Cllr Ryan Watkins Blog 2014-15.

Wednesday 14th May 2014 was the Inauguration of Councillor Ryan Watkins as Tredegar Town Mayor and Councillor Geraint Meredith as Tredegar Town Deputy Mayor. Councillor Watkins will be active in our community during his Year in Office and hopes to give you a view of a Town Mayor's life by doing this blog.

Monday 12th January 2015 - NHS project Launch at Bedwelty House
This morning It was my pleasure to welcome Vaughan Gething AM the Deputy Minister for Health in Wales, David Jenkins the Chair of Aneurin Bevan Health Board and Judith Paget the CEO, who had come to the home of Aneurin Bevan to officially launch a new program looking at the health of men over 40 in South East Wales before rolling it our across the country. As part of the programme blood pressure, pulse and cholesterol checks will be carried out to assess individuals' risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years. Once results have been assessed, a plan of action will be agreed with the patient and they will identify their priorities with health professionals for reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Wednesday 24th December 2014 - Tredegar Mayor's Christmas Eve Visits
I was pleased to be taking part in the Annual Tredegar Mayor's visits to the care homes around Tredegar, where we got to say hello and wish a Merry Christmas to those older or less fortunate than ourselves. This year, after our backing tape last year failed to complement our already flat tones, we enlisted the help of Tredegar Orpheus who kindly lent us 6 choristers to give the residents a show they wouldn't forget (and to drown us out). Also accompanying us was Gaynor James from Tredegar Youth Café and 6 of her younger attendees who also gave a few songs and cheered up the residents no end. During the morning we visited Llys Glyncoed, Maes Y Dderwen, Cwm Seren, Woffington House and Bedwellty Park Residential Home. After all our visits, it was only left for me to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New 2015.


Friday 19th December 2014 -Santa's Grotto at the Cefn Golau Community House
This evening Cllr Haydn Trollope and I went up to see Jackie Mills, Marianne Phillips and the rest of the team at the Cefn Golau Community House where we heard Santa was going to make an appearance. There was food and very excited children as far as the eye could see. With the music ringing out, myself and Marianne ushered the children up the stairs to where Haydn was waiting for them at the top. There was dancing and laughing coming from everywhere, a joyous spirit. Over 150 children got so speak to Santa, had a present, and a photo taken (including myself although he told me I was too old for a present!). A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by everyone!

Thursday 18th December 2014 -Blaenau Gwent Heritage Forum
I went down to the library this morning to present, on behalf of Tredegar Town Council, a grant cheque and certificate to the Heritage Forum who were holding a meeting. I was offered to join them for the remainder of the meeting followed by tea and cake but unfortunately I had somewhere else I had to be. After a short presentation, I was asked by the group to attend their next book launch in February to which I gladly accepted.

Tuesday 16th December 2014 - Coffee Morning at the Saron
This morning I was invited around to the Saron Church where Anne Ingram and Sue McFarlane were holding a coffee morning for the Mayor's Appeal. I went around and spoke to everyone who attended the morning - the many social groups, the supporters of Saron and members of BG Social Inclusion Team who brought along some of its members. I spoke to a gentleman who had lost his sight who told me about how the RNIB were helping him get his independence back - nice to see the RNIB in action! Plenty of food; Anne, Sue and the team kept everybody topped up and raised a massive £400 in doing so! Thank you everybody!!
Ebenezer Carol Service -After recovering from all the tea I drunk this morning, this evening I made my way to the Ebenezer Church in Dukestown for their Christmas Carol Service after being invited by Olivia. It was an entertaining service with not your run of the mill entertainment. Along with the traditional songs being sung, we were treated to a number of solos from members of the congregation including a western styled Carol and Silent Night sung in German.  We were invited to join them later for a drop of tea but after speaking to everyone it was time to leave.

