Lloyd Ashley awarded with WRPA Vodafone Business Bursary
Mental health advocate, Lloyd Ashley has been awarded the very first WRPA Vodafone Business Bursary, for his well-being support and mental health awareness business, ‘LivingWell With Lloyd Ashley’
Having celebrated his 31st birthday this week, the bursary comes as a welcome surprise ‘gift’ for the hardworking Ospreys forward. Starting his own journey and involvement into the world of mental health and breaking down those barriers that come with it, the interest and work in this sector started around four years ago, and it’s now been recognised as a growing business and support network for all professional rugby players in Wales.
It was important for Lloyd that the stigmas and labels that come with any discussion on mental health were eradicated and so began LivingWell.
After seeing the different aspects and pressures of rugby and, more importantly, the effect it threatened to have on players wellbeing, Lloyd knew more needed to be done, leading him to do an ‘introduction to counselling’ course. Following that came a Mental health first aid instructors qualification and then he became an ambassador for Hafal, a member-led charity supporting those with mental health challenges.
By succeeding and achieving in those areas, he realised there was so much more that needed to be done in schools, sports and businesses to support people. And that’s where the need to apply for the Vodafone Business Bursary came ‘into play’.
The WRPA Vodafone Business Bursary has been created to reward WRPA members who have displayed an innovative entrepreneurial spirit in their off-field ventures.
Lloyd Ashley says that the bursary has come at the perfect time “This bursary is a very exciting opportunity and it gives me the amazing chance to grow my online support with a new website and freshen up the LivingWell brand.
“This money will now help me reach a new audience to demonstrate how LivingWell can help schools, businesses & sports clubs develop their support systems. I’m very grateful for the support and recognition.”
WRPA CEO, James King applauded the work ethic shown by Lloyd: “It’s not easy to juggle a playing career with managing that next step and work outside of the professional rugby life, so for Lloyd to have grown and developed ‘LivingWell’ is a real accolade to how dedicated he is to making this work.”
Speaking about the bursary being awarded to Lloyd Ashley, Vodafone’s Business Director, Nick Gliddon, said: “We are delighted to award this bursary to Lloyd, which we hope will help him continue the great work he is doing around well-being and mental health. This is such an important issue, and he’s doing a fantastic job in raising awareness and providing invaluable help.”
Read the WRPA’s interview with Lloyd Ashley below:
Congratulations Lloyd, how does it feel to win this grant from Vodafone Business and have that recognition
Ah, it’s amazing - For me growing the business this is a very exciting opportunity, it gives me the opportunity to grow my online support with a new website and freshen up the LivingWell brand.
This money will now help me reach a new audience, something I’ve not really been able to do previously. I’ll now be able to demonstrate how LivingWell can help schools, businesses & sports clubs develop their support systems. That’s the aim; to make sure we’re elevating it to the next level and growing it all the time.
Tell us a little more about ‘LivingWell With Lloyd Ashley’. What inspired you to start it and why?
LivingWell has been set up to break down the stigmas, help with education around individuals mental health and to start the conversation for people who haven’t found a safe place to speak yet.
After seeing the different aspects of rugby and the effects this can have on a players well-being I knew more needed to be done. This led me to do an introduction to counselling course, my Mental health first aid instructors qualification and become an ambassador for Hafal. From all these I realised there was so much more that needed to be done in schools, sports and businesses to support people.
Where and how do you see the business and brand growing and developing?
This money will give me the opportunity to design a website, freshen up the image of LivingWell and support me in attracting different networks I haven’t interacted with yet. It will support the professional image LivingWell is already demonstrating and really provide a platform for me to now work to and go from, hopefully, strength to strength. The aim is always to continue learning, growing and reaching out to those who need it and want it. Schools, and the corporate sectors are just huge untapped areas for me and I can’t wait to get going with it and see where it goes next!
How does LivingWell with Lloyd Ashley fit in with the rugby schedule and is it a juggle you’re enjoying?
It’s definitely a juggling act, but with the support of my family, the Ospreys and the WRPA it can be done. It’s about being organised and flexible to continue the growth. It has also meant understanding a lot more about businesses and how they work, which has been very exciting for my personal growth and something I look forward to continuing to develop.
How important do you think it is to recognise what players are doing and excelling in off the field?
I think it’s very important as sadly, no player knows when their final game might be. This is why support needs to be in place. It can be a lonely and isolating time off the field and it’s all about having a good support network around you and having the focus and drive to look at and seize opportunities as and when they arrive. It also give players and understanding of life outside professional sport! This is why our PDM’s are so important, we are very lucky with the people we have around
How important do you think it is for the WRPA to support and help nurture players and player talent off the field?
It’s so Very important! Rugby players learn so many transferable skills throughout their playing career and they just need the support to transition these into life outside. Someone like Tim Jones (WRPA PDM for Ospreys) gives players the opportunity to see how these skills could be transferred and has been a huge support to me in starting and developing LivingWell.