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Editor JENNIFER HOBBS-ROBERTS ❧ Creative Director MARK ROBERTS ❧ Studio PA U L S E S S I O N S ❧ Valleys Life, Cardiff House Cardiff Road CF63 2AW ❧ ❧ 0845 180 1234 © Copyright Valleys Life 2013. All rights reserved. Nothing in this magazine (including adverts) may be reproduced in any shape or form (in whole or part) without the express written permission of the publishers. We take breach of copyright and theft of intellectual property extremely seriously and will sue at the drop of a croissant. You have been warned (nicely); ignorance is no excuse. Passionate about The Valleys We are independent. We are not a large publishing group pretending to be home grown. Valleys Life magazine is written, designed and produced in South Wales for the people of the South Wales Valleys.

Spring has definitely sprung and there’s certainly a creative spring in our step.


The Valleys, I’m proud to say, has always been a creative machine when it comes to turning out talent; our sons and daughters have made a huge impact on the global stage. Sir Tom Jones, Manic Street Preachers, and Stereophonics, have all made their mark on the world and Merthyr’s Julien Macdonald has dominated the planet’s catwalks. When it comes to art, design and music, we’re up there with the best! This issue, we’re proud to feature the work and honour the life of cartoonist and Welsh icon, Grenfell ‘Gren’ Jones as we chat with his son, Darryl.

We also feature the work of two extremely talented young female artists, Joanna Henly (who’s making her mark in London) and Carrie Francis from the Rhondda. You can also read about the fine charity work that Pontypridd’s Wil Morus Jones is doing in Bangladesh. He’s a real star and it would be wonderful if Valleys Life readers could help him with some financial support. Jennifer Hobbs-Roberts Editor Twitter @valleyslife

Our philosophy We are committed to quality. This quote by William Foster pretty much sums up our thinking. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” Important you read this We have made every effort to ensure that all information contained in Valleys Life or on is correct and accurate. However, we accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions and can offer no compensation should we get it wrong. Please note that the opinions, thoughts, views or ideas expressed in articles contained in Valleys Life are strictly those of the authors.

Actress Jane Asher, President of the National Autistic Society with MP Alun Cairns and MP Glyn Davies


Caveat emptor All advertisers have supplied their own copy (and in some cases artwork), and therefore Valleys Life cannot accept any responsibility for disputes between advertisers and their customers. Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware.

Create a stir in the art world!

Subscriptions To guarantee your copy of Valleys Life magazine, please send a cheque for £20.00 (four issues) made payable to Valleys Life. Visit for special subscriber discounts and special offers.

Create! Art for Autism 2013 was launched at a Parliamentary reception in London, hosted by Alun Cairns MP.

Missed the last issue? We hold a small number of each issue in stock so if you do need a pristine copy, please telephone us or email Hopefully we’ll have the issue you want (but we cannot guarantee it). Each back issue costs £5 including postage and packing.

The judging panel for 2013 includes Jane Asher, actress and author; Alun Cairns MP, Darren Jackson, Director of Education at Ludlow Orbis Group; Hugh Morgan, Chief Executive of Autism Cymru and Brendan Burns, twice winner of the National Eisteddfod Gold Medal in Fine Art and Lecturer at The University of Glamorgan.

Yes it’s free! Valleys Life is distributed free through a wide variety of outlets across the Valleys and beyond. Valleys Life magazine is given away free of charge on the understanding that we are happy for it to be lent, passed around, given to friends and generally read until it falls apart. At which point, you can recycle it and we’d be delighted if you did. Green is good The pulp used in the production of the paper Valleys Life is printed on is sourced from sustainably managed Scandinavian tree farms and utilises a chlorine-free bleaching process.

Create! Art for Autism 2013 is open to all young people aged 11-25 years who are formally diagnosed with an Autistic ❧ 3 ❧

Spectrum Condition (ASC) including Asperger’s Syndrome. Finalists of the competition will be invited to attend a high profile awards ceremony in Cardiff, on Friday 19th July, to celebrate the creativity of the contestants, where the final winners of each category will be announced. The finalists’ artwork will then be displayed on the Create! Art for Autism website and form part of the launch celebrations for the Competition in 2014. There are great prizes up for grabs - from digital cameras to video cameras to art supplies and don’t forget that both the winning individual and school get a prize! The competition closing date is June 16th. Find out how to enter at


Take your taste buds on a taste trip Journey around the world (well, to Blackwood) and discover the wonderful new World of Jackets menu at Coffee Continental. Sixteen different selections, including Milano (mozzarella, tomato and basil), Mama Mia (meatballs with cheese), Hawaii (ham, pineapple and cheese) and Napolean (chicken in white wine sauce). E XC L U S I V E VA L L E YS L I F E O F F E R

£1 OFF THE NEW MENU Now only £3.20 (normal price £4.20). Meal deals: simply add £1 for a coffee or tea (standard coffee menu only) and £1.50 for slice of cake from chiller.


Coffee Continental (Blackwood) Unit 20, The Market Place Blackwood NP12 1AU 01495 228801

Coffee Continental is opening in Cardiff soon 47/49 Castle Arcade - keep in touch on their Facebook page at coffee.continental.blackwood for all the latest updates. Flights to Barcelona will operate on Fridays and Sundays offering connections to cruises departing from Barcelona. Most cruises set sail on a Saturday so these flights will enable passengers to arrive at a convenient time in order to join their chosen cruise and spend a final night in Barcelona before returning home. Operations commenced on 31st March 2013. Palma


Escape the rain, Fly Vueling to Spain! Vueling, Europe’s award winning “Best low cost airline,” now operates flights to four destinations from Cardiff for 2013. Services to Majorca, Alicante, Malaga and Barcelona give Welsh passengers a greater choice of services when flying to some of the most loved destinations. Direct flights from Cardiff to Palma Majorca will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays commencing 20th June 2013. Flights to Alicante and Malaga, which commenced on 2nd April 2013, also operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Vueling flights also offer a wealth of onward connections available via Vueling’s successful Barcelona Hub operations, currently accessing over 50 destinations in Europe and North-Africa, with full baggage through check-in from Cardiff Airport to final destination. Having increased capacity from Wales by a massive 80% over summer 2012, there are now over 100,000 seats available for the Welsh market on Vueling flights through Cardiff in 2013. Steve Hodgetts, Commercial Director at Cardiff Airport, said, “Vueling’s commitment to the South Wales market has been fantastic and those consumers who used them in 2012 have been impressed by the quality of the product. This has been recognised across Europe leading to Vueling being named best low cost airline of the year in 2012. ❧ 4 ❧

I urge all those who went over the bridge this year to fly to Spain to look closely at Vueling and choose Cardiff.” Tickets are available now via, travel agents, Vueling’s iPhone app, mobile portal, and call centre (UK number) 0906 754 7541. Barcelona, Casa Mila, Gaudi


B R E A K FA S T O F F E R ■ Quarter Penny Big Breakfast or Veggie Breakfast ■ Glass of Orange or Apple Juice ■ Cafetiere of Coffee or Pot of English Breakfast Tea

The Quarter Penny Quality and choice The Quarter Penny Café in Cowbrdige has an emphasis on providing traditional, quality, home-cooked food in a relaxed and cosy environment.

SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £7.95 Monday to Friday, 8.30 am – 10.30 am TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEA ■ Selection of Open Sandwiches ■ Claire’s home-made Carrot Cake & Scone with whipped Cream & Strawberry Jam ■ Glass of Prosecco ■ Cafetiere of Coffee or Pot of English Breakfast Tea

The extensive menu includes all day breakfast featuring free range eggs from the very local Tyn y Caia Farm, light bites, sandwiches and snacks as well as hearty main courses and a variety of burgers. There is also an impressive choice of daily specials and an unrivalled selection of mouth-watering cakes and desserts which are all baked freshly on site every day by pastry chef Claire. Sunday lunch is superb and booking is highly recommended and all the lamb and Aberdeen Angus beef is reared on Pwyll-y-rach Farm in Colwinston. Perhaps the Quarter Penny’s best kept secret is the huge range of take-away food that it offers. The list is long and mouth-watering – fully catered finger and fork buffets, whole quiches, salads, whole desserts and cakes. WA L E S W I D E

Peace of mind in a fast-paced world Extreme stress and anxiety are unfortunate by-products of modern life which can seem so fast-paced and overwhelming. Many people often turn to medication to cope with extreme stress and anxiety. But there is another way of tackling these conditions. The Samye Foundation Wales runs compassionbased mindfulness courses which provide individuals with simple, guided techniques to tackle the root cause of their stress and combats negative thoughts.

SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £9.95 Monday to Friday, 3pm – 5pm

With a minimum of 48 hours notice, they can cater for you and make your party or dinner at home a whole lot easier. Whole Quiches are £19 each, desserts start from £16 and salads from £1.50 per portion. The Quarter Penny is also available to hire for evening functions. No hire charge applies if you have pre-booked catering.

One individual who has benefited from attending these mindfulness courses is 58-year-old former teacher Louise*. “I had a breakdown due to a combination of factors. I felt under tremendous pressure in my job and my husband had died six months earlier,” she recalls. “When I went to the doctor, I felt suicidal and he signed me off on sick leave for a year and put me on antidepressants.” Louise retired from teaching on the ground of ill-health in 2001 and describes feeling like a ‘tightly wound coil’ at this time. “I discovered mindfulness when my yoga teacher moved to the Mindfulness and Wellbeing centre,” she remembers.

The Quarter Penny Café 54 High Street, Cowbridge CF71 7AH 01446 774999 Follow on Twittter @quartpennycafe

“Compassion-based mindfulness courses provide individuals with simple, guided techniques to tackle the root cause of their stress.” She attended several 8-week mindfulness courses at a centre and believes that learning these techniques has transformed her approach to stress. “Before I practised mindfulness, I had to do things perfectly. But now I find if I make a mistake, then it’s not the end of the world.” *Name changed to protect identity

In May 2011, Louise decided to come off anti-depressants gradually while continuing to practise mindfulness and over the last 18 months, has been completely free from medication. If you feel you can relate to Louise’s story, visit Samye Foundation Wales’ website or telephone them on 029 2086 0054 to find out about their 8-week mindfulness course starting in May 2013. Don’t miss out on transforming your mind and life!

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If you’re suffering from a medical condition and you feel that conventional medicine isn’t working for you, then you might wish to consider a different approach.

TRIED & TESTED Anne Rodgers from Penarth describes herself simply as a healer and she appears to be having amazing results. Valleys Life speaks to one of her clients who tells us how Anne helped her overcome not one but two life threatening illnesses. How did you hear about Anne? My husband came to see Anne when he had a kidney infection last February after seeing an article in the local newspaper. What made you go to Anne? Before Christmas I had an obstruction in my neck. I was worried about this and went to see my gp. He sent me to a consultant who said that they wanted to operate immediately. I could feel the lump above my ear. The consultant was concerned that it could break away at any time and cause a stroke. In the meantime, I had an appointment with Anne who said that she could help me. I had so much faith in her after seeing the amazing results with my husband that I decided not to have the operation and keep seeing Anne. I only had three to four sessions and the lump was three quarters gone.

“I sat up and felt completely better and I’ve had no trouble since. She’s a miracle worker!” Describe the experience you felt while Anne worked on you... I felt a tugging in the area of the blockage. I have a very strong faith and belief system so felt totally comfortable in Anne’s hands. I saw numerous colours (yellow, blue and turquoise) and felt heat where Anne was working on the blockage. I felt so relaxed in all of my sessions that I very often fell asleep! What is the position with the blockage now? I’m happy to work with Anne. I’ve seen a big difference in pain and size of blockage. The consultant wants me to have a groin X-ray to see where the blockage has gone but I’m reluctant to have this done as this in itself can cause a stroke. I am now waiting for a CT scan. I’m very hopeful.

You have visited Anne since the blockage haven’t you? Yes, I was having terrible pain in my back. I was having trouble walking. Anne saw that I had a kidney infection in my left kidney. During my session with Anne, a strange thing happened. While she was working on me, I felt a weird sensation in my left side, like something was coming away from me. Anne said that she saw a ball of energy coming away from my body which she had to move to get out of the way from. Immediately after this, I sat up and felt completely better and I’ve had no trouble since. She’s a miracle worker! Name and address supplied Anne Rodgers has asked us to stress that she treats each case individually and that if she feels she cannot help someone, she will tell them at the outset. Anne has written a book about her journey, which includes testimonials of the people she’s helped. The book is available from Windsor Book Shop, Penarth or Wellfield Book Shop, Wellfield Road, Cardiff, and costs £11. For more information on Anne, the book and her work, please visit www. Valleys Life cannot endorse any medical treatment. Readers should always consult a medical professional before embarking on any treatment and take responsibility for decisions that affect their own health or wellbeing.

TRIED & TESTED Anne Rodgers For an appointment, please phone 029 2035 0118

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With clients like Lufthansa, Ted baker, Diesel and Lynx, artist and illustrator Joanna Henly is one of the UK’s most talented and sought after commercial artists. So how did a girl who grew up in Bridgend end up working with such auspicious brands?

A LIFE MISSLED I must confess, I’ve admired Jo’s artwork after seeing a mural she’d produced in a shop in Bridgend. As soon as I got home I had to Google her to find out more. She has a unique style and, from what I can see, she’s getting better all the time. Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Jo to find out more about what inspires here unique style.

Tell us about your life in Wales… Although born in Wales, due to my father’s career, my family and I moved to different locations around Britain before eventually settling in Bridgend in the late eighties. Here, I fell totally in love with the Ogwr coast, of which I hold so many incredible memories especially of Ogmore and Southerndown beach, and long sunny walks in the country.

