Board Members

Chair - Dr Paul Thomas

Paul has had a lifelong relationship with sport, both as a participant and through his career. Growing up in the South Wales Valleys he was involved in a wide variety of sports, which he has continued throughout his life. From being Area Manager for Sport in Merthyr to establishing a community gym in Ebbw Vale, which is now being run by the community, Paul has consistently championed the power sport has to change lives and bring about a range of benefits for all.

His career has seen him take academic and consultancy roles in India, China, Malaysia, Pakistan and parts of Europe, gaining significant experience in the development and implementation of leadership within varying cultural environments. His work as an academic included designing Sport and Leisure Undergraduate programmes, to Post graduate MBA and PhD mainly in Complexity and Leadership. He is the founder of DNA Definitive, which involves critical academics from Universities around the world and Business Executives seeking alternative ways to deliver sustainable business.

He starred in the BBC Radio Wales 'Wales at Work' special and a BBC 1 documentary as 'The Business Doctor', where he sought to challenge the mindset of businesses, through placing organisational leadership in the hands of empowered frontline staff.

Paul's passion for ensuring the barriers to participation in community sport are dismantled and every child has an opportunity to make the most of their talent are central to his approach.

Vice - Chair - Adele Baumgardt

Adele is an independent consultant having previously worked in Equal Opportunities Commission. Now a self employed consultant on all aspects of equality and diversity, Adele's experience includes delivering equality strategies in public, private and voluntary sectors with particular expertise in the new 'positive' equality duty.

Adele was the Wales Commissioner for the Women's National Commission until December 2010 when the Commission was closed as part of the Westminster Government's quango review. She is actively campaigning for both the Welsh and UK Governments to support systems to engage with Welsh women.

Adele has been active in gender budgeting for many years and was co-chair of the Women's Budget group for 3 years and chair of the Wales Gender Budget Group for 5 years.

Adele was a Board Member of Sport Wales until March 2012 and has actively worked on increasing women and girls participation in sport for a number of years. Adele is also a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee.

Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett was born in Cardiff and attended Ysgol Gyfun Llanhari before completing her degree at Loughborough University. Amanda worked as a Physical Education teacher in East London for twelve years before joining the Women's Sports Foundation and then UK Sport where she was Head of Governance. Since 2013 she has been working independently, providing advice on governance, leadership and equality to national and international sports bodies. Amanda is a former Chair of European Women and Sport and an international speaker on gender equality.

Amanda was an international rugby player and represented Wales in the first women's game for the nation. She went on to win 25 caps and also coached the Wales Women's National Squad. Amanda is a currently a Vice President of Saracens Rugby.

Richard Parks

Richard Parks is a former Wales international rugby union player turned extreme environment athlete and explorer. Born in Pontypridd and now based in Cardiff, Richard studied at Monmouth School, Michaelhouse College South Africa and Cardiff University. He has represented Wales, Wales 7's, The Barbarians and won the Powergen Cup with Leeds and the Principality Cup with Pontypridd.

Aged 31, Richard was forced to retire from rugby due to a career ending shoulder injury. The brutal blow forced Richard to reassess his direction in life inspiring him to developed the idea of a new world first project - the "737 Challenge". Richard Parks' 737 Challenge was a pioneering 7 month race to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's 7 continents and stand on all 3 poles: the Geographical South Pole, Geographical North Pole and the summit of Mt. Everest. On Tuesday 12 July 2011 Richard made history in completing his project and becoming the first ever person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's 7 continents and stand on all 3 poles within the same calendar year. Richard completed his record setting 737 Challenge in a time of 6 months, 11 days, 7 hours and 53 minutes, raising over three hundred thousand pounds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care whilst creating an advertising value in excess of £3 million to the cancer charity.

Passionate about sharing and giving back, Richard now works with many schools and colleges across the UK using his experiences to help applied learning on a wide range of topics, and is an honorary lecturer at the University of South Wales. Richard also works with commercial organisations delivering bespoke keynote speeches and training.

On 4 January 2014 Richard recorded the fastest solo, unsupported and unassisted expedition from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole by a Briton, and became the first Welshman to complete this historic and brutal journey solo. His time of 29 days and 11 hours, took 9 days from the previous British record.

Richard served as Team Attaché to Team Wales at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games supporting the athletes, staff and corporate partners in Wales' most successful Commonwealth team.

Samar Wafa

Samar grew up in Cyncoed and attended Cardiff High School and Cardiff University,  representing both in netball, hockey,  athletics and basketball. After graduating with a BSc (Hons.) in Business Administration and an international internship in Africa, she returned to Cardiff and achieved qualifications in sports coaching, community nutrition and leisure management,  later founding her own sports, fitness and nutrition company. 