Monday 15th December 2014 -Sirhowy Senior Citizens Association
I was invited along to the Sirhowy Senior Citizen's hall up on Beaufort Hill to present them with a grant cheque from Tredegar Town Council. Beryl, the Chairperson, invited me to sit and watch the ladies play bingo, a serious game!! Beryl told me the group had been running for 42 years; she herself had set it up when she was no older than me. They will be using the grant to update and repair the building given to them by the Church. Well done ladies, staying alive (Eighty Five).

Saturday 6th December 2014 - Bryn Bach Model Boat Club
This morning I went up to meet the members of the Bryn Bach Park Model Boat Club, that has been running for 12 years now, to present them with a grant cheque and certificate from Tredegar Town Council. They were a friendly bunch, who come from all over SE Wales and even from as far as Builth Wells, for as they tell me "the beauty of the area". They showed me the boats that they used and told me that they can reach speeds up to 130mph, the range as far as the eye can see! It seemed to be an interesting hobby; the satisfaction and engineering of building the vessel coupled with the peaceful relaxation of taking your boat out onto the water. There were 14 members there when I turned up at noon but there was more coming, hot flasks of tea and scarves at the ready!

Tredegar Otters - This evening, after warming up, I was invited to attend the Otters Annual Presentation Dinner with Sue Woodward and Andrew Gullick. Sue has been running the Otters, a disabled swimming club, for 37 years and is as still full of energy and love for it as she was on day one! Myself, the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent Cllr Willis and the Leader of Town Council Cllr Smith all attended to show our support for this brilliant organization.  After having the food laid on by the staff of Bedwelty House, we each presented a number of cups and shields to some amazing athletes; some taking their first steps and others winning multiple golds and silvers. They all worked very hard in their achievements and we were proud to be part of it! We stayed for the beginning of the disco but sadly had to leave before we could get to dance! Well done Sue and all your swimmers!!

Thursday 4th December 2014 - Heads of the Valleys Gateway Club
This evening I went down to the Heads of the Valleys Gateway Club to present them with a grant cheque and certificate from Tredegar Town Council. I met Joan who took me on a tour of Georgetown Community Centre and introduced me to some of the visitors to the centre and to some of the volunteers.  
I met Joan at a Council meeting previously and was inspired when she told me that she temporarily took over the role of secretary and chair of the Gateway Club, albeit 27 years ago! I met up with a few familiar faces, had plenty of photos taken and spoke to some of the visitors who were getting ready for Christmas. A thoroughly enjoyable experience, I look forward to going back!

Wednesday 3rd December 2014 - Quiz Wizards
I went along on the final quiz evening (after we come last in the first heat) to see Malcom Higgs who has been running the Tredegar Quiz wizards for over 35 years. Malcom works tirelessly within the community and over the years has formed a strong alliance with Tredegar Town Council. Tredegar Town Council supports this event by proving the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize money which totals £100 for the teams to win. For the tournament The Willows, the Bowls Club, the Connie, the Moose, and The Rhyd all kindly donated their premises. All the money taken over the 5 weeks of the quiz totalled £500 and the winning teams all very kindly donated their winnings to the Mayor's Appeal so the RNIB benefited by a massive £600. Thank you Malcolm!!! (and I learned a few facts by attending his quiz!)

Tuesday 2nd December 2014 - Tredegar Methodist Church
Myself and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr Meredith, went along to the Methodist Church in Vale Terrace to present them with a grant cheque which they plan to use in order to update their kitchen area. We were greatly welcomed by the Minister Les Jones, as he always does. We spent an hour chatting with Les and the rest of the congregation and were supplied with all the tea and Welsh cakes we could manage!!

