Tag Archives: community

Community Project – completion report

28 Jun

Well, that’s it.  Six months of work and today we polished the panels and have handed them over to our tame glaziers (actually our husbands/handymen/builders) to install them in the space provided.   Yes there is still the official VIP unveiling to attend; the media coverage and photos from that to exclaim over; and most exciting the grand unveiling to our family, friends and peers at an afternoon celebration.  But today marks the culmination of an idea that began as a seed over a year ago, when the possibility of a grant to fund a project was first discussed.

Then the planning, costing, being on the periphery of providing information for the bid writing; not really expecting it to come to fruition.  Then the announcement that the project would run: the time-tabling, the advertising, the organising; again I was on the periphery dropping in my two pennies worth on occasion but largely uninvolved in the process.

Then the reality; the first class on 4th january 2017; the teaching; the design planning; the drawing; the design approval; scaling up; creating templates; chosing and ordering glass

And now here we are. Window complete. How do i feel?…  Pretty damned emotional actually…..

Privileged, to have been part of such a great community project; to have been entrusted with the design and been afforded the opportunity to teach

Inspired, by the stories, and achievements of those who attended and the personal growth they each have felt

Proud, of the 27 people I have co-taught, who have developed and achieved so much;  some who have chosen to stay since the beginning and others who have joined more recently

Joy, at the friendships formed; the community engagement achieved; the memories made and the legacy we have created

Touched; by the gratitude of those we have taught

Exhilarated, by the finished product and the reaction of students, community members and visitors alike throughout the weeks

Positive, about my skills and abilities and what I am capable of creativity in the future

Nervous, that the installation is yet to happen and anything could happen

Tearful, as it comes to an end….

…and a little flat, after all the go, go, go.

But mostly I feel exuberant, in the knowledge that this community project has achieved so much… that it has proved to be far more than the sum of its parts.

What we have as a group produced will continue to be admired, and inspire long after today; and I don’t just mean the 2.5m by 1.5m semi circular, glass window depicting Welsh Legend and local imagery.

There are strong and true friendships that have developed; there are talents that have been uncovered and will continue to develop; micro-businesses that might emerge; there is a whole new community craft group been formed; new goals have been set; new plans have been made; horizons have been expanded; confidences have been built…..

What an inspirational bunch of people.

thank you all xxxx

mid way progress report

its more than just a community class






Community Project – progress report

3 May

A few weeks ago I wrote about this amazing community stained glass project I’m helping to run:-


It’s now the end of our 3rd six-week block and there is only one more block to go. We’re all excited at the pace of the project but also sad at the thought it will soon be over.

This is where we are now:-

Community Stained Glass Project – progress at week 18

However, like I said before, its more than just a community class.  Friendships have blossomed; confidence has been built; laughter has filled the air; stresses have been relaxed; bonds have been forged; support has been shared.

Our first group consisted of 14 people, 2 left due to commitment at the day of the first block and 8 more joined for the second.  So by week seven we had 20.  Only 1 left after that, 4 more joined. We are now 23.  Next week we start our final block. I think we will be 26 plus us teachers. Eleven of these ladies have been with us since the beginning of January.

Many have taken up stained glass as a long-term hobby.  Several have gone as far as finding a spare room in their home and buying all the kit.  So who knows, as well as new skills and new hobbies, possibly even new livelihoods,

As a group we have shared our strengths and supported each other through weaknesses and doubt.  We have recognised and enjoyed new friendships, formulated new working associations; started new voluntary and community projects for after this one; a social project is developing as a result; business opportunities have come through our networking.

Myddfai Hall gains from the regular custom; we generally have dinner together after class. Visitors to the centre have been delighted and astounded by the achievements to date.  Photos have been taken and word has spread (possible across continents!).  Many visitors want to return to see it in situ.  This project is strengthening Myddfai’s reputation as an enterprising, cohesive and supportive community. Its impact in its location in the Brecon Beacon, far outways its size (population c300),  This is a village that has worked together to create a community and has created a strength, a business and an extended family as a result.  It is truly a cohesive and loving community.

The enthusiasm for the class is such that most arrive much earlier than the official start time to ‘get going’ and many don’t leave until way after the official finish.  Pretty much everyone has taken something home to work on.  Everyone has made enormous progress and managed to make several pieces for themselves (or their friends and family).

It has become a social club that participants anticipate with delight each week.  They want it to continue after the project is done.  That’s fantastic news,. I guess will have to come up with a plan to carry on just for fun……


It’s more than just a communuty class

30 Mar

I have been lucky enough to have been asked to be the designer/co-teacher at a community stained glass project that began at the very beginning of 2017.

It’s a wonderful, energising and exciting project funded by Brecon Beacons National Park Sustainable Development Fund.   Fitting into the Year of Welsh Legends, the project is to create a large stained glass window for Myddfai Hall to reflect the legends of Wales and the surrounding area to Myddfai, Carmarthenshire.  See that big semi-circular window on the second floor? Its going there

Four groups of six weeks.  Two and a half hours a week.  Subsidised classes teaching members of the community stained glass skills and then engaging them in the design and creation of, what is sure to be, a spectacular piece of Welsh art.

