Cwmbran Support Group
CWMBRAN SUPPORT GROUP
Memories By Mrs Sallie Slade & Mrs Paddy Landers
- It is my understanding that Cwmbran was the first support group to be set up. The first appointed nurse was in Newport and the second nurse was allocated to the Cwmbran area.
- At this time a public meeting was held in Llantarnam Grange in Cwmbran to set up a Cwmbran Support Group. I think the idea was that as nurses were appointed to an area a group would be set up to raise funds and awareness of the work of St David’s Foundation. At that meeting Norman Chaplow and Sister Christopher spoke in what as I recall was a very crowded room.
- A nucleus of people agreed to be part of a support group with Bill Davies (my dad) being voted in as Chairman, Ivora Bodman as Secretary and Mauveen Ives as Treasurer.
- These volunteers included three of the original steering group that had set up St David’s they were Valerie Stanley, Kath Crowley and Bill Davies. I remember there being a lot of people at that meeting including Paddy and me.
- I had taken my Dad to the meeting Paddy had taken her Auntie Kath and the rest as they say is history. Paddy and I are still there and the need to raise money is greater than ever.
- I remember doing a house to house collection for Valerie Stanley, probably in 1980.
The Hospice movement was relatively new and so people needed information about it as a concept as well as St David’s Foundation in particular.
- St David’s Foundation had very few paid employees at that time and part of the role of the support group was to spread the word about what St David’s Hospice at Home service was all about, as well as to raise money. In a way we were the public face of St David’s Foundation and many local people and organisations donated to the Foundation through the support group. Members gave talks to local groups and often went along to pick up cheques from such organisations as Rotary, Soroptimists, church groups and local councils who were pleased to support us. We even organised a street collection in Cwmbran Town Centre which would certainly not be in our remit now. We used an empty shop where we took the collecting boxes for the money to be counted and the money was put into the night safe at the bank. Do night safes even exist now?
- I remember Paddy and I attended a fundraising dinner at the Parkway Hotel organised by Tony Gambarini. This was an early big event. It was mainly corporate guests the tickets being the princely sum of £12.50. So Paddy and I offered to sell the raffle tickets and as I recall banked the money through the Support Group.
- We regularly attended Cwmbran Carnival, Henllys Fete and other events to publicise St David’s Foundation and its services.
- Our meetings started in Llantarnam Grange and later we moved to Myfanwy’s a restaurant in the town centre (long gone I am afraid). We held many social events there such as cheese and wine, sausage and mash suppers, and our first St David’s dinner, before moving to Woodland Road Social Centre. At a later date we moved to the Commodore Hotel in Llanyrafon where we held some memorable events, including very successful fashion shows with clothes sourced from our charity shops. They were great fun!
- Over the years we have held cookery and microwave demonstrations. Our raffle prizes on these occasions being the dishes cooked .Yum!
- We used to hold a St. David’s Day dinner on March 1st before it had really become popular to celebrate it. These dinners were popular and well attended with local dignitaries invited who often brought us a cheque too! After the first one at Myfanwy’s several more followed at a local hall with outside caterers before we moved the event to the Commodore Hotel that is no longer with us ; but St David’s goes on !!There seems to be a bit of a pattern here!
- We also organised bus trips, visiting London and Bath on several occasions and two very memorable visits to the Naked Gardeners at Abbeyhouse Gardens in Malmesbury.
- We supported the ‘Full Monty’ held at the old Odeon Cinema at Clarence Place in Newport twice with the Firemen from Malpas Fire Station. Fabulous nights…. where we gained new members to our support group. (I wonder if Rick and his team would come out of retirement)?
- Theatre trips also helped us to raise money for St David’s. Our most recent was a weekend to London to attend the Classical Spectacular in the Albert hall a couple of years ago.
- An ecumenical carol service was held each year with the service being held in one church and clergy and members of other local churches participating. These proved very popular, they were not exactly like the light up a life services but were still very much St David’s in the community.
- Several times we were the recipient charity for a large Choral event organised by local Councils.
- The St Joseph’s club has always been very supportive of us and we have held events there. It is where we meet if just holding a meeting.
Some support group highlights over the years have been:
- Paddy Landers and Ivora Bodman representing the Support Group at Cambrian House on November 21st 1984 when Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited.
- In 1996 before the Second Severn Crossing was opened a huge charity walk was organised and we were lucky enough to be part of it. This event was unique, it was a wonderful occasion and the sun shone. We have also participated in sponsored walks over the first Severn bridge several times, the sun did not always shine!
- We held several events at the Congress Theatre over the years. Flower arranging evenings, fashion shows and one very memorable play put on by a local dramatic society. It was called Two and Two make sex! In my then role as publicity officer I had written to the media to try to advertise it. Imagine my surprise to get a phone call from someone from Radio Wales asking would I talk live on air about it. When? I asked, and the answer was immediately when the next song finishes! It must have been OK because Mabel from the Abergavenny S.G rang me to say she had heard me talking about St David’s Foundation.
- We held a very successful Pearl Anniversary Afternoon Tea to celebrate our 30 years.
- When we help with bucket collections and events it reinforces our enthusiasm. If you have ever done a charity collection you will be aware how invisible you become! But when people realise it is for St David’s they come and say I must give because they helped my brother, mother, sister, husband, wife.
- We are great believers in the first part of fundraising being FUN. Which is probably why we only ever did one jumble sale.
- As the Foundation grew and more paid employees including fundraisers were employed the role of the support group changed. Our role is now more supportive and we help at events organised by HQ such as concerts, bucket collections or anything else they ring up and ask us to do.
- We still organise events ourselves including regular social events, afternoon teas, quizzes and a Chinese auction have proved very popular.
- We have become a Meet and Eat group. We hold a meeting one month and eat out the following month. So we Meet and Eat. Actually we often eat each month!
- Several people have been members for over thirty years with Paddy and me being Chairman and Treasurer respectively all that time. We also have newer members some of whom have joined us after having benefitted from the services of St David’s for their loved ones. If anyone would like to join please contact HQ at Blackett Avenue and they will be able to put you in touch with us.
- This year we have obviously not met at all but I am amazed how generous people have been. My essential journeys have included banking at least once every month for St David’s. I have banked over £5000 this year which is amazing!
Thank you everyone from all Cwmbran Support Group.
- We have records going back to 1989 and since then we have banked over £205,000.
- The group is grateful to the people of Cwmbran who have supported us over the last 40 years and trust that we can continue to support St David’s and that their wonderful work will continue for many years to come.
- A service which I know from personal experience is so valued by so many families.
Thank you for reading
Mrs Sallie Slade