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Volunteers give woodland whole new lease of life

CHILDREN are enjoying spending time in a popular Cardiff wood after it was given a new lease of life.

Plymouth Great Wood in Ely had problems with fly-tipping five years ago -part of the wood was once known locally as "the dump" - but the community is now keeping the problem at bay.

The charity Ely Garden Villagers, made up of local residents, has been working with organisations such as Keep Wales Tidy, Tidy Towns, Communities First, Community Pay Back and Cardiff council's parks and waste management departments to clear away 25 tonnes of rubbish from the corner of North Ely recreation field behind Llewellyn Avenue.

Group secretary Lynda Sullivan said the results speak for themselves, with only two incidents of small-scale fly-tipping being reported in the area since then, namely a mattress and a car bumper.

"We may have our trouble of fly-tipping on the outskirts of the Plymouth Great Wood but that isn't happening in Ely," she said, adding that the Friends of Plymouth Wood were also on hand to help out with felling and planting trees and maintaining the bluebells where necessary.

As a result, the area - which was donated to the people of Cardiff by the Earl of Plymouth - is now back to being a place of natural beauty and is very popular with dog-walkers and ramblers.

And she said youngsters such as her grandchildren Darren Tobin, seven, Lacey Tobin and Myla Sullivan, both three, enjoy spending time there.

"This is a fantastic semi-natural woodland right on Ely residents' doorstep," concurred Councillor Huw  Thomas, cabinet member for sport, leisure and culture.

"A great deal of work has been done to improve it over the years and the council's

ranger service continues to work in partnership with the Friends of Plymouth Great Wood, youth groups, probation services, local schools and NEETS.

"It is vital this area is preserved, maintained and appropriately managed in order to protect its wildlife and ensure the community can continue to enjoy it"

Parks conservation officer Nicola Hutchinson added the wood was a great place to visit, even if the stubborn cold snap had put spring on hold.

"Usually there's wild garlic, celandine and wood anemone growing, which create spectacular carpets on the woodland floor, while species such as the tawny owl, foxes and woodpeckers can also be . seen.

"Our rangers are committed to helping local communities understand and look after this site so such life can carry on blossoming there year after year."

For more details, see

Why the writing's no longer on the Ely wall

RECENTLY the Ely Garden Villagers, in partnership with Ely play centre and ACE (formerly Communities First), painted a wall at the top of Archer Road, Ely.

It was covered in graffiti. During the football season parents and footballers come from all over Cardiff to play on Saturdays and Sundays, and the graffiti gave a bad impression to all those visiting our lovely recreation field.

Thanks to a donation of paint from B&Q Culverhouse Cross, we covered the graffiti. The work was carried out by children

from the Ely play centre and local volunteers. In return they will all receive Time Banking Credits, which they can exchange for a Folly Farm trip.

Time credits were introduced by the Assembly as a way to give something back to volunteers.

We recently had AM Mark Drakeford and MP Kevin Brennan to visit the North Ely recreation fields and both commented on the good voluntary work by the Ely Garden Villagers, along with other partnerships within Ely.

Peter Sullivan Chair Ely Garden Villager

Darren Tobin, back right, Myla Sullivan, back left, and Lacey Tobin in the new-look Plymouth great wood
Which had suffered for years from fly-tipping.
Above volunteers get to work painting the vandalised wall.
Top right how the wall used to look in graffiti

Learning that inspires people and strengthens communities

Lynda Sullivan with some of the football boys

RETURNING to learning as an adult is certainly bringing big dividends to the lives of individuals across Wales, but it's also providing a welcome shot in the arm to their communities.

The annual Inspire! Adult Learning awards are littered with powerful examples of successful learners who are delivering very real benefits to their friends, neighbours and others in their areas.

In many cases previously vulnerable people, sometimes lacking the most basic skills or facing huge social or health barriers, have turned their lives around and become major contributors to the well-being of their communities as a result of the confidence they gained from adult learning.

One example is Lynda Sullivan, 48, from Ely in Cardiff, who went from being a house-bound recluse, suffering constant panic attacks, to a respected community leader and campaigner in a matter of months, after responding to a-leaflet put through her letterbox offering computer training at a local neighbourhood centre.

Up to that point she had been afraid to leave her home for three years after developing agoraphobia in the wake of an accident involving her husband.

