Public health charity ASH Wales is celebrating the announcement that two members of staff have beaten off stiff competition to make it through to the final of this year’s Leading Wales Awards.

Chief Executive Tanya Buchanan has been nominated for leadership in the voluntary/not for profit sector category, sponsored by The Fairwood Trust, for her contribution to securing Wales’s first ever strategic plan for tackling tobacco harm and to building the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance into an impressive partnership of likeminded organisations and professional bodies dedicated to improving public health in Wales.

Delyth Lloyd, Public Affairs Manager for British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru commented: “Under Tanya’s leadership the Wales Tobacco Control Alliance has proved to be a formidable force as a key influencer on tobacco control issues. She has the right balance of being a strategic thinker for driving the Alliance forward, as well as being a ‘hands on’ member. Her presence at key lobbying events shows clearly that she commands respect for her knowledge and professionalism by key politicians and the civil servants alike.”

Youth Volunteer Co-ordinator Laura Rich has been nominated in the young leader category, sponsored by CMI Cymru, StudyFlex, for developing the youth base of campaigners speaking out against the harm caused by tobacco to Welsh communities and for improving understanding of tobacco control, prevention and cessation amongst a young audience.

Martha, who is a Postgraduate student and has been volunteering with ASH Wales for nine months under Laura’s leadership commented: “Volunteering with ASH Wales has been an experience which I have really enjoyed during my time as a peer health promoter and one which I still take pride and pleasure being involved in. I have taken up the many training opportunities offered from ASH and have also had the chance to put my skills and knowledge to good practice, helping to educate others about health impact and spreading the message of a smokefree future to the general public, especially those belonging to the younger generation.”

Barbara Chidgey, spokesperson for the Leading Wales Awards said: “This year we had a fantastic response from across all businesses and communities in Wales and very many outstanding entries. It has been a very difficult decision process but we are confident we have some fantastic examples of leadership from all over Wales.”

There are 24 finalists in total across each of the eight categories in the Leading Wales Awards, in association with Real Radio Wales, which is now in its 7th year.

The winners will be announced at the celebratory lunch and Ceremony which will take place at the Hilton, Cardiff on Thursday 19th May 2011.