Documents

MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

26 APRIL 2019

WILLOWS CENTRE, TROEDYRHIW

ATTENDANCE

Steven Edwards (SE),    Sheila Walker     (SW),    Stephen Collier    (SC1),  Phillip Howells      (PH),

David Collier       (DC),    Eric Hill                (EH2),   Simon Collier        (SC2),  Hazel Collier         (HC), Nicola Walker        (NW,       Andrew Collier                         (AC).

  1. WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS

On behalf of FoS DC thanked those present for their attendance and for their ongoing support. DC then provided a brief outline of the structure of the meeting.

  1. APOLOGIES

Mair Attwood, Sylvia Johnson, Peter Smith, John Day, Eva Hadley (EH1), Tony Thomas, Hannah Lowe, Bernard Lowe, Dave Daniel, Anne Griffiths, Clive Thomas, Irene Winter, Lynda Jones, Tommy Cunningham.

  1. MINUTES OF AGM 27st APRIL 2018

Acceptance of these minutes as a true record was proposed by SC1 and seconded by SW.

  1. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES OF 2018 AGM

DC asked whether anyone wished to raise any matters from the minutes of the previous AGM (2018).  All present were content and had nothing to raise.

  1. CHAIR’S REPORT – April 2018 to April 2019
    • Progress On Site: Improvements have been made in all areas. Special thanks are due to SC1, SC2 and Mark Moore for the skilled & heavy work that they have carried out.
  • Estimated Expenditure To Date: The total value of input to the project will be well in excess of £45,000 when the current national minimum hourly wage rate has been applied to calculating the value of volunteer time.
  • Landowner & Leaseholder: The landowner has prevailed upon the leaseholder to meet the cost of urgently necessary repairs to a retaining wall.
  • Retaining Wall Repairs: A structural survey has taken place and plans to repair the wall have been drawn up. These have been discussed with John and Margaret Jenkins, whose property runs alongside the collapsed wall. FoS understand that, if deemed necessary, repairs to other sections of the perimeter wall will also be considered. The total cost of planned repairs is estimated to be in excess of £100k and is currently out for bids.  FoS look forward to this work being completed later this year.

 

  • Adding Habitat Value: Willows Youth have worked on the creation of some additional habitat features in the graveyard under the supervision of FoS, the local KWT Project Officer and their own Youth Leaders.
  • Ongoing Support: FoS continues to receive active support from many sources. These include the Assembly Member, MP, Ward Councillors, the Council’s Open Spaces and Heritage Champions and Keep Wales Tidy. The Council’s Wildlife and Biodiversity Officers have provided advice and also some suitable plants and seeds.
  • Community Engagement: Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum continues to complement the work of the Saron Project by promoting interest in our local history and heritage. During the WW1 centenary commemoration period FoS contributed to talks at the Local History Forum, marked certain graves in the graveyard with poppies and visited Troedyrhiw Primary School to support the children’s work on the World Wars.
  • Family History: FoS receives regular enquiries from family historians and are pleased to deal with them whether or not they relate to burials in Saron Graveyard. The past year’s enquiries have, amongst other matters, concerned emigrants from Troedyrhiw to Patagonia, a child that died in infancy and was buried at Saron in 1940 and Mary Ann Edmunds, the first Lady Mayor of Merthyr.
  1. TREASURER’S REPORT

Steven Edwards delivered the Treasurer’s Report which is summarised below:-

          Start Year Balance     Income for Year       Expenditure for Year      End Year Balance

£2,228·19                      £729·75                        £193·39                          £2,764·55

At this point SW passed some donations she had recently received to SE. Thanks for these will be recorded at the next committee meeting.

Suggested expenditure on the employment of a stonemason was deferred until item 8. below.

  1. ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE – DOCUMENT D

DC now handed over the Chair to Eric Hill to preside over the election of officers.

With no further names being proposed as candidates and all other officers of the outgoing committee having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all of those put forward were unanimously elected by a show of hands.

At this point the Chair reverted back to DC who thanked EH on behalf of FoS for presiding over the election of FoS officers before carrying on with the AGM.

  1. THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION

DC led a discussion on some of the ways in which the project can be progressed over the coming year. This covered:-

  1. Continuing the on-site volunteer programme of improvement work. This is likely to include work on graves that it has hitherto been impossible to undertake owing to their proximity to the collapsed wall.
  2. Looking for ways in which the disappointing low number of working volunteers can be increased.
  3. Working towards the realisation of the Memorial Garden aspect of the project including the employment of a stonemason to complete a low wall along one side of the chapel ‘footprint’. (SC1 undertook to pursue this by approaching a stonemason before the next committee meeting.)  Also, possibly, to install a fitting permanent memorial for Rev. William Morgan.
  4. Community Engagement: FoS will continue to build on the existing links with community groups with a view towards advancing the Saron Project and promoting heritage and environmental initiatives.
  5. FoS will seek to, as far as possible, maintain a dialogue with the principal parties having an interest in the Saron site. The completion of work on the retaining wall may provide an opportunity to re-establish contact with the leaseholder.
  6. Giving serious consideration to the legacy that the completion of this project will leave and how this can be secured. EH2 asked whether the long-term aim was to allow permanent public access to the graveyard and a short discussion on safety and liability issues arose from this.
  7. FoS will seek to advance this project through continuing publicity, building on the existing network of support and a possible ‘Open Day’.
  1. CLOSING REMARKS

At this point DC brought the meeting to a close, thanking those present for their attendance and looking forward to the achievement of further successes in the coming year as a major barrier to the completion of this project is set to be removed.

Drafted: 07-05-19

Issued: 12-05-19

MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

27 APRIL 2018

WILLOWS CENTRE, TROEDYRHIW

ATTENDANCE

Mair Attwood    (MA),   Sheila Walker       (SW),    Stephen Collier    (SC1),  Steven Edwards   (SE),

Phillip Howells  (PH),   John Day               (JD),     Hannah Lowe       (HL),    Bernard Lowe       (BL),

David Collier     (DC),   Dan Townsend     (DT),     Andrew Collier      (AC)

  1. WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS

On behalf of FoS DC thanked those present for their attendance and for their ongoing support. He provided a brief outline of the structure of the meeting.

  1. APOLOGIES

Sylvia Johnson, Peter Smith, Simon Collier, Hazel Collier, Nicola Walker, Eva Hadley, Tony Thomas, Jake Castle (KWT), Dave Daniel, Anne Griffiths, Clive Thomas, Irene Winter, Rose Maycock, Lynda Jones, Tommy Cunningham,

  1. MINUTES OF AGM 28st APRIL 2017

Acceptance of these minutes as a true record was proposed by SW and seconded by SE.

  1. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES OF 2017 AGM

DC asked whether anyone wished to raise any matters from the minutes of the previous AGM (2017).  All present were content and had nothing to raise.

  1. CHAIR’S REPORT – April 2017 to April 2018
    • Progress: Despite some setbacks the Saron Project has made significant progress over the past year, particularly in relation to site improvements carried out by volunteers. Special mention must be made of, and thanks extended to, SC1, SC2 and Mark Moore.
    • Estimated Expenditure To Date: Taking into account the time FoS Volunteers have given to this project working on the site, the funds raised and the donations received the total financial input to date amounts to around £41,000.
    • ‘Owner’ Responsibility: Efforts to unlock major funding have stalled (FoS hope temporarily) following scrutiny of the Saron lease by Natalie Sargent (Coalfield Regeneration Trust). She concluded that maintenance of the main structural elements of the site (including boundary walls) was the sole responsibility of the leaseholder under the direction of the landowner.
    • Funding Providers: In the light of the above conclusion it has become clear that this project does not qualify for support for structural work from all major funding providers.
    • The Position of the Landowner: The chairman of the Wyndham Lewis Trust (Saron landowner) is now taking a personal interest in the situation. Having established that the leaseholder has failed to observe the conditions of the lease in relation to structural maintenance he has initiated legal procedures against the leaseholder to enforce their compliance.
    • Ongoing Support: FoS continues to receive active support from many sources. These include the Assembly Member, MP, Ward Councillors, the Council’s Open Spaces and Heritage Champions, Keep Wales Tidy, and a number of officers of the Council.
    • Community Engagement: Since FoS was established in 2009 it has promoted a range of events and activities designed to stimulate interest and involvement of all sections of the community in the Saron Project and in wider aspects of local history and heritage. Now in its second year, Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum is proving to be popular.
    • KWT & Willows Youth: Jake Castle, Project Officer, Keep Wales Tidy, and Dan Townsend, Youth Leader, Willows Youth, have been working closely with FoS on involving young people in some habitat improvement work in the graveyard.
  1. TREASURER’S REPORT

Steven Edwards delivered the Treasurer’s Report which is summarised below:-

          Start Year Balance     Income for Year       Expenditure for Year      End Year Balance

£1,638·18                      £795·20                        £205·19                          £2,228·19

(Includes 20p

adjustment by HSBC.)

