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Cardigan Castle: A chain of coincidences

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Cardigan Castle: What oh what will the future hold?

Cardigan Castle: What oh what will the future hold?

A BLOGGER has revealed the links between those involved in the various charitable trusts and enterprises at Cardigan Castle and drawn attention to the unusual recruitment process leading to the appointment of Facilities Officer, Sue Lewis.

Royston Jones, whose blog jacothenorth.net has given extensive coverage to the state of affairs at y Castell, sets out the tangled web connecting key parties.

Drawing attention to the coincidence that the Chair of the Trustees, Jann Tucker, the Trustee- Treasurer, Sandra Davies, and Ms Lewis all live in Aberporth, Jac o’ the North points out that they are all involved with overlapping organisations.

Jann Tucker, who is involved in a holiday homes rental business, is a trustee of Aberporth and District Youth Club, and also Aberporth village hall and recreation ground. Jann Tucker joined Joined Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Adeiladau Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust (‘Cadwgan’) on March 21 2000, and Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Adeiladau Castell Aberteifi Cardigan Castle Building Preservation Trust (‘Castell’) March 28 2000. She still serves as trustee on both charities and also served as a trustee / director on Cardigan Castle Enterprises Ltd from June 15 2010 to January 28 2015.

Sue Lewis, a former newspaper editor, is chair of the board of governors at Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth and also a trustee of Small World Theatre, who have coincidentally been heavily involved in Castell Aberteifi’s re-opening and launch.

Sandra Davies, the trustee treasurer, whose description of those expressing concerns about ‘mission drift’ at Castell Aberteifi as a ‘group of bigots’ is a millstone round the venue’s neck, is vice chair of the governors at Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth.

As Jac o’ the North points out: ‘We all say, ‘It’s a small world’, but humbling phenomena like this bring home to us how true that is’.

Another figure of mystery is Jonathan ‘Joff’ Timms. We know he was born in 1945, so he’s of a ripe age, and he joined ‘Cadwgan’ November 15 2006. On the Charity Commission website he is even listed as the contact for the trust.

As if that wasn’t enough, he and Sue Lewis seem to be the only directors left standing at Cardigan Castle Enterprises Ltd. So he appears to be the one person who is a trustee for both trusts and is also a trustee / director of the trading arm.

Given the distance between Mr Timms’ permanent residence in a village nestled in the North Downs, it can scarcely come as any surprise that Mr Timms has a holiday home in Ceredigion: As it happens, in – or near – Aberporth.

The public was originally told that among the project’s objectives was that it should attract ‘visitors who are seeking leisure learning activities related to the Welsh language, culture, crafts, environment and horticulture and ‘using the Welsh language, and the cultural traditions of the Eisteddfodau, as a tool for tourism development and regeneration’.

Jac o’ the North points out: ‘This has not happened except in the most cursory and superficial manner.’

A letter to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has bankrolled much of the development, and a copy of which has been seen by The Herald alleges: ‘In May of this year, the Gorsedd of Bards HAD AGREED to hold a Ceremony of Blessing at the Castle.. The Gorsedd Officials were KEEN to hold this ceremony and Mr Penri Roberts, of the Gorsedd Board of Officials will confirm that he was already’.

The next sentence alleges that a senior member of the Trust, not already named in this article, responded that the Eisteddfod would only visit ’over my dead body’.

The strength of local feeling is shown by correspondence shared with The Herald and with Jac o’ the North. One letter, dated June 15, reads: ‘Many people in Cardigan are very angry that the castle is being turned into an exclusive high end site with little opportunities for local people to get involved. It is scandalous that public meetings have not been held. We have at least sixty people in Cardigan who have asked to join as members but who have just been ignored’.

Cardigan Town Council is now taking an active interest in the activities at Castell Aberteifi. A council sub-committee has asked the Cadwgan Board for a copy of their constitution, as well as job descriptions of the trustees’ individual responsibilities. However the council will not now meet until September 1 because of the summer recess.

The council’s interest is likely to have been piqued by the decision to exclude the Town Council’s representative from a meeting regarding the future of suspended director Cris Tomos on the basis that it was ‘a staffing matter’.

And staffing matters have been a recurrent theme in recent months.

The post of Facilities Officer occupied by Sue Lewis since her redundancy as a newspaper editor did not exist before her appointment and was not advertised widely – not even in Ms Lewis’ former newspaper: So quite how Ms Lewis became aware of a serendipitous vacancy at a time when existing Castle staff were being asked to reapply for their jobs is something of a mystery.