I loved the stepping stones and countryside around the Ogmore Castle ruins. I also spent hours driving over the Bwlch with a friend to paint and draw the beguiling landscape. My family still resides in Bridgend, though I moved away to study in the mid 90s and now live and work in East London. I try to visit them as often as possible. And I’m always on the lookout for work opportunities back home in order to create extended stays. You can see an interior wall job I painted a few years ago in Mayhem Menswear in the centre of Bridgend. Describe your style? Vintage tinged depictions of sensual and empowered women. Traditional portraiture, street-art inspired large scale wall works for boutiques, residential homes and window displays. I’ve done many a project for companies and brands within advertising and media. I’m a total perfectionist and completely obsessed with line and curvature. When did you first realise you had a talent? I do’nt remember a time when I didn’t have a pencil or brush in my hand. From a very early age I would shut myself in my bedroom or a makeshift den in the garden and enjoy the peace and solitude I found there to just create. When I was younger, I was interested in dance, horse riding and even thought about joining the Navy at one point, after years in the Sea Cadets, but art was really my one true passion, which I had to pursue. Are your parents or anyone else in your family creative? Dad carved the most incredible Welsh Love Spoons. I use to watch him sketch out his plans on graph paper whilst I was growing up. He was inspired after reading a book written on the subject by Len Evans, and this inspiration was augmented after he was invited to visit Len at home in Aberkenfig. I think that this was probably the origin of my love of line and curvature. I’ve not seen spoons as beautifully crafted as those made by dad.

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“I had a painting hang at the Saatchi Gallery last week - now I would not have imagined that a couple of months ago!”

What artists inspire you? Renee Grau, Gustav Klimt, Mucha and Egon Scheile. What’s your favorite piece of work? My latest painting, ‘You can’t break me’ (main picture opposite). I’m returning to painting like this after a good 15 year break. It feels like coming home.

What’s your favourite media to work in? I love the immediacy of the biro or pencil for sketching. But paint is really exciting for me. I’m using a lot of medium with acrylics to give it the feel of oil paint, which I’m planning a return to very soon. Have you been formally trained? Yes, after A Levels in Bridgend, I studied my Foundation year in Treforest, Pontypridd before leaving to do a Fine Art Degree in Portsmouth. After a few years in London I returned to study to do a post degree diploma in Public Art, a course I ended teaching on for some time before setting up the business.

It’s an unpredictable lifestyle in a way. I can’t imagine where things will go next and try not to plan too much. Though I do contact galleries, blogs and agencies - I’m promoting my work all the time. I’ll be securing my sponsorship with a paint supplier shortly, working more with canvas, whilst continuing the illustration business. Who can say? Watch this space.

Please describe a typical day… After taking the bike to the studio and making a cup of tea, I begin with free writing. I’ll write for up to an hour, just whatever’s in my head. I helps to clear my mind and with planning the day/week ahead. It’s very cathartic and the best start for a productive day. I find it good to finish the studio day with something creative happening. Leaving at the point where I feel like I could paint or draw for longer. Is there a company or individual you would like to work with, or for? I’ve been very lucky to work with some incredible companies and brands over the last five years. Now my sights are on galleries and gallery representation in and around London. It’s a very new idea, so daunting as well as exciting. What are your plans for the future? Goodness. I had a painting hang at the Saatchi Gallery last week - now I would not have imagined that a couple of months ago! ❧ 9 ❧

Joanna Henly 07888 894333

When renowned cartoonist Grenfell ‘Gren’ Jones MBE passed away on Thursday 4 January 2007, Wales lost one of its most talented sons but for Gren’s boys Chris and Darryl it was to leave a void that has taken many years to come to terms with.

MY DAD GREN Valleys Life is proud and privileged to have an exclusive interview with Gren’s son Darryl Jones. As well as dealing with the emotional loss of his father, Darryl has had a tough time over recent years coming close to losing his own life in a motorcycle accident several years prior to his dad’s death. It effectively ended his career as a policeman and almost ended his life, and he’s not yet fully recovered. We caught up with Darryl at, where else, the local pub - we think Gren would have approved. Please tell us about your childhood. Where did you grow up? In Caerphilly - my dad bought our first family home in Brynau Road on Castle Park - it was number 78. I have great memories of our time there as we were very friendly with lots of people in the street. I remember having a huge street party for the Queen. My father spent a lot of time talking to friends and he encouraged me to always be part of the conversation.

What’s your earliest memory of your dad? My earliest memory is of him teaching me to ride my first bike without stabilisers. I had him running up and down holding my back and every so often he would let me go and I’d hear him saying, “You’re riding on your own!” He spent a lot of time with my brother and I. We were a close unit. He taught us how to play rugby, sail and also how to play golf - really badly. Describe his early life? He was the son of a coal miner, Harry Jones, and was born in Hengoed in the Rhymney Valley. He really started drawing cartoons when he was eight years of age. He used to see the Daily Mail and admired the work of Ronald ‘Neb’ Niebour so he started drawing cartoons of neighbours and found he was quite good at it. When he was old enough, he started sending his work to agents. I think he really believed he could make a living from drawing.

His first published drawing was a joke cartoon for Spick & Span, and later on he sold his first news-related cartoon to the Birmingham Mail. He was inspired and encouraged to draw what he knew by John Philpin Jones (‘Jon’) of the News Chronicle. He basically told dad to draw what he knew and knew the valleys, and Wales, so that was the beginning of the Gren style that everyone knows today. So he was inspired by his local community... Yes. He was part of the community. Dad was a member of the Caerphilly Round Table and we had lots of fun as a family going to car rallies and camping. Dad also used to spend time with other members helping local families and taking their kids out on adventure days. The Round Table had great family values. Around Christmas time I recall my dad dressing as Father Christmas to go on the sledge that was towed around Caerphilly and surrounding areas this was a role that every ‘Tabler’ would do from time to time. We also used to go to cartoonist conventions with the Cartoonists Of Great Britain Club. We would go to Butlins where every cartoonist would draw a cartoon on a huge board that would then be put on display at the reception at each camp. I grew up with the cartoonists kids at these annual events: Bill Tidy, Mac, Cookson, Kirkbride, Collins, George Radcliffe, O’landinine and Les Lilly just to name a few. They organised knobbly-knee contests where they drew faces on their knees and had to make them talk! There were football matches and beer races everyone had great fun. One year, I remember them organising a mock-up marriage of Jack Kirkbride’s daughter Ann Kirkbride (Valleys Life readers will remember her as Deirdre of Coronation Street) and George Radcliffe the oldest cartoonist in the group. George was a lovely guy he was very poor and the cartoonists would pay George’s expenses. Every year George would proudly show off a new tie.

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“When I started out I enjoyed the same things as I’m drawing now. Wales, rugby, local politicians, anything we in this part of the world are able to relate to - I aim to reflect our life and it goes down well with the readers. I’m not trying to prove any points. I try not to get into the political area as that isn’t my audience.”

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He would sport this tie at the functions. We often noticed George’s tie was exactly the same material as the Butlins chalet curtains! Each year George had his matching tie - funny that. When did you understand and appreciate that your dad actually made a living as a cartoonist? I understood my father made a living as a cartoonist from a very early age. It wasn’t unusual to me because I had grown up around cartoonists so the idea that it could be a job was perfectly acceptable. I had my own chair beside him at his desk in the house and one at the Echo building when I used to spend time with him there. He used to encourage me to shade in and cut out the Letraset dot shading for the cartoons. Over time he taught me how to draw his characters and understand perspective. He was trained as a draughtsman so he was very good at showing distance in the cartoons. Was he always a cartoonist? He was in the RAF doing his national service in Penang in Malaysia and played the guitar and tea chest in a skiffle band with his friend Anthony Osmond. In 1960 he became one of the founder members of the Knights Of The Round Table, a pop group. That band later evolved into the Barron Knights - they were quite famous in the 70s. Dad left as he married my mum, Sarah Ann. The first house they rented was on railway terrace in Caerphilly. My father sold his beloved Gibson guitar to put a deposit down. Wow, that must have been love… Yes indeed. At the time he was working as a salesman for Black & Decker and went on to be a draughtsman at a local company called Welsh Metals. But that’s the kind of man he was. Ruled by his heart, his passion - whatever it was.