  1. ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE – DOCUMENT D

DC handed over the Chair to Dan Townsend (Youth Leader, Willows Centre) to preside over the election of officers.

With no further names being proposed as candidates and all other officers of the outgoing committee having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all of those put forward were unanimously elected by a show of hands.

At this point the Chair reverted back to DC to continue with the meeting.

  1. THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION

DC outlined some of the main ways in which FoS intends to progress this project over the coming year:-

  1. Continuing the on-site volunteer programme of improvement work.
  2. Working towards the realisation of the Memorial Garden aspect of the project including, possibly, the installation of a permanent memorial for Rev. William Morgan.
  3. Depending upon the outcome of the action being taken by the Freeholder (WLT) against the Leaseholder (UWI) it is hoped that the necessary repairs can be made to the retaining wall.
  4. Community Engagement: FoS will continue to build on the existing links with community groups with a view towards advancing the Saron Project and promoting heritage and environmental initiatives.
  5. FoS will endeavour to, as far as possible, maintain a dialogue with the principal parties having an interest in the Saron site without upsetting the balance of a potentially delicate legal process.
  6. FoS will seek to advance this project through continuing publicity, building on the existing network of support and a possible ‘Open Day’.
  1. CLOSING REMARKS

At this point DC brought the meeting to a close, thanking those present for their attendance and looking forward to further success in the coming year.

He also mentioned that consideration will be given to appropriate ways of marking the WW1 centenary in November 2018 through involvement of both the Local History Forum and the Saron Project.

Drafted: 07-05-18

Issued: 17-04-19

MINUTES OF ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

28 APRIL 2017

WILLOWS CENTRE, TROEDYRHIW

ATTENDANCE

Sheila Walker   (SW)   Stephen Collier      (SC1)    Steve Edwards     (SE)    Mair Attwood         (MA)

Phil Howells     (PH)    Sylvia Johnson      (SJ)      Simon Collier        (SC2)   Hazel Collier          (HC)

David Collier     (DC)    Jaqueline Williams (JC)      Gareth Lewis        (Cllr.)   Andrew Collier      (AC)

 

  1. WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS

On behalf of FoS DC thanked those present for their attendance and their ongoing support.  He pointed out that a pack of documents had been provided to all attendees covering;

  • Document A: The Positions of the Main Parties (updated from 2016 situation).
  • Document B: Annual Report covering achievements and issues faced over the past year.
  • Document C: Estimated Expenditure (Money & Volunteer Time).
  • Document D: Members of General Committee Apr 2016 – Apr 2017.
  • Document E: The Way Forward – Some commitments, proposals & aspirations.
  1. APOLOGIES

Lynda Jones, Tommy Cunningham, Bernard Lowe, Hannah Lowe, Peter Smith, Eva Hadley, Tony Thomas, Joe Conaghan, Jake Castle (KWT), Dave Daniel, Anne Griffiths, Clive Thomas, Irene Winter, Brian Ward, Rose Maycock, John Day, Nicola Walker.

  1. MINUTES OF AGM 21st APRIL 2016

Acceptance of these minutes as a true record was proposed by SE and seconded by PH.

 

  1. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES

DC asked whether anyone wished to raise any matters from the minutes of the previous AGM (2016).  All present were satisfied and had nothing to raise.

  1. CHAIR’S REPORT

DC stated that besides his report (Document B) he would also cover the content of Documents A, and C. This is outlined below:-

  • A – Current position of the main parties with an interest in this project:
    • UWI (Leaseholders): Having become the Saron leaseholder in 1983 they accept no responsibility for the deterioration of the site and assert that the decision to demolish the chapel buildings was the Council’s rather than theirs. Whilst providing tentative support to the project they will only sanction funding applications to sources which are not linked to any form of gambling.
    • WLT (Freeholder): Their solicitors are in contact with the leaseholder regarding breaches of the terms of the lease and the demolition of the chapel without their knowledge or consent. A positive dialogue has been opened with the Chair of the Trust who has promised a ‘modest’ contribution towards the project.
    • MTBCC: They seem likely to have played some role in the demolition of the chapel and the subsequent erection of the concrete fence which had hidden the worsening condition of the Saron site from general view. Whilst regarding the Saron situation as “a private property matter” the Council have provided some support to this project. This has included the initial site clearance carried out by their ‘Tidy Towns’ team and, following recent intervention by Dawn Bowden AM, Cllr Mike O’Neill and Cllr Gareth Lewis, advice and support from their External Funding Officers
    • Funding Providers: Although prevented by the leaseholder from pursuing a HLF application FoS are currently in the process of submitting an Expression of Interest to the Welsh Church Act Fund with support from MTBCC External Funding Officers.
    • AM, MP, Councillors and Various Individuals, Organisations and Agencies: The Saron Project benefits greatly from the active interest and support which it receives from many sources.
    • Local Community: FoS has succeeded in engaging residents and community groups in the Saron Project and in events and activities which promote interest in our local heritage and environment.
    • FoS: Established in 2009 having raised a 1,250 signature petition appealing for Council intervention to rescue a vital part of the historic fabric of Troedyrhiw from the effects of long-term neglect FoS has become a significant community group. Our principal mission is to create a wildlife and memorial garden on the Saron site. We are also working creatively with others on a range of heritage and environmental initiatives.

B – Annual ReportThe past year has, on the whole, been another successful one for this project but there have also been some disappointments.   In summary:-

  1. Steady progress has been made on the improvement programme across the graveyard.
  2. A Heritage Plaque has been installed and unveiled at the entrance to the graveyard.
  • A Local History Forum has been established which is very well attended.
  1. A small grant was secured from our local councillors.
  2. FoS maintains a good working relationship with Dawn Bowden (AM) and many others who continue to support the aims of FoS.
  3. FoS have regularly received enquiries relating to family and military history from across the UK and overseas and have been very pleased to assist.
  • As noted under item 5.A. above the Saron leaseholder is now unwilling to support funding bids to organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. This decision has caused FoS some frustration and disappointment as the leaseholder had previously given us unconditional permission to seek funding and a considerable amount of time and effort had been spent on the preparation of a HLF application. Following this setback FoS are now working with MTCBC External Funding Officers on an approach to the Welsh Church Act Fund.
  • C – Estimated Expenditure: To date (end of March 2017), estimated input to the project from the proceeds of fundraising, donations and volunteer time costed at the current national minimum wage rate of £6.70 / hr) now totals £36,265.

However, new quotes will be required, as the previous are now out of date. The earlier quotes for these repairs are in the order of £37,000 to £40,000 + VAT.

  1. TREASURER’S REPORT

DC invited Steve Edwards to deliver the Treasurer’s Report.

SE reported that;

  • Balance at the beginning of the Tax Year –                £680.02.
  • Income for the year:

o   Donations received during the year                  –                £484

o   Fund raising (Sale of Christmas Cards)            –                £117

o   Receipt of the small (Biffa) Grant                     –              £1,000

  •      Total Expenditure (Materials, etc.) for the year: £642.64
  • At the end of the Tax Year the balance amounted to:  £1,638.38.

SE advised the meeting that there had been a hitch since he took on this role, he was not receiving the statements.  After raising it with HSBC, who were adamant they had the correct details, he discovered that they were in fact sending the statements to the wrong address, the statements were being sent to a local Chip Shop.  This has now been sorted out and the statements and receipts for the accounts covering income and expenditure for the year are available if anyone present wished to review them;

  1. ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE – DOCUMENT D

DC invited Cllr. Gareth Lewis to take the chair to preside over the election of officers but before he did he stated that Joseph Conaghan, who has been Secretary since FoS was formed, was standing down and that Philip Howells had agreed to be nominated for election to this position.  All other officers were prepared to continue in their roles, if re-elected, for the coming year.