That all changed when she began learning. She became highly competent with computers and also began learning the art of photography; skills which led her to become very active in her local community.

Eventually she found herself running nine children's football teams and leading a successful campaign to protect local recreational facilities.

Working alongside her husband Peter, the mother of two has become a strong anchor for her community. Her work with the young footballers even received a big cash donation through the TV programme Secret Millionaire.

Lynda was rewarded for her outstanding achievements in her own life and in the community when she was named overall Adult Learner of the Year on Thursday (May 16) at the annual Inspire! Awards, which mark the start of Adult Learners' Week.

Adult Learners' Week (May 18-26) is organised by the adult learning body NIACE Dysgu Cymru with the support of the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund. During the week tens of thousands of adults will attend many hundreds of events across Wales to sample new skills or learning opportunities which could make a major positive difference to their job prospects or quality of life.

Lynda was chosen from among 17 category award winners who in turn were selected from over 300 nominations for the prestigious awards. The overall winners' awards were presented by Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology Jeff Cuthbert AM at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff.

The former school kitchen manager said: "I really hope this award will provide encouragement for everyone in a similar situation to me. The day that leaflet came through my door from the adult learning centre, my life changed. Everything I have achieved since then has been down to those courses."

AS PART of the Ely Festival the Ely Garden Villagers continued to involve all the local schools in our Elympics event.

We had seven schools taking part and what an amazing day we had - a traditional sports day.

We would like to thank Community Foundation in Wales, which first funded this event four years ago and without whose help the event would not be able to continue.

It was a hot day, but thanks to Pen-Caerau and Ely Play Centre we had lots of gazebos to make sure the children were able to find some shade.

I would like to thank Ely Play Centre -and a big thank you to Dan, who got the community together with the loud hailer.

Thanks to all the schools that took part. I would also like to thank North Ely Youth Centre, ACE, Sports Cardiff, Glyn Derw High School, Michaelston High School, The Market Garden, Peter Hamblin of the parks department and the committee members of Ely Festival for supplying the water for all the children taking part.

A big thank you to Charities Aid Foundation who enabled us to supply all the children taking part with medals.

It was great to see our Caerau Labour Councillors Elaine Simmons and Peter Bradbury attending the event. They later handed out medals to the children.

We are proud to announce the winners of the Elympics this year were Hywel Dda, so well done to them.

Ely Garden Villagers look forward to seeing you all next year.

Lynda Sullivan Secretary, Ely Garden Villagers

          Picture Letter Thanks to everyone for a great Elympics

Our thanks to Tan's generosity

ON Thursday, August 15, Ely Garden Villagers along with 49 other charity registered groups were invited to Cardiff City.

Everyone had an amazing time, we were treated to free drinks and an amazing meal followed by dessert.

The event was called "Thanks a Million" and City owner Vincent Tan had invited 50 charity groups along and donated a million pounds which was shared out to all 50 charities that were invited.

EGVs would like to say a special thank-you to Mr Tan for choosing EGVs as one of the 50 charities -

his kind donation to our group was very much appreciated.

The money will help our football teams in lots of ways and will be spent wisely. A big thank-you to all

the Cardiff City players who gave me their autograph and allowed pictures to be taken on the day.

Vincent Tan gave a wonderful speech, the best part of which was when he mentioned how proud he is to have many players from different countries all playing for Cardiff City.

Ely is a very large community with many different cultures and I am also proud that we have many players from many countries playing for my mini/junior Cardiff Hibs FC.

Ely is a lovely place to live, with so many voluntary groups giving up their free time to make a difference to our community.

Vincent Tan, you are one in a million and all our coaches, mums, dads and all our football players want to say a big thank-you and wish Cardiff City all the best this season. Our football players and coaches will be attending the games to cheer Cardiff City on.

Lynda Sullivan

Secretary of Ely Garden Villagers

and Cardiff Hibernian FC

mini/juniors, Ely, Cardiff

Lynda Sullivan with Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan

PLANS for a Bonfire Night fireworks display are on the rocks because funds have fallen short by thousands of pounds.

Organisers were looking forward to celebrating the Ely event's fifth an­niversary - but it only has three fifths of the required funding.

So far just £3,000 has been raised for the November 5 evening - £2,000 short of the total needed.