“He believed in being respectful but only to those who deserved it or had earned it. I remember he kept a pack of biscuits for the doorman and cleaners in the Echo so he could give them a cup of tea - they would dunk their chocolate digestives in the cup.” How would you describe your childhood? My childhood was full of love and adventure. Dad always encouraged us to try everything and brought us up to believe there’s nothing we couldn’t do if we really wanted to do it. What made Gren special? I think his love of Wales and the people. He didn’t like fame or snobbery and always made a point of getting to know everyone. He taught us that no-one is superior in life to anyone, they may be senior in rank or age but they still had to earn respect. He believed in being respectful but only to those who deserved it or had earned it. I remember he kept a pack of biscuits for the doorman and cleaners in the Echo so he could give them a cup of tea - they would dunk their chocolate digestives in the cup. Another great quality of his was his insight. He was amazing! When my daughters Sophie and Emily were born he said your girls will remember the time you spent with them not what you buy them. How true that has been. He made many predictions and they always came true. His vision of life was very different to everyone else. He always saw a funny side of things but if there was a serious message to convey he would include it in a subtle way. ❧ 12 ❧

For example, he did a cartoon of Dai the Dap, a Welsh streaker. He drew Dai naked in a telephone box (yes one of those lovely old red boxes), and he was calling the Rape Advice Centre saying, “Right, I’ve done that, what do I do next?” It caused outrage - he had many threatening phone calls but the truth of the matter was that he was telling them it was a stupid name to call such an important organisation. Subsequently it was renamed the Rape Crisis Centre. There are many other examples of his genius reflecting top tier management’s stupid ideas. I suppose that’s why people loved him, he was the people’s cartoonist. Who were Gren’s heroes? Ah, that’s a huge list: Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, JPR, Barry John, Merve ‘The Swerve’ Davies. He loved his Rugby. He admired cartoonist Giles, he admired our armed forces and public sector workers: the police, the ambulance drivers, the fire service. He appreciated that they made sacrifices. He loved the working man. He loved the characters. What was his proudest moment? I think when he received his MBE from the Queen, he was delighted. I think he joked with her and said, “Can I be called Sir Gren of Hengoed?”

He also lived in his imaginary world of his cartoon strip Ponty ‘n’ Pop, and the fictitious village of Aberflyarff. I remember going into his home office and he proudly showed me a certificate from the Mayor of Aberflyarff that gave him the key to the village. He had drawn the certificate and presented it to himself - that’s dad, that’s Gren! Where did he get his inspiration for the characters? From people he knew and from daily life. We would be sat in a pub and he’d say to me, “Wow look at him, or her!” and quickly sketch a doodle on the back of a beer mat or make notes to remind him later when he was in his studio. Did your dad have celebrity friends or fans? Yes many have written to him asking for cartoons - Even Callaghan, the Prime Minister at the time. Neil Kinnock was a friend and you’d see him depicted in some cartoons. He was great friends with half the Welsh rugby players. Robert Powell, the actor who played Jesus in the film and TV series sent him a nice letter signed in brackets (JC). Tommy Cooper, Harry Secombe - even the great Richard Burton asked for a Gren. There were many famous individuals that were touched by his humour and got in touch with him - he took it all in his stride but he was very proud. How did you feel when he passed away? We were absolutely devastated. My brother Chris and I had lost our world. He was an amazing father. I think of him every day. I continue drawing his cartoons for the annual rugby calendar. It’s a very demanding vocation. I have continued the tradition for the past seven years and doing it has taught me a lot about him both as my father, and as Gren.

I understand him a little more because I’ve had to think like he thought. Before he passed away he told me that when I draw his cartoons, never to insult people and to always run with reality he thought real life was funny enough. Who’s your favourite Gren character? I like too many, but my favourites are Bromide Lil the bar maid of the Golden Dap pub and Royal Aberflyarff RFC. She’s also a part time model for oven gloves. Then there’s Ponty ‘n’ Pop, the first cartoon strip based on the Welsh valleys and the special way we communicate. Was language a thing that inspired him? Definitely. Phrases like ‘down by ere’ and ‘over by there’. The valleys has a language all of its own. He loved ‘round by there’ or ‘I’m coming now in a minute’. Classic. Whenever he heard ‘your dinner’s in the dog’ he would chuckle. What would you like to be Gren’s legacy? My dad told me I was the heir to his overdraft! No, in reality he wanted me to continue with the Gren name and take it beyond Wales. He loved the Welsh valleys, Welsh people and the great way the Welsh can joke about themselves, and things, even in their very darkest moments. He loved the beauty of the terraced houses and he always said more talent comes out of Wales than anywhere else in the world, you just have to look for it. We’ve got plans to set up a trust where we’d have an old terraced house and a pub attached so that it could be turned into a centre for the arts and promote Welsh talent and offer facilities and mentors for young artists and creative people. I’d like to think that Gren’s legacy will be enduring happiness. ❧ 13 ❧

That’s what he did, he made people smile and I’d like to think, because of him, more people smile in the future wherever they are in the world. Can people buy Gren products? I have continued drawing his cartoons and have developed it into a brand of clothing and cakes (on sale in Tesco stores in Wales from 7th June 2013). I have a website which is currently being updated so it includes many new products that can be personalised by the website visitor. You’ll be able to go on there and choose a cartoon and enter your own text onto a variety of products. We’ve got big-ish plans for the future - I think it’s going to be fun. Grenfell ‘Gren’ Jones MBE 13 June 1934 - 4 January 2007

There are a range of Gren Products available: Rugby shirts (you can choose any colour and any design), towels, tea towels, door mats, door plaques, kitchen chopping boards and aprons. Everything is made in Wales in Welsh factories in the valleys and the people Darryl has spoken to are encouraging other factories to expand growth in manufacturing. Gren Cartoons

Artist and illustrator Carrie Francis from Pontypridd is very artistic. She’s also autistic but, as far as Carrie is concerned, that’s a gift she wouldn’t give back in a hurry.


The piece was done with coloured pencils and white ink (because I couldn’t get the effect I wanted with a white coloured pencil). What are your hopes for the future? I’m hoping to go into business as a freelance illustrator. What I really want is to earn my living by doing what I love, which is drawing - I draw therefore I am.

Have you always been creative? I’d like to think so. According to my parents, I started on the walls of the house and the cupboards and doors and I gradually progressed to paper! I was very fond of the show Art Attack (when it was presented by Neil Buchanan), and I used to do art attacks on the living room floor with anything I could find and could get hold of, including pillows and tea towels! Luckily the family dog escaped being included - although I did used to ‘decorate’ her with plastic kids jewellery and anything else really (she never protested).

