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St Thomas community stalwart in running for major honour

A dedicated St Thomas volunteer is in the running for a major UK-wide honour.

Hayley Gwilliam

Hayley Gwilliam's work in helping transform Polly's Park means she's been shortlisted for the Britain Has Spirit community hero award.

The 32-year-old, of Martins Row, was one of the founding members of the Friends of Polly's Park - a group that she now chairs.

Working with other community volunteers, Hayley has helped transform the park into a Green Flag winning, family-friendly attraction over the last two years. New equipment and a wildflower area are among the features to have been added.

Regular clean-ups of the park also take place, helping foster community spirit.

Hayley has already won Britain Has Spirit's community hero award for the Wales area, but scooping the UK-wide title would see her land a £25,000 prize to be spent on community projects.

If she wins the money, the mum-of-two will split it between several projects in the eastside, including a plan to save All Saints Church on Kilvey Road and convert the building into a community centre. Hayley would also contribute funds to further improvements at Polly's Park and the provision of new equipment for children at St Thomas Primary School.

Hayley, who's currently studying social work at the University of South Wales, said: "We decided to do something for ourselves to improve Polly's Park a few years ago and the friends group has gone from strength to strength ever since. We've been successful in applying for money from the Aviva Community Fund and have been named community group of the year by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

"Many improvements have already been introduced at the park, but now we're looking to put more opportunities in place for activities, sport and exercise there. The park is a vital resource at the heart of the community that helps to boost community cohesion, giving people a space to relax with their family and friends. This is so important nowadays with people so busy with their day to day lives."

Cllr Mark Child, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Healthy City and Wellbeing, said: "The Friends of Polly's Park have been hugely successful since being set up, with Hayley right at the heart of the improvements. At a time when the council is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges, the support of groups of this kind is now more needed than ever.

"Hayley voluntarily sacrifices many hours of her own time to benefit others in her community. She's an example to us all, which is why I'd urge people from across Swansea to vote for Hayley and ensure she gets the recognition she so richly deserves, which would also lead to further improvements in her community."

Visit to vote for Hayley by the deadline of midnight on Monday September 19. 

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