The ‘pupils’ learn the skills they need and are able to make their own glass designs as well as being part of the making of the big window.

The first six weeks we had fourteen people and they put forward their ideas they felt should be incorporated.  We reviewed the Mabinogion for imagery and ideas.  Some people drew others wrote down ideas, some printed off images they felt should be conveyed.  With all ideas of these first fourteen I was tasked with creating an image that would translate into glass and convey all the aspects of Welsh Legend and Myddfai history the group felt pertinent.  An amazing challenge and honour for me.

stained glass window, mabinopion, welsh legends, physicians of myddfai

the finalised design for the 3 panels making up the window

By week seven, the beginning of the second course, ten of the original fourteen remained, joined by another six.  The cutting of the panel began alongside the teaching of the beginners and development of the ‘experienced’..  By week thirteen, which is where we are now, the beginning of the third course, everyone stayed on and we have been joined by four more.

the first course and some beautiful first pieces of stained glass

Progress on the panel is amazing.  But more than that.  We have developed a community.  These talented individuals generally arrive early because they are now all friends and want to meet for coffee first or start on our or their projects asap.  They reluctantly pack up to leave at the end, we often run on.  They stay on after to have lunch together.  They’re all friends on social media… and in ‘real’ life.  They communicate and meet outside the classes.  They share their joys and pains; encourage each other and bring each other joy.

Plus they are all so proud (quite rightly) of their individual achievements and their involvement in this fantastic piece of art that they want to take pieces home to progress the project more quickly.  They positively glow.

As one of their ‘teachers’ I find so much joy and pride in watching their joy and seeing their confidence develop.  I too have new friends as a result.

The classes are a delight indeed.  They’re filled with energy chatter and laughter.  The pride in the projects, both individual ones and our group activity, are palpable.  And, when the panels are finally installed, sometime in June 2017, they will be there as a permanent reminder of individual development, teamwork, talent, achievement and friendship.  That moment , when we reveal our ‘masterpiece’ will be…… indescribable… when we get their though, i will try my best ….

Progress so far – end of week 13… copper foiling, a bit of leading and even a bit of soldering… really taking shape

Mummy in a Tutu

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There’s no Place Like (Our) Home

23 Jun


When you live in your special getaway retreat you never need a getaway!!

Cerdyn Villa, our home, your retreat, our bit of ‘heaven on earth’, in the middle of the Heart of Wales, in the quirkiest town in the UK, Llanwrtyd Wells

There are weekends of insanity and partying in the town if you want it- Man v Horse, Real Ale Wobble, World Bog Snorkelling, World Alternative Games, Welsh Open Stone Skimming, Mountain Bike Chariot Racing.

There is open space, picturesque expansive vistas, tranquility and natural beauty in abundance for walking, cycling, driving, bird watching, relaxing, sitting, meditating and being at one with nature.

There is our home.  A home away from home.  A place to relax, potter, sleep, laugh, chat. A place to simply BE.

We found our home by luck.  We wallow in the good fortune of living here daily.  Come rain or shine.  Our own space.  The surrounding space.  The community.  The Friday nights with friends .  The reality of this magical spot in the the heart of The Heart of Wales.




Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

20 Apr

I believe it was Mark Twain who popularised the saying “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”  It basically means the use of numbers as a persuasive power to bolster a weak argument.  Numbers don’t lie.  But their interpretation can.

Yesterday evening I went along to one of the consultation meetings in relation to the South Powys High School restructuring (Builth, Llandrindod, Brecon, Gwernyfed). This came about as a result of a Cabinet approved School Transformation Policy (Nov 2014).

Let’s be clear, I have one son, he’s 18, finishes his High School education this June and in theory I need no longer worry on a personal level about the state of schools and education in Wales.  However, I believe the quality and availability of schooling in an area is a primary factor for families looking to move in and invest there.  All communities require the arrival of new young families.  They also need to ensure that the area remains attractive to the youngsters already there and that services are in place so they don’t elect to move away when they have children of their own to educate.  Without local schools, any town or village is in danger of becoming a retirement village.. not that I have anything against retired people, I hope to be one myself in the not too distant future.   Communities need a demographic mix.

So I went to the meeting because I was interested , and also because as a standing Assembly candidate I had been prompted with an invitation.  There I was sat in my reserved seat at the front of the large sports hall, swiveled round to observe the audience.  I went to show support and listen.  I did have some thoughts and would have spoken had those points not been raised, but the community had it together.  They were informed, clear and articulate in their disapproval, contempt and lack of faith in the plans and the abilities of those in charge of them to effectively implement them.