How has your autism affected your life and your art? It has affected me both positively and negatively. I have the social awkwardness associated with autism and I’m an absolute perfectionist but the latter allows me to put all the detail that I am able into my artwork. However, this also means that sometimes the works take a very long time to complete. Despite all this, if a cure were to be found for autism, I wouldn’t want it. It’s made me who I am. What is your favourite media? I have dabbled in different types of media from acrylics and pastels to shoe polish and coffee (much better for painting rather than drinking!) - but pencils, coloured and graphite, are my preferred medium. It took me a while to get into them but I got there eventually. I feel more in control with a pencil than I do with a brush - if you’re doing really intricate work in a painting and you have a paint brush with bristles that tend to go out of place, it can make a bit of a mess. How long did the Sherlock painting take you to complete? It took a month on-and-off. Depending on their size, any of my hyper-realistic portraits take between on average a week to a month (with a couple of rare cases taking four to five days and one took three months). They become a labour of love. The Sherlock piece was literally an experiment and it was the first piece of work I had properly drawn on black paper. ❧ 14 ❧

This feature has been produced with the kind support of Beechwood College and the Good Life Fund.

All work copyright Carrie Francis

I’ve spoken to several creative types with autism or Asperger syndrome over the years and in each case every one of them has dismissed the idea of the ‘condition’ being a disorder. In fact, most have perceived their autism as something they would never change and Carrie Francis is no exception. Carrie took time out of her university studies to enlighten us a little more…

Do you accept commissions and how would someone go about that? Yes, I do accept commissions. The only commissions I’ve completed so far have been through family and friends. I don’t have a website as of yet but I’m working on it... so the best way to contact me at present is by email Portraiture is my speciality, but I have done animals and pets, and I have also done the rare aeroplane and there is a galleon on the waiting list. However, I am not taking any commissions at the moment because I am in my final year at university. I will accept them to put onto the waiting list, but I won’t be able to start them until I finish my course early next summer.

Carrie Francis Artist & Illustrator

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If it’s laughs you’re after, there’s nowhere better than the Glee Club one of the UK’s top stand-up venues. There are the stylish Bute Street boutiques offering hot fashions and accessories, fine foods, fabulous furnishings and great gifts.

Spring is in the air at Mermaid Quay Let’s hope we’ve seen the back of the freezing temperatures that dogged us through March. Warmer, brighter, lighter days are what we want. And when they arrive, be sure to head down to Cardiff’s waterfront to take full advantage. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the sun outside one of Mermaid Quay’s waterfront restaurants, cafés and bars to put you in a holiday frame of mind – even if you’ve only grabbed an hour away from the office to be there. And there’s such a variety to choose from – Italian, French, Portuguese, Asian, Latin American, Turkish, American, Spanish and, of course, Welsh as well as coffee shops, bars, Cadwalader’s Ice Cream Café and the VIP Champagne Lounge – there really is bound to be something to suit your taste and pocket, from a quick snack to a leisurely, luxury meal.

One to check out is the new Mimosa restaurant, now re-opened under new management following a complete transformation inside and out. You can’t miss the white sofas and ‘astroturf’ outside seating area. Step inside and the quirky continues with an individually designed bar area and large sharing tables. The new restaurant also has a ‘snug’ at the back with soft seating, twinkling lights and modern art - a fun and interesting place to dine, it can be booked for groups. The menu features tapas-style sharing plates as well as Welsh favourites such as cawl and Black Beef burgers.

Plus, Mermaid Quay is home to Ken Picton’s award-winning hair dressing salon & spa – which is heading off to the Annual L’Oreal Colour Trophy Finals in London shortly, following an outstanding performance in the recent Western Region Finals. Ken Picton’s is one of only 42 teams from across the UK to make it to Grand Final – out of a total of 455 salons in the regional heats.

“There’s nothing quite like sitting in the sun outside one of Mermaid Quay’s waterfront restaurants, cafés and bars to put you in a holiday frame of mind.”


m askhea reti mtiem, e Mermaid Quay is at the very heart of Cardiff’s vibrant waterfront.

Right on the water’s edge, it’s chic, stylish, fun and just 10 minutes from the city centre. Eating, drinking, shopping, pampering and relaxing – all overlooking Cardiff Bay.


There’s something for everyone.


We look forward to seeing you soon.


BRIGHT EYES It’s amazing how many people invest in top of the range sun screen but when it comes to their eyes, they take the cheap option.

If there is never a time to go cheap, it’s when buying sunglasses. Anything to do with your eyesight requires careful consideration, so paying that little extra to protect your eyes from harmful rays is well worth it. It pays to invest wisely. Davies & Jones Opticians has several shops around the valleys and their highly-trained team take pride in offering the very best advice, and a range of affordable styles.

We have styles for men, women and children with literally hundreds of frames and styles to choose from.” Davies & Jones have the very latest offerings from brands like Jimmy Choo, Oakley, Dior, Carrera and Police. “Customers are very discerning these days. They know what styles they want. Quite often ladies will bring in pages from magazines to show us the design of shape they’re looking for,” adds Melissa.

“We have a great range of sunglasses starting from £40,” says Melissa Houlker. “It’s important to offer something for all tastes and budgets.

“I think the one thing we’ll always stress is don’t cut corners with sunglasses, especially with children. Young eyes can so easily be damaged by strong sunlight so it’s important to make sure that sunglasses not only look good but give the appropriate protection. Our highly trained team is always on hand to give the best advice possible,” says Melissa. Hopefully, we’ll all have a wonderful spring and summer with plenty of blue skies but let’s all take care to ensure our eyes have a really bright future. Davies and Jones Optometrists To make an appointment please telephone one of the practices below: Ferndale Porth Talbot Green Treorchy Treherbert Dinas Powys

01443 730214 01443 682284 01443 223124 01443 773879 01443 775899 029 2051 4089

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Rhondda, Rhymney, Taff… the names of the Valleys resonate around the world. But the actual rivers that created and named them have often been overlooked and neglected. Sometimes polluted and sterile in the middle of the last century due to man’s activities, with a helping hand in some cases, the power of nature has regenerated the rivers, which once again run clean and clear. With attractions and activities, the waters of the Valleys await to be discovered...

THE RIVERS OF LIFE “Thickly clothed with underwood and occasionally tufted with hanging groves of oak, beech, ash and alder; the wild raspberry twining in the thickets, and the ground overspread with the wood strawberry. The rapid torrent beneath was sometimes half obscured by trees, and sometimes re-appeared in, as it bounded over its’ rocky channel, illuminated by the rays of a mid-day sun”. So wrote Archdeacon Coxe in his “Historical Tours through Monmouthshire” in 1799 upon crossing a stone bridge near the meeting of the small river Tyleri with its bigger neighbour the Ebbw Fach. Had he been able to visit a hundred or so years later, what a different scene he would have encountered and described with both rivers being treated as no more than receptacles for the spoil and waste of industry and the rapidly growing population of Abertillery. Today, both rivers are clean, rich in fish and other aquatic life, a tale that has been repeated across the former coal-mining valleys.

Getting Upstream

Just to the east, the Afon Lwyd (Grey River) runs high from the uplands from above Blaenafon, literally ‘Head of the River (Llwyd)’, which indicates again how the rivers have given names not only to valleys, but the towns and villages within them. Indeed, in the case of the Afon Lwyd, it has given its name to more than a town, since it was also known by its other name, the Torfaen, which nowadays is the name of the local authority within that valley. Torfaen means ‘Stone Breaker’ which indicates the force of the river and today that force is being used close to its source to create micro-hydro power through a scheme supported by the Valleys Regional Park programme, producing around 150,000 kWh and generating around £25,000 per annum to help sustain the Forgotten Landscapes project which is seeking to preserve and manage the historic natural and man-made environment around the World Heritage Site at Blaenafon.

