Helen Phillips has been awarded an MBE for services to Welsh Gymnastics and Commonwealth Games Wales in the 2018 New Year's Honours.
One of the youngest ever to lead a National Governing Body, Helen was appointed Chair of Welsh Gymnastics in 2001 at the age of 29. In 2013, she became the first female Chair of Commonwealth Games Wales and is currently the only female Chair in the Commonwealth Games Federation's European group.
Helen was instrumental in leading both organisations to the most successful ever Commonwealth Games for Wales in Glasgow in 2014. She is now playing a key part in ensuring that Team Wales is fully prepared ahead of the 2018 Games in Gold Coast Australia.
Originally from Merthyr Tydfil, Helen has always taken an active interest in sport and has dedicated her teenage years and adult life to volunteering.
At only 14, she was judging and coaching gymnastics at her local club which led to a period of 12 years delivering judging qualification courses to several hundreds of new judges and travelling to competitions across Wales, UK and abroad often at her own expense.
Whilst studying, she started organising county and national gymnastics competitions. Alongside this, Helen was a county and national Squash player and coached junior Welsh squads for several years including several Welsh Champions.
As well as her full time job as Director with world leading electronic security company, Entrotrec, Helen continues to lead Commonwealth Games Wales and Welsh Gymnastics. She remains as passionate as ever about inspiring and empowering young people, and encouraging other women in business to bring their knowledge to the world of sport.
On hearing the news of her MBE award, Helen said: “I am simply overwhelmed by this announcement, it truly does mean so much to my family and I.
"The role of the volunteer is significant in sport and there are so many others that deserve recognition. Without my family’s support - and particularly my mum’s inspiration – I simply wouldn’t have lasted volunteering for the last 25 years in these significant roles. I certainly wouldn’t have survived the last 10 challenging but rewarding years where we have transformed the two organisations!"
She added: "At both Commonwealth Games Wales and Welsh Gymnastics, I have been privileged to work with outstanding Chief Executives and formidable Boards but also to work in partnership with the many stakeholders, particularly the members and National Governing Bodies who strive for success at every level.
"The sporting sector in Wales is an outstanding team and together we can continue to create more wonderful and inspiring opportunities for our children to be more active and for our performance athletes to experience a world class performance environment when they compete for Wales at the Commonwealth Youth Games and the Commonwealth Games. I am proud to play my part and I hope what I do inspires others to give up their time to do the same.”
Commonwealth Games Wales President Anne Ellis OBE said: “Helen has directed undisputable improvement in two of Wales' now leading sporting organisations - Welsh Gymnastics and Commonwealth Games Wales.
"She is a very principled leader who guides with mutual trust, clarity of purpose and outstanding collaboration. Her charismatic and selfless style engages all levels of people and her eye for talent ensures the right people are appointed, developed and supported into executive and non-executive roles - one of her finest skills, and one that you rarely see in sport.
"At times, her role has been lonely and challenging but her belief in modernisation and trust in people and her vision to provide more opportunity and better opportunities for people in Wales and in sport deserves recognition.
"Helen has built succession into all of her roles and her hard work has until now gone unrewarded. Volunteering is a thankless job and whilst she advises others not to take on too much, the words no, or I cannot are not in her vocabulary.
"She is extremely self-sacrificing and generous with her time for everyone and I know she views awards and honours as things for other people. I am delighted that Helen gets the recognition she deserves.”