Well done to Megan’s Starr charity founder Nicola Harteveld, Volunteer of the Year in the 2023 Welsh Charity Awards.
Charities, community groups, not-for-profits and volunteers were celebrated on Wednesday evening (October 11) as part of this year’s Welsh Charity Awards in Cardiff’s Parkgate Hotel. Organised by WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action), it is the only dedicated awards ceremony to celebrate the entire voluntary sector in Wales, highlighting and championing the positive difference we can all make to each other’s lives.
This year’s Open University-sponsored Volunteer of the Year award (volunteers aged 26 or over) goes to Nicola Harteveld.
Devastated by her daughter Megan's suicide in 2017, Nicola established Megan’s Starr Foundation, which has since gone on to deliver over 300 hours of support to disadvantaged young people in Pembrokeshire and warns parents of the dangers of bullying.
Nicola volunteers for over 40 hours a week, leading the charity, giving anti-bullying talks, and coordinating volunteers, while simultaneously juggling a busy home life and studying for a Psychology degree.
Television presenter Sian Lloyd hosted the ceremony, which showcased powerful stories from the voluntary sector, and the remarkable impact so many individuals, groups and organisations have made across Wales.
Attending the awards were: Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip; Helen Stephenson, Charity Commission for England & Wales CEO; Dr Neil Wooding CBE, WCVA Chair; Ruth Marks, WCVA Chief Executive; Tom Jones, WCVA Vice President.
On receiving the award, Nicola said:
”Thank you to the Open University for this, and to the WCVA; these awards are so imperative. It is lovely to be nominated but a win is invaluable in raising funds for our charity. These awards are vital in getting the information out there for people. A huge thank you to my team - I couldn't do what I do without them. And also to my family - again I couldn't do it without them. Thank you so much.”
The Volunteer of the year award is awarded to an individual who stands out by making an extra special contribution to their community or environment through their volunteering. This is the volunteer who leads and inspires others, or who goes ‘over and above’ to ‘get things done’, or it may be the one behind the scenes who seems to hold everything together.
Either way, the focus is on the positive difference that has been achieved, rather than on the amount or length of time spent volunteering.
Other finalists in the category were: Gill Faulkner, from Torfaen, had been nominated for her 'heart of gold' and 'friendly ear' as an enthusiastic volunteer with Blind Veterans UK. Aberystwyth’s Dr Susan Davies had also been nominated for her exceptional 40-year volunteer career in Welsh culture and heritage.
Speaking at this year’s ceremony, at Cardiff’s Parkgate Hotel, WCVA’s Matt Brown said:
“All finalists exemplify all that is good about the sector. They have achieved so much over the past year, well respected and admired by others in the sector for changing lives for the better. We’re thrilled, at WCVA, to be able to honour all of this evening’s finalists and winners.”