Wales’ largest youth organisation, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, has appointed Nia Bennett as its new chair.

Two new members have also been appointed as young trustees of in Deio Siôn Llewelyn Owen and Emily Pemberton - after the organisation received 22 application from 18-25 year olds across Wales.

Ms Bennett was born in Bolton and brought up in Llanfairpwll, Anglesey. Now living in Cariff she is director and chief consultant at effectusHR where she undertakes HR and senior management coaching project work. She has been a member of the Urdd’s HR panel since 2011 before becoming its chair in 2018. In 2020 she was co-opted by the trustees as a member of the Urdd’s executive committee and was elected as a trustee in 2021. She succeeds Dyfrig Davies who is standing down after six years as chair.

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Siân Lewis, chief executive of the Urdd, said: “We are delighted to welcome Nia Bennett to chair the Urdd board and to build on the huge contribution made by Dyfrig Davies, who has steered the organisation through significant Governance changes. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Emily and Deio as new members of the organisation’s board of trustees.

“As the Urdd continues to grow, these new appointments ensure we continue our journey of becoming a forward-thinking organisation. A range of perspectives, agility in our decision making and a wide range of relevant skills are essential to delivering our ‘Urdd for All’ strategy.

“Following 18 months of discussion, consultation and reform the Urdd’s new governance structure is already in place. By casting a wide net, we have welcomed over 70 new members to our strategic boards, to ensure we have the necessary expertise to support the organisation’s work going forward.

“Respecting the voices of our young people is at the heart of our new structures. As well as appointing two new young trustees, 38% of our board members are now aged between 18 and 25 and are central to the Urdd’s future discussions and direction.”

On her appointment Ms Bennett said: “I want to ensure that the Urdd is fully inclusive, extends its reach and continues to develop and act on the ideas of our young people. By providing opportunities for everyone – whatever their background – to broaden their skills and experiences, we are contributing to the development of future Welsh generations, and thereby the future of Wales.”

Ms Pemberton is from Grangetown, Cardiff and works as an equality, diversity, and anti-racism coordinator at the Coleg Cymraeg. A member of the Urdd since school days, she contributed to the 2023 Urdd peace and goodwill message and visited Alabama on the 60th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, to build on the relationship between the city and Wales.

She said: “Thanks to the Urdd, we were offered unique experiences in Alabama and became campaigners for anti-racism at an international level. As a black Welsh woman, I can’t think of any other experience more valuable to a person from my background.

“I’m inspired by the Urdd’s work and would like to continue to work towards a Wales where our young people are global citizens, experience a better nation, and thrive.”

Originally from Pwllheli, Mr Owen is Cardiff University Students’ Union’s first vice president of Welsh language, culture and community. He said: “Being a member of the Urdd over the years has been invaluable to me, and in stepping into its second century of existence, I want to see the organisation continue to thrive and broaden the horizons of as many children and young people as possible.”

Recent research shows the organisation has an £45m impact on the Welsh economy. An economic impact assessment, carried out by Arad Research for the Urdd and covering its 2022-23 financial year, shows a direct impact of £15.5m through its spending on goods, services and staff and £10.6m indirect through visits to its eisteddfods, residential centre and sport activities. The direct and indirect inputs were calculated as having an induced impact on the wider economy of £10.6m.

In five years the Urdd’s economic impact has increased 76% from £25.5m to £44.9m. Over the same period its turnover has increased from £10.2m to £19.6m, a rise of 88%.

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