AS 2022 drew to a close, we asked the people of Barry to nominate someone who deserves a shout-out for making a difference to the community and one name kept coming back at us – Alison Woolcock.

Alison does a lot for the Barry community including volunteering for Parkruns, as a lifeguard, and helping set-up a hugely popular swim club - all of this done under the cloud of immense tragedy.

In June, 2022, Alison’s daughter Megan died from an epileptic seizure at the age of 25. At the time Megan was 17 weeks pregnant.

In the face of what one would think is insurmountable adversity, Alison did something positive and helped set up Watchtower Waders, a group of sea swimmers who started going for a dip in the sea at The Knap during lockdown.

The group hasn’t just thrived, but swelled, with a community of 1,900 members on its Facebook page.

Some of the tributes to Alison included Claire Ferris saying, “Alison has endured the most heart-breaking few years, yet she still cares and cheers people up. She is amazing how she keeps going,” while Lee O'Brien said, “she is an absolute angel, an inspiration to so many and all the Watchtower think so too. She definitely deserves a big shout out.”

Tributes to Alison:

Rebecca Marsh: “Alison Woolcock has my vote, extraordinarily woman.”

Tracy Armstrong: “Alison Woolcock, what an amazing woman.”

Lisa Childs-Brown: “She keeps a crazy group of swimmers in check. She doesn’t even realise how amazing she is!”

Barry And District News:

(Double tragedy struck when Alison's daughter Megan, second left, died of a seizure while 17-weeks pregnant)

Alison thanked everyone for their support and said the Barry community truly was very special

“There are lots of good things going on in Barry,” said Alison. “The community has lots to offer and I believe if you look for good you find good.”

Other people nominated:

Rowena Hughes: Rowena co-ordinated giving a huge amount of gifts to front-line workers at Noah's Ark Hospital.

Craig Holmes and Aimee Bannister of Kinging-It, who have raised £60,000 for mental health charities.

Geoff Brown for raising a huge amount of money for Cancer Research.

Samantha Campbell, who leads Rhoose Community Spirit Team with "passion" and "dedication".

Alison also praised the waders for helping her through what has undoubtedly been the toughest period of her life, having her daughter and granddaughter snatched from her at the same time.

“What I found was the community of Barry got behind me and supported me,” said Alison looking back at the past 12 months.

“Being part of the waders has offered them a supportive community. People who come swimming may have physical and mental health problems and what they have found in the waders is a supporting network that really benefits them.

“What I find is everyone brings something special. Everyone can participate in their own way and we have just seen people thrive through the group.”

Barry And District News:

(The Watchtower Waders, which Alison started in lockdown, has over 1,900 members now)