Samar has worked extensively at grassroots and community level, and through her work with minority charities and numerous Welsh and English-medium schools and been actively increasing participation in sport and achieving a real attitude change towards physical activity. A keen linguist who speaks five languages, Samar has worked with the London 2012 Olympics and the Rugby World Cup, as well as, more recently, UEFA, Sport Cardiff and the Cardiff Half Marathon to put Wales on the international sporting map. The combination of her activities and achievements was recognised when she was shortlisted for Sport Wales Community Coach of the Year in 2013.

Andrew Lycett

Andrew is Chief Executive of RCT Homes, established in 2007 as Wales's  first Community Mutual Housing Organisation. Andrew's passion for  responsible business  has seen the organisation grow into a group which  provides a holistic approach to community regeneration and seeks to raise aspirations and tackle poverty through social, financial and digital inclusion, healthy living and active lifestyle initiatives, training and work experience programmes for all ages.

Andrew has led RCT Homes to be increasingly recognised as a strong values based business and community partner, being named as BITC Wales'  'Responsible Company of the Year 2014'

Andrew has over ten years experience in social housing and 16 years previous experience in the NHS.  Andrew lives near Bridgend with his wife and two children aged 13 and 5. He is a continuously relapsing runner and enjoys water sports.

Professor John Baylis

John Baylis represented the Welsh Universities at soccer and athletics. He played for Barry Town in the Southern league and for Cardiff City reserves. He is also a qualified FAW coach and referee. He also played in the North and West Wales cricket leagues.

Until he retired he was Professor of Politics and International Relations and Pro-Vice Chancellor, responsible for Sport, External Relations and Human Resources, at Swansea University.

Previously he had been a Professor and Dean of Social Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

He also spent five years as a member of the Governing Board at the Wales National Swimming Pool. He is currently Chair of the South Wales Hockey Board.

Simon Pirotte

Simon Pirotte is Principal of Bridgend College.

He has previously held the positions of Deputy Principal at Bridgend College and also Director of Sport, Lifestyle and Business at Swansea College.  He has been a Lecturer at UWIC and Gorseinon College and Head of Drama  at Los Angeles School District Westchester High School.

He is the Artistic Director for Welsh Glamorgan Youth Theatre and Steel Wasp Theatre Company.

Julia Longville

Julia is a Senior Lecturer in the Cardiff School of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC).  She was educated at Barry Grammar School for Girls and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, Barry.  She has a University of Wales MSc coaching Science degree from UWIC and a Certificate of Education teaching qualification and a B.Ed from Barry Teacher Training College.  Julia is an Estyn independent inspector and education consultant.  She works regularly with colleagues throughout Wales to develop Physical Education and School Sport.

A former Wales netball international with 25 caps, Julia played at European and World Championship level.  She is a former international coach who took the Welsh U21 and senior team to numerous European and World Championships, and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

Johanna Sheppard

Jo currently works for Barclays as Director of Compliance Corporate Bank, focussed on Barclays' international corporate business, cash management, FX and payments (including fintech). Based in London, her role involves working with a global team advising on products, incidents and regulatory interactions. Previously Jo worked for Barclaycard as Director of Compliance for Barclaycard Business Solutions.

Born in Cardiff she attended Corpus Christi High School and then Millfield School, where she was Captain of Netball. Jo went on to play netball for South Glamorgan and Somerset counties, West of England and Wales at various age groups. She also played badminton for Wales at group level.

Jo attended Nottingham University where she obtained an LLB (Hons) degree in English law and American law, spending a year studying at the University of Texas in Austin. Whilst at Nottingham, she was a member of the First VII netball team for 3 years. She holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from Nottingham Trent Law School and is a qualified solicitor.

Prior to joining Barclays, Jo worked as a lawyer for Clifford Chance LLP, in London and New York, and Deutsche Bank AG, in London.  Jo lives in London and stays fit by doing hot yoga, running and cycling.

Peter King

Peter is Executive Director of British Cycling, having been Chief Executive from February 1997 until December 2008 during which time the organisation moved from the brink of insolvency, to being one of the most vibrant and successful governing bodies of sport in the UK.

Peter is qualified as a Fellow in both the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.  He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a Global Management Accountant.  As well as being in practice as a Chartered Secretary and Accountant, Peter manages a company which he founded in 1978 specifically aimed at introducing high standards of corporate governance and reliable management accounting functions to small and medium sized businesses.  He has a permanent place on the Board of the European Regions Airline Association, and is primarily responsible for their financial affairs.

Apart from Cycling, Peter has competed at local, regional and national level in sports as diverse as Athletics, Table Tennis, Football, Golf, Squash, Badminton and Cricket and he has been involved as a volunteer official, coach or administrator in almost all of these sports.  He still competes occasionally in cycling competitions.

Peter was a Board Member of Cycling England until its demise in April 2011. He was appointed to the Board of England Athletics as Chair in October 2012. He holds no other Ministerial public appointments.

Peter was made a CBE in 2008 in recognition of his services to cycling having previously been awarded one of the sport's highest accolades, The Bidlake Trophy, in 2007.  He was inducted into cycling's Hall of Fame in 2010.

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