport, enjoyment and participation.
Stephanie Bowler (Baton Twirling)
Steffanie volunteers as a coach in 4 different community clubs - Celtique Twirlers, Dynamic Twirlstars, BTAC and Revolutionise Dance School.
Through her coaching roles she spends on average 15 hours a week delivering to over 75 children and young people over 4 days.
It is evident that Steffanie is extremely passionate about helping and inspiring young people to get involved in Baton Twirling and is incredibly well thought of within her clubs.
Gwenllian Jones (Rugby, Athletics, Judo, Football)
Gwenllian is 17 years old and attends Ysgol Bro Myrddin in Carmarthen. Gwenllian dedicates 5 hours a week as a volunteer and strives to get as many children and young people involved in physical activity as possible.
Gwenllian is a Platinum Young Ambassador, helps to coach a girls football team at school - which is a passion of hers, and within the community she delivers Judo as well as a variety of multisport sessions with the Urdd.
Gwenllian is an inspiration to the younger generation and without her time and effort, many of these sessions would simply not run.
Sports Volunteer of the Year
Category sponsored by: Cycle Champs
Nathan Jones (Athletics)
Nathan is a very familiar name in the world of Athletics. Not for his hurdling or high jump but for the hundreds of hours he has spent volunteering around Wales.
Nathan volunteers on and off the track with his club Carmarthen Harriers where he spends hours a week managing the outstanding website they boast, including News, Fixtures, Results, and refreshing social media updates.
Nathan can also be found regularly supporting events with Carmarthenshire, Brianne, Dyfed Schools, West Wales, and Welsh Athletics. He is often the first to arrive to help set up and does not leave until all jobs are done after an event. Nathan is efficient and a thoroughly dependable volunteer.
Anika Lloyd (Football)
Ammanford Football Club the club has grown from strength the strength under the direction and guidance of Anika and her clear vision and forward thinking has resulted in the club receiving the FAW Platinum Accreditation.
In May last year, Anika organised the clubs mini football festival giving 186 teams across West Wales an opportunity to participate.
She not only gives her time to the club but brings a sense of belonging and family which is so important. Anika is an asset to the club especially for her enthusiasm for sport and football which is contagious and encourages everyone around her to want to do more.
Bethan Drinkall (Skiing)
Bethan and her team at Ski4all give their time, energy and efforts to provide life enhancing experiences on a volunteer basis. Bethan gives up at least 1 whole day each week to organise sessions for Ski4All Wales participants.
As a successful Charity running since 2015, Bethan engages in a huge amount of fundraising for the club. This year Beth and her husband climbed a mountain in Morroco to raise funds for the club.
Bethan makes a difference to people’s lives, is tireless and unstoppable.
Community Sports Coach of the Year
Category sponsored by: Gavin Griffiths
Susy Soravia (Karate)
A dedicated Sensei for Higashi Karate Kai Club based in Ammanford and Crosshands, Susy has developed a strong sense of community within the club.
Susy is an inspiration to the students, as she not only coaches in an enthusiastic way but also helps break down the barriers between young and old, higher and lower grades and able and disabled students, concentrating on what the person can do rather than what they can't.
Being deaf herself, Susy is committed to finding ways of inclusiveness for deaf and disabled individuals into the world of martial arts. Susy has also been recognised as the first ever deaf judge in Wales in a hearing competition.
Neil Thomas (Athletics)
Coaching almost every week for the last seven years, Neil has been a huge asset for Carmarthen Harriers athletics club.
As an endurance coach for several years, Neil has been able to achieve many successes amongst his squad in individual and team events. Neil has been responsible for coaching at the West Wales regional training courses and team manager with both the Welsh London marathon team and the Welsh Celtic cross-country team in Belfast.
Neil gives a lot of time to provide athletics opportunities across Carmarthenshire, this includes organising events for primary schools, Welsh cross-country championships and Welsh road relays.
Helen Thomas (Netball)
Helen founded Morganite netball club in the 90s and has been a driving force in the club’s development and success.
Helen gives her time to coach all 6 senior teams, supports them every week in Llanelli Netball league and has also supported the u14s & U16s through a time where the section was in jeopardy. Helen believes that giving young girls opportunities to play netball in their own community is so important for their confidence and self-worth.
Helen will go above and beyond for the club and is committed to supporting not just the players but also the team of volunteers.
High Performance Sports Coach of the Year
Shelley Pace (Gymnastics)
Shelley, head coach at Carmarthenshire School of Gymnastics within the Tumbling discipline, oversees the Development Squad, identifying natural talent at all ages.
Gymnasts, under Shelley's guidance consistently achieve high standards at National and International events with 20 in the Welsh South Area Development Tumbling Squad, 10 in the Welsh National Development Tumbling Squad and 6 in the Welsh Home Nations Tumbling Squad.
Shelley is also a mentor to many clubs in South Wales developing their coaching skills and guiding them through their level 1 and other coaching awards, alongside working towards her level 5 in coaching and re-validating her judging qualifications.
Euros Evans (Rugby)
Euros is a well-known and respected face in the world of rugby. Not only as the Director of Rugby at Coleg Sir Gar, a role he has had for many years by now, but also as the head coach of the Senior Premiership club, Llandovery.
Through his role in the college, Euros has developed tens of local talented players turning them from promising schoolboys to professional sportsmen, some of which we see playing for the national team now. Due to Euro’s hard work and commitment the College is consistently ranked in the Top 2 in Wales and Top 3 in Britain.
Last season saw Llandovery RFC continue to challenge their opposition in the Welsh Premiership, finishing a very respectable 5th overall.