On behalf of FoS DC expressed thanks to Joseph Conaghan for his commitment to the Saron Project over the years, wished him well and hoped that he would still maintain an interest in the work of this group.

DC also noted that, sadly, long standing FoS member Ron Clark had passed away during the past year and wished to record the gratitude of all concerned for his contribution and FoS’ sincere condolences to his family for their loss.

Cllr. G Lewis now took control of the AGM and asked whether there were any further nominations for any of the roles as officers of FoS.

With no further names (other than Philip Howells) being proposed as candidates and all other officers of the outgoing committee (with the exception of Joseph Conaghan) having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all of those put forward were unanimously elected by a show of hands.  The officers of FoS are therefore as follows;

  • Chairman –           David Collier
  • Vice-Chairman –           Andrew Collier
  • Secretary –           Philip Howells
  • Treasurer –           Steve Edwards

At this point, GL handed the Chair back to DC to continue with the meeting.

  1. THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION – DOCUMENT E

DC referred to Document E – ‘Where do FoS go from here?‘ and outlined some of the main ways in which FoS intend or hope to progress this project over the coming year:-

  1. Scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and improvement work on the Saron site will continue. A number of specific proposals are under consideration and identified tasks will be tackled as and when the opportunity and resources allow.
  2. FoS will continue to work energetically with MTCBC External Funding Officers, Dawn Bowden AM and others to unlock funding for this project. An initial meeting held with the Funding Officers earlier in the day was very positive.  If the approach for funds for this work to the Welsh Church Act Fund fails then the possibility of sourcing funds from more than one provider will be pursued.
  3. FoS will strive to build on existing links with community groups with a view towards advancing the Saron Project and supporting other heritage and environmental initiatives. Groups with whom we have worked include Troedyrhiw Neighbourhood Watch, Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum, Troedyrhiw Community Primary School, Carmel Chapel, Troedyrhiw Scouts, Willows Youth, Willows Seniors.
  4. FoS will maintain a dialogue with the principal parties having an interest in the Saron site.
  5. FoS will seek to advance this project through continuing publicity, building on the existing network of support from individuals and organisations and a possible ‘Open Day’.
  1. CLOSING REMARKS

At this point DC brought the meeting to a close thanking those present, once again, for their attendance, and stating that much has already been achieved and FoS looks forward to another successful year which will move the project closer towards its goals.

MINUTES OF FRIENDS OF SARON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, 2016

Thursday 21st April, 6.30pm

The Willows Centre, Troedyrhiw

ATTENDANCE

Sheila Walker (SW)     Hannah Lowe (HL)            Tommy Cunningham (TC)

John Day (JD)                 Simon Collier (SC)             Bernard Lowe (BL)

Lynda Jones (LJ)            Ron Clark (RC)                    Hazel Collier (HC)

Steve Edwards (SE)       Llŷr (Harri) Evans (LE)     Wyn James (WJ)

Nicola Walker (NW)     Jackie Williams (JW)         Phil Howells (PH)

Sylvia Johnson (SJ)        Mair Attwood (MA)            David Collier (DC)

1 – WELCOME & OPENING REMARKS

On behalf of FoS DC thanked those present for their attendance and ongoing support. He explained that information would be provided about the progress made by this project over the past year together with details of some serious problems that had recently arisen. He said that consideration would also be given to the best way forward from this point. DC pointed out that a pack of explanatory documents matched to agenda items had been provided.

2 – APOLOGIES

Jayne Powney , Joe Conaghan, Andrew Collier, Steve Collier, Irene Winter, Jake Castle (KWT), Peter Evans, Peter Smith, Mary Diggins, Eva Hadley, Clive Thomas, Dave Daniel, Anne Griffiths, Geraint James, Tony Thomas, Cllr Gareth Lewis, Claire Howells (TNHW),

3 – MINUTES OF AGM 17 APRIL 2015

Acceptance of these minutes as a true record was proposed by RC and seconded by SW.

4 – MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES

RC enquired whether the committee had considered whether his view that the term ‘cemetery’ might be more appropriate for the Saron site than ‘graveyard’. DC stated that the project had always used the term ‘graveyard’ as this is what this place had historically been known as. DC suggested and RC agreed that a final decision would be made by the FoS committee at their next meeting.

5 – CHAIR’S REPORT

DC referred to the following documents and outlined their contents:-

  • D – Background on the positions of and connections between all interested parties.
  • A – Annual Report including:-
  1. achievements over the past year in the graveyard and working in the community;
  2. the leaseholder’s ‘second thoughts’ which appears to make them unwilling to support any funding bids (stemming in part from their opposition to gambling which prohibits them from dealing with the Heritage Lottery Fund);
  3. a disappointing response to our first approach to a major funding provider (HLF) highlighting weaknesses in our application strategy which we can, hopefully, address in forthcoming enquiries to other organisations.
  • B – Estimated Expenditure on the project to date (including monies obtained from fundraising, donations and volunteer time costed at national minimum wage rate) now totals £32,434.

DC explained that £600 had been spent on the services of a structural engineer to examine  a collapsed retaining wall and design a cost effective gabion basket replacement. Contractors’ quotations received for this work are in the region of £37,000 to £40,000 + VAT.

6 – TREASURER’S REPORT

DC explained that current treasurer Jayne Powney is not present at this meeting due to a prior commitment. She was, unfortunately, unable to send a full statement of accounts but provided a summary which included:-

Starting balance (April 2015). Current balance (April 2016). Main expenditure during the year.     Committed but unpaid expenditure. Income pending.

Full accounts, when available, may be obtained on request to the FoS committee.

7 – ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE

In the absence of Cllr. Gareth Lewis LE kindly agreed to act as independent chair for the election of officers of the new committee. It was explained that Jayne Powney (JP) was stepping down from her position of Treasurer and that, with his agreement, SE had been nominated for election as her replacement. The meeting wished to record their thanks to Jayne for all that she has done for this project and expressed the hope that she would continue to show an interest in its progress.With no further names (other than SE) being proposed as candidates and all other officers of the outgoing committee (with the exception of JP) having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all of those put forward were unanimously elected by a show of hands.

8 – THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION

DC referred to Document E -‘Where do we go from here?‘ and outlined its main content by covering the following points:-

  1. Disappointing news from the Saron leaseholder who now appears to be unwilling to support funding bids to cover the cost of urgently necessary structural work.
  2. A discouraging response to an initial enquiry made to a major funding provider indicating that applications must be more closely matched  to expected  ‘outcomes’ and are unlikely to be considered from projects that are deemed to be too ‘wide’ in scope.
  3. FoS remain determined to take this project forward as far as possible and have drafted a flexible programme for the coming year which includes:-
  4. a concerted effort to overcome the unexpected withdrawal of leaseholder support by enlisting input from those with influence and connections to mediate on our behalf (Gerald Jones MP is already in contact with the leaseholder);
  5. submission of a large number of funding enquiries to potential providers that have been identified as being potentially acceptable to the leaseholder;
  6. continuing volunteer led improvements on the Saron site;
  7. promotion of and participation in a range of events and activities in the community.

DC then opened a discussion session by asking for comments and suggestions. The following emerged from this :-

  • LE suggested that the situation that this project finds itself in must have previously happened to others with a successful outcome being achieved. He said that he would make some enquiries.
  • WJ said that he might be able to approach the General Secretary of the Union of Welsh Independents. He also suggested that enquiries could be made of Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism in the Welsh Government and Capel (the Chapels Heritage Society).
  • DC referred to an unsolicited statement received from Jake Castle, Project Officer, KWT, which was extremely complementary about this project describing it as ‘of huge value to Troedyrhiw’, working towards ‘a community & wildlife garden with an awareness of local history’, being ‘locally unique’ and contributing to ‘a broader community cohesion’.
  • WJ explained that he, DC and others are considering holding some local history meetings at Carmel Chapel. These would focus on Troedyrhiw with a range of topics being possible. LJ said that she and her friends would welcome this as the meetings which they attend in Merthyr tend to deal with the history of the town. MA said that, as members of the older generation pass on, much valuable information is being lost. DC asked for an indication of likely attendance at the proposed local history meetings and a good response (6+) was received.

