On Saturday 25thJune, Valley and Vale Community Arts hosted our ‘Celebrate your Community Spirit’ day at the Sardis Chapel, Betws. It was a misty, rainy day, but this did not in any way dampen the spirits of the Betws people; they felt proud to be from the village and there was a definite feeling of unity and togetherness in the atmosphere. In a bid to ‘Bring Back Street Parties!’ we designed the day around a Street Party theme, with local films showing inside the Chapel in the afternoon.
The celebration was a culmination of a 2 year Betws-based project about rural identity called ‘Top of the Mountain’ as well as a 30 year Birthday Party for Valley and Vale Community Arts. Janice Gregory, (AM) for Ogmore Constituency, made an impromptu speech about community and valley life and made plenty of time available to talk to people about local issues.
Throughout the Top of the Mountain project Valley and Vale has provided opportunities to bring people together and a chance to develop creatively. Over 100 people took part in some way which exceeded initial expectations: “I think people are ready to become more involved in their communities again. People are proud of this village and where they are from, they know what has been achieved in the past and what can happen again.”
People and their stories were central to the whole project and local people spoke fondly of a village that came together, worked together and played together. Some of these stories were reflected in our new publication ‘Hilltop Tales’ and in a film called ‘Top of the Mountain’, some were gathered into a beautiful patchwork quilt, some into an exhibition of photographs from the village, while others were shared as personal Digital Stories, and in song and music by the Betws Community Choir and Celtic Music group.
Books and DVDs are available (we are asking for donations of £5 each or £8 if bought together, but still have free copies available), from Valley and Vale Community Arts, The Sardis Media Centre, Betws, Bridgend: 01656 729246, email: [email protected]