The Friends of Saron Committee Meeting held on Thursday 20th November 2014 reviewed the progress made by this project so far. It was recalled that on-site improvements began in March and April 2012 with an initial clearance programme which took several weeks to complete. This was carried out, at Welsh Government expense, by the Council’s Tidy Towns team and with the agreement of The Union of Welsh Independents as Saron leaseholder and the Council. Having allocated a significant amount of public money to ‘kick start’ this project there was a clear expectation that Friends of Saron would work as a community group to facilitate the development of this project.
On the understanding that the leaseholder would retain ultimate responsibility for the site we have been happy to take this work forward and can, we think, claim that considerable progress has been made. With the active support of Keep Wales Tidy volunteers from the community have been clearing, conserving and restoring an ever expanding area of the graveyard. At the same time the group has successfully promoted a range of activities designed to engage various sections of the community in exploring our rich local heritage.
The meeting agreed to adopt a Saron Project Action Plan for 2015 which seeks to demonstrate the high quality of the work which is being carried out by our volunteers to put us in a position from which a successful funding bid for essential structural work can be made. The main points of this are:-
- To complete to the highest possible standard the programme of non structural work including infilling, levelling, tree and shrub removal and trimming, weeding etc which has been taking place in the identified improvement area.
- To complete the refurbishment and refitting of the historic iron gates.
- To carry forward the restoration of certain graves which have been identified as being particularly significant in historical and/or family terms.
- To begin the process of establishing a manageable wildlife habitat with access to graves across the site by seeding in appropriate areas with mixed grasses and wild flowers.
- To continue to involve members of the community in ‘living history’ activities which complement the work of the group towards returning the graveyard to a condition in which it will be a valuable community asset.
The late Mrs Elizabeth k.a. ‘Betty’ Williams of Bronheulog Villas, Troedyrhiw was an enthusiastic supporter of the Saron Project. Her mother, whom she never knew, was interred in the above grave in 1928 having died at the age of 31 soon after Betty was born . She had been born into the Rees family which ran a local butchers business. They had obviously been sufficiently prosperous to erect this monument which survives in a reasonable condition to this day but is in need of some attention.
An earlier post on this blog describes the distress that Troedyrhiw man John Day had experienced at being unable to access his grandparents’ grave before this project made that possible and at the appalling condition it had fallen into. This grave is situated next to the Rees grave and monument described above.