Ynysbwllog Aqueduct The longest single span aqueduct in Britian takes the Neath Canal over the Afon Nedd

The Fish Pass on the River Taf at Merthyr

The South East Wales Rivers Trust helps protect and improve the aquatic environment and the associated habitats of the rivers, bringing lasting benefits to the wildlife and communities. One of its aims has been improving access for migratory trout and salmon to enable them to get high up the Taf Fawr and Taf Fechan rivers to spawn. In 2008, Environment Agency Wales (now Natural Resources Wales) worked with Merthyr CBC to install a fish pass in Merthyr Tydfil. With funding from the European Fisheries Fund, the Trust has since been working on the two major remaining obstructions, one on the Taf Fechan, and the other on the Taf Fawr, where three weirs have been constructed to raise the level of the river below a weir built in 1820 to divert water into the Cyfarthfa Iron Works.

Taf Fawr Weir before the work

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After the fish pass at Merthyr was completed, radio tagging studies showed that fish had passed through and reached the weir on the Taf Fawr, but there were no data to show that fish had been able to get over the weir itself. However, soon after the weir work was finished (as shown), video evidence showed a salmon scooping out a redd (a spawning place) immediately above the weir. The Quay at Kidwelly A haven for birdlife where the two Gwendraeth rivers meet the sea

Of course, water power is nothing new in the valleys. Set in a steep gorge, the waters of the River Dulais at Aberdulais Falls, just to the north-east of Neath, helped power the tin works in the vicinity. Today, Aberdulais Falls, owned by the National Trust, is self-sufficient in environmentally-friendly energy with the largest electricity-generating waterwheel in Europe. The falls are formed as the River Dulais plunges over beds of hard Lower Pennant Sandstone before meeting the River Neath (Afon Nedd) and are considered to be a gateway to Waterfall Country further up the Vale of Neath. Melincourt Falls is a spectacular 80 feet high waterfall on the Melin Court Brook, a tributary of the Afon Nedd, close to Resolven. These have drawn visitors to the area for over 200 years and indeed inspired JMW Turner to visit and capture them on canvas in the 1790s. Today, renowned Welsh artist, Gareth Hugh Davies is also being inspired by the falls as part of the ‘Discover the Valleys’ campaign, supported by the Valleys Regional Park and the WECAN project. Around the time Turner visited to paint in the area, Ynysbwllog Aqueduct was built to carry the Neath Canal over the river. Completed in 1795, the stonearched aqueduct stood for nearly 200 years before being swept away in a flood in 1979. Through a major piece of engineering, a new 32 metre-long metal structure, the longest single-span aqueduct in Great Britain, was installed in 2008. Since then, new environmental improvements and visitor interpretation have made the aqueduct and its environs a fascinating place to visit. At the western extremities of the Valleys, Kidwelly situated at the mouth of the Gwendraeth Fawr and Fach rivers in Carmarthenshire offers a distinct sense of place with an intriguing and fascinating mix of industrial heritage and environmental attractions.

Taf Fawr Weir after the work

In terms of the area’s industrial heritage, Kymer’s Canal, originally built in 1766 to carry coal for onward travel by sea, is the oldest canal in Wales. The Kidwelly Industrial Museum standing on the bank of the Gwendraeth Fach river is the site of the second oldest recorded tinplate works in the UK where some of the remains of this works can still be seen today and is unique as the only museum dedicated to the interpretation of the tinplate industry. The natural heritage of the area is outstanding. The area is extraordinarily rich in bird life, especially waders, which can be viewed from the quay, and bird watchers sometimes flock to the area to catch a glimpse of rare visitors such as the Long-billed Dowitcher. In September 2012, RSPB Cymru entered an agreement with Kidwelly Town Council to become a gateway for the Three Rivers Futurescape project in the area which will showcase how local communities and towns can be involved and benefit from landscape-scale conservation projects. A natural feature of the Cynon Valley close to Aberdare is its distinctive floodplain created by the River Cynon since the last ice age. This provides a natural space for the river to move across the valley floor and to flood after periods of heavy rain creating vital natural habitats for wildlife and important assets for recreation, health and quality of life. The proposed Cynon Valley River Park aimed to encourage positive use and management of the floodplain to provide space for natural processes, for wildlife and for people. Valleys Regional Park has now supported the development of this vitally important asset connecting the wider valley environment and the settlements between Aberdare and Mountain Ash. The series of projects under the Cynon Valley River Park scheme have greatly upgraded 4 km of route coupled with the surrounding land improved which it is projected will attract a further 40,000 visitors to the area. ❧ 21 ❧

Future priorities and plans for the Trust include work on the Taf Fechan weir, easements for fish passage on the River Sirhowy as well as the removal of blockages and habitat improvements. The Trust’s expansion has created an enhanced education programme called the Salmon Home Coming Project with partners in valleys’ schools. The Trust has also benefited from support by Greggs the Bakers who, through their Carrier Bag tax receipts, have funded an officer to promote the improvement of the quality of the river Taff and benefit those who live on its banks. She is also working on a volunteer programme and with local schools. For more details:


HERE’S SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT... Whatever your project, a new bathroom, shower room or cloakroom, the first and most important consideration is planning. You may have your own ideas which your designer will be able to take on board and with experience and a wide product knowledge can open up a world of possibilities which you may not have considered before. ■ Is plenty of storage essential in the

What exactly should be considered during this planning stage, in order to achieve your perfect bathroom?

bathroom? You could consider fitted, freestanding or modular furniture in a host of finishes. A mirror or a mirror cabinet with lighting and a shaver socket with space for a few cosmetics may be enough. Even a cabinet with an iPod docking station may be just what you desire!

■ Do you use a shower more than a

bath or are both equally important? Both baths and shower trays are available in a variety of materials and in a huge range of styles, shapes and sizes or you may be thinking of a tiled wetroom. Would you choose an acrylic , enamelled steel, or even a cast iron bath? ■ If choosing a bath, would you prefer

freestanding, tiled in, or a bath with panels? You could consider one with a whirlpool or air system, or perhaps a combination of both, with underwater mood lighting!

■ Would you like the flexibility of a

separate hand shower for washing hair and cleaning purposes? ■ Inside the shower enclosure you

could choose a fixed overhead shower or a sliding shower rail set, or both, or perhaps some body jets.

With all this to consider, next time we will be talking about style, colour, heating, lighting, and accessories. Also a few more important considerations before finalising a plan that will bring your bathroom dreams to life!

■ Do you require a bidet or would you

consider an alternative? ■ The type of water system you have

needs to be considered. Whether you have a conventional gravity fed system, a combi boiler or an unvented system, an experienced bathroom designer will be able to guide you towards which brassware is suitable for you.

