Plas Menai in North Wales will be renamed The Ken Newing National Outdoor Centre for 24 hours, with further venues at Twickenham, The Kia Oval, Paula Radcliffe Athletics Track, Pinsent Redgrave Rowing Lake and The Geraint Thomas Velodrome in England and Wales changing their names to honour local heroes.  

Ken Newing, 70, is the Rear Commodore Training & RYA Training Centre Principal at Clwb Hwylio Y Felinheli / Port Dinorwic Sailing Club, which is close to the Plas Menai National Outdoor Centre in Caernarfon. Despite shielding, Ken brought the community together at a time when many would have otherwise been alone, organising e-sailing programmes and starting conversations across social media encouraging club members to share their stories of sailing.

The venue name changes and the special dedications are taking place following the findings of a new UK-wide study commissioned by The National Lottery, which shows that two thirds of sport fans in Wales (63%) say the pandemic has increased their love of sports and appreciation for being active. Additionally, over a third (38%) believe 2020 should be the year we celebrate community sportspeople in the same way we celebrate professionals, a similar number (30%) say the trying circumstances have made them even more appreciative of local sports volunteers than before.

"I still haven't got over the renaming. I was both shaken and stirred when I found out, I was really lost for words,” said Ken

"The club is part of my family. During the summer, I tend to live outdoors and especially at the sailing club. It means a lot to me.

"This club is a group effort - there are a lot of people who are involved with this. Our commodores do a fantastic job, they are very good people and this wouldn't be possible without them. "We are the heart of the community and the community are a huge part of what we do. 

"Being family-based is really big for us, it's a local membership and our racing turnouts are usually more during the week than at a weekend because we all live so close.

"There are lots of things the club have done to make life nicer for people, to offer that atmosphere where people can be welcome. "We get a lot of support in the village; people can see what's going on. We're ordinary people - nothing more.”

Ken has been involved with Clwb Hwylio y Felinheli / Port Dinorwic Sailing Club for over 40 years and during that time has had a huge impact on sailing in his area - always encouraging new people to take up the sport.  

Throughout the pandemic, he represented the Club on every one of the Club Development Forums hosted by RYA Cymru Wales; alongside feeding back to the club on all the guidance and advice to provide a Covid-secure environment.   

"Without people knowing it, we have been hugely funded by the The National Lottery not just in terms of our facilities, but the people as well. "The funding makes all of this possible, people are learning to sail because of that and it means a lot to people.”  

Dame Katherine Grainger, UK Sport Chair said, “It’s fantastic that sports across the nations have been able to come together to celebrate grassroots champions who have gone above and beyond this year. Around £30m a week is raised for good causes across the UK by people playing The National Lottery, and has helped sport at all levels, from the smallest rowing club to helping athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympics next year.”  

Sarah Powell, CEO of Sport Wales, said: “With the help of The National Lottery’s players, thousands of grassroots sports workers and volunteers from local clubs and organisations across the UK have been be able to continue to help people and communities to remain active, connected and motivated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grassroots sport also has a fundamental role to play in providing much needed physical and mental wellbeing in these difficult times.”  

Hannah Mills, Cardiff-born Olympic Athlete and two time World Champion said: “The National Outdoor Centre has played such an important part in my life and it is wonderful to see it dedicated to Ken Newing in this way. 2020 has greatly impacted all sports at grassroots level in particular, and thousands of people have not been able to get the health benefits of being outside on the water and being active as they usually would. The findings from The National Lottery show how much people have missed the physical and social side of being part of their local clubs and Ken has helped keep smiles on people’s faces and boost morale through his work. On behalf of the whole sailing community, we are very grateful for the work done by sports volunteers across the country this year.”