TEN inspirational people from Wales are in line for recognition after being nominated in the ‘outstanding individuals’ section of the 2023 National Lottery Awards.

The National Lottery Awards are the annual celebration of the ordinary individuals and organisations who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. This year, 3,780 people and projects throughout the UK were nominated for the Awards in recognition of their unwavering efforts to improve their community. 

A 10 strong Welsh contingent have now been shortlisted among the 35 finalists from across the UK in the outstanding individual category of the awards, waiting to see if they will be crowned outstanding UK individual winners in their specific category.

Flying the flag for Wales in the Community and Charity category is Dr Sarah Miles, one of the Founding Directors of Community Interest Company, With Music in Mind. Sarah has been nominated for her efforts in establishing and running the National Lottery Community Fund supported not-for-profit organisation which helps combat social isolation and loneliness among older people through singing, gentle exercise, and social sessions.

In the environment category, Lee Jones from Ferndale, the Coordinator of the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Stepping Out Into Nature project, run by RCT People First, has been nominated for his unwavering endeavours in opening doors for adults with learning disabilities and the wider community to engage with nature, the environment and heritage on their doorstep.

Two individuals from Wales make up the five UK finalists in the Heritage category. The Director & General Manager of Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways in North Wales, 59-year-old Paul Lewin, has been nominated for his years of dedicated service, and as the leader of the executive team that keeps the UK’s longest heritage railway thriving and on track with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Audio-visual Journalist, Richard Jones, from Cardiff, has also been nominated for his remarkable National Lottery Heritage Fund supported The Last Generation of Coal Miners project, capturing the faces and testimonies of former Welsh coal communities, preserving their stories for future generations.    

Another dynamic duo proudly represent Wales in the Sport category. Brian Valentine from Flintshire, who was inspired by his football mad deaf son to set up an inclusive junior football team, is looking to score another win in the Awards. Devoted Dad Brian set up Shotton Town United Junior Football Club in 2015 after struggling to find a club that would fully meet the needs of his deaf son, Dylan. With the support of National Lottery funding from Sport Wales, the club now welcomes well over 100 children to training each week, with sessions adapted to include members who are hard of hearing and deaf. 

Keeping Brian company is 74-year-old Cardiff judo coach, Roy Court MBE. Roy has been nominated for his services to inclusive Judo over the past 40 years, helping people with special needs and disabilities get involved with the sport. He has a long-held belief that sport should be accessible to all, something he emulates through his National Lottery supported (through Sport Wales) Cardiff-based inclusive judo club, WISP Judo Wales

A super pair from South Wales are also in it to win it in the Young Hero category. The multi award-winning young filmmaker from Powys, 19-year-old Eden Quine-Taylor, has been nominated in recognition of her outstanding efforts in using the power of film to encourage young people to value their individuality and believe in themselves. Eden, who lives near Brecon, has been developing her craft in filmmaking from an early age with support from National Lottery funded charity, Into Film, raising awareness around issues such as bullying. She is also and ambassador for charities helping people with rare skin diseases, which she herself has experience of. 

Newport teenager Sakinah Hussain has also been nominated for her role in inspiring a generation of young Muslim girls in the city to take up Mixed Martial Arts and lead healthier, safer, and more active lives. At just 16, Sakinah already has a clutch of medals to her name. In 2020, aged 13, she became the first Muslim to represent Wales at the IMMAF Youth World Championships, winning a bronze medal. Sakinah has been passing on her expertise to other young girls from diverse backgrounds in her home city after the National Lottery supported (through Sport Wales) Newport-based community group,‘Exiles Together’, recruited her as a coach to teach self-defence classes to more than 50 young girls.

There is also a Special Achievement Award this year to celebrate an outstanding individual whose selfless dedication has improved the lives of the people around them, especially during these challenging times. 

Mandy Giddins from Flint, who lost her 18-year-old son Jordan to a rare blood disease and cancer in 2017, has been nominated for her unwavering efforts in improving the lives of young cancer patients with practical support and special gifts. Jordan’s positive attitude and good humour in the face of adversity inspired Mandy, a Nurse Practitioner, to do something worthwhile to continue his legacy. The National Lottery Community Fund supported Giddo’s Gift was born and Mandy, 55, has since raised more than £350,000 through the charity to improve the lives of 13 to 24-year-olds who have cancer across North Wales and Northwest England. She has worked with hundreds of families to date, providing wishes for at least 50 children a year on top of other support services.

Also up for Special Achievement is remarkable heritage champion Dr Mark Baker from Abergele. The campaigner and history enthusiast began a 25-year campaign to save and restore Gwrych Castle in Conwy – when he was just 11 years old. Mark, now 38, has devoted his whole life to saving and restoring the historic landmark, made famous when it hosted the TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’. Mark founded the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust at the age of 12. With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, in 2018, under Mark’s leadership, the castle and estate were purchased by Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, on behalf of the nation. Mark has led a team of 100 staff and volunteers in restoring and opening the site to the public, welcoming more than 100,000 visitors last year.

Mandy Giddins + Dr Mark Baker

During the summer, a panel made up of representatives of The National Lottery and partners from across the UK will decide the winners in each of the individual categories. Winners will be revealed in the Autumn and will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their organisation and a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.  

Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery told us……

“The National Lottery Awards honour those who have stepped up and have gone the extra mile to make a difference in their communities, especially during these challenging times.

Thanks to National Lottery players and the £30 million raised each week for good causes, thousands of individuals throughout the UK have been making an incredible difference in their areas, and this is our chance to highlight and celebrate the exceptional work of these selfless local heroes.”  

The outstanding individual’s section of this year’s National Lottery Awards honour unsung heroes in the following categories:
•    Culture, Arts & Film 
•    Heritage 
•    Sport 
•    Community/Charity 
•    Environment 
•    Young Hero Award (for someone under the age of 25)
•    Special Achievement 

In addition to the outstanding individual’s category, an online public vote will be held this year to find The National Lottery’ UK Project of the Year. These nominees will be whittled down to 16 finalists, with a UK-wide public vote in September deciding the winner.