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£450,000 National Lottery windfall for projects in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot

31 May 2022 4 minute read
Port Talbot’s Plaza Cinema

Three heritage projects in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot are set to benefit from over £450,000 in National Lottery Heritage Fund grants.

In Abercynon, Cymoedd Creadigol CIC and Cynon Valley Organic Adventures have secured £191,870 for the ‘Celtiaid Cwm Cynon/Cynon Valley Celts’ history project, which will aim to boost the skills and confidence and job prospects of vulnerable or excluded 14-16-year-olds from Rhondda Cynon Taf by getting them involved in building a Celtic roundhouse.

The new structure will be an environmentally friendly classroom, built to look like an ancient Celtic roundhouse.

As part of the project, there will also be a four-week course to encourage local school pupils to explore where they live, and they can also visit St Fagans National History Museum to learn about the Celts.

“We are thrilled to receive this amazing grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  This partnership between the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cymoedd Creadigol and Cynon Valley Organic Adventures will be helping to reach some of the most vulnerable and excluded young people in Rhondda Cynon Taf” said May Baxter-Thornton of Cymoedd Creadigol.

“By using our Celtic heritage, we aim to introduce young people to the idea of sustainability and what it means for our environment today.

“The construction of a replica Celtic roundhouse in Abercynon will also strengthen our ties to our ancestors locally and leave a legacy for future generations to come”

Industrial heritage and ancient woodlands

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council is receiving £181,227 for the ‘Coal and the Community of Craig Gwladus Woods’ project in Cilfrew.

The two-year project will see Craig Gwladus woodlands becoming an outdoor learning and activities centre for and run by the local community.

Visitors will also be able to see a display about the historic drift mine that was once on the site and learn about the industrial heritage of the Neath Valley.

As part of the project, the ancient Craig Gwladus woodlands will also be restored to become a resilient wildlife habitat.

“Over the last five years we have together, steadily been making improvements, building connections and developing a strong vision for this locally cherished woodland park,” said Nicola Pearce – Director of Environment and Regeneration at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.

“This new grant will enable us to now conserve and celebrate the drift mining heritage of the park providing a range of training and activities for local people over the next two years. We will also continue to manage the park for people and wildlife and improve visitor provision.“

Volunteers at Craig Gwladus

Plaza Cinema

The Port Talbot-based charity Afan Arts has successfully applied for an £80,834 grant to make a film about the history of the town’s Plaza cinema.

Opened in 1940, the art deco cinema helped to unite the people of Port Talbot and recover after the Second World War.

Port Talbot’s very own Hollywood stars of the silver screen Richard Burton and Sir Anthony Hopkins came to the Plaza to watch films.

And now, following its regeneration as a community hub, the centre is again helping to unite townspeople after the Covid pandemic.

The film will capture the history of the Plaza and its contribution to Port Talbot and the people of Port Talbot through their own compelling stories.

“Afan Arts are proud to be producing a film, documenting the pivotal role that the Plaza Cinema has played in our town’s identity. The film will be supported by a digital exhibition and heritage trail, capturing the buildings history, its people and their compelling stories”, said project director Denise C. Francis.

“Young people will be implemental in capturing stories that reveal its rich history and also look to its exciting future as a community hub. Getting the community to connect, a wide range of people will have the opportunity to retell their memories, therefore ensuring our community heritage is not lost.”

Andrew White, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to fund these incredible projects and bring the benefits of heritage to communities in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot.

“Heritage is for everyone and it can be anything from the past that you value and want to pass on to future generations – from historic buildings, our industrial legacy and the natural environment, to collections, traditions, stories and more.

“We’re keen to fund even more heritage projects in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot and I’m hoping that today’s news will inspire other groups and organisations to come forward and find out more about the support we can offer to help develop your idea and a grant application.”

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