That is made up of £1,000 from Ely Garden Villagers, £1,000 from Neigh­bourhood Management, £250 from Com­munities First, £500 from Lloyds TSB and £250 from MP Kevin Brennan and Welsh Government health minister Mark Drakeford.

Pete Sullivan, who has been co-or­dinating the show, said the shortfall was "disappointing".

He said they had tried collecting for this year's show at last year's event, but the response was "really poor".

"They just took it for granted that it was free," he said. "All we were asking for was for people to chuck a few pounds in the bucket to secure it for this year.

"But there was hardly anything in the collection bucket."

Mr Sullivan said around 3,000 or 4,000 people came to the event last year but warned there wouldn't be an event this


a firework display

"There won't be now," he said.

"We need at least £5,000 for a pro­fessional display."

Last year's event was held in memory of hit-and-run victim Karina Menzies, with firework suppliers Dragon Fire providing "a lovely big massive pink firework."

"They sent off this lovely big pink thing

in memory of Karina and then we started

Mr Sullivan said.

"People would go past you saying it was fantastic and I was holding this bucket saying, 'don't pat me on the back, put some money in here.'"

Mr Sullivan said businesses who had promised to help had also dropped out at the last minute.

He added: "In fairness to Dragon Fire, they gave us an extension on the final date but it is drawing near.

'I'm just disappointed at the way things have gone."

In the past the event, at Ely's Archer Road Rec, has been funded by the council, Arson Reduction, Communities First and the organisers themselves.

Caerau councillor Elaine Simmons is keen for the show to happen.

She said: "It should go ahead. I have been trying to get funding but because of cuts the money is not available."

She said people travelled "miles" to attend it and that it was a "superb evening".

"The police are concerned it is going to be difficult for them because people will go off and do their own thing. We're

trying to rescue this" she added

Will a cash shortfall leave night a damp squib?

Fireworks night is only two weeks away

Don't dare build on our only field

I WOULD like to thank everyone from the Ely community and others from outside the community who signed our online petition to save Ely Play Centre.

Also a special thank you to the parents from the Ely community who went that extra mile to do door-to-door knocking to get people to sign petitions. A Facebook page was set up called Friends of the Rec and, wow, what an amazing response!

Then to put more pressure on Ely I received a phone call from the Echo... It seems the planners are back, 270 houses on our field.

I would like to state this is not a council proposal.

Well, I have got news for those behind the plan: we do not want your houses at Wilson Road recreation ground, build your houses elsewhere. Build on brown sites and NEVER build on green sites.

Please leave Ely off your plans as we now have two under-8s, under-9s, under-10s, under-11s, under- 12s, under- 13s, under- 15s, under-16s, under-18s and two senior Cardiff Hibernian FC sides representing Ely.

We have worked hard to get funding from Sport Cardiff to get all the coaches on welfare/first aid and leaders' courses.

We have also turned the Ely community around with regards to the football. Many teams from around Cardiff assumed Ely was a bad place. I know from attending the football games we have had positive feedback, other sides are enjoying playing our football teams at our home ground - and I call that progress.

We have people believing in Ely thanks to all the hard work of parents and coaches and we now have business people sponsoring Cardiff Hibernian FC football teams.

We have nine schools involved in a traditional sports day under the name of Elympics and between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended the November 5 firework display. At our firework displays I think it's safe to say the police are more than happy with the way the Ely community come together to make sure it is run safely.

Ely may be a deprived area; however, when it comes to working together all the above proves that Ely sticks together... so, developers, stop thinking of your pockets and how much money you can make.

They are using the past and saying the reason for building 270 is down to anti-social behaviour. Where is the proof now?

I ask if any of you have a heart please come along to any of the above events and please take time to look at our website www.

Or maybe give up your free time for a few weeks and see the damage you could do if we lose the ONLY field in Ely.

I would like to ask the developers if they ever had a sports day and, if so, whether it was important to them. Did any of you play football? Did any of you enjoy firework displays?

Most importantly, did you use green spaces while you were a child? Ihis is our ONLY green field in Ely. If you take it away it will be devastating for the Ely community. We will fight this plan to the very end.

Lynda Sullivan secretary of Ely

Garden villagers and Cardiff

Hibernian FC mini/Junior/youth