Marylin Rees 

Credit: Thrombosis UK

Marylin Rees is an experienced Venous Thrombosis Nurse Specialist with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board who has recently won the Healthcare Practitioner – Unsung Hero award at the prestigious VTE Awards at the Houses of Parliament in London. 

According to Thrombosis UK, the award celebrates the “passion, drive and impact an individual has had on VTE prevention, management, advocacy, education and support that is above and beyond their day-to-day role or job description. Often this will be ‘behind the scenes’ but always with a commitment for excellence and willingness to help in whatever capacity to deliver care that makes a positive difference.”

Her incredible work has made a world of difference to those who have suffered from VTE (venous thromboembolism), a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.

Marilyn was introduced to working with VTE as a Nursing Sister, which led to her developing her knowledge and becoming a founding member of the Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Committee. A true pioneer in her field, she spearheaded the development of the nurse-led DVT Clinic with Dr Raza Alikhan and created change and innovation to provide a more consistent service to patients and improve patient management immensely.

She is currently the Clinical Nurse Lead for Thromboprophylaxis for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and sits on their Executive Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Group. She also co-organises the annual All Wales National Thrombosis Conference for healthcare professionals. As well as this, Marilyn is a consistent leading figure in raising awareness for the prevention, management advocacy and patient education and support for VTE. 

Marilyn’s dedication and commitment have been and continue to be exemplary. It was her colleagues who were able to nominate Marilyn for the award as they celebrated her dedication to helping others in the NHS for the past 40 years. Over that time, Marilyn has spent time in unscheduled care, orthopaedics and intensive care as well as 20 years working in Thrombosis. 

Ria Burrage-Male

Credit: KIBO

Former international hockey player with 33 caps for Wales and Champions League footballer for Cardiff City FC Women, Ria Burrage-Male is an experienced leader and CEO determined to mentor, coach, support and advise all those who feel like they are struggling in the fast-paced business world. 

As well as her impressive sporting resumé, Ria is now the co-founder of KIBO, a name inspired by her two children and meaning hope in Japanese. She’s on a mission to redefine leadership and support fellow leaders in their journey towards self-discovery and authenticity.

After embarking on a family trip across Europe, Ria took a much-needed break to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This journey allowed her to reflect, be present and reassess her priorities and passions. With a wealth of experience as a senior leader, Ria found that despite her success, the role could be isolating and lonely.

Driven by her desire to create a supportive community for leaders, Ria founded KIBO with a clear vision: to help leaders feel worthy, supported and understood. She understands the challenges that leaders face, from the pressure to constantly perform to the struggle with imposter syndrome. Through KIBO, Ria aims to challenge leaders to ask questions, prioritise self-care and communicate effectively, all while fostering a sense of community and support.

KIBO offers 1-on-1 personal coaching or group coaching as well as a dynamic leadership programme that was crafted to create effective leadership skills. The programme is effective “by combining interactive learning experiences, practical exercises, reflection and accountability, participants gain valuable insights and tools to lead with confidence and impact.”

But perhaps most importantly, Ria’s journey has been one of self-discovery and growth. She openly shares her struggles with anxiety, depression and imposter syndrome, highlighting her commitment to authenticity and vulnerability. Through her own experiences, Ria has learned the importance of asking for help and uses all that she has learnt to support others in their journey towards self-awareness and fulfilment.

To find out more about KIBO, visit: 

Nikki Giant 

Credit: @nikkigiant

Nikki Giant is a multi-talented writer, educator and entrepreneur who specialises in the socio-emotional well-being of children and young people and the rights of young girls. In her own words, she is “on a mission to redesign childhood to create a world that works for all.”

A formidable force in shaping a better future, Nikki is making a huge impact in Cardiff and beyond with the multiple social enterprises and initiatives that are changing the world for young girls. Nikki was the founder of ‘Full Cycle Education’, which specialises in addressing issues affecting youth in education and ensuring that young people receive the absolute best education to raise their aspirations and achievements. Furthermore, she was the previous founder of the social enterprise ‘Girls Circle’, a sister organisation to Full Cycle Education that aims to “empower, educate and elevate” young women and girls across England and Wales. 

As well as this, Nikki is also the author of five books, published in the UK, Germany, Spain and Japan, that provide essential advice and life skills to young people across a myriad of topics. Her tireless work landed her recognition from Business Insider Wales in being named a ‘Rising Star 2015’​ as well as being recognised as one of Wales’s ’35 under 35’ top young business & professional women in Wales 2015.

Most recently, Nikki has founded The Spark Movement and The Girl Lab. The Spark Movement, a Cardiff-based initiative that helps people to find their inner ‘Spark’ of purpose and passion, hosts bi-monthly gatherings catering to changemakers, social entrepreneurs and individuals eager to enact positive change. Launched in July 2023 with support from UK nonprofit Plan for Peace, the Spark Sessions for Changemakers have attracted over 200 attendees, fostering a community of like-minded individuals both online and offline. These events serve as platforms to ignite purpose and passion through compelling speakers and opportunities for meaningful connections. The Girl Lab is a girl-focused consultancy agency that “supports brands and causes to better represent and connect with Millennial, Gen Z and Gen A girls, in all their diversity.”

Credit: The Girl Lab

To find out more about The Spark Movement, visit:
To visit The Girl Lab, click here:

Author WCS

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