Saturday 29th November 2014 - The Mayors Christmas Ball
This evening Louise and myself held the Mayor's Christmas Ball at Bedwellty House for our family, friends and colleagues to come and get into the festive spirit and celebrate the halfway point of my term as Mayor. Working as a fantastic team, lots of preparation went into setting up for the ball from ticket sales to table planning and decorations. We had a fantastic 3 course meal provided by Bedwellty House and then were entertained by the fabulous Ian MacIntyre and his 18 piece Monmouth Big Band. We held a raffle with prizes donated by numerous companies and raised to                               present £600 for the RNIB. The night consisted of lots of dancing, laughing, and my father on the mic!

Friday 28th November 2014 -Tredegar's Christmas Lights switch on
This evening was the switch on of the Tredegar Town Christmas Lights; a big day in the calendar, an opportunity for the people of Tredegar to come together and celebrate the upcoming festive season. As usual, the brilliant Dennis and Emma compared the evening and introduced some of Tredegar's younger musical talent to the stage - choirs from Tredegar Comprehensive and Deighton Primary, and Sophie White. I rode up into The Circle in the sleigh with Santa and our guest of honour Tredegar's own Geraint Price - the former Royal Engineer who scored 3 golds in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby at this year's Invictus Games, After counting down to the switch on, Geraint hung around for a while to chat with folk and get his photo taken. There were fairground rides, food stalls, and flashing lights everywhere - a fantastic atmosphere. Thanks to Louise, my mother, and Rhi (our Deputy Mayoress) for manning my Appeal stall - with the donations from other stalls we raised around £200 for my Mayor's Appeal!.
Geraint joined over 30 other winners of the Invictus Games in Glasgow for the BBC Sports Personality of the year, where they were presented with the Helen Rollason Award; awarded for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. Well done Geraint!

Monday 24th November 2014 - Dr Aysha Raza visits Bedwelty House
After missing her at Parliament we were visited in Tredegar by Dr Aysha Raza and her team, guided by our very own Marianne, who was on a tour of the local area. We welcomed them into the Council Chambers at Bedwelty House where we spoke a little about what important work they were doing and how proud we were of them. We showed them around Bedwellty House and finally got to present Dr Raza with the Aneurin Bevan plate before they went off to visit 10 The Circle and the Aneurin Bevan Stones. We wished them luck in their efforts and offered any help we could possibly give to such an important issue. Well done to all them involved.

Friday 21st November 2014 - Houses of Parliament, Clive Efford Bill
The Leader of the Tredegar Labour Party, Cllr Tom Smith, and myself caught the first train we could from Ebbw Vale and made our way to London where we were going to meet Tredegar's very own campaigner Marianne Phillips. Marianne was attending the 24 hour Virgil outside of the Houses of Parliament in support of the Clive Efford Bill (Passed by 241-18) to help stop the privatization of the NHS. We met our very own Nick Smith MP, and the MP for Darlington Jenny Chapman, who took us into Parliament for a cup of coffee and a chat. We presented Marianne with one of Tredegar Town Council's prestigious Aneurin Bevan plates. We were hoping to present one to the figurehead's of the Darlington Mothers, Dr Aysha Raza, who helped organize the Jarrow March, and the Vigil but we unfortunately missed each other!
Tower of London Poppies - Myself and Tommy, while in London,took the opportunity to go and see  the magnificent Poppy's laid out around the Moat of the Tower.  888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war. The poppies encircled the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration. All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities

Saturday 15th November 2014 - Tredegar Orpheus
Louise and myself was invited to attend the Annual Concert of Tredegar Orpheus Male Voice Choir at Tredegar Leisure Centre, an event we always look forward to very much. It was an extra special concert for myself as it was my father's first hometown concert and the first time for my family and myself to see him perform.
As always the Orpheus never fail to perform. Supported by Ellen Angharad and the Quintet Coch they performed a number of welsh classics plus a few modern pieces and on more than one occasion had the crown singing along with them! The standing ovation was more than a sign that everyone had a good time there. I cannot wait for next year!! Thank you, Ian, Helen, Steve, and 52 Choristers.

