A brave youngster from Pwllheli, an Aberystwyth University professor, a north Wales critical care team and an environment friendly group have all named as finalists for a prestigious Wales-wide award.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the finalists of this year’s St David Awards at an event at the Senedd.

A finalist in the Young Person category is Lia Ellis Thomas from Pwllheli

The 17-year-old has had a challenging and turbulent upbringing, living in a household where there has been domestic violence.

Following a domestic violence incident at home, Lia’s father was arrested and found guilty of coercive conduct.

Lia responded to this traumatic incident by supporting her mother and grandmother and looking after her younger brother who has profound additional learning needs.

Lia took on these additional responsibilities to support her family whilst also completing her final year in school and dealing with the stigma that existed as a result of the traumatic incident that she and her family encountered.

Lia has shown bravery in being able to share her and her family’s story with others and has taken part in documentary TV programmes to help those who may also have been affected by domestic violence.

Talking publicly like this wasn’t easy for her but she felt that if she could help one other person who was in the same situation as her as she was growing up, then it was worth it.

A former pupil of Ysgol Glan y Môr, Lia has gone onto study Life Skills in college and grown into a confident young person.

Nominated for the Innovation, Science and Technology award is Dr Gwenllian Rees of Aberystwyth University.

Dr Gwenllian Rees of Aberystwyth University
Dr Gwenllian Rees of Aberystwyth University (Supplied)

Dr Rees is lecturer in veterinary science at Aberystwyth University and veterinary development manager for Menter a Busnes.

Graduating as vet in 2009, Dr Rees worked in Wales and New Zealand before completing her PhD at the University of Bristol.

Dr Rees leads the Veterinary Prescribing Champions Network for Arwain DGC - a collaborative initiative bringing together academics, vets and the animal health industry in Wales to help tackle antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Rees’ role in developing the Veterinary Prescribing Champions Network has been recognised by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ Impact Award 2021 and the UK Antibiotic Guardian Award for Prescribing and Stewardship 2023.

The CARiAD team based at the North Wales Centre for Primary Care has been named also been named a finalist for the Innovation, Science and Technology award.

The CARiAD team based at the North Wales Centre for Primary Care
The CARiAD team based at the North Wales Centre for Primary Care (Supplied)

The north Wales-based team of researchers and clinicians led UK research on the practice of family or friends, if willing, being taught how to recognise symptoms and give ‘no-needle’ medicines when their dying loved one is too weak to swallow.

The team developed an All-Wales policy for it, and put the CARiAD (CARer ADministration) package into clinical use in north Wales in 2020. Their work is helping to spread this practice across the UK.

Caru Eryri has been nominated for the environment champion award.

Caru Eryri
Caru Eryri (Supplied)

Formed to “soften the impact of tourism on a very special yet ecologically sensitive place”, Caru Eryri aims to help manage the effect of increasing visitor numbers on Eryri National Park.

A volunteering programme run in partnership by Eryri National Park, Cymdeithas Eryri, The Outdoor Partnership and the National Trust, they have a visible presence on the ground in popular areas, collecting litter, engaging with the public, and advising and educating visitors.

This group of volunteers have made a remarkable difference to the natural environment of the National Park given the pressure of visitor numbers and the issues this brings.

In 2023 alone, they collected over 1282kg of litter, over 517 large sacks, off and on paths in busy locations across the park.

Judges said this is a “simple yet highly effective project making a big difference to the National Park, the visitor experience, the local environment and the community on which it depends.”

This year’s St David’s Awards will be the 11th.

St David Awards
St David Awards (Supplied)

The first time the awards were presented was in 2014.

The finalists in each category are selected by an independent panel from Welsh public life from nominations from the public.

The winners are chosen by the First Minister.

The Special Award is chosen by the First Minister and could reflect collective as well as individual achievements.

All winners will receive a St David Awards trophy, designed and made by a leading Welsh artist.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on Thursday, 11 April.

Mr Drakeford said: “Once again, we have an incredible line up of finalists for this year’s St David Awards.

“Every year, the awards bring together some of the bravest and brightest people from across Wales, who have shown leadership in difficult circumstances and have been an inspiration to others.

“It’s been a privilege for me to choose the winners over the course of the last five years.

“I will be following this year’s final as keenly as ever and very much look forward to seeing the winners revealed.”