9 – CLOSING REMARKS

At this point DC brought the meeting to a close thanking those present, once again, for their attendance, giving an assurance that the group will continue to work towards its goal, and expressing the hope that the community will maintain its interest in and support for this project.

MINUTES OF FRIENDS OF SARON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, 2015

Thursday 17th April, 6.30pm

Scout Hall, Troedyrhiw

ATTENDANCE:

Hannah Lowe    (HL)     Bernard Lowe             (BL)     John Day        (JD)     Sylvia Johnson (SJ)

Mair Attwood     (MA)    Cllr Gareth Lewis       (GL)    Ron Clark       (RC)    Steve Edwards (SE)

Phil Howells      (PH)    Joseph Conaghan      (JC1)   Simon Collier  (SC2)   Hazel Collier      (HC)

John Jenkins    (JJ)      Jacqueline Williams   (JW)    Sheila Walker (SW)   Stephen Collier (SC1)

Andrew Collier  (AC)    David Collier               (DC)    Judy Collier     (JC)     Nicola Walker   (NW)

  1. WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS:

On behalf of FoS DC expressed thanks to all those attending this, the sixth, FoS AGM.  He also extended thanks to Ken Long and the scouts for making this venue available and to Cllr. Gareth Lewis for agreeing to act as independent chair for the election of a new committee (agenda item 7.).

DC went on to say that, over the past year, substantial progress has been made on improving the condition of the graveyard and in other aspects of the Saron project. He also made clear that there are still barriers to overcome if the goals which have been set are to be achieved.

  1. APOLOGIES:

Peter Smith, Jayne Powney, Lynda Jones, Tommy Cunningham, Irene Winter, Dave Daniel, Margaret Jenkins, Mary Diggins, Peter Diggins, Jake Castle, Eva Hadley, Ann Griffiths, Tony Thomas, Jean Luffman, Brian Ward, Mark Moore, Alyson Nolan, Ken Long, Claire Williams, Joe Lamb, Pam Powell.

  1. MINUTES OF 5TH AGM – 10TH April 2014:

Other than the need to make an amendment to the apologies received for the last AGM, where Ron Clark pointed out that his name appeared in both Present and Apologies when in fact he was present, the minutes were proposed as an accurate record by RC and seconded by SW.

  1. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES:

Item 2 ‘Apologies’ of the previous AGM have been amended to show that Ron Clark, who was listed under both ‘Present’ and ‘Apologies’, was in fact present.

  1. CHAIR’S REPORT – APRIL 2014 TO APRIL 2015:

DC referred to Documents A and B of the information packs provided to attendees.

Document A covered the activities and achievements of the past year.  Besides the seven Volunteer Days that had taken place a further sixteen days of on-site improvement has taken place in the first quarter of 2015 alone.  This includes on-going support from Jake Castle (Project Officer) of KWT who FoS wish to thanks, but particular thanks were extended to the small team comprising of Tommy Cunningham, Simon Collier, Mark Moore, Sheila Walker and Stephen Collier, who have been very active and done so much in recent months to bring about  some a major improvements to the site.  Without this considerable effort this project which up until this past year has only managed to hold a maximum of six Volunteer Days in a year, would not have progressed so far.

Document B provides an estimate of expenditure to date, this will be used when seeking matched funding later this year.  This comprises of;

  • Initial clearance of site under Welsh Government funded ‘Tidy Towns’ scheme.
  • Leaseholder repairs to the external wall on the grounds of Public Safety,
  • Support from stonemason Brian Driscoll to take down and rebuild unstable gate piers,
  • FoS members’ commitment and contribution,
    • Communication (Correspondence, Telephone, Email, News Letters, Social Media),
    • Meeting costs,
    • Volunteer Days,
    • Fund raising activities,
    • Refurbishment of gates,
    • Engagement with the community which has and does involve all age groups, (School, Scouts, Youth, Senior Citizens).

In all, using minimum wage for purposes of estimating volunteer labour input, investment to date can be seen to exceed £27,000.

  1. TREASURER’S REPORT APRIL 2015 TO APRIL 2015:

DC advised the meeting that JP (Treasurer) was unable to attend this meeting owing to a prior commitment so would make the report on her behalf.

DC referred attendees to the Treasurer’s Report provided by JP before going through them, highlighting:-

  1. the balance at the beginning of the year which was £841.87,
  2. income from donations and fundraising activities received throughout the year of £529 (see Secretary’s Note below),
  3. costs incurred for materials for weed treatment, waste bags, printing, soil, and group insurance from KWT amounting to £468.83,
  4. the end of year balance, which is £902.04 (see Secretary’s Note).

DC asked whether the meeting accepted the accounts, SC2 proposed acceptance and SE seconded their acceptance.  The meeting accepted the accounts as true and accurate.

Secretary’s Note: The above accounts did not show the recent donation of £20 received from John Day which is yet to be banked, this makes the total £922.04.

  1. ELECTION OF OFFICERS OF GENERAL COMMITTEE FOR 2015 – 2016:

At this point DC asked Cllr. GL to take charge of the meeting to supervise the election of officers of the new committee.  The outgoing committee and the roles they had been elected to are covered in Document C

GL, having explained that no nominations had been received but that the current officers had indicated a willingness to continue, asked whether there were any other nominations.

With no new names being proposed as candidates and the officers of the outgoing committee having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all were unanimously re-elected by a show of hands.

At this point RC interjected with a point of order to advise that, to avoid any possible suggestion of a conflict of interests, Cllr. GL should be identified as being associated with FoS in an advisory capacity rather than as a full member.  DC thanked RC for his advice which he confirmed would be taken and acted upon.

  1. THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION:

DC referred to Document D which outlined the proposed programme of activities and events which FoS wished to implement in the coming year. This formed the basis of an informal presentation and discussion covering the bullet points below:-

  • Funding is to be sought from Heritage Lottery Fund and Welsh Church Fund for essential structural work. FoS have identified an urgent need to effect repairs to the collapsed retaining wall in the SW corner of the site but recognise that the poor condition of the remainder of this wall may necessitate more extensive and therefore more expensive work.
  • FoS will continue to engage with the local community through its meetings, events and interaction with other groups.
  • The chapel gates are almost ready to be rehung. SC2 reported that the gates will be rehung at the Volunteer Day following this meeting which will be tomorrow (18th April).  There will still be some replacement finials to fit once they have been cast but the pattern and casting box for this to be done is ready.
  • Once the gates are rehung they will normally be kept locked whilst the graveyard remains in an unsafe condition. Arrangements will, therefore, need to be made for them to be opened for essential access eg deliveries and removal of rubbish and this may require that the standard locks used by the Council’s Parks & Cemeteries Dept. should be fitted as was the case following the initial Tidy Towns clearup..

The locked gates issue prompted some discussion as there was concern from attendees with regard to access by residents and others wishing to visit graves. In view of the project’s aim of creating a community asset which can be appreciated by all it was resolved that the next FoS committee will discuss this issue at their next meeting and decide upon workable short-term arrangements for site access with a decision on the long-term pattern being deferred until wider consultations can take place.

  • When the project is completed consideration will need to be made to ensure that the Memorial and Wildlife Garden is maintained. How this is to be done will need to be discussed and arrangements made for its maintenance to continue.

At this point DC handed over the chairmanship to JC1 to guide an open discussion on any matters which those at the meeting wished to raise. In the event discussion was limited but the following emerged :-

  • It had been thought that the original burial record had been lost but the possibility of the existence of a surviving copy has recently been brought to our attention. We are endeavouring to discover the whereabouts of a large ledger containing details of burials but have, thus far, been unable to locate this important historical resource.
  • The grave of Saron’s first minister has been uncovered and re-erected. It had been thought that this was within the confines of the chapel, but in fact was found in the graveyard well away from the footprint of the chapel that was demolished in 1990.  However, the minister may well have been buried within the confines of the original chapel the location of which is not currently known but might, perhaps, be found by further research or archaeological investigation.
  • FoS continue to receive enquiries from across the UK and overseas from people undertaking family history research. An example would be a recent telephone enquiry from an Australian lady who was on a visit to the UK and was actually speaking from Saron graveyard.
  • A number of headstones refer to people who died overseas. These include  a soldier who died in the Boer War and is buried in South Africa and a miner killed in a rock fall in a gold mine in British Columbia.
  • The history of Saron Chapel is being researched by a local historian who will be writing an article for publication in a future edition of Merthyr Historian.
  • SE suggested that an ‘InfoGraphic’ square be mounted that provides a History Timeline, QR Codes and weblinks concerning Saron. This is something that can be considered and discussed at forthcoming committee meetings.
  1. CLOSING REMARKS:

At this point JC1 brought the meeting to a close thanking those present, once again, for their attendance, giving an assurance that the group will continue to work towards its goal, and expressing the hope that the community will maintain its interest in and support for this project.