Friday 14th November 2014 - Website launch Alun Davies
Our Assembly Member Alun Davies invited Nick Smith MP, myself, the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent, as well as the other Mayors of the towns to help him launch his website .  This site is where the citizens of the Borough are welcome to add content to help future generations access local information regarding those who went off to fight in the Great War and how society developed during the 1914-18 conflict. A Service was held by the Rev Geoff Wagget and there was a talk by Dr John Dixon of the Western Front Association, himself a local having been born and raised in Cwm. There was a good attendance from many different societies including the local cadets and the Royal British Legion.

Tuesday 11th November 2014 - Armistice Day
Tredegar Branch of the Royal British Legion held a Service this morning, in unison with the rest of the commonwealth on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th month, in commemoration of those who fought and lost their lives in the First World War, and all wars past and present. It was held at the Gwent Shopping Centre where Father John took the Service. There were a number of readings and the sounding of the last post, followed by 2 minutes silence.

Sunday 9th November 2014 - Remembrance Sunday
An important day for the British Nation and one I was proud to take part in. Remembrance Sunday is our opportunity to remember those in past and present conflicts (almost 500 in Tredegar) who gave their lives for the country.  
Our Service started in St George's Church where Father John, supported by 3 other priests, gave thanks and prayer;  the local Scouts and Guide groups presented the Standards; myself, gave the Bible Reading John 14, v12-27.  We then followed the band and marched along Commercial Street, down past the Clock to the Memorial Gates of Bedwelty Park, where we then made our way to the Cenotaph.
More prayers were said and then myself, Blaenau Gwent Mayor Bernard Willis and representatives of the AM, MP and many other organizations laid wreaths before the sounding of the Last Post and a minutes silence. We then made our way up to the Moose Lodge where we spoke to people involved. A huge thank you to all those involved.

Saturday 8th November 2014 - T2520 Wellington Bomber memorial
Each year Members of Tredegar Town Council, with Alun Davies AM and Nick Smith PM, make a journey up above the quarries in the village of Trefil to lay a wreath on the crash site of flight T2520.
In 1940 Britain was bombarded by wave after wave of German aircraft trying to smash the country's infrastructure and spirit. Air strikes flattened many towns and cities. Britain fought back, but paid a terrible price. Among the dead were the six-strong crew of a Wellington Bomber, Flight T2520, which crashed on the southern fringe of the Brecon Beacons.
On 9 December 1940, Flight T2520 successfully carried out a bombing attack on German targets at Bordeaux without the benefit of the modern equipment pilots fly with today. On its return, it flew into bad weather and crashed into the mountains above Trefil in the early hours of the morning, killing all six of the crew on board.
Those who lost their lives in that fateful crash were:
Pilot Officer Albert Tindall (21 years)
Sergeant David Mills: Pilot (21 years)
Sergeant Hylton Daniel Ellis: Observer/Nose Gunner (26 years)
Sergeant Stanley Gordon Howard: Air Gunner
Sergeant Reginald Brown: Air Gunner (22 years)
Sergeant David Ernest Wallace: Air Gunner
115 Squadron which the plane belonged to still exists today.

Thursday 6th November 2014 - Chartist Annual Concert
This evening, my grandfather Trevor and I went along to Wesley Methodist Chapel in Nantyglo for the Annual Chartist Concert. Tracy Hughes (Deputy Town Clerk, Nantyglo and Blaina Town Council) and the Minister Roy gave us a short story on the Chartist movement in South Wales, from the organisation to being sentenced to a lifetime in Australia. They were supported by Ebbw Vale Male Voice Choir who performed songs of revolution, many of them coming from the musical Les Miserables. It was an enjoyable evening. Thanks to the Mayor Clive Bridgeman for organizing and inviting me.

Monday 3rd November 2014 - Songs of Praise
I went along to the Songs of Praise service at Salem Chapel in Blania which was held  in celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Chartist movement. In the first half we took part in the singing of a number of hymns that were written about the movement and this was followed by a talk, from a Professor of History, on the local history the Chartist movement in South Wales. The night ended with the serving of a broth, a staple diet from the time.  Another educational and enjoyable night.  

