During June 2007 Valley and Vale Community Arts worked with Betws Primary School and Groundwork Neath Port Talbot to create signs for Betws Nature Reserve which is next to the school. Working with a selection of children from years 4,5 and 6 Tim and Alison worked with the children to create bright, colourful signs to welcome visitors to the Nature Reserve and thanking them for their visit, as well as arrows to guide visitors and a series of painted plaques which were placed on the decking area around the pond. During the workshops the children learnt about the different animals, plants and insects that live in the Nature Reserve (including the rare Great Crested Newt) and the importance of protecting them.
On June 19th Valley and Vale organised an event to officially open the Nature Reserve. Thankfully the recent rain held off and we were blessed with bright sunshine. By 2.30 pm around 300 children and adults had gathered on the school playing field where Aaron, the drummer from Slapping Skins, conjured up a steady beat to start proceedings. The children joined in with a variety of drums and other instruments and walked in a procession to the Nature Reserve where they were greeted by a 15 foot high walking tree (a large-scale carnival costume donated for the day by Ecodyski and worn by Tim).
A ribbon across the entrance was cut before the procession moved through the Nature Reserve looking at the artwork and playing the instruments, and the trees seemed to dance to their rhythmic music. Some time later the last drummer emerged from the trees and the wildlife was left in peace once more. Let’s hope the people of Betws can look after this valuable asset to the community and keep it a safe home for local wildlife.
This project was facilitated by Tim Smith and Alison McGann, Valley and Vale Community Arts. Funded by Cyncoed, The Arts Council of Wales, and supported by Friends of Bettws Primary School, Groundwork Neath Port Talbot, Betws Life Centre and all the children and staff at the school.