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Women’s role in industry celebrated

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Welsh Women on the Factory Floor: The inside of the Compact Factory, with women at work, 1950s

Welsh Women on the Factory Floor: The inside of the Compact Factory,
with women at work, 1950s

A NEW project has set out to tell the tale of the vital role that women played in manufacturing industries across Wales.

Voices from the Factory Floor will see the stories of women like Gwen Eira Evans, who worked in a factory in Felinfoel, take centre stage, and guarantee that their voices are not forgotten.

The Voices from the Factory Floor project includes oral interviews, full transcripts of the recordings, and photographs documenting the history of women who worked in factories across Wales during a thirty year period between 1945 and 1975. The project is led by Women’s Archives Wales, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund

From Gwen Eira Evans’ tales of producing radiators for cars and aeroplanes in Felinfoel to Moira Morris’s stories of making men’s watches at Tick Tock in Ystradgynlais and Yvonne Stevens’ toy-making memories at Bacon Toy Factory, Llanrwst, where she later met her husband – over 200 such stories have now been documented in the project, reflecting an important period in Welsh manufacturing which underlines the vital role women played.

Catrin Stevens, the project’s co-ordinator, explains why she feels projects such as Voices from the Factory Floor play a fundamental role in capturing bygone women’s history: “Women’s history has, on the whole, been ignored and neglected through the centuries and the Women’s Archive of Wales’s aim is to raise awareness of women’s history and to rescue and safeguard the sources of this history. This specific project is extremely important as it recognises the important role Welsh women played in the resurgence of manufacturing, following the war. Their stories reflect a challenging work environment, while at the same time, show there was a strong sense of camaraderie and plenty of fun to be had at the work seaside trips to places like Tywyn and Blackpool. While the archive is fascinating for us now, in years to come it will be an invaluable source for those wishing to learn about Welsh life in this period.”

The stories have been captured because of a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Head of HLF Wales Richard Bellamy believes that using Lottery money for projects like this is vitally important in keeping the country’s unwritten history alive: “Our heritage takes many different forms, and it is important we recognise this when considering how Heritage Lottery Fund money is distributed. Voices from the Factory Floor tells an important story and reflects on a key period in Welsh life, a period of change in our culture and in our ways of working. I would encourage everyone to log on and get lost in these factory tales – I guarantee you will discover an enchanting – and perhaps unexpected – women’s working world, helping us to discover who they and indeed we are, and where we’ve all come from, given the majority of these factories have now closed.”

One of the project’s contributors, Gwen Eira Evans, talks about her job she began in the 1940s when the Morris Motors factory opened in Felinfoel after the war broke out. She was 18 and knew nothing of Morris Motors but stayed there for 37 years doing the same job.

“My first job was on a farm when I was 14. You had to work for nothing. I got up at 6am and finished work at 7pm and sometimes later in the summer. I applied in person at the factory when I was old enough and my pay was double. I earned £9 per week, depending on how much work I did. I made radiators for cars and aeroplanes; the work was hard as I had a weak arm. When I started I thought the factory was enormous as there were more than 2000 workers, including many girls from Ponthenri. I caught the private bus at 6am as work began at 7.30am with a 10 minute tea break at 9.30am. There was a half- hour lunch break and work finished at 4.30-5pm. Workers weren’t permitted to be more than 2 minutes late for work. Any worker clocking in 3 minutes late was docked a quarter of an hour’s pay. Many girls stayed for years. Many had stuck it out during the war years because had they left, they knew, they would be compelled to work somewhere else possibly far away from home.”

A new film to promote the project has been launched this week at the Senedd and all materials will soon be transferred to the National Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library in Aberystwyth.

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Police say ‘stop protecting’ murder suspect Steve Baxter

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JUST over two weeks ago Simon Clark, aged 54, was found dead at Grove Caravan Park in Pendine, Carmarthenshire.

Dyfed-Powys Police is continuing its manhunt for Steve Baxter, who is wanted on suspicion of Simon’s murder.

Baxter also known as Steve Tidy, Steve Rowley, Wayne Tidy or William Tidy, is aged 52, 5’5” (1.65cm) tall and has tattoos on his forearms – the name Chez and entwined circles on his left arm and a serpent on his right arm.

He has connections in the West Wales, South Wales, South West and North England areas of the UK.

Officers and staff are working round the clock to follow all possible lines of enquiry.

The independent charity Crimestoppers is also offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to the arrest of Steve Baxter and he has been added to the Most Wanted section of their website. Information would be taken by the charity anonymously.

Detective Superintendent Huw Davies said: “It’s over two weeks since Simon Clark was murdered at Grove Caravan Park, Pendine.

“The manhunt for Steve Baxter is ongoing and I must stress to the public that officers and staff are working round the clock to investigate all possible lines of enquiry that could lead us to him.