Saturday 1st November 2014 - Bedwellty Park Bowls Presentation
This evening Louise and I went along to the Tredegar Moose Lodge where the annual presentation of the Bedwellty Park Bowls Club was being held.  I was pleased to take part in the event and helped them celebrate another successful year; with a member of the local team being selected to join a professional team.
After giving out the cups, shields, and trophies I was asked by the compare, Terry Cavendish who was looking after us, to say a few words. I regaled the club with the story that 2013's Presentation was my first ever public engagement and back then Terry asked me to say a few words without warning.  I thanked him for his baptism of fire into the world of public speaking!

Thursday 30th October 2014 - Game On at Tredegar Leisure Centre
This morning I went along to the leisure centre to help celebrate the end of the Game On event held during the half term week. This event was a collaboration between BGCBC, the Life Leisure Trust, Communities First and Tredegar Town Council. Over the week, over 300 children of all ages got involved and took part in different sports and events; they were supported by volunteers and workers from the different organizations.
I visited the playing fields where they were just finishing a football tournament. After speaking to the volunteers and some of the players, I went (for the first time in 25 years) onto the football pitch where I presented the teams with medals and trophies. I later took a tour of the upstairs of the leisure centre where they were doing activities such as face painting for the younger ones and organisations, such as Gwent Police and Tai Calon, were showcasing their services. Looked like everyone enjoyed themselves, also thanks to BGCBC for putting on transport to the event!

Silurion Boxing Club, Harcourt Terrace Chapel - This evening I went along to the boxing club to present, on behalf of Tredegar Town Council, a grant cheque. I was given plenty of welcome and shown around the building during which I was introduced to some of the users of the gym. I soke to some of them who told me about past achievements of members and how they felt the club was important for the community.  We had a discussion on the image of boxing as a violent sport and how as a sport it promotes self-control rather than encourages bad behaviour.  I went up into the ring to present the grant cheque and was offered the chance to get a set of gloves on….maybe next time guys!

Wednesday 29th October 2014 - Peacehaven Tenants and Residents Association
I was approached by Ann Ingram who asked me to go along to the Peacehaven TARA meeting at which I took part in the general discussions and gave a little talk on my role as Mayor and my Appeal for the year. They are a very pro-active group, frequented by many of the residents of the complex; they also take the opportunity to use it as a social function and even invited me to join them in a game of bingo1 A big thank you too for the wonderful donation to my Appeal which I was honoured to receive from them.

Saturday 18th October 2014 - Tredegar Athletics and Football Club
I went along to Tredegar Leisure Centre today to present the Tredegar AFC Seniors with a grant for £200. They told me of their history and how some of the members of the committee are the original boys who started the club back in the 50s as teens! They told me they were going to use our money to by some new training equipment. Before watching the game I was introduced to the Life President Mr Schofield who still enjoys his days out and is supported by a good group of lads.

Thursday 16th October 2014 - Cefn Golau Tenants and Residents
I went to visit Jackie and the girls up at the TARA in the Cefn Golau Community House to present them with a grant. It was an enjoyable experience from the outset with them making me feel very welcome. It seemed to have a great community spirit about it. Jackie told me that they had been there for almost 20 years now and have run many successful projects. Well done girls, keep up the good work!

Sunday 12th October 2014 - Reopening of Saron Chapel
After many years of lying derelict, Saron Chapel on Harcourt Terrace was re-opened in 2011 and taken over by Stuart and Lynne Price. They leading, along with a dedicated few, set work raising funds and organizing builders and other workmen.  After a lot of hard work, blood sweat and tears the building is now back to a fully functioning, beautiful chapel. I and Louise attended, along with the Borough Mayor Cllr Bernard Willis, his consort Kim and Alun Davies AM a very enlightening service after which we chatted with the guests in the vicarage while enjoying a cuppa!