The mood was clear. The parents do not want to give up their Welsh stream or sixth form, The students do not want to give up their Welsh stream or sixth form,  The local councillors don’t want to give up their Welsh stream or sixth form.  The teachers do not want to give up their Welsh stream or sixth form.

The panel appeared disinterested, obtuse and sullen. In the interest of disinterest I have ‘forgotten’ their names. They were however ‘important people’ in high power positions who were not able to say anything that ‘might incriminate them’; so mainly they said nothing.  One looked like he was having a snooze.  One was being particularly obtuse, seeming to deliberately pretend to not quite understand a question if the person presenting the question was a little nervous or tongue-tied in his/her delivery of it.

Their were two representatives there from NPCT who were, embarrassingly (a) not on the panel despite being the only people with answers (if you could call them that) to most of the questions (those in relation to A level provision), and (b) were suitably vague with all their responses mainly ‘we can assure you we can ….”.  .  The Chief Exec was even what I would describe as both exasperated and slightly aggressive in his responses.

So back to those statistics.

They don’t take into account that already some o the pupils in the schools travel so they only talk about shipping the pupils from, say,  Brecon to Builth… Hence those families to the Carmarthenshire side of the school are likely to remove their children from the Powys to Carmarthenshire schools to reduce their kids travel times… numbers will fall (thank you Kirsty Williams for as ever, clearly, concisely and accurately pointing this one out to the panel).  They didn’t allow for those families who would just “go with English” rather than have their kids travel  for a Welsh language education; and they didn’t allow for incomers who might have embraced the Welsh language and grown the culture had the language tuition remained at local level.

There were no budgeted costings or impact numbers in the statistics to analyse the increased transport costs for busing/taxiing children further.  Never mind the carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, and increased need to repair roads as a result of the extra traffic.

There were no numbers to examine the loss of hours, earlier starts, later returns home of children and parents to get to these merged/centralised classes.

To me these points and more were made perfectly clear by the attendees:-
1. small schools in rural communities help maintain and develop community spirit and care

2 16-18 year olds gain from being in a school environment by mentoring and leading younger pupils.  They learn to communicate, interact and care.  It is an opportunity to take on some responsibility for others

3 11-15 year olds benefit from 16th formers as mentors and aspirational role models.  Younger children often respond differently to another (slightly older) child than they might a teacher, thus improving pastoral care.

4.Dual language provision is essential for sustaining the Welsh culture and is important that it be kept at local level so that it is not diluted or lost

5. NPCT should stick to what it does best and teach, even extend, its vocational base of subjects to broaden the selection of subjects available to 16-18 year olds nd leave A level delivery to the High Schools

6.Families do not want their children spending up to  an additional 2 hours per day travelling to and from school to get the education they deserve.  It will be detrimental to their health, their learning and their family

So finally I have three things to say.

The first:

Rural communities should not be presented with an urban solution to the delivery of education.

Secondly, but maybe most importantly, lest we forget:

Statistics can make any point you want depending on which statistics you elect to use and what point you are wanting to make.


please, if you were at any of the meetings or not, whether you spoke or not, I urge you to  put your thoughts into writing as well as filling in their questionnaire.  The higher the pile of paper they have to wade through the more visual the message they will receive.

Opinion Research Services, FREEPOST (SS1018), PO Box 530, Swansea, SA1 1ZL



you have until 5pm on 23rd May









2016 : Care, Compassion and a big fat CWTCH

4 Jan

life plan

So another year has passed . for some, like me, it flew past on a stream of laughter, for others it dragged its way along through gritty problems; oil slick like disasters; dead ends; brick walls and bloody great gaping chasms that they barely managed to stop themselves plummeting into.  So whilst I rejoice the end of a fabulously life affirming twelve months and embrace the next with gushing enthusiasm and passion; I am aware that many are peaking around the edge of the slightly ajar heavy door expecting further trip hazards and taking an intrepid shaky first step incase they step on a landmine.

For those out there to whom I have access, I hope they will use my stronger foothold and grab on for support.  For sure there have been times when I have tethered myself to them for guidance and balance.  For those across the globe, in different countries, counties, towns and households, where I cannot personally hold out my hand , I can hope for human kindness from within each persons individual network of support and community; I can offer to advocate and speak out for any injustices where I can add my voice to a cause.  For those who are isolated and alone; barely treading water in their personal wild ocean of life, may I have the compassion and awareness to reach out with others of humankindness and offer an anchor and an island on which they can rest.

It’s a new year.  We will all have new challenges.  But we never have to face them alone.  Let us be individually great and provide love and community to those we know and love and also to those who we may never know but we can choose to love and show compassion towards.

Embrace your life.  Share your strengths.  Allow others to support you at times of need.  Show compassion.  Share your love.  Smile at  strangers.  Be the best of humanity.  Even if it seems against all odds, let peace, love and kindness win through.  Start with your own heart.  Hug.  Or to embrace the life that has embraced me; let the world feel a good heartfelt CWTCH.

Happy New Year World.  Bring it on!



Diary of An Imperfect Mum