Wales rugby captain Ryan Jones has been inducted into the NSPCC's Hall of Fame at an exclusive ceremony at the House of Commons today (Wednesday). Ryan was due to attend the event to collect his award in person, but his last minute call-up to the Lions means he'll be presented with the award towards the end of the summer on home turf.
Jones, who is also the children's champion for the Welsh Rugby Union, has been recognised by the children's charity for his contribution towards ending child cruelty to children by supporting campaigns across Wales including the Child's Voice Appeal, Building Brighter Futures Appeal and the NSPCC's annual Big Bike Ride.
He said: "I'm honoured and delighted to be in the Hall of Fame 2009. I take my role as children's champion for the Welsh Rugby Union very seriously and am proud to be associated with the work of the NSPCC.
"I have supported the NSPCC for over three years and it's incredibly rewarding to know that my support has played a part in ending cruelty to children. The NSPCC plays a vital role in changing attitudes and behaviours as well as delivering services for the benefit of children and young people across the UK and I hope that my involvement will encourage others to help in the fight to protect children."
NSPCC Cymru/Wales Director, Greta Thomas, said: "The celebrities inducted into the Hall of Fame have shown huge enthusiasm and commitment to the NSPCC's aim of ending child cruelty. They have fundraised, fronted campaigns and spoken passionately about the work of the charity, encouraging others to act now to end child abuse. This award is an opportunity for us to give them a special thank you and let them know how much we appreciate their support and dedication."
Welsh Rugby Union Child Protection consultant Mark Williams-thomas added, "Ryan's involvement in our work has significantly raised the profile of Child Protection within Welsh rugby.
"His down-to-earth approach is easily identifiable within the grassroots game and we look forward to continuing our work in promoting child safety in rugby in the future."
Theatre legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, TV presenter Fiona Bruce, and TV stars Graham Cole, Beth Cordingly and Vicky Alcock were also honoured at today's event.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.