Trefil - In the evening we went up to the Horeb Chapel in the village of Trefil, north of Tredegar, for the Harvest Festival.  Again with the Rev Mike Sheppard, we enjoyed the service, and the singing by the congregation.

Tuesday 7th October 2014 - Tredegar Quilting Circle
Today I went along to visit the ladies of Tredegar Quilting Circle who have their weekly class at the Kids`R`Us venue in Park Place, Tredegar. After much fun, and finding the wrong group who were also using the venue at the same time (they who also expecting a grant presentation from me but just not at that time), I spent some time chatting with the ladies, the committee and the tutor. They were showed me what they were making and some of the past activities. The ladies were saying how it was just as much of a social gathering as an educational activity.  After presenting them with a grant cheque and a certificate on behalf of Tredegar Town Council, I wished the ladies good luck and said my goodbyes.

Museum Open Day - This evening I attended the Open Event at Tredegar Museum situated at the rear of Tredegar library. As always it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience where I got to meet and have a talk with some of the gentlemen that voluntarily run the museum. I went along with a friend of mine Dan, who has a keen interest in history; he was amazed at the rich heritage that Tredegar holds. There were artefacts there from the Medical Aid Society, the Iron Works and the Chartist movements amongst many! We got to have a chat with Tredegar's own `Trev the Milk` too.  It was nice to see the new layout of the museum after the procurement of the new display cabinets. Well done to all, we`ll be back!

Sunday 21st September 2014 - Blaenau Gwent Mayor's Civic Sunday
We were very kindly invited to attend the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent, Cllr Bernard Willis,  Civic Sunday at Saron Chapel, Tredegar. It was a very grand affair with the Mayors of many of the towns and Boroughs in South East Wales attending.  In-between the readings, done by the Mayor's Chaplin and close friends, there was a number of songs performed by Tredegar Orpheus Choir.  After the Service we made our way down to Bedwelty Park where we listened to a number of speeches and toasted the success of Cllr Willis in his Term so far. Good Luck Bernard : )

Monday 15th September 2014 - 2167 Tredegar Sqdn  Air Training Corps (ATC)
The Deputy Mayor Cllr Geraint Meredith and I went down to visit Mr Chris Rundle at Tredegar ATC, a place Cllr Meredith knows well as he went there many years ago as a cadet himself. First, we were invited to have a a go at their Flight simulator. I managed to take off but shortly nosedived back to ground! (At which point I was swiftly moved on by Cllr Meredith)
After my flying experience we were given a parade and a salute by the cadets. The Deputy Mayor gave a short speech during which he presented, on behalf of Tredegar Town Council, the ATC with a grant cheque and certificate. Mr Rundle informed us that the grant was going towards setting up a musical arm of the cadets and would help in buying some of the instruments. After a cup of tea and some cake we had a talk with some of the cadets and wished them luck for the future.

Sunday 14th September 2014 - Walk the Lake fundraising event
As a fundraising event for the RNIB, Louise and I organized a charity walk around Parc Bryn Bach at 11am. We decided that a simple 2 lap walk of the lake wasn't enough so we borrowed some sim-specs from the RNIB for walkers to wear during the walk. These specs would give the walkers the experience of what it would be like to suffer with a condition called Macular Degeneration. We partnered up and took it in turns to guide each other round the lake. Listening to the experiences of those who took part it was interesting to hear how their other senses were heightened by `losing their sight`; hearing dogs panting, bicycles passing, and feeling the breeze more. Participants also talked about the trust factor and how much it made them appreciate those who have to live with little sight.