MINUTES OF FRIENDS OF SARON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2014 

Thursday 10th April 2014 – 6:30pm

Angel Inn, Troedyrhiw

ATTENDANCE:

Jayne Powney  (JP)    Joseph Conaghan      (JC1)   Simon Collier  (SC2)  Hazel Collie     (HC)

Lynda Jones     (LJ)     Tommy Cunningham (TC)    Irene Winter    (IW)     John Day        (JD)

Sheila Walker    (SW)  Sylvia Johnson           (SJ)     Dave Daniels  (DD)    Peter Smith     (PS)

Stephen Collier (SC1)  Nicola Walker             (NW)   Phil Howells    (PH)    Mair Attwood   (MA)

Andrew Collier  (AC)   Wyn James                (WJ)    David Collier   (DC)    Ron Clark        (RC)

Jacqui Roome  (JR) – Troedyrhiw Primary School

Janet Bailey      (JB) – Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (GGAT)

Jake Castle       (JC2) – Keep Wales Tidy

Claire Williams  (CW) – Communities First

  1. WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS:

On behalf of FoS DC expressed thanks to all those attending this, the fifth, FoS AGM.  He also extended thanks to Margaret and Brenig for making this venue available and to Claire Williams of Communities First for her kind agreement to act as independent chair for part of this meeting.

For their contributions to this project during the past year particular thanks were extended to JB (GGAT) for facilitating a youth engagement programme (in partnership with FoS) aimed at the Primary School, Scouts and Willows Youth Club; to JR (School) and KL (Scouts) for allowing their respective organisations to become involved, and to Chris Tarbuck (Willows) for taking the first steps towards a new project.  Grateful thanks was also expressed for the expert input of StC and SC in organising on-site work including the urgently necessary dismantling and rebuilding of the unsafe Saron gate piers.

  1. APOLOGIES (See ‘AMENDMENT’ below.):

Megan Davies, Carmen Davies, Steve Brewer, Jean Luffman, Tony Thomas, Eva Hadley, Steve Edwards, Ann Griffiths, Brian Ward, Mary & Paul Diggins, Chris Tarbuck – Willows Youth Centre, Ken Long – Communities First & Troedyrhiw Scouts.

  1. MINUTES OF 4TH AGM – 12TH April 2013:

The minutes of the last AGM were proposed as an accurate record by RC and seconded by SW.

  1. MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES:

There were no matters arising from the minutes of the previous AGM.

  1. CHAIR’S REPORT – APRIL 2013 TO APRIL 2014:

DC referred to an issued document which outlined the main achievements of the past year. The main items were:-

  1. good progress of non-structural site improvement work by volunteers;
  2. successfully completing the rebuild of unsafe gate piers;
  3. delivery of a youth engagement programme in partnership with Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust;
  4. seeking support from existing and new contacts with identified individuals, groups and organisations;
  5. achieving national recognition as finalists at Tidy Wales Awards ceremony held Feb. 2014;
  1. TREASURER’S REPORT APRIL 2013 TO APRIL 2014:

JP provided copies of accounts (see ‘Secretary’s Note’ below) to attendees before going through them, highlighting:-

  1. the balance at the beginning of the year;
  2. income from donations and fundraising activities received throughout the year;
  3. costs incurred for materials and labour for weed treatment, rebuilding and refurbishment of gate piers and gates, group insurance from KWT;
  4. the end of year balance.

The meeting signified acceptance of these accounts.

Secretary’s Note: The above accounts were amended post-meeting to include 2013 – 2014 income from fund-raising which had inadvertently been omitted.  Reconciliation on 29-05-14 shows an end balance at this date of £792.87 and an April ‘13 starting balance of £1,058.49

  1. ELECTION OF OFFICERS OF GENERAL COMMITTEE FOR 2014 – 2015:

At this point DC asked CW to take charge of the meeting to supervise the election of officers of the new committee.

CW, having explained that current officers had indicated a willingness to continue, asked whether there were any other nominations.

At this point RC interjected stating that he wished to place on record that, in his view, the outgoing committee are doing an excellent job and proposed that they should be re-elected.  This was seconded by TC.

With no new names being proposed as candidates and the officers of the outgoing committee having indicated their willingness to serve again for the coming year, all were unanimously re-elected.

  1. THE WAY FORWARD – PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION:

DC referred to an issued document which outlined the programme which FoS wished to implement in the coming year. The main items were:-

  1. targeting site improvement work towards the creation of a ‘showpiece area’ as a demonstration of volunteer ability and determination in preparation for funding bid;
  2. refurbishing the historic Saron gates ready for refitting to complete a. above;
  3. maintaining a positive dialogue with the Saron leaseholder, freeholder and Council;
  4. seeking publicity across a range of media;
  5. exploring potential sources of funding for urgently necessary structural work;
  6. maintaining links with youth groups, particularly the Primary School and Willows, in support of heritage and environmental activities;
  7. supporting research into the history of Saron Chapel through access to documentary and, possibly, archaeological sources.

DC expressed a conviction that the ultimate success of this project will depend upon continuing community support.  He, therefore, suggested, that residents who are not currently involved should seriously consider becoming members of FoS.  Although additional input into committee and volunteer sessions would be welcomed, members who wished to limit their membership commitment to a supportive role would be equally valued.

DC then handed over the chairmanship to JC1 who guided an open discussion session through the following:-

  1. JC1 opened by emphasising the importance to our young people of having opportunities to explore their culture, heritage and environment. He welcomed the attendance of JR (School) and JB (GGAT) at this meeting and thanked them for enabling much of the past year’s youth engagement work to be delivered so effectively.  Thanks were also expressed to both KL (Scouts) and CT (Willows) who had been unable to attend.
  2. RC asked if Saron ‘graveyard’ was correct terminology and wondered whether Saron ‘cemetery’ might be better. This stimulated some discussion during which DC said that he thought that, historically, ‘graveyard’ and ‘burial ground’ were the most commonly used terms for sites of this sort. JB suggested that, before the demolition, residents would have probably referred to the whole site as ‘Saron Chapel’ whereas now they speak of ‘Saron graveyard’. JD stated that his recollection is that people have always called this place simply ‘Saron’. DD offered the suggestion that the words ‘Saron Memorial’ should be included in the name of this location and DC reminded the meeting that the vision of this project is to create a community asset in the form of ‘Saron Memorial & Wildlife Garden’.
  3. At this point JC1 proposed that the discussion moved on and asked whether anyone had any thoughts on the progress that has been made over the year. PS said that it was very gratifying to see the work that has been done to the gate piers and the gates but that there are still an awful lot of problems which have to be dealt with.  He then asked what progress had been made with regard to the possible installation of a commemorative plaque?  DC responded saying that tentative enquiries have been made but no response has yet been received. JB stated that Merthyr Heritage Trust erected about two plaques every year and that these were quite costly and must conform to their set design standards.  She said that she would be happy to approach the Heritage Trust on behalf of FoS.  PS said that he liked the idea of a memorial plaque and would be willing to make a financial contribution towards it but was concerned that it could receive the attention of metal thieves.  SC pointed out that, for this reason, low value aluminium was the preferred fabrication material these days. JC1 wondered whether FoS could design their own and submit it for the appropriate external validation.
  4. JC1 then asked for comments on FoS proposals to stage one or more events at which residents would be invited to contribute their memories of life in the village in the past. This could involve making audio and / or still / video recordings along the lines of ‘digital storytelling’ and could incorporate sharing of old photographs, documents, treasured belongings, etc. which have some special meaning.  The opportunity to look at Troedyrhiw’s musical heritage might also be included.  WJ responded saying that Canolfan Zoar, Merthyr had twice applied for Heritage Lottery funding to look into the musical history of the borough, including the chapels.  Both had failed but they had now secured funding from another source.  They want to set up groups in areas of the borough including Troedyrhiw and Aberfan and, in principle, might be interested in working with FoS.  The use of a musical theme as a starting point for looking into local history is certainly a possibility but perhaps not in the immediate future (from WJ’s point of view).  DC asked whether it was likely that students from Merthyr College would be involved if such a venture were to be launched as it runs from Merthyr College?  WJ responded saying that students could be involved in planning and recording but the main emphasis would be on the involvement of more mature residents.  DC stated that FoS would be happy to liaise with him (WJ) and Richard Davies, Merthyr College if or when an opportune moment arises.  Making a general point about the value of project involvement in cultural activities JC1 recalled what he called the ‘fabulous’ response by local artists when the Saron themed art exhibition entitled ‘In Memory of’ was held at Merthyr’s Taste of Enterprise Centre in 2011.
  1. CLOSING REMARKS:

