Community Saints Awards Winners
Written by Gavin on 7th March 2022
On Saturday 5th March, the ‘Community Saints Awards’ were held at the St David’s Uniting Church in Pontypridd.
People in the town and surrounding area were invited to nominate individuals, groups and organisations who have followed St David’s advice and done the little things – or even big things – which make a difference to the lives of their neighbours and community.
The Community Saints project was launched by St David’s Uniting Church, Pontypridd on All Saints Day last year with the aim of recognising the ways in which people – and the environment – have been helped during the pandemic, floods and in day-to-day life.
The Prince of Wales lent his support when he asked his Charitable Fund to make a generous donation.
The Minister of St David’s Uniting, Rev. Dr Phil Wall, said:
“We were delighted to have the support of the Prince. It was a wonderful endorsement of this project.”
Listen= to GTFM’s coverage of the awards here:-
Community Saints: Special Recognition Award
Jessica Morgan. Jessica was nominated by Heledd Fychan MS for her support for flood victims following Storm Dennis:
‘Jess was instrumental in bringing a number of people together to support flood victims in Pontypridd within hours of homes and businesses being affected in February 2020. The support was practical, including organizing a concert to raise money for flood victims. To this day, she continues to support some affected people and is also involved in many wonderful community projects, including the Pontypridd Community Choir’
Jess’s award will be presented by Carol Powell, a member of St. David’s Uniting Church.
Community Saints: Fundraiser Award
Neil Watkins. Neil was nominated by Cllr Jayne Brencher for his work in raising funds for the Macmillan cancer charity:
‘This group, under the leadership of Neil has organised events throughout the Covid period, bringing the community of Penycoedcae together. Neil has raised the profile of Macmillan in the town centre and in Ynysygharad Park and organised numerous events, raising over £3000. Events have included outdoor concerts and coffee mornings. Neil, a former local headteacher, has also been instrumental in forming a community group and collecting and delivering food for the foodbank.
Neil’s award was presented by Gavin Powell, presenter and Deputy Manager at GTFM.
Community Saints: Business Award
There are 3 recipients of the Community Saints Business Award, presented by James Payne, Projects Officer for Your Pontypridd BID
- Jay Peiris from Graigwen Stores, nominated by Kim Howells, former MP for Pontypridd
‘Graigwen Road is as unremittingly steep and long as any urban road in Wales. It has just one shop, small but well-stocked, selling everything from frozen peas and orange squash to newspapers and ice-cream desserts. Its proprietor is Jay Peiris; in my opinion, one of the heroes of the COVID pandemic.
Soon after he took over the shop, we, his customers, began to realise that he and his young family were special people: welcoming, caring and generous. When COVID struck, two years ago, Graigwen quickly began to experience the uncertainty, fear and grief that gripped every community in the United Kingdom and beyond. As all of us sought some degree of comfort and certainty amidst the news of loved ones becoming isolated, ill and dying, Jay stepped up to the plate. He travelled everywhere to source essential items for the shop. Where he knew there were elderly people too ill, infirm or frightened to leave their homes, he delivered the provisions himself.
Most importantly, he kept his shop open and welcomed everyone with courtesy and a smile. That in itself has been the constancy and certainty so many of us have needed throughout this traumatic period. That is why I believe that Jay Peiris deserves our thanks and respect for helping to sustain our community and our spirits as COVID threatened to drag us down.’
- ‘The Market Company represented by Nigel John and Keith Woods, nominated by Hayley Tucker
The last 7 years as a trader I have seen and experienced firsthand the generosity and kindness of these individuals but especially during the pandemic’
- ‘Principality Building Society Pontypridd branch, nominated by Phil Wall.
The Principality Building Society Pontypridd branch is an example of a business in the community which cares for the community. Alongside their friendly and helpful professionalism, they are forever collecting for good causes which benefit the community. Their Christmas food bank collection was immense and in a time of loneliness and hardship, they have done all they can to create compassion and kindness’
Community Saints: Carer Award
The recipient of this award has chosen to remain anonymous so the award will be given to the nominator – Claire Hughes – to pass on.
