Joe Pursey, a member of the Cardiff Blues community team, was recently nominated and shortlisted for the HSBC Breakthrough Award, which was part of the Prince's Trust's - Celebrate Success Awards.
The award recognizes the progress of young people who have developed new skills to enable them to make positive steps and face challenges and stabilizing their lives.
Joe beat hundreds of entries to be on the final shortlist of three nominees, and did exceptionally well to finish as runner up.
A congenital heart condition meant Joe, 19, had open-heart surgery 3 times as a child. It affects his energy levels and he becomes breathless easy.
Multiple and complex difficulties overwhelmed Joe at school and he dropped out, experiencing panic attacks and agoraphobia. As his agoraphobia reached its peak, he didn’t leave the house for 18 months.
A proud Nadine Griffiths, who is Cardiff Blues’ Community Manager, said:
“Joe’s journey has been extraordinary, from a lad who couldn’t come out of his house to now be working every home match in front of thousands. He is a great part of our team and a huge help to us. We are all so proud of how far he has come and how he continues to develop every day “
Desperate for help, Joe enrolled on the Prince’s Trust Get Started Scheme. His heart condition meant he couldn’t play but he was keen to develop coaching skills, and linked up with the Cardiff Blues community department.
Taking part on the course, Joe started to overcome his initial anxieties, became more comfortable, confident and saw his communication skills greatly improved.
Joe helps out with setting up for the BTEC and camps and this has led to Joe now becoming a casual member of staff.
He helps out at every home game with the big flag prior to kick off, guard of honour and half-time tag.
Nadine continued: “Our work with Prince’s trust is invaluable to us and our work in the community, this story is just one of many of the great link up work we are now achieving within our communities through the programmes we run region wide”