At this point DC brought the meeting to a close thanking those present, once again, for their attendance; giving an assurance that the group will work hard to meet the challenges which lie ahead and expressing the hope that the community will maintain its interest in and support for this project.  He requested that those who had not done so filled in a FoS membership form before leaving.

  1. AMENDMENT TO THESE MINUTES:

These minutes have been amended and re-issued following the observation at the 2015 AGM, held on 17th April 2015, raised by Ron Clark relating to his name inadvertently appearing in both Present and Apologies lists, he was, in fact, present at the 2014 AGM and these minutes have been amended to reflect this.

MINUTES OF FRIENDS OF SARON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2013

Friends of Saron

MINUTES – 4TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

Thursday 12th April 2013 – 6:30pm
Scout Hall, Troedyrhiw

ATTENDANCE:
Jayne Powney (JP) Joseph Conaghan (JC) Simon Collier (SC)
Hazel Collier (HC) Lynda Jones (LJ) Tommy Cunningham (TC)
Tony Thomas (TT) Irene Winter (IW) Steve Edwards (SE)
Sylvia Johnson (SJ) Steve Collier (StC) Sheila Walker (SW)
Nicola Walker (NW) Andrew Collier (AC) Phil Howells (PH)
Peter Smith (PS) Ron Clark (RC) Brian Ward (BW)
David Collier (DC)
Ken Long (KL) Communities First & Troedyrhiw Scouts
Paul Kent (PK) Keep Wales Tidy
Janet Bailey (JB) Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust
1. WELCOME:
DC thanked those present for their attendance and for their continuing support. He also expressed thanks to Ken Long and the Scouts for the use of this venue and for their help in setting up.

DC explained that the meeting will receive a report on some encouraging progress made over the past 12 months and details of some exciting activities which are planned for the coming year.

2. APOLOGIES:
Rhian Conaghan, Eva Hadley, Chris Tarbuck (Willows Centre), David Daniel, Mary Diggins, Paul Diggins.

3. MINUTES OF AGM AGM 19TH APRIL 2012:
Following a proposal by SW which was seconded by StC the meeting accepted these as an accurate record.

4. MATTERS ARISING:
No matters arose from the Minutes of 19th April 2012.

5. CHAIR’S REPORT – APRIL 2012 TO APRIL 2013:
DC reminded the meeting of the FoS vision which is to actively involve the community in a project which seeks to create Saron Memorial and Wildlife Garden. This will not only conserve an important cultural and ecological asset for the future but can also provide a stimulus for the exploration of other aspects of our local heritage. He then summarised the work of FoS since the last AGM which has included:-
a. continuing, through Volunteer Days and unscheduled work in the graveyard undertaken with the active support of Keep Wales Tidy, to maintain the gains made by the Tidy Towns clearance work and to make some modest but significant improvements;
b. maintaining a dialogue with those parties which FoS regard as being the principal ‘stakeholders’ in this matter i.e. leaseholder, freeholder and Council;
c. with the active support of our AM, seeking an agreement with the leaseholder which will allow FoS to facilitate a conservation programme whilst they retain overall liability;
d. approaching the leaseholder, through our AM, with a fully costed (with quotations from contractors) proposal for the urgently necessary repair of a collapsed retaining wall;
e. building support through strengthening links with a wide range of individuals and organisations;
f. development and maintenance of a FoS online blog which can be visited at http://friendsofsaron@wordpress.com to access details on the background to the project, latest news, forthcoming events, etc;
g. participating in a number of heritage related events including the annual Family and Local History Fair held in Merthyr by Glamorgan Family History Society and a ‘Tomb Reading’ event organised by Canolfan Soar, Merthyr;
h. securing the support of Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust in planning a programme of youth engagement activities to be delivered later this year (further details to be given under agenda item 8.

6. TREASURER’S REPORT:
JP provided a brief verbal summary of and a printed statement showing the financial position of FoS. She explained that the FoS bank balance now exceeds £1000 as a result of ongoing fundraising efforts including the annual sale of FoS Christmas cards and calendars and the generosity of a number of donors.

7. ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE:
KL took the chair for this part of the proceedings. Having been proposed by SC and seconded by SJ the following officers of FoS were elected by a show of hands:-

Chair: David Collier
Treasurer: Jayne Powney
Secretary: Joseph Conaghan
Vice Chair: Andrew Collier

The meeting also unanimously resolved that all members of the past committee who so wished would remain in place for the coming year and that new applications to join would be considered.

At this point the Chair reverted back to DC and the meeting continued.

8. PRESENTATION & DISCUSSION:
This part of the meeting was chaired by JC.

JC introduced Jan Bailey (JB), Community Archaeologist, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.

JB reported that she has met with FoS to consider the possible content and structure of a heritage based youth engagement programme related to Saron and the village. She has also had meetings with staff from Troedyrhiw Community Primary School, Troedyrhiw (6th Merthyr) Scouts and the Willows Youth Centre to ensure that the approach taken will meet their separate expectations and needs. Plans are flexible but include:-
• School – The overall theme will be ‘Troedyrhiw History Detectives’ and is likely to include, amongst other things, visits to the graveyard, village walking trails, attempting to tie old school records to data on headstones, formulating questions, interviewing older residents and making written records. School staff will work with input from JB and FoS. There is considerable excitement in school in anticipation of this work.
• Scouts – Each section will be involved in different projects. The explorer (older) section will receive training in survey techniques and will then complete a measured survey of the graveyard. The scouts are interested in mapping and trails and will work towards establishing a geo-caching trail which will take participants around the village using GPS and clue solving. Other aspects of this work will include research, map skills, testing the trail and creation of a database. A decision on the involvement of the cubs and beavers will be made soon.
• Willows – The Duke of Edinburgh Award group at the Willows Centre have indicated their interest in creating a piece of public art as a heritage themed mural in the form of a time-line. This could be applied to either the external or internal surface of the unsightly concrete fence which forms part of the graveyard boundary.

Discussion – A short general discussion took place indicating approval of the progress which has been made and the direction in which the project is now moving.

PS made some extremely complimentary remarks about the aims of Friends of Saron and the organised and committed way in which its members are working to achieve these.

BW, as a Chapel Street resident who lives close by the graveyard, expressed some reservations about the exact nature of the proposed mural and received some reassurance from DC and JB that – (a) the style and content will be appropriate to its purpose and fitting for its location and (b) the work will be supervised by a trained artist and will use a restrained palette of colours.

9. CLOSING REMARKS:
DC Stated that FoS is committed to continue with this project and looks forward to being able to report further significant progress through the blog and our occasional printed newsletter over the coming year.

DC thanked everyone present for their continuing support and requested that, before they leave this meeting, they consider filling in a FoS membership form.

