‘INSPIRE, Share and Celebrate’ is the theme for National Sporting Heritage Day (NSHD) 2021, and events across Wales will be looking to do just that this year.

NSHD aims to educate and motivate people across the UK by highlighting the history behind different sports and significant sporting achievements.

It began in 2014 with a handful of activities and has grown each year to cover a variety of events.

One such event centres around Hailey Park in Llandaff North, Cardiff, where tennis has been played for nearly a century.

Thanks to a community grant from Sporting Heritage CIC, Friends of Hailey Park will mark NSHD on September 30 by celebrating the legacy of Claude Hailey, particularly his passion for tennis.

In total, the Hailey Park celebrations will run from Monday to Friday.

On May 3, 1926, Hailey addressed a crowd of locals and civic dignitaries at the official naming and opening ceremony of Hailey Park on land he had donated to the Llandaff North community.

As well as numerous business interests of his own, Hailey rose to become secretary of Cardiff Coal Exchange.

He was a man of faith, having grown up a member of the Congregational Church on Charles Street in Cardiff city centre, and he also excelled as a sportsman.

Golf, cross-country running and billiards were among his sporting interests. Tennis, however, was Hailey’s main passion.

He won the South Wales Tennis Championship three times and continued to be a supporter and patron of the sport in later life.

Chair of the Friends, Penny Bowers, said: “Without Claude Hailey’s benevolence and belief in the benefits of sport and leisure it is hard to think that tennis courts would be part of Hailey Park’s rich fabric on the banks of the River Taff comprising play facilities, pitches, the Taff Trail, diverse wildlife, and a unique wild meadow. Almost 100 years on, we’re still in his debt.”

Formed in May 2007, Friends of Hailey Park is a community group with a membership drawn from park users and residents dedicated to improving the facility in Llandaff North.

They work closely with Cardiff Council parks department, the police, elected members, schools, other local community groups and organisations such as Sustrans.

The group provides voluntary assistance through maintenance and conservation work, park promotion, events and consultations, as well as having input into funding applications and nurturing ideas for future developments.

They were instrumental in working with Cardiff Council to help the Hailey Park meadow win the Green Flag Community Award in 2012, while full Green Flag status for the whole the park followed in 2020.

Meanwhile, also thanks to a community grant from Sporting Heritage CIC, Expo’r Wal Goch will mark NSHD by celebrating the stories of female fans who experienced Wales’ historic Euro 2016 run in France first-hand.

Inspiring, sharing and celebrating is exactly what the research of Dr Penny Miles, a Wales football fan, is doing.

She has worked tirelessly to capture a range of oral testimonies of female members of the Red Wall – the name Wales players gave those in the stands who supported the team on that magical journey to the semi-finals.

Women have always followed Wales but their voice and experiences have seldom been heard.

Miles’ work is foregrounding women’s experiences as a minority group of participants among the fan base that travelled to France.

They travelled as mothers, daughters, sisters, partners and friends, and some of their stories on the Expo’r Wal Goch YouTube channel. Miles will also be talking live about her work on NSHD itself.

Expo’r Wal Goch’s mission is to further the ways in which Welsh football can be used for social good.

Co-founder Russell Todd said: “Penny spoke at our inaugural online fan Expo in June and provided a fascinating insight into what it can be like for women supporting Wales home and abroad.

“It isn’t always a positive experience unfortunately, but the wealth of stories that she is curating can inform efforts to continually improve the inclusivity of Welsh football fan culture.”

Miles said: “I always had two goals in mind with the research, to both explore the extent to which female fans feel included (or not) when following the men’s national team, especially when travelling away, but also to capture these hugely important stories around Wales’ historic Euro 2016 adventure.

“Having built up this valuable and sizeable body of oral history, I am grateful to Sporting Heritage CIC for recognising that this project is preserving seldom heard aspects of the Welsh football heritage of tomorrow.”

Nick Jones, the lead officer developing the Football Museum for Wales in Wrexham, the spiritual home of Welsh football, is providing curation advice to the project.

He said: “The Football Museum for Wales must celebrate all aspects of football in Wales, including the contribution women have made to the game in Wales as players, officials and fans.

“Oral histories are a rich component of museum collections so it made sense to support Penny and Expo’r Wal Goch’s efforts and to join in with the National Sporting Heritage Day celebrations.

“I’d encourage fans to contact the museum with any stories or objects related to the women’s game in Wales, so we can build our collection further.”

Elsewhere, Bailey Hill is a Victorian Park in Mold and the original home of the town’s bowling club.

This year they will use their community grant to create an exhibition and schools resource celebrating the bowling club’s history and bring its story to a new audience.

For further information about Hailey Park’s or Expo’r Wal Goch’s events, contact Russell Todd on 07749 279481, russell@russelltodd.cymru or expowalgoch@gmail.com. You can contact Dr Penny Miles about her research via p.l.miles@bath.ac.uk.