In 1996 a group of mothers met to try to locate a much-needed “safe haven” and to improve the quality of life for our children and the entire community.
We were eventually able to purchase a 2-acre field in the village, opposite the village primary school for the sum of £4,000. We needed to provide formal and informal recreational opportunities for all ages. The late Miss Molly Lloyd of Brynllan, Cilycwm, had historically very kindly lent this field to the village for the annual carnival and sports.
We began work by fencing the boundaries and creating a small woodland area, with the help of parents, grandparents, friends and the members of Cilycwm Young Farmers Club, utilising our first grant money from The Prince’s Trust to pay for materials. Since volunteers were carrying out the work, we provided a community lunch for all at the village school.
Working on the play area
We took full advantage of this great workforce and before the end of the day we were also able to clear and fence-off an area of waste land at the school, recycling fencing materials where possible, which would then provide the school with an area to develop as a Conservation Area. Parents involved with the field project are also committed to the development of the village school, and therefore got working with the clearing of rubbish from the wasteland, the Friends of Cilycwm School financed the development of this area.
On the 4th July 1997 a concert with Dafydd Iwan and other artists, was organised at the barn at Glangwenlais, Cilycwm, by a team of volunteers, which raised over £4,000 to pay for the purchase of the field. Hard work but well worth all the effort!
Following our successful application for grant monies from Carmarthenshire County Council, under The Rural Grant Programme, 1997, we employed a local contractor to drain, level, landscape and re-seed the field. Locally made, Carmarthenshire oak gates, benches, picnic tables and bins were sited by volunteers.
Several community workdays were organised for the building of stiles, tree planting to create the woodland and the construction of pathways. Professional trainers were provided by Antur Cwm Taf /Tywi and Pembrokeshire Training Providers, to guide the volunteers on these days. The new pathways provided access for the disabled to the woodland and the proposed playarea – a car parking area was also created to aid easy access. A new entrance was constructed, with child safety as our main priority, post and rail fencing was erected and new oak gates were installed.
With the help of the Cilycwm Young Farmers Club past and present members, Friends of the School and many others, young and old, over 400 broadleaf trees and a new hedgerow, made up of native species, were planted under the Forestry Commission’s “Woodland Grant Scheme”.
Creating a soft landing!
Another workday was organised before Christmas 1998, to distribute the wood chip safety surface for the new playarea. Many other volunteers, including members of Cilycwm W.I., Ysgol Meithrin and the Church Crusader Groups, planted daffodil bulbs, which now provide a wonderful display for St. Davids day, every March. What a wonderful Christmas present for all our children and our dreams finally in place!
Group picnic lunches were organised for all of these workdays/fun days, which have all been well supported by volunteers across all age groups, with a good representation from this small rural community. A “Willow Sculptures and Basketry” fun day was organised in conjunction with The Prince’s Trust – Bro and Antur Cwm Taf/Tywi for the school Easter holiday of the following year to construct a willow wig-wam and tunnel.
An Information Board on site, provided by Antur Cwm Taf/Tywi on the theme of “Myths and Legends”, provides an insight into local history and culture for everyone, including tourists and establishes the character of this community.
Public meetings are called regularly, to discuss needs and for forward planning, so that the project will benefit every member of this community. We have always given priority to the use of local materials, wherever possible, to support the economic re-generation of this agricultural area, e.g. fencing materials, oak benches, gates, stiles, etc. We have tried to adopt good environmental practise, when possible, e.g. woodland development, use of local timber for fencing, gates, bins, picnic tables, benches and the playarea, with an ongoing project to protect and record wildlife, flora and fauna.
On Saturday, 10 July 1999, we held the official opening of the recreational field, during the annual carnival with a free buffet for everyone, fancy dress, a comedy football match and village sports. Representatives of The Prince’s Trust, Antur Cwm Taf/Tywi, Carmarthenshire County Council and other grant giving organisations were invited; hundreds of local people turned out.
This development has created a much needed facility and focus for the community, it has drawn together the entire population; enhanced community spirit; provided the children and village school with a recreational and sports area and has given young and old a place to meet and enjoy with pride.
In ” The 1999 Prince of Wales’ Awards” our project was Highly Commended for its achievements, the judges were impressed by:
- The tremendous determination and personal commitment of the Action Committee.
- The way the site has been carefully designed to meet a range of local needs.
- The active involvement of the whole community in turning plans into reality.
- The enthusiasm generated which has already led to further achievement in the delightful nature garden.
The school Conservation Area and garden have been completed and The Prince of Wales’ Award Certificate of Commendation now hangs at Cilycwm School!
We are indebted to everyone who was able to make a financial contribution and to those who turned out to help whenever they could, they made this project happen and to those professionals who continue to work free of charge. Thank you.
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