Two South Wales gymnastics club have been recognised for their work to ensure everyone can take part in the sport with a prestigious nomination for a national award. 

in CALDICOT Wye Gymnastics Club have been shortlisted for the British Gymnastics Inclusion Impact Award thanks to their tireless commitment to make the sport accessible for everyone, regardless of ability or background. 

The club run a wide range of programmes, including the British Gymnastics Foundation’s ‘Love to Move’ programme that works with people with dementia, as well as sessions for lower-income children during the school holidays. 

Wye Gymnastics Club

It has put the club at the centre of the community in Caldicot, and CEO CARLY HAWKE admitted it was hard to keep the nomination a secret at first. 

“We found out from an email from British Gymnastics, who advised us we had been shortlisted and they asked us to keep it quiet for a couple of days before they launched it on social media.

When something like this happens, you want to shout it from the rooftops as we are obviously so incredibly proud. It was a nice secret to keep but very nice to let it out of the bag when they announced it. 

We want to use sport as a vehicle for social change and that is what we are really striving to focus on at the moment. We have got a lovely community of people within gymnastics, and it is now using that to impact as many people as we would like to. 

We have introduced the British Gymnastics Foundation ‘Love to Move’ programme, which is a dementia-friendly seated gymnastics programme.  

We have delivered over 250 sessions across 10 venues, impacting 150 people over the age of 65. That has been wonderful, the programme is fantastic, and we are seeing a huge impact in that community. 

We also run a club for girls in the black, Asian, and ethnic minority community. They don’t have access to many sporting activities outside of school so that has been a lovely programme to introduce.  

And we piloted at the end of last year a Fit and Fed programme, where we are delivering gymnastics activity and a free hot meal to children who need it during school holidays.  

These are children who wouldn’t have the funds available to do extra-curricular activities during the school holidays, and we found lower-income families really struggle with food poverty throughout the holidays.  

We really wanted to impact that and help families who are struggling with the additional expense during that time. We have had 300 participants on that programme.” 

Carly Hawke

Wye Gymnastics Club’s work in care homes with people with dementia has been a particular success, with the impact on residents tangible. 

Carly said…….

“With the Love to Move programme, it is specifically designed to get people moving and functioning better.  

It integrates the use of gymnastics skills and is based on asymmetrical movement patterns to use both sides of the brain. By enabling the left and right side of the brain to process information it improves cognitive function and coordination.  

We are noticing residents in the care home are recognising things more. They have noticed a huge impact on residents.  

There is one gentleman who sleeps all day, but one song comes on and his foot starts tapping, and he joins in for one song.”

To find out more about the Wye Gymnastics Club go HERE.

In NEATH the Afan Gymnastics Club are celebrating their greatest-ever achievement after being nominated for a prestigious British Gymnastics Award. 

Founder and managing director Nicola Lewis has placed her club’s Safe Sport Award nomination above their Welsh Gymnastics Club of the Year and recent Lockdown Heroes gongs. 

Nicola, who founded the club in 2003, and her team have been selected for taking a children-first approach to coaching. She said……

“The nomination is probably more important than anything else.

It’s lovely getting children to competitions and winning medals and so on, but our ethos has always been children first, gymnasts second, competition third.  

The children should be happy and content, mentally and physically in whatever sport they do.  

I’m very aware having worked at the level that gymnastics is a very young specialisation and with an awful lot on young children.  

We have a very happy, healthy relationship with our gymnasts so for me the Safe Sport nomination is probably bigger than even having something like Club of the Year.” 

Nicola Lewis – Neath Afan Gymnastics

The British Gymnastics Awards are community led and about championing those who make the sport an uplifting experience for all, with more nominations than ever before coming in this year.

It is the creativity, dedication and passion from people in the sport that make gymnastics an accessible, inclusive and enjoyable sport for all.

The nominations have been judged by panels made up of British Gymnastics committee members and external panellists from across UK Sport, Gymnova, Milano, Gymaid, Youth Sport Trust, Sport England, Women in Sport, The Include Summit, Sport and Recreation Alliance, The Sport for Development Coalition and GB gymnasts.

Neath Afan now boast over 800 recreational members with 120 gymnasts on their competitive and preparation competitive programme. 

The club is a family affair with Lewis’ daughter Beth serving as the gymnastics manager, a role her sister Sian used to hold. 

Nicola is now in charge of over 30 staff and searching for new premises to see both their recreational and competitive gymnasts training under one roof. 

Neath Afan have been recognised for their open and honest approach to coaching and working with children.

“We try to treat every child as an individual, we try to find out what makes them tick, who they really are and to have a working triangle with parents, coaches and gymnasts.

We try to involve them in all decisions, to ask them lots of questions and to get them to talk to us and we ask them specifically to call us out.  

So, if they think that the coaches are unfair or unkind in any way because at the end of the day, everybody gets a bit frustrated.  

And we try to encourage children to say: ‘Actually; no, that wasn’t fair’ and to tell us what works for them and what doesn’t work for them.  

I hope that is what makes us a little bit unique – we try to build their self-worth and build their confidence.”

To find out more about the Neath Afan Gymnastics Club go HERE.

The British Gymnastics Awards celebrate those at the heart of gymnastics who create an uplifting experience for all. British Gymnastics has launched a new vision for a new era of gymnastics, learn more about Leap Without Limits – HERE.