Austyn Shortman (Swimming)
Austyn is the head coach within Nofio Sir Gar, the county's performance squad. His commitment and attention to detail is second to none where he has created an environment for swimmers to enjoy and be successful.
At the Swim Wales Summer Nationals in August, members of the squad qualified in 117 races and achieved 74 personal best times winning 4 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals. His knowledge and the way in which he interacts with the swimmers is of the highest level and this is shown through the results they are gaining together.
In addition to this, over the last 12 months there have been 5 swimmers selected for the Swim Wales squad of varying levels.
Young Sports Team of the Year
Category sponsored by: TAD Builders
Maes Y Gwendraeth U13s Team (Netball)
During the 2021/22 school academic year, the U13s Netball Team, following the COVID pandemic, were finally able to restart their training ready to compete again. They won every single match in the Brianne Schools Netball Tournament against secondary schools countywide to become Brianne Schools Champions.
The team's impressive form continued, not only are they County Champions, they also went onto become the Urdd's Welsh National Champions. The girls were undefeated, winning every game in their group in the local round and then qualified for the National Competition. Here they won the quarter finals and the semi finals.
In the final they continued their winning streak beating Cardiff High with a massive 11-2 win and became National Netball Champions! The girls have been praised for their team work and outstanding achievements over the last year.
Ysgol Gymraeg Gwenllian (Cricket)
Ysgol Gymraeg Gwenllian's cricket team were very busy over the 2021/22 academic year, competing at both regional and national level. They have been impossible to beat this year, coming 1st in both the area and county round of the National tournament, before proceeding to win the Schools National Cricket Tournament and becoming Cricket Wales Champions!
They played against schools across Wales, some that had over 600 pupils, and consistently performed exceptionally. Cricket officials, spectators and umpires were left in shock at the standard of their catching, throwing and most importantly their teamwork.
They really did Carmarthenshire proud.
Sports Team of the Year
Category sponsored by: Sport Wales
Carmarthen Wanderers Women's Cricket Team (Cricket)
Carmarthen Wanderers women's cricket team were formed in June 2021 and was made up of players who were completely new to playing cricket. The team are now an integral part of the club with several players now involved in coaching within the junior section and decision making within the club.
The team have been involved in the inaugural Women's cricket leagues across Carmarthenshire. They were unbeaten in the indoor league winning 10 out 10 matches.
Following on from the indoor league success they won the outdoor summer softball league winning 7 out of 8 games and capping off a brilliant year.
Llanelli Warriors RFC (Rugby)
Llanelli Warriors, a mixed ability club, actively encourages players with disabilities and those who have little or no experience of playing rugby to become members and gain confidence in the sport of rugby.
Coaches are recruited from the players, both with and without learning disabilities who can follow the WRU coaching pathway. In June 2022, Llanelli Warriors competed in the 3rd International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament, where they topped their pool with 3 out of 3 wins, but narrowly lost in the quarter finals.
The team were commended for their exciting play and expansive style.
Community Sports Club of the Year
Category sponsored by: Coleg Sir Gar
Carmarthen Athletic Hockey Club (Hockey)
The club has worked hard to provide a positive and inclusive environment, with opportunities for all members, whatever their ambition, motivation or level of hockey. A strong committee is in place, with each member having clear roles and responsibilities, including a Volunteer Coordinator who ensures each volunteer has opportunities to develop.
The club boasts a young volunteer programme, as part of Hockey Wales Young Ambassador programme. Through this, young members are offered various roles from event management to umpiring and are supported by a mentor.
The club, to reduce costs, fundraises throughout the year, players can also access financial support through the 'Access to Hockey Fund' and has a kit store where players borrow equipment.
Carmarthen Rowing Club (Rowing)
The club offers an opportunity for anyone to participate in rowing in a fun and enjoyable setting. The club has worked well with Carmarthen Water Safety Partnership to encourage people to make the most of the river Towy in a safe and happy environment.
Being based in a central location in West Wales, has made a big impact on the sport and has made a marked increase in participation in rowing in Wales.
The committee has increased in recent years, with members encouraged to take roles so that they take ownership of the club. This includes a representative from the juniors, with 2 juniors in post currently who support with maintenance and fundraising.
Ammanford AFC (Football)
The club maintained it's Platinum Accredition status for a second year for it's commitment to continuously improve and develop.
The club provides an inclusive environment for players to learn and progress and ensures that each age group has qualified coaches, providing ongoing support to their development. Youth players within the club are encouraged to volunteer and support with coaching sessions in the mini age groups.
More recently, the club has established a Junior Committee giving young people an opportunity to make decisions on how the club operates.
Outstanding Services to Sport Award
Hayden Llewelyn (Rugby)
Hayden at the age of 89 continues to serve on the committee of Whitland RFC and has been involved since the age of 12 as a player, supporter and committee man.
Over the years his roles involved being on the committee, kit man and turnstile operator on match days, which he has only recently stepped down as. He is the club's 2nd oldest former player.
Hayden is a true inspiration to the club, showing loyalty and commitment over an 80 year period.
Graham Davies (Rugby)
Graham has dedicated the last 45 years to supporting Llangennech RFC. In more recent years, he has volunteered in particular with the youth team.
He carries out many tasks such as kit washing, line marking and organises buses to mention a few. He would travel every Saturday with the team and on home match days ensure that food had been ordered and selling lotto tickets to help raise funds for the youth tours.
Undoubtedly Graham's commitment and dedication to the club has taught everyone to appreciate the work he does to help support the cub and is the heart and soul of the team.
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