Technically, the staff were on fixed term contracts which all came to an end in Dec 2014, and the staff were told that they would be welcome to apply for new posts. Sue Lewis was a member of the panel which did the interviews

The process ended around the beginning of December, and several of those who had been with the project for a long time were escorted from the premises. They included Rhian Medi, the daughter of the late Archdruid Dic Jones. Rhian was to have been education officer, but that post was axed showing a departure from the original vision for the project and a new focus on (possibly) ‘facilities’.

As a letter sent to the Heritage Lottery Fund points out: ‘Countless other interested parties along the years have been elbowed out of the project by a small group who view Castell Aberteifi as their personal property’.

The Herald emailed local Plaid AM Elin Jones for a comment. We received no reply.

An email to Mark Williams MP got only an automatic response.

Mid and West Wales regional AM Simon Thomas told us: ‘I have not been directly involved in the disagreements at Cardigan castle. As I have not been party to the emails you refer to nor talked to the parties involved, none of which have contacted me, I am not in a position to make a comment’.

Despite telling us that a statement was being prepared, the Welsh Government did not provide one before our deadline.

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Penrhyn-coch Brownies compose song

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PENRHYN-COCH Brownies were congratulated for composing a new Welsh language song recently. The workshops were part of a program of Welsh language workshops organised by Cered – Menter Iaith Ceredigion.

Following a series of workshops with the young singer, Mari Mathias from Talgarreg, the girls decided to compose a song. ‘Yn yr Haf’ was recorded with the girls singing and Mari on the guitar. All the group members received a copy of the song on CD.

Rhodri Francis, Cered’s Development Officer said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the group and we congratulate members on their masterpiece. Thanks also to the leaders for their enthusiasm in securing opportunities for the members to socialise in Welsh outside of school hours.”

Cered’s main aim is to support, influence and develop the use of the Welsh language in Ceredigion through partnership and co-operation, to establish the best possible foundation for the development of the language in the society and community.

Wendy Reynolds, leader of the Brownies unit in Penrhyn-coch said: “The experience has been amazing for the girls and they’ve had a lot of fun doing activities through the medium of Welsh.”

Follow all the news about the wider work of Cered, through liking the Facebook page @ceredmenteriaith or follow on Twitter @MICered.

For more information on Cered, phone 01545 572350 or email cered@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Theatre caravan coming to Aberystwyth

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THE SMALLEST cinema in a theatre caravan will be on the Promenade in Aberystwyth for three Saturdays this summer.

Staff from Ceredigion Museum, together with the Friends of Ceredigion Museum, will be hosting a series of free entertaining events in and around the theatre caravan on July 28, August 4, and August 11 between 12pm and 4pm.

Sarah Morton, the Events Organiser for Ceredigion Museum said, “We have a series of short local films from the National Film and Screen Archive which links to our summer exhibition relating to the seaside at the museum, in the old Coliseum Theatre. The two minute films show people on the beach and promenade in Aberystwyth as well as Y Borth. We will also have singing from the Showtime Singers to add to the entertainment.

“We will be situated in and near the bandstand and hope to be able to bring some of the traditions of a typical coastal break back to life.”

Besides the theatre caravan, there will be a Guess-the-Object held in the bandstand with museum staff to aid in identifying the mystery objects.

For more details about the caravan and the entertainment, contact Sarah Morton at Ceredigion Museum on 01970 633088

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Surprise presentation for retiring cook

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AFTER feeding hundreds of children in her role as cook at Ysgol Eglwyswrw for the past 40 years, Mrs Anona Williams is finally hanging up her apron. But there was a shock in store for Mrs Williams when she arrived at the school for one of her last days at work on Tuesday (Jul 17).

Cameras from the S4C magazine programme, Heno, were present to capture her receiving a special award from music conductor and presenter, Alwyn Humphreys.

She started at her post in 1978 and during that time has fed three generations including her own niece and nephew and great-niece and great-nephew.

Headteacher, Edryd Eynon, said Mrs Williams would be sadly missed.

“We will miss her delicious meals and her caring nature,” he said.

“She spoils all the children and is like a grandmother to them. Her contribution to the school is priceless.

“She ran the breakfast and the Cook It clubs and ensured all pupils had an exciting experiences working with food and preparing many delicious recipes.

“Every sports day she would prepare and donate coffee, tea and her famous scones and all the money she raised would be given to school funds. She did this for 40 years.

“Mrs Williams will be sadly missed at Ysgol Eglwyswrw not only for her delicious food – especially her pizza and coleslaw – but also for her caring and loving character. We wish her all the best for the future.”

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