An August / September update from our Rural Wisdom Development Worker in Flintshire – Shereen Devine
I have been working with the community of Leeswood & Pontblyddyn for two months. These are two small rural villages in Flintshire nestled between Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales, and the smaller market town of Mold.
Although the community only has a population of just over 2000, it is steeped in industrial history. In 1869 the owner of the local mine forbade miners to speak Welsh; this led to the famous Mold riots. It is understandable that the community were so keen to protect their native language, especially as the original owner of Leeswood Hall traced his ancestry back to Tedwr Mawr, the Prince of South Wales. Leeswood Hall is also well known for its large white gates not just in the village but also the wider community.
The community has made me feel welcome and have begun to embrace the Rural Wisdom project. During my first week Clive, the Caretaker of the community centre, kindly drove me around the villages pointing out all the properties that used to be shops, pubs, industrial business including a Laura Ashley factory. It is evident that the community has seen many changes over the years and experienced a socioeconomic decline. However, the community are very resilient and are keen to make the most of what is available to them now, instead of dwelling on the past. They are proud they are becoming an Age Friendly Community.
I have spent my first two months in post, getting to know the area, groups and individuals. I have been amazed with the amount of activities and events that are already taking place. The hub of the community is an old school building, which is now the Community Centre and managed by a small group of volunteers. It is used on a regular basis for activities such as Zumba, Guides, Brownies, Ladies Guild, Craft, Patchwork, and senior citizens. The hall is also used for community events, private functions and provides a meeting space for several other community groups, including the allotment association and the carnival group. The Community Hall is also the base for the Community Council. It is without doubt a community asset and needs to be preserved and used to its full capacity.
Leeswood also has a bowling club, fishing club and a park with a five-a-side pitch. Pontblyddyn has a cricket club which is supported by the wider community, and hosts weekly bingo on a Friday night. For the younger people there is a youth club in the primary school and in Bethania Church.
I still have not managed to meet all of the groups yet; however, I am working my way around. I am enjoying meeting all the lovely people and the warm welcome they offer.