DANTE Valaydon-Pillay has been named as this year's Pride of Gwent winner at an awe-inspiring event at Rodney Parade.

More than 100 guests attended the winners' ceremony yesterday, Thursday, December 7, sponsored by ND Care & Support, to celebrate some of Gwent’s “unsung heroes” in style.

The winners included rescue hero Nigel Jones, community champion Paul Murphy and dwarfism campaigner Danielle Webb.

South Wales Argus:

The youngest winner, Rose Willavise, who is battling stage four blood cancer at just four years of age, brought the crowd to tears as she accepted the Child of Courage Award.

She described her hospital visits as “a little bit scary” – although the doctors and nurses made it better, and she got to play with dolls.

South Wales Argus: All the winners of the Pride of Gwent Awards 2023

Super little brother, Logan Lewis, six, became the second Pride of Gwent winner in his family after big sister Eden who is suffering from terminal cancer won last year’s Courage Award.

Raglan schoolboy Dante Valaydon-Pillay, 12, found the time out of his busy regime to accept the Fundraiser of the Year Award and left Rodney Parade with the overall Pride of Gwent prize.

All the winners at the Pride of Gwent Awards 2023

  • Emergency Services ‘Blue Light’ Hero of the Year - Nigel Jones;
  • Unpaid Carer - Logan Lewis;
  • Fundraiser of the Year - Dante Valaydon-Pillay;
  • Charity Award  - Newport Foodbank;
  • Community Hero - Paul Murphy;
  • Courage Award - Sophie Shuttleworth;
  • Volunteer Award - Chris Stewart;
  • Lifetime Achievement Award - Mike Foster;
  • Diversity in the Community - Danielle Webb;
  • LGBT+ Campaigner - Councillor Laura Lacey;
  • Child of Courage - Rose Willavise;
  • Charity Shop - St David's Hospice Care Caerleon Village;
  • Sporting Hero - Sisilia Tuipulotu.

'Quiet hero'

“I was sat in the crowd thinking I’m probably not going to win it, so I was overjoyed!" Dante said.

“I kept it secret, but I’m taking the awards into school tomorrow, definitely. And we’ve got assembly as well.”

With the first-ever Sir Terry Wogan Fundraiser of the Year Award already to his name, Dante is taking on 12 challenges over 12 months in aid of Children in Need.

His first two challenges have taken him to the top (and bottom) of Clifton Gorge and a 5km run at Tredegar Park donning his one-of-a-kind kit from Children in Need.

When he was six, Dante’s mum, Frances, spent three months in hospital after a series of five strokes.

“I’m a miracle, but that’s what made Dante think,” said Ms Valaydon-Pillay. “He knows not all kids are as fortunate as he was.

“That was a terrible time but Dante’s turned it into a positive. He’s a quiet hero.”

South Wales Argus: Pride of Gwent Awards 2023

Dante said: “I just want to help people. I’m excited for the rest of my challenges now… This would be a good one – walking up Pen y Fan every day for a month!”

Dante hopes to return to Rodney Parade to sing the Welsh national anthem, sleep in a tent for a month and canoe the River Wye with his dad.

He has even used the Pride of Gwent ceremony to hatch plans with Charity Award winners Newport Foodbank, where he hopes to spend time as part of his fundraising work.