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Heritage grant funding to help Swansea memories live on for future generations

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Some of Swansea’s richest social history stories could soon be preserved on film and audio files thanks to a £10,000 grant from Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service – and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The funding, secured by the Morriston Tabernacle Congregation with the support of Swansea Council, will see local people of all ages and backgrounds trained to carry out the filming and voice recording.

They will interview fellow locals who represent a wide cross-section of the older Morriston community.

Among the rich stories likely to be given new life will be those from: the Tabernacle itself, a 148-year-old Swansea landmark; the industrial Lower Swansea Valley, once the centre of the world’s copper-making trade; and nonconformist worship, so important to Welsh heritage.

Those helping with the project will include volunteers from the voluntary Tabernacle Community Radio group and people supported by the Fusion programme that is co-funded by the council and the Welsh Government.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Morriston was built on industry – and the Tabernacle and nonconformism were central to the community.

“We want the Tabernacle to have a bright future; that’s why we recently delivered the first phase of an ongoing plan to revitalise the use of the building.

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“I’m confident that this local heritage project will be warmly welcomed by the people of Morriston – both those who have stories to tell and those who’d like to preserve them forever. They are stories that deserve to be recorded.”

Andrew White, director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said of the 15-Minute Heritage grant: “We’re all probably more aware of our local areas of late and local heritage – whether that’s a building, a landmark, a nature reserve or even our local shop – is important because it helps create and shape our communities.

“Connecting with our heritage is also good for our wellbeing and thanks to National Lottery players and our partnership with Cadw we have been able to encourage a diverse range of people right across Wales to get out and about to explore and re-discover their local area.”

The bilingual social history project will bring together diverse members of the community and will see valuable knowledge passed on through the generations.

It will deliver a training project for those local people who do not usually engage with local heritage.

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Content will be provided by older members of the Morriston community, including members of the Tabernacle congregation. Many of these individuals are in their 80s and 90s – and they hold a wealth of anecdotal, social history that hasn’t yet been recorded.

The Fusion project will reach out to disadvantaged groups, encouraging them to get involved in this valuable cultural activity.

The volunteers will work with a professional filmmaker and provide further technical expertise. The visual and audio material created will be available to use in a variety of ways including for heritage tours, on social media and for podcasts.

Memories of the Grade 1 listed Tabernacle will help those who visit the building better understand its history, social importance and influence.

More info: Contact Jacqualyn Box – email Jacqualyn.Box@swansea.gov.uk, phone 07827 307968.

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Lead image: Marking the £10,000 funding for the new Morriston social history project are, from left, Paul Rees of Tabernacle Community Radio, Swansea Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies, council officer Jacqualyn Box and Tabernacle congregation members Gwyn Morgan and David Gwyn John. (Swansea Council)


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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot RNLI shop open again for business

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Following refurbishment, visitors to Port Talbot will once again be able to visit the shop located at the lifeboat station at Aberavon seafront.

The shop refit marks the start of a new era. The shop was opened in loving memory of the previous shop manager, Phil Jones, who sadly passed away in early 2021.

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Phil had kept the shop open single-handedly for over twelve years with much success. Phil’s wife and daughter kindly agreed to officially open the new shop on Sunday 12 June when many memories were shared and there were plenty of best wishes for the future.

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local station. Around 1920 commemorative RNLI products were added and shops were selling souvenirs and Christmas cards, all profits helping to save lives at sea.

The RNLI now has over 170 shops around the coast and inland all of which are run by dedicated volunteers: Port Talbot is no exception.

The shop volunteer team has grown since April 2021 from a team of one to thirteen and is also involved with fundraising.

New Shop Manager Kirstee David says: “It has been amazing watching the shop team develop over the last twelve months and to see how passionate the team is about developing what we offer – and about the RNLI!”

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(Lead image: Port Talbot RNLI)

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