Saturday 6th September 2014- Church of Immaculate Conception
To coincide with a Grant Presentation, Louise and I were invited to go and take part in Mass at the Church of Immaculate Conception, Tredegar. Father Edmund and our guide Jim were very accommodating. They helped us through the service, even finding me a Sunday School book to follow. On behalf of Tredegar Town Council, I presented them with a grant certificate and cheque which Father Edmund informed me was going to help with a new roof and front for the Church. After a short speech that I gave praising them for the large, diverse crowd that was present, they kindly presented me with a prayer book and some rosary beads.

Saturday 30th August 2014 - Opening of the Tredegar Town Clock
Today Tredegar Town Council opened the Town Clock up to the people so they could go and have a look inside this momentous structure. Because the opening coincided with the very successful `classic car event`, put on by the Tredegar Business Forum, there was a great number of people in the town and the clock became a very popular attraction. We had over 100 people of all ages, from 18 months to 96 years old, climbing the 72ft structure to reach the clock face. One gent told me the bell woke him at 3am every morning for work and he has lived in ear-shot of the clock for over 70 years, only living away for the last 10 or so, so he wanted to see the bell.

After the opening of the Town Clock, I went up to Parc Bryn Bach to see the Mothers Union who was holding a Teddies Picnic up there. At this event they displaying their work, was raising money and awareness for their work. We met the Archdeacon of Monmouth Bishop Richard Pain who was also visiting. We discussed the work done overseas on missionaries, and even the work done at our own HMP services.

Wednesday 16th July 2014 - Valleys Life After Stroke Group
This morning I visited Rodrick Hill Court, Dukestown, where our past Mayor Cllr Tom Smith handed over a cheque to the Valleys Life After Stoke Group. This is a group that Cllr Smith has long standing with, and had chosen to be his appeal charity during his Term in Office. Tom handed over a cheque for over £10,000 to the Group. It was easy to see that the members were extremely moved by this, a rather emotional moment had by all…Well done Tom, his mother Elayne, and all that were involved in the fundraising.

This afternoon I went up to St Joseph's Roman Catholic School, where I attended the Graduation of the older pupils before going on to senior school. There I took part, alongside the Mayor of Blaenau Gwent Cllr Willis, in handing out cups and shields for the outstanding efforts of the pupils during the last year. Along with the Graduation we were witness to a Mass, taken by the Archbishop George Stack from Cardiff, an enjoyable experience.

Tuesday 15th July 2014 - Young Firefighters
This evening I went to Tredegar Fire Station where the young firefighters were having their Passing Out Parade. It was brilliant to watch them undertake a drill on the courtyard, setting up and then doing a display. Youngsters these days get such a bad press and it was good to see them showing society that they can be active members. I wish them all the luck for the future.

Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Myself and Cllr Tom Smith went down to Tredegar Comprehensive where we met the Head of Art, Leanne Greenway and the Head Teacher who introduced us to the works of the GCSE students. We were in awe at some of the work which, later pointed out, had taken 10 hours to complete as part of the GCSE exams. Good luck to all

Sunday 29th June 2014 - Armed Forces Day
On Sunday in Bedwellty Park, we held our Armed Forces Day an event organized by Tredegar Town Council in recognition of the Military and the charities that support both them and the families of the personnel. It was a beautiful hot, Summer's day. Myself, Louise, Cllrs Smith, Willis and Cross, and a few others were down in the park by 8am, setting up tables and banners - it was my job to man the gate!!
With a wide selection of stalls - ranging from the Tredegar Twinning, the Tenants Associations, Charities, including my own The RNIB - along with the military (in all its forms), St Johns Ambulance, Gwent Defibbers Displays, amongst many others - I was kept rather busy visiting each area, getting to know the people and what they were doing.
We had entertainment from the childrens choir of Kids`R`Us; Tredegar's very own Orpheus Male Voice Choir who I always enjoy; and the Band of the Royal Welsh.
Myself, Cllr Tom Smith and Alun Davies AM gave a number of speeches on the Bandstand before Father John Davis took a Service.
The day was rounded of rather nicely with a display and a salute from the Band of the Royal Welsh Guards.