“Not only does this community saint look after her own family, but she is the most neighbourly person I know. She has been a nurse to her elderly neighbours, making herself available 24 hours a day. She never complains about her lot in life – even when facing personal losses. She always looks on the bright side and cares for and about everyone.”
The award will be presented by Geraint Evans – Directory of Ponty Pages
Community Saints: Good Neighbour Award
There are three recipients of the Good Neighbour award, which was presented by Alex Davies-Jones, MP for Pontypridd:
Beverley Humphreys MBE, DL, nominated by Kath Couchman
‘I have nominated Beverley Humphreys for a Community Saint Award.
In our church News Sheet on the 6th of February, the ‘thought for the week’ was by Albert Schweitzer, and says;
‘The purpose of human life is to serve and show compassion, and the will to help others’.
This truly epitomises Beverley’s life, and her commitment in her faith to share God’s love with everyone.
Her work with Adref in Mill Street, and The Grange, with the homeless.
Her involvement in the project at Penrhys,
Her love and commitment working with the refugees,
And her ‘exceptional’ worldwide – ministry, of love and faith in her Sunday night radio program that reaches people across the globe.
I have never, ever heard her speak an unkind word about anyone. Her love knows no bounds.’
- Eira Roberts nominated by Marilyn Leach
‘I would like to nominate EIRA ROBERTS as a community Saint for the unstinting efforts she made to foster a community spirit during the traumatic and restrictive lockdowns of 2020-2, 21 when government rules were driving us all into isolation.
Being aware of the social restrictions on travelling and social gatherings, Eira set about organising socially-distanced events to try to keep neighbours together. People were encouraged to set up chairs on the pavement outside their gardens, while Eira ran up and down the street organising quizzes, sing songs and entertaining us with her trumpet solos. Neither did she forget important events. Birthdays were recognised, V.E. Day was celebrated and Armistice Day remembered, albeit at social distancing. What otherwise could have become a period of loneliness for many was lightened by Eira’s unbounded enthusiasm and effort – a true neighbour!’
- Sarah & Andrew Garland nominated by Phil Wall.
‘Sarah and Andrew are stars of Graigwen. Throughout the pandemic, they kept up the spirits of neighbours and friends with games and fancy-dress quizzes; socially distanced parties; and even a Barbados-themed wedding vow renewal street party in the pouring rain. They’re always looking out for others, and bring out joy wherever they go.’
Community Saints: Emergency Services Award
Lisa Banfield. Lisa was nominated by Marco Orsi of the Café Royal for her role in Pontypridd town centre:
‘Lisa has been the local and town PCSO for some time and during that period she has shown great compassion and enthusiasm towards the good citizens of Pontypridd. Lisa has also shown some wonderful initiatives for the business community.’
Lisa’s award was presented by Heledd Fychan, MS for South Wales Central
Community Saints: Workplace Award
There are four recipients of the Workplace award, which was presented by Mick Antoniw, MS for Pontypridd:
Donna Hallett nominated by Damian Hallett;
I am nominating Donna as since Grief Support Cymru has started a year ago she has helped over 100 people of all ages to deal with the loss of someone they loved. From having no direction and no one to talk to she has turned their lives around and given them a direction they never saw. She is an amazing young lady with a massive heart and smile.
- Kyle Luckwell nominated by Jodie Thomas;
Kyle is a selfless, community focused, empathic and 100% supportive guy who always works relentlessly for others and never asks for anything in return. His devotion to our community has been unwavering. Even before the pandemic, Kyle has energised and supported his local community of and has always pushed the boundaries to ensure those that need help and support can access it so without condition.
Kyle never asks for any recognition for the work he has been able to support offer the years, all which has been done on a voluntary basis.
It’s so difficult to list the amazing things that I believe would make Kyle the worthy recipient of this award but I feel the work that should be highlighted is that which has been done throughout the pandemic. Kyle is a person of intense medical issues, whom should have isolated through the pandemic but refused too do so. He felt conflicted knowing that by staying locked away indoors there would be a possibility that somebody would be isolated and lost.
Despite family concern, and some may say totally irresponsibly, Kyle, like so many other people, continued to support our community. He rallied around our team or volunteers and ensured that their wellbeing needs were met, supported our young community by performing random acts of kindness, giving our lunch packs for free out of his own pocket as well as setting up and driving forward a food share programme and clothes swop.