■ One basin or two? The “His & Hers”

concept is a very popular option. ■ There are many types and styles of

toilet. Space saving, traditional, a toilet with a concealed cistern or wall mounted for easy cleaning. ❧ 22 ❧

Cardiff Bathroom Centre Hadfield Road, Cardiff CF11 8PW 029 2034 0861

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A three week fact-finding mission in Bangladesh ended up changing one Pontypridd man’s life forever. Valleys Life talks to Wil Morus Jones.

BANGLA DASH Tell us about your background? My background is in education having taught at various schools in the valleys. At one time I was primary adviser of Mid Glamorgan and also head teacher of Ysgol Santes Tudful and Ysgol Evan James in Pontypridd. I also have a background in choral music having been the conductor of Cor Godre’r Garth for 28 years.

Where is the charity based? As the name of the charity BanglaCymru implies, two countries are involved Bangladesh and Wales. Bangladesh is the poorest country in Asia with a population of 170 million people where a large proportion are considered malnourished, uneducated and live under the poverty level as described by the United Nations. As founder and chairman living in Pontypridd, I have found the support I’ve received from people all across Wales uplifting and inspirational.

How did you become involved with BanglaCymru? In March and April of 2008 I spent three weeks on a fact-finding mission in Bangladesh. I had been invited by Dr Jishumoy Dev to see the daily life situation of local people in a third world country. I saw so many badly disfigured and disabled people dumped on the streets hoping to get a few pennies from passers-by - it was quite heartbreaking. I discovered that most of his patients were suffering with malnutrition or diseases associated with poor hygiene. Some couldn’t afford the few pennies needed to see the doctor, and invariably Dr Jishu would pay the fees himself and much of the time he would also pay for further treatment. Naturally, I tried to contribute before he had a chance to open his wallet. After all I could afford it much easier on a teacher’s pension than his £20 per week wages.

“We raise money to fund the treatment of people with cleft palate issues. The cleft problem is quite prevalent in Bangladesh and most of these patients live lives of isolation... So many of these children are kept indoors to avoid the family being shamed by the community, therefore ordinary experiences such as attending school and playing with other children are things beyond their reach.” Before surgery

After surgery

As I was leaving I thanked Dr Jishu (Jesus) for his kindness and the unforgettable experiences he had given me. I said that if I could help in any way I would do my best. He jumped on the offer, and that was the beginning of BanglaCymru. What does the BanglaCymru do? Basically, we raise money to fund the treatment of people with cleft palate issues. The cleft problem is quite prevalent in Bangladesh. Most of these patients live lives of isolation; being intimidated and conditioned to think that their affliction is the result the devil’s possession because of some evil deed perpetrated by the family. So many of these children are kept indoors to avoid the family being shamed by the community, and ordinary experiences such as attending school and playing with other children are things beyond their reach. For older cleft afflicted people marriage is very difficult to achieve and job opportunities are rare. We also treat burn patients, again a widespread problem in Bangladesh. Since most ordinary people have no electricity supply they depend on fire and flames to cook, to give light and to repel mosquitoes. Burn patients are usually taken to the paupers’ hospitals where they try and save their lives, but there is no plastic surgery treatment for them and, as a consequence, they become disfigured and disabled.

“The treatment not only changes the appearance of a person but also their social life and their emotional being.” ❧ 24 ❧

I imagine this is a difficult environment to live in let alone work in... Absolutely, there are children as young as six working extremely long hours every day, some of them with no family or home. The environment in the cities is incredibly shocking for the poor appalling housing conditions with no sanitation or clean water. I also spent time with Dr Ayub Ali, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at Chittagong Medical College and Hospital at several hospitals seeing work carried out on burns, cleft palate and lips. Burns are a huge problem, mainly because of the fact that most of the population is dependent on fires for cooking and light. Cleft lip and/or palate are more prevalent in this part of the world than any other. It is estimated that 5,000 children are born with the affliction every year and only 50% of them are treated. There’s a great deal of superstition about the condition and, because the majority of the population is illiterate and uneducated, many still believe that the devil has possessed the cleft child. There were so many stories about mothers leaving their babies when they are born with the condition and the husband blaming the wife and leaving the family unsupported. Even if they are brought up loved by their families, they live a life of shame and desolation.

They usually end up isolated, unable to find friends and later on in life unable to get work and marry. I saw many of these patients and saw them after they had been treated. The difference was astounding! I was amazed and inspired. After arriving back home in Wales, I invited friends to become trustees and started writing to everyone I knew. The response was mainly positive and money started coming in. Bank mandates were invaluable because we were guaranteed a sum ever month and could plan ahead more easily. We naturally elected Dr Jishu as Medical Co-ordinator which meant that, for every BanglaCymru event in Bangladesh, he would arrange a medical team to travel to various parts of the country, hire an operating theatre in a local hospital and arrange publicity for the four or five days stay to treat local cleft and burn patients. What is your proudest moment? One proud moment was seeing my first patient being treated back in 2008, and seeing the results of all the 620 patients we have helped to date with their new faces. The treatment not only changes the appearance of a person but also their social life, their emotional being and, later in life, their financial and marital circumstances. It quite literally is a life-saver. Can readers support the charity? We know times are tough here in Wales and the UK but we’d really appreciate any donations readers can offer. ❧ 25 ❧

What are your hopes for the future? One of our dreams has already come true. On Monday, April 15th we opened our own medical centre in the slums of Chittagong - Bangladesh’s second city. Our hope is to open more medical centres and treat every child born with the cleft condition and every burn patient needing plastic surgery.

Donations can be sent to BanglaCymru, 1 Hospital Road, Pontypridd CF37 4AH, or visit where readers can download the bank mandate and Gift Aid forms. BanglaCymru is a registered charity and is proud of its record for spending 99% of its funds on the needy of Bangladesh and none on administration. If you’d like to donate a space to a charity, please contact This space has been produced with the kind support of Mrs Brenda Jones of Tonteg, Near Pontypridd.

WIN! A night’s stay at brand new holiday apartment The Old Wine House

The owners of The Quarter Penny Café are launching a brand new self catering holiday apartment called The Old Wine House. Situated above the Café’s walled courtyard garden, the apartment has a king size and a twin bedroom (with an option to sleep two more on a sofa bed in the lounge), a beautiful open plan lounge diner with roaring fire and a private roof terrace overlooking the historic Holy Cross Church in the centre of Cowbridge. The apartment will be available to let from July 2013 and Natalie and Justin are offering Valleys Life readers a chance to ‘road test’ the apartment for one night in June. The prize includes ■ One night’s accommodation for two ■ A bottle of chilled Prosecco and fresh strawberries on arrival ■ Two course supper with wine served in the apartment ■ Hearty Welsh Breakfast the following morning To be in with a chance of winning, just answer the question in the box below and either post your entry to: The Old Wine House, Valleys Life, Cardiff House, Cardiff Road CF63 2AW. Or email your answer and contact details to Please type The Old Wine House as the email title. Closing date 30.06.13.


Where is The Old Wine House situated?

Name Address

Postcode Phone Date of Birth Email It is a condition of entry that entrants will receive a communication from Valleys Life and separately from The Old Wine House. Entrants will be able to unsubscribe from the list if they wish to do so. If you wish to receive further communication from Valleys Life or The Old Wine House you need do nothing. Your statutory rights are not affected.