“I urge anyone with information of Baxter’s whereabouts to come forward. If you do not want to speak to police directly, you can speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, which is also offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to his arrest.

“Someone knows where he is or has been in the last two weeks. Please stop protecting him. Simon Clark’s family deserve to see all those involved in his death brought to justice.”

Four people have been charged in connection with the murder: Jeffrey Stephen Ward, aged 40, from Pendine, has been charged with murder; Linda Mary Rowley, aged 52, from Pendine, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder); Kirston Macklin, aged 52, from Newport, Gwent, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder) and Julie Louise Harris, aged 46, from Tonypandy, has been charged with assisting an offender (murder).

If you see Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 999. Do not approach him.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 immediately.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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National Adoption Week – Can you give a child a home?

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HAVING a caring family and a place they call home is what a lot of children take for granted; however, there are children in Ceredigion who are still looking for a home of their own. As part of National Adoption Week, which is happening between 15 and 21 October, people are being asked to consider opening their homes and their hearts to those waiting for a family.

An information evening is being held in The Atom, 18 King Street, Carmarthen, on Friday, October 19 from 6pm-7.30pm. The Cabinet Member with responsibility for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning and Champion for Children and Young People Councillor Catrin Miles said, “This is a great opportunity for prospective adopters to find out more about the process of adopting children in the county who are waiting for loving, permanent and stable homes. It will also be a chance to meet other prospective adopters.”

Adoption Mid and West Wales has adoption teams covering the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. Their aim is to make sure that children grow up as part of a permanent, loving family from childhood through to adulthood.

Sara*, from Ceredigion has spoken of her experiences of going through the adoption process and welcoming two children into her loving home, “Just two years after submitting our application to adopt, two little hurricanes arrived at our house and turning it into a noisy, happy home full of fun. The first stage of the application was to attend three days of training, over a period of 6 weeks. The training was important and an eye-opener for all kinds of reasons but it was perfect for focusing the mind to make sure we really wanted to adopt. We had excellent support from our social worker, but the process itself was long and challenging and we had to wait and wait while legal processes were going on. Although it was so difficult at that time, looking back it was worth every minute. The hardest thing for us was that there were months between seeing the children for the first time and receiving confirmation that they would come to us to live. This was an exception, the process is usually quicker.”

“In our experience creating and maintaining a good relationship with the foster family is crucial. They are a source of information and support. Before the children came to live with us, we needed over a week of presentations in the foster family’s home – this time is key but full of weight, pleasure, tiredness and emotion. That was months ago and now the children are happy and bubbly with us in their new home and enjoy being part of a loving group of family, friends and relatives. They enjoy going to the local school and Welsh learning was not a problem for them, they even dream in Welsh now!”

“Adoption is a great journey that is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult and it is important to understand and accept that before venturing on the journey. It is also important to take advantage of all support, training and advice on offer. There are many challenges ahead, a lot of disappointment and tears but more importantly, much laughter, love and happiness fills our lives now and in the future. Go for it.”

In the last year (2017-18), 29 adopters were approved through Adoption Mid and West Wales. These include married couples, unmarried couples, single people and same-sex couples. There is always the need for more adopters to come forward as demand for adoption placements has increased this year.

For more information, visit www.adoptionmwwales.org.uk. You can also follow Adoption Mid & West Wales on their Twitter page, @adoptmw_wales.

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Residents sought for involvement into Pen Dinas project

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RESIDENTS are being sought for involvement in the Pen Dinas Hillfort project.

Grant funding for improvements to Pendinas Hillfort has been successfully secured by Ceredigion County Council and as part of the project, the Council is seeking for local residents to express their interest if they would like to be involved in the work. One of the Council’s Community Access Officers will be on hand to talk further about the project on Saturday, 20 October at the Hub, Penparcau Community Centre between 10:30am and 1pm.

The project will provide greater access to a site of historical importance namely Pen Dinas Hillfort, Local Nature Reserve and Scheduled Ancient Monument. It will also improve links to the Ystwyth/Rheidol Cycle Trails, the Ceredigion and All Wales Coast Path and other local amenities and attractions. Improving the path width and surface will increase access to a wider cross-section of residents and visitors and target current barriers to the countryside.

Councillor Rhodri Evans, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy and Regeneration said, “The news that we’ve been successful in securing this bid is fantastic and on behalf of the Council, I thank all the residents who submitted feedback to the application. We are looking for anyone who has an interest in the site and would like to be involved with how this project progresses. This is the perfect opportunity for residents to be part of something that will make a big difference to both residents and tourists alike.”

To express an interest to be involved in the project or to receive further information, email Eifion.Jones@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01545 570881.

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