REV DAVID THOMAS & DESCENDENTS

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MINUTES OF FRIENDS OF SARON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2012

Friends of Saron 

MINUTES OF 3RD ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 

Thursday 19th April 2011 – 6:30pm

Scout Hall, Troedyrhiw

ATTENDANCE:

Joseph Conaghan (JC)     Steve Edwards (SE)                 Simon Collier (SC)              Irene Winter (IW)

Lynda Jones (LJ)              Tommy Cunningham (TC)     Tony Thomas (TT)             Gordon Tann (GT)

Jayne Powney (JP)          Sylvia Johnson (SJ)                  Steve Collier (StC)             David Collier (DC)

Ron Clarke (RC)                 Sheila Walker (SW)                    Phil Howells (PH)              Ron Clark (RC)

Andrew Collier (AC)        Anne Griffiths (AG)                   Paul Kent (PK) – Keep Wales Tidy

Claire Williams (CW) – Communities First                  Adam Hitchings (AH) – Heritage Lottery Fund

1.      WELCOME:

DC thanked those present for their attendance and for their continuing support.  He also expressed thanks to Ken Long and the Scouts for the use of the venue and to Claire Williams and Communities First for their on-going assistance

DC stated that FoS is extremely pleased with the results of the recent programme of clearance and stabilisation work which has been carried out in the graveyard under the Tidy Towns scheme.  He was hopeful that this has provided a foundation on which further progress for this project can be built.

2.      APOLOGIES:

Brian Ward, Eva Hadley, Peter Evans, Nicola Walker, Gwyn Griffiths, Chris Tarbuck (Willows Centre), Jean Tolchard, Derek Games, Margaret Jenkins, John Jenkins, Mary Diggins, Paul Diggins, Ken Long, Sherelle Jago (Communities First), David Daniel, Alison Nolan and Phyllis Rees.

 3.      NOTES FOR AGM 14TH APRIL 2011:

DC explained that the record made by the minutes’ secretary at this meeting had unfortunately been lost and that the notes provided today are the best available record of this meeting.  He apologised for this.

Acceptance of the notes was proposed by RC and seconded by SW.

4.      MATTERS ARISING:

There were no matters arising from these notes, but if anyone had an issue with anything recorded in or missing from these notes DC asked that they raise it later.

5.      CHAIR’S REPORT – APRIL 2011 TO APRIL 2012:

DC began by drawing the attention of those present to the relevant material contained in the document pack provided and on the displayed wall posters.

He was pleased to point out that, for the first time since this project was launched in 2009, some significant improvements have been made to the condition of the graveyard.  DC stated that FoS has received support from many sources but would like to put on record particular thanks to Huw Lewis AM, Cllr Derek Games, Paul Kent of KWT and the staff at Communities First in Troedyrhiw.

The meeting was reminded that, at the previous AGM, an undertaking was made that FoS would adopt a more assertive approach in their efforts to persuade the leaseholders to support this project.  With the knowledge of Huw Lewis AM, who has been acting as an intermediary with the Saron leaseholder, FoS has devoted considerable time and energy over the past year to:-

5.01    An exploration of possible legal avenues which might be available.

As a result of our enquiries we discovered that seeking a good legal opinion with a view towards taking action against the leaseholders could involve an open ended financial commitment with no guarantee of success.  We were strongly advised to consider an alternative strategy for bringing the leaseholders to the negotiating table and were making progress in this direction when such a meeting was made possible.  Enquiries about legal action have been suspended to facilitate good relations with the leaseholders whilst negotiations are on-going.

5.02    Preparing for a possible media campaign.

FoS resolved to use established contacts with journalists and to seek television exposure for the Saron project with a view towards putting pressure on the leaseholders.  Enquiries about a media campaign have been suspended to facilitate good relations with the leaseholders whilst negotiations are on-going.

5.03    Building an ‘Alliance of Concerned Families’.

Since this project began it has been recognised that the descendants of those interred at Saron are entitled to have their concerns about the condition of the graveyard represented.  FoS is, accordingly, building up a database of names and contact details of those who wish to join this alliance.

5.04    Seeking and maintaining useful contacts

A large number of notable individuals, agencies and organisations have now expressed support for or are actively involved in this project.  FoS is working to keep all of these ‘on board’ and to add others as we strive to advance the project.  Those already assisting us in one way or another include:- our AM, our MP, councillors, Council officers, Communities First, Keep Wales Tidy, VAMT, Merthyr Valleys Homes, VAMT, WCVA, Environment Wales, Lord Kinnock, the Archbishop of Wales.

5.05    Seeking a productive dialogue with the leaseholders and other interested parties

A meeting, arranged by Huw Lewis AM, took place in June 2011.  The leaseholder (The Union of Welsh Independents), the freeholder (The Wyndham Lewis Trust), the Council and FoS were all invited to send representatives.  Disappointingly, only the latter two parties attended the meeting and, although no decisions about the future of Saron graveyard could be taken, some useful contacts were made and there was general agreement amongst those present that the condition of the graveyard was a serious problem.  Huw Lewis undertook to make further efforts to bring the leaseholders to a meeting.

This meeting took place on the Saron site in January 2012 and was attended by representatives of the leaseholders, the Council, the Tidy Towns team, Huw Lewis and FoS.  A wide ranging and frank discussion took place with the main outcomes being:-

  1. the leaseholder granted permission for the Tidy Towns team to carry out clearance and stabilisation work in the graveyard, funded through a Welsh Government initiative;
  2. the leaseholder agreed to give favourable consideration to endorsing a Deed of Dedication (DoD) or other appropriate legal arrangement by which they would retain responsibility for the remainder of the term of the lease whilst FoS and/or its successors would facilitate the completion of the proposed project;
  3. the Council’s building control officer made clear that legal action would be taken in respect of the unsafe wall on the Chapel Street boundary.

5.06    Monitoring the progress of the Tidy Towns clear up.

This took place over the period January to March 2012.  FoS has been very pleased with the results and has passed on the thanks of the community to all concerned.  FoS volunteers have begun, under the supervision of KWT, working to consolidate the progress which has been made by treating tree stumps, applying herbicides, etc., to prevent the re-growth of unwanted vegetation.

5.07    Seeking a legal arrangement.

FoS will not be able to enter into any legal arrangement with the leaseholder unless this makes clear that FoS cannot be responsible for any problems which might arise as a direct result of the long term neglect of the graveyard.  A draft Deed of Dedication has been produced and the advice and opinions of a number of agencies are being sought.  This is a matter which will be pursued as a matter of urgency as the future of the project is dependent upon it. Until this issue is resolved FoS anticipate that they will be involved in a ‘holding operation’, with the support of KWT, to ensure that the recent  improvements in the condition of the graveyard are consolidated and it is not allowed to deteriorate once again.

5.08    Giving consideration to the status of the group.

FoS has been made aware that their current status as an ‘unincorporated’ group imposes limitations upon their ability to secure the services of some agencies and to unlock funding.  FoS therefore, needs to consider becoming an ‘incorporated’ group which will bring some additional responsibilities such as a requirement to submit annual accounts to Companies House, but will, amongst its other advantages, make it easier to unlock funding and limit liabilities to an amount which could be as little as £1.

A group must normally have assets of at least £5,000 before it can apply for charitable status. Registration as a charity would bring some advantages and FoS will only consider applying for this when it has succeeded in generating a significant income from funding providers, etc.

FoS feel that, to ensure the sustainability of the project in the long term, the group will either need to widen its membership or be absorbed into a larger group engaged in environmental and conservation work in the village.

5.09    Planning to advance the project.

DC spoke briefly about the content of the document SARON GRAVEYARD PROJECT – POSSIBLE DIVISION INTO MANAGEABLE PARTS which had been issued at the meeting.  This contains constructive suggestions from FoS on the way in which the project can be broken down into different areas of work some of which are low-cost and can be tackled largely by volunteers and others which will require structural work for which it will be necessary to unlock funding.

5.10    Pursuing other activities.

DC suggested that the value of this project lies not only in the efforts being made to rescue an important part of the historic fabric of the village of Troedyrhiw from the effects of many years of neglect but also in the ways in which it can engage the local and wider community.  Over the past year FoS has, amongst other things:-

  1. continued their research into the history of Saron Chapel;
  2. continued building up a burial plan for the graveyard by plotting the positions of all graves, photographing headstones and other monuments and transcribing all inscriptions;
  3. produced an education pack designed to stimulate the young people of the village to take an interest in their heritage;
  4. begun to receive training under the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 initiative with a view towards improving the FoS website and working on a ‘digital storytelling’ project aimed at recording oral history from older residents;
  5. begun to produce and distribute a printed newsletter carrying regular updates on the progress of the Saron project.