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Bee welfare is very much in the news at the moment and South Wales is a hotbed of research and campaigning. Valleys Life talks to Dr. Sarah Maddocks and Dr Rowena Jenkins about their research, and their association with The International Bee Research Association (IBRA).

PLAN BEE Please tell us about your roles at Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC)? SARAH I’m a lecturer in Microbiology at Cardiff Metropolitan University which is a role that combines teaching and research.

ROWENA I’m a Post-doctoral researcher. We work as part of an established research group that has been investigating the antimicrobial properties of honeys. Our roles mean that we also have the opportunity to engage with the public and things like NSEW and other outreach events.

Please explain your research... SARAH Our research has been on-going for numerous years and we were the first group to thoroughly describe the antimicrobial properties of manuka and other honeys, as such we still remain to be world leaders in the field. We are studying honey as a topical antimicrobial agent that can be applied to wounds to prevent, or to treat, bacterial infection - to be used alongside or as an alternative to currently prescribed antibiotics and antiseptics.

More recently we’ve begun to develop a better understanding of exactly how manuka honey works when it inhibits or kills bacteria, which is important to underpin increased use of honey in the clinical environment. It must be stressed that the honey we use is a specially produced sterile, medical-grade honey and not honey from a supermarket or health store which should not be used as medical treatments.

Can you explain what IBRA does? IBRA is essentially the world's longest established apicultural research publishers. The organisation is over 60 years old and promotes the value of bees by providing information on bee science and beekeeping. ROWENA

IBRA publishes award-winning publications that are well respected all over the world right here in Cardiff. It’s run on a not-for-profit basis and is funded purely from the generosity of its members and supporters, and by donations and legacies. They also do important work with schools and organisations here in Wales and around the world to promote the understanding of bees and bee-keeping.


When did you first become aware of IBRA’s work? ROWENA As a research group studying honey, we have always had close ties with IBRA and some of our research has been published in IBRA journals. We’ve become increasingly aware of IBRAs work to raise awareness of bee welfare as a consequence of this and through contact with bee-keepers and beekeeper interest groups on, for example, LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve presented our work at many bee-keeper meetings. How has IBRA helped you with your research? SARAH IBRA has enabled us to be in contact with bee-keepers who have been using honeys for many years and recognise the health benefits; also as a resource for publications. This has expanded the opportunities we have to engage with a broader audience and not just the scientific community. Looking ahead, we hope to embark on more joint ventures where we can support the work of IBRA and they can feed into ours.

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IBRA, at the heart of bee research The International Bee Research Association, IBRA, has been supporting bee research since 1949. As publishers of the much respected Journal of Apicultural Research, the organisation continues to disseminate the work of the world’s leading scientists publishing work in English, Spanish and Mandarin. The small South Wales based team works closely with industry specialists from around the globe to produce books and journals of a world class standard. IBRA are publishers of the much publicised BEE BOOK - a collection of research material that is the definitive guide to studying the honey bee, through the EU COLOSS programme. IBRA values all species of bee and their international programmes help to: ■ Inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and beekeepers through schools ■ Support conservation of lost species in the UK and Europe ■ Promote sustainability through beekeeping in the Third World ■ Help research scientists in developing countries get their voices heard.

Buff tailed bumblebees, hoverflies and a honeybee on globe thistle. Photo W.D.J Kirk

What can the general public do to improve bee welfare? ROWENA There was an article in the Guardian recently, and other national press papers have also highlighted problems associated with declining bee numbers and the associated causes. So the public really needs to be aware of the needs of bees and the huge problems that the loss of the bee population could potentially have. Everyone can help to provide a bee friendly environment by planting the right sorts of plants that attract them as much of the natural habitat is being lost due to farming or a preference for ornamental gardens that don’t have many plants or flowers. Pesticides are a problem as many can be toxic to bees as well as the pests they are aimed at removing, so reduced use of these or swapping to things like a dilute solution of washing up liquid to deter pests would be a big help. In fact, there is a new campaign which is part of the Bee Cause which aims to create Bee Worlds which are spaces filled with wild flowers and forage plants where bees can flourish. SARAH

“Everyone can help to provide a bee friendly environment...” Career-wise, where do you see yourselves in the future? SARAH There is still so much to understand about honeys as antimicrobial treatments and we are only just beginning to understand exactly how honeys kill or inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, such as those that infect wounds, so we anticipate that our research into honey will continue well into the future.

Become a member... IBRA members receive their quality, quarterly journal ‘Bee World’ as well as gaining access to a back catalogue of research papers online. Members and subscribers know that the information that IBRA provides can always be trusted and members and supporters can be confident that all monies received go towards helping the future of bees.

ROWENA It would be good to see some robust clinical trials and greater use of honey as a primary treatment for wound infection.

See the Plants For Bees article for beefriendly planting on page 73. If you would like to help IBRA’s ongoing research into bee welfare by making a donation, please contact them at the following address (boxed right).

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International Bee Research Association (IBRA) 16 North Road, Cardiff CF10 3DY 029 2037 2409

Bees have had a tough time of late. 2012 was an incredibly wet year so bees really struggled, but there’s a lot we can do to help them and, in turn, help ourselves in the spring garden.

PLANTS FOR BEES Be careful around this time of year because wasps are also attracted to many of the plants that bees are but they are less tolerable to our interference. Wasps also tend to like the same treats as we do such as Ice cream on a beach even though we may be the only ones there, they still want to share it with you, and having the ability to sting more than once it pays to give them a little more respect. I’ve recently been reading this beautifully illustrated book, Plants For Bees, published by the International Bee Research Association in Cardiff. Its author, William Kirk, has done a fantastic job of collating the material into a superb reference book and, what’s more, it is beautifully illustrated. If you care for bees and want to know what to plant in your garden to get their attention, Plants For Bees is a must have. E XC L U S I V E VA L L E Y S L I F E O F F E R

At the beginning of Spring the first plants to flower and attract the attention of early awakening bees are the heathers. When the temperature gets close to 10 degrees Celsius honey bees are one of the first signs that spring is here. Take a walk around any well stocked garden centre on a sunny day in April and the Heathers are literally buzzing. Most of the Spring-flowering Heathers are Erica’s, and they provide colour in the garden with their reds, pinks, and whites and provide vital food for hungry bees.

As soon as summer arrives there’s a larger selection of flowering shrubs and perennials that will provide a steady supply of food for bees to last them through to the end of autumn. As well as Heathers other Spring-flowering plants that are friendly to bees include Mahonias, Salix (Willow), Skimmia, and Viburnum. Throughout the summer and into autumn, the bees’ attention turns to Cotoneasters, Lavenders, Buddleja, Hebes, Caryopteris, and roses. In the herb garden, plants such as Marjoram and Chives attract the best attention from bees but care must be exercised when picking leaves for the kitchen. With bees, their main priority is food so if they land on, or near you, it’s only for a rest, so don’t panic!

Get £5 off when you quote Valleys Life Throughout May and June, you can buy Plants For Bees from IBRA for only £20 plus p&p when you quote Valleys Life. The International Bee Research Association (IBRA) is the world’s longest established apicultural research publisher. Contact IBRA on 029 2037 2409. Visit

Rob Hodge Horticulture 01633 744075

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Valleys Life Spring 2013  

The South Wales Valleys' Premier Lifestyle Magazine