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The Leading Wales Awards – from inception to conclusion

In this article, Barbara Chidgey, Executive Chair, Leading Wales Awards, reflects on 15 years of the inspirational awards scheme as it comes to a close.

By Mark Smith · April 30, 2019

See this page in: Cymraeg

Back in the days when I was chair of CMI South East Wales, I was involved for many years with ACCA Cymru Wales in organising the annual St David’s Day Breakfast.

After the 2003 breakfast Wyn Mears (the then head of ACCA Cymru Wales) and I wondered about adding an award presentation to the next year’s event. At this time, ELWa was part of our life in Wales (indeed I was on the South East Wales committee) and they provided the funding to set up what was then known as the Wales Management Council and appointed Christopher Ward as its Chief Executive.

It was suggested I approach Christopher, also speak with Brian Morgan, who at the time was at Cardiff Business School, and Graham Benfield who was Chief Executive of the WCVA. Karen Jones (at the time Wales Manager for the CMI) completed the group that first convened in 2004 in the board room at Temple Court in Cathedral Road.

And hence the initial Leading Wales Awards Consortium was established. The inaugural awards were held in 2005 with just four categories.

Over the 15 years that the awards have been held, we have stayed very true to our mission, vision and values:

  • Our Vision
    To contribute to making Wales a country where good leadership is admired, celebrated, emulated and valued by all as a key driver for economic growth.
  • Our Mission
    To champion good leadership and influence leadership development by recognising, identifying and celebrating individuals, who through their leadership contribute to the prosperity of Wales.
  • Our Purpose
    To develop and maintain annual leadership Awards that are talked about, covered willingly by the media, engage and attract nominations and sponsors, and in so doing create a network of individuals who exemplify good leadership in Wales.

The first year we introduced a category to recognise “Leadership in Social Enterprise” was in 2011. Kate Wood was our first ever winner of that category, who, at the time, was director of “Your Pets Warehouse” in Tonypandy. It is seriously hard work to drive forward successful enterprises and keep them going.

2011 was also the year we presented the late Rhodri Morgan with his Honorary Award as he stepped down from his long and tremendous contribution to politics and retired as an Assembly Member.

We, the Consortium, are rightfully proud of our contribution to highlight and celebrate the impact of ever more outstanding leadership in Wales, as an essential driver of building the “land of our grandchildren”.

Barbara Chidgey, Executive Chair, Leading Wales Awards

Barbara Chidgey

We are very aware that Wales is ‘the land of our fathers’, but if we are to ensure that it is also the ‘land of our grandchildren’ then it is essential to transform how we work, learn, look after ourselves, each other, our communities, our economy and our culture. This is all about leadership, with a huge “T” for transformation. Leadership that really delivers on the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. We, the Consortium, are rightfully proud of our contribution to highlight and celebrate the impact of ever more outstanding leadership in Wales, as an essential driver of building the “land of our grandchildren”.

We have championed outstanding leadership, leadership skills and leadership networks, bringing them into the forefront of all sectors and across so many organisations in Wales over the 15 years.

We recognise however that it is time for us to move into new areas of championing leadership. September 2019 will therefore see the final cohort of finalists and winners for these awards; the early evening awards ceremony will be followed by a celebratory legacy dinner.

Our legacy is made up of our wonderful pan Wales alumni of ordinary people, who have or continue to display such extraordinary leadership and hence are building their team, business, organisation or community to be the best that it can be. They are role models for the kind of leadership that we need to build the Wales We Want and achieve the aspirational goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

Our legacy is made up of our wonderful pan Wales alumni of ordinary people, who have or continue to display such extraordinary leadership and hence are building their team, business, organisation or community to be the best that it can be. They are role models for the kind of leadership that we need to build the Wales We Want and achieve the aspirational goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

Our legacy is also a named charitable fund “Daring to Dream®”, established in partnership with Cardiff & the Vale’s Health Charity and housed within the Community Foundation in Wales. This fund is to support the emotional health and wellbeing of ward patients within Cardiff & the Vale’s hospitals. I shall fulfil the role of project lead, well into the future, with support from colleagues both within and outside of the NHS.

Critical, chronic and life-shortening health conditions are hugely emotionally demanding of all patients. This is on top of the immense physical demands of the ill-health itself. As a patient, in order to respond physically as well as possible to our personal health challenges, we also need to dig deep emotionally. There is a direct parallel for all those in leadership roles – the demands on them as leaders are also hugely emotionally demanding. As a leader, in order to be courageous, inspirational and transformational (our 2019 theme), we need to dig deep emotionally. Maintaining emotional health and well-being is therefore a must too for all those in leadership roles.

It has been a huge journey, maybe even more so for me personally since I have been project lead and/or Executive Chair since their inception. I have learnt so much about leadership from my myriad of conversations across Wales, with hundreds of people. I have organised and facilitated at least 100 CPD events related to promoting the awards, and focused on reflections on leadership & leading. I will have marked hundreds of nominations, organised 15 Judging Days and the Awards events themselves.

It has been an honour and a privilege to read annually (and mark) all those nomination documents and then to coordinate the judging days and the Awards themselves, supported too each year by a small and loyal team of SMEs.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has sponsored the Leadership in Social Enterprise category on a number of occasions, and again in this concluding year. The Centre, through Social Business Wales, is taking the baton forward for this category into its 2020 Social Business Awards.

The Consortium itself has evolved somewhat also over the years. I wish to offer my huge thanks for their willing support and involvement.