Kyle has also supported me through the loss of out first child Dylan. He has never allowed his grief to overshadow mine or our families. He never draws the attention and support for himself. He always rebuffs it and says there’s are those who need it greater. To these ends 18 months ago having recently left a national bereavement charity as their volunteer chair, together Kyle and I set up our own bereavement service called Grief Support Cymru Gofal Galar Cymru.
Kyles passion and drive has seen this organisation recruit and train listening volunteers to support those at there most vulnerable times with practical and listening support without the fear of financial inability. Through Kyle’s leadership the service has supported in excess of 400+ individuals in 18 months. This includes working with children and family’s as well as supporting schools, local mental health services and 3rd sector organisations.
In a nutshell Kyle is a true community custodian whom is the community have come to depend upon. He is a community Saint in shorts.
Thank you Kyle for everything you do for us as a community. Thank you for being the beacon in the storm that is life.’
- Janine Thomas nominated by Catherine Naamani
Janine Thomas works for RCT and is responsible to coordinating the resettlement programme for refugees in the area. Many of the refugees have settled in Pontypridd and Janine goes over and above to make sure the families feel welcome and the houses allocated to them, made into welcoming family homes. Yes, this is her job, but Janine supports each new family who arrive with a care and consideration that goes well beyond any expectation.
- Anne Richards nominated by Sue Walkling
Anne is a local hairdresser who goes over and above to care for her customers, often helping them out of their cars and sometimes walking them home. She also does a lot of work for the local British Legion, and pre-Covid could be seen in Sainsbury’s selling poppies. She is a caring person who deserves to be recognised for what she does.
Community Saints: Youth Development Award
There are two recipients for this award – Pontypridd Guiding Division and YEPS Mental Health & Wellbeing Forum.
The award was presented by Jeff Edwards MBE – High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan & Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
- Pontypridd Guiding Division
Volunteers provide weekly sessions for girls aged 5-20 to learn new skills and make new friends
- Youth Engagement & Participation Service (YEPS) Mental Health & Wellbeing Forum
There are many groups in YEPS but I must say the Mental health group has been fantastic the work they have done and are going to do is very important
Community Saints: Student Award
Sian Taylor, University of South Wales’ Students’ Union
Sian was nominated by Catherine Naamani for the work she coordinates every year for the RCT Santa Appeal.
For more than 10 years USWSU has coordinated collecting gifts for disadvantaged children as part of RCT Santa Appeal. What started as a small idea involving clubs at the SU, has grown into an annual event engaging departments across the University and beyond. Over 1500 gifts have been donated in that time and everyone now looks forward to the event, even though each gift represents a child who would otherwise miss out on Christmas.
The award was presented by Brandon Gale – RCT Young Pioneer
Community Saints: Green Champions
There are three recipients of the Green Champions award, which was presented by Carl Thomas, Town Councillor and Pontypridd Town Mayor
- Caspar Harris and his work with Friends of Graigwen Woods, nominated by Kat Cardy
Since I first met Caspar I’ve been impressed with his dedication to local causes; a passionate environmentalist, he has been heavily involved in various groups around Pontypridd including Friends of the Earth, and Bee Friendly Ponty. He’s a very friendly & likable person who is always doing what he can to help out, he currently works tirelessly managing the “Pete’s Shop” store in town, which offers (among other things) a range of environmentally friendly and zero waste products. Whether working in the shop, litter picking, marching for Climate Justice, or organising planters for bees, Caspar always seems to have something on the go to help make Ponty (and the world) a better place.
- Litter Pick Challenge, represented by Katrina Cousins and Melissa Forster nominated by Heledd Fychan
Melissa and Kristina set up a facebook group – Litter Pick Challenge 2021. Every day they are out collecting rubbish and has inspired so many others to do the same. It has made a real difference to our communities and rivers, organizing a variety of litter picks as well.
- Pontypridd Green Week, represented by Angela, Morwenna and Hayley also nominated by Heledd Fychan
Angela, Hayley and Morwenna were instrumental in organising the first ever Pontypridd Green Week which culminated in a ceremony celebrating the rights of the River Taff.