Friday 27th June 2014 - Blue Balloon fundraising with Tredegar Orpheus.
This evening I was invited to attend a concert by Tredegar Orpheus Male Voice Choir, in aid of the Blue Balloon Charity.  This charity founded back in 2008 by Tredegar's own Steve Knapik MBE., with the intentions of helping improve the welfare of children, supporting both local projects and an orphanage in Poland.
As always the Orpheus, supported by four young singers from Merthyr Stage School, didn't fail to entertain and between them helped to raise some more money for the Blue Balloon Charity.
I can never get enough of the Tredegar Orpheus Male Voice Choir, a fantastic sound and I once again thank, Steve, Ian, Helen, and the rest of the choir for inviting me to join them!

Monday 26th May 2014 - Alan Johnson MP
Today we welcomed Alan Johnson MP to Bedwelty House, former Home Sectary and Shadow Chancellor, Mr Johnson was interviewed by our very own MP for Blaenau Gwent, Nick Smith, who questioned him on his personal life, his political life, and his thoughts on the contemporary UK before opening it up to the audience to ask questions, an enjoyable talk, inspiring to all that attended.

Saturday 24th May 2014 - Walking the Breadline
This morning I went down to the Castle Hotel on behalf of Tredegar Town Council to send our regards and give thanks to Maureen Phillips who on behalf of The Trussel Trust and `walking the breadline` was just setting off on a mammoth walk from Tredegar to the Houses of Parliament in London.  Following in the footsteps of thousands others who, during the depression of the 1930s took part in many Hunger Marches between cities and towns all across the UK.
Maureen was visiting food banks  as she passed through towns and city's such as  Bath, Hungerford and Reading, as well as others, stopping in on the food banks as the journey unfolded, and encouraging them who she met, not to put money in a bucket, but to donate food to their local banks. Good Luck Maureen!

The Queens Baton Relay - Today was a proud day for Tredegar, to be taking part in the Commonwealth Baton Relay,  Covering one hundred and eighteen thousand miles, the equivalent of travailing round the world 5 times,  the baton passed through 70 Nations including Canada, India, Australia, South America, Africa, and even the Far East, but today it came to Tredegar.
Passing through Commercial St, down Castle St, to the Town Clock to meet The Mayor of Blaenau Gwent, Cllr Bernard Willis, and myself, the Baton then carried on down to Bedwelty Park, stopping only shortly on the bandstand, for photographs and for me to say a few words to the bearers and the crowd who had braved the rain to take part. The school representatives then took the baton around the park before it continued on its journey towards Glasgow in time for the Commonwealth Games.
Mark Colbourne, Sarah Gratton, Malcolm Higgs, Sue Woodward, Gerald Watkins, David Pritchard, Stuart Lane Naomi Jarman, Carter Oliver from Georgetown primary School, Leon Pugh from Deighton primary school, James O'Leary from St Josephs and Oliver Caniff from Glanhowy primary school all took part in creating a unique relay within the relay, All of them Tredegar born, were chosen to take part in such a prestigious event as they are all champions of our community through the medium of sport.
May I also thank all the organizations and individuals, who gave up their time and manpower, to organize and animate such an event! Thank you.
**More Commonwealth News**
On returning home after the Queens Baton Relay I was pleased to hear, Tredegar born and raised, Simon Watkins who emigrated to Australia a few short years ago, has been chosen to coach the Australian National Swimming Team. Well done Simon! Good luck in your career.

Friday 23rd May 2014 -The Sirhowy Tenants and Residents (STAR) Centre
For my first job after becoming Mayor, I went up to the STAR centre to present a cheque and certificate to Elaine. As a community centre in Roslan, they have done brilliant work setting up various classes, mothers and babies, and a food co-operative, one of the schemes I have a fond memory of, as It is where I started my community volunteering  5 years ago that brought me to council. I know they have had a lot of success with the STAR centre over the years it has been running and I hope them many more!