VOLUNTEERS came together in a night of celebration at the Torfaen Play Service awards on Monday night.

The evening saw a celebration of the hard work put in to running the Play Schemes throughout the year.

Over the course of the year, play workers have volunteered more than 40,000 hours of their time to assist the running of the scheme.

Play Service manager Julian Davenne said: "None of this would be possible without the young people who give up their time to volunteer.

"This evening is about celebrating their work.

"We do a big awards ceremony in the summer, with all the paid workers there. These are all volunteers here, and we couldn't run the service without them.

"There's a stigma around young people, but we have more than 200-a-year supporting communities and giving children the right to play."

The evening was opened by Torfaen council leader Anthony Hunt, and the awards were presented by executive member for children and young people Cllr Mandy Owen, Fairwater councillor Kelly Preston, vice chairman of Cwmbran Community Council Anthony Bird, and Cwmbran Community councillor Lucy Williams.

The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to 17-year-old Cara Davies, from Cwmbran, for her dedication to the Play Service. Whilst attending Cwmbran High School, every morning she would deliver an early morning session at Henllys primary school, starting at 7.45am before going on to do her own studies.

Miss Davies said: "It's such a shock. It's amazing, I just can't believe it.

"I've gained so much confidence and experience from volunteering. There's just been so many amazing memories.

"I'd definitely recommend volunteering, it changes your life."

Mr Davenne added: "Cara's an outstanding young lady. She's given up every single morning before she went to school to support a sessions at a primary school. She does weekend sessions, she does loads of afternoons.

"It's building her confidence, and the service is about building her up and helping her to find her way in life and what she really wants to do."

Awards were also presented to play apprentices, play helpers and summer volunteers. A short film was also shown which included the benefits of volunteering and feedback from many of the volunteers who participate in play projects throughout the year.

The year is not yet over for the Play Service, as they are set to hold sessions over Christmas for children with disabilities and

Mr Davenne said: "We've got our Christmas Respite coming up. We run play schemes over the Christmas period, mainly for children with disabilities and their siblings.

"There is no-one else across Wales who run a play scheme across Christmas.

"We did it last year, I thought the hardest thing would be getting volunteers to support it. We actually had too many volunteers, and the hardest thing was getting a venue to run it from."