5.11    Enlisting more support from the community.

Referring to the leaflets and wall posters DC requested those attending to consider ways in which they might be able to help this project by becoming personally involved and/or by speaking to family and friends about this.  He put forward the following for consideration:-

  1. becoming a FoS member;
  2. volunteering for on-site work;
  3. offering useful skills;
  4. contacting businesses for sponsorship or other forms of support;
  5. encouraging younger residents to become involved.

6.      TREASURER’S REPORT:

JP provided a brief verbal summary of and a printed statement showing the financial position of FoS.  She explained that the funds were much healthier this year.  £43·82 had been Brought Forward from 2011 and for this Financial Year the accounts stand at £662·85.

JP stressed that FoS need to adopt a cautious approach towards spending their modest assets as funds to cover essential expenditure such as printing costs must always be available. The ‘In Memory Of’ Exhibition held at the Taste of Enterprise Centre in Merthyr had been very good for FoS funds as had the annual sale of Christmas Cards and Calendars together with a payment made for a leaflet drop which was carried out at the same time as a newsletter distribution. JP thanked all who had helped to raise these funds.

7.      ELECTION OF GENERAL COMMITTEE:

CW took the chair for this part of the proceedings.  Having been proposed and seconded the following officers of FoS were elected by a show of hands:-

Chair:             David Collier                     Proposed by SW, 2nd by TT.

Treasurer:  Jayne Powney                  Proposed by SE, 2nd by IW.

Secretary:   Joseph Conaghan            Proposed by RC, 2nd by SJ.

Vice Chair: Andrew Collier                 Proposed by SW, 2nd by SE.

The meeting also unanimously resolved that all members of the past committee who so wished would remain in place for the coming year and that any new applications to join would be considered.

At this point the Chair reverted back to DC and the meeting continued.

8.      DISCUSSION SESSION:

This part of the meeting was chaired by JC.

JC introduced Adam Hitchings (AH) of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to the meeting.  FoS is hoping to secure funding from HLF and had invited AH to previous meetings but owing to commitments he had been unable to attend until this evening.

AH explained that he was an officer of the HLF for this area and handles funding from £k to £M.  He had been in contact with FoS for a period of time now and apologised for not being able to make it to earlier meetings.

He explained that FoS will need to get the leaseholders (UWI) on board and until this and other things already mentioned are sorted out FoS is not yet ready to seek funding.

He went on to say that there are plenty of groups that FoS can speak with to find a way forward, details of these had been provided to DC and suggested that FoS visit other projects to see what has been achieved by similar groups.

AH began his summing-up by saying that FoS need the support of the Local Authority, Communities 1st etc. He stated that other professionals who can provide help may be found on-line and finished his contribution by reiterating the importance of sorting out ownership and governance issues.

JC thanked AH for his contribution and then opened the discussion session by inviting contributions from those present.

RC took the opportunity to thank the committee of FoS, Paul Kent (KWT), Terry Mehegan and his Team (Tidy Towns), Councillors, etc., for all the work they have done to date.

PH asked what the timescale for the life of the project might be?  In reply DC stated that current proposals assume that the project will run at least up to the date when the lease terminates.  It has been suggested to FoS, by someone with knowledge and experience in this area that, in the short-term, any low cost maintenance and improvements which the group might undertake on its own initiative, whilst strictly requiring owner’s permission, would be unlikely to be challenged so long as care is taken not to interfere with the unstable boundary walls.  This is a matter which FoS will need to consider carefully as they seek to consolidate the substantial gains which have been made recently and arrive at an acceptable longer term solution.

JP explained that as the lease expires in 2050 the UWI are happy to hand responsibility of the Saron site over.  FoS cannot be sure of the situation post 2050 which is not that far away but a suitable period of time (38 yrs) remains to satisfy the requirements for funding.  AH confirmed that this period of time was more than adequate for funding.

JP further stated that substantial progress has been made over the last year but we need to take care over the wording of the DoD.  It is to be hope that those who follow will be able to continue with the maintenance of the site but the attitude which the freeholder (WLT) will adopt after 2050 cannot be known.

AH stated that as freeholders WLT could take the site back.  This would need to be discussed with the WLT.  Pressure from HL would help.

DC commented that, given its condition, the freeholders could repossess the site now as it has not been maintained as required under the terms of the lease.  They could then clear it and sell it.  The other option which they have (and appear to favour) is to just ‘sit on it’ as it will be the responsibility of the leaseholders to return the site to the freeholders in 2050 in good order.

RC commented that he recalls one or two instances from his time as a councillor involving builders who wanted to purchase cemeteries.  Development of such sites could not take place unless it could be determined that there were no remaining relatives of the interred.  They then had to remove the headstones and place them against the boundary wall.  So the freeholders and potential developers might be biding their time.

JP commented that Karen Foley, a volunteer co-ordinator with VAMT, might know people who could assist the project.

CW suggested that T Mobile might be able to provide volunteers help.

PK stated that he could provide details of a government office which may also be worth approaching.

AH suggested that volunteers might be available from Usk Open Prison.

DC suggested that companies involved in major construction projects in the area might be worth approaching, citing the work underway at Merthyr Technical College where a large retaining wall was being constructed.  Providing a small retaining wall at the rear of the cemetery would be a minor task by comparison.

9.      CLOSING REMARKS:

DC Stated that FoS is committed and determined to continue with this project and look forward to being able to report further significant progress in the near future.

DC thanked everyone present for their continuing support.

Drafted:  31-05-12

PUBLICLY AVAILABLE COUNCIL DOCUMENTS REGARDING SARON GRAVEYARD PETITION

Friends of Saron on steps of Civic Centre prior to presenting a petition containing 1214 signatures  from the people of Troedyrhiw to Council Leader. July 2009.

The following documents may be viewed in full on the website of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council:-

Council Meeting 16.09.09 – Agenda Extract.

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Council Meeting 16.09.09 – Document re Agenda Item 13     page 1.

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Council Meeting 16.09.09 –            Document re Agenda Item 13.                                           page 2.

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Council Meeting 16.09.09 –           Minutes Extract

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SARON MEMORIAL & WILDLIFE GARDEN – AN OUTLINE PROPOSAL

Friends of Saron have given careful consideration to the need to convert our ‘vision’ into a viable proposal which can be put to all of the interested parties, potential funding providers etc. The underlying principles of our proposal as we now see them are:-

  • Respect for our forebears.
  • Preserving our heritage.
  • Improving a neglected environment.
  • Reducing anti-social behaviour.
  • Conserving wildlife.
  • Involving the community.

We are confident that a proposal can be put together which is:-

    • Affordable.
    • Realistic.
    • Achievable
    • Maintainable.

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Our preferred solution at this stage is to develop the site as Saron Memorial & Wildlife Garden by:-

  1. Restoring secure site boundaries.
  2. Renovating the historic gates and, perhaps, creating a new entrance at the ‘vestry’ end of the site.
  3. Creating a hard surface (paving or tarmac) with the outline of the chapel building and the positions of the graves of the two early ministers marked. Ideally, some form of vandal-proof seating  (possibly natural stone blocks) will be provided here.
  4. Establishing a managed wildlife area on the remainder of the site after all unstable masonry and areas of subsidence have been made safe. This will include reinstatement of some of the main paths allowing cautious access to graves. Undesirable plants including fast growing trees and shrubs and alien species such as Japanese knotweed will need to be eradicated. Careful consideration will be given to the introduction of appropriate slow growing shrubs, controlled cutting back of undergrowth to encourage grasses, herbaceous plants, ferns etc together with insects, other invertebrates, birds, small mammals, slow-worms etc.

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This approach lends itself to the involvement of voluntary help from the local and wider communities. It could prove to be attractive to schools, youth, local history and wildlife groups etc and is likely to be supported by environmental officers at the Council. The minimal intervention on the site which this project will require leaves open the possibility for more extensive work to take place at a later date if circumstances change. It should be noted that the proximity of the Trevithick Trail which is promoted as a heritage route for cyclists and walkers with easy links across the valley to the Taff Trail can be exploited to the advantage of this proposal.

PROMOTIONAL LEAFLET FOR SARON PROJECT

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‘Outside’ of folding leaflet

Page 2. – Click image to enlarge

‘Inside’ of folding leaflet.

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