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A familiar face in Pencader earned herself a national audience recently when she appeared on prime-time television. Ruth Lewis, of Castle Green, is often seen around the village with her German shepherd, Vincent, but in May she appeared on the BBC’s Antique Roadshow with a unique item from her family’s history.
Ruth attended the Roadshow team’s visit to the National Botanic Garden last summer, taking with her a small, engraved silver cup which has been in the family for more than a century. The cup immediately caught the eye of silver expert Duncan Campbell, but it was the story behind the cup that ensured it would feature on the broadcast, which was watched by around eight million viewers.
Ruth described how the cup – which actually belongs to her mum, Mary Thomason of Bryndelyn – had been found by her great-grandfather, Henry Morris, in the trenches at Ypres during the First World War. “He found it in the trench, in the mud, so it was all black and horrible,” Ruth told the astounded expert. “He used it while he was in the war as a shaving mug.”
Ruth went on to describe how the cup had come home with her great-grandfather after the war, but almost ended up in the bin. “When he came home, my grandmother was cleaning out his bag and she found the cup and said: ‘What’s this?’ and he said ‘Oh I don’t know, you can throw it away, I’ve been using it as a shaving mug.’”
However, Henry’s wife Mary was not so sure, as Ruth explained. “She said: ‘I think it is silver,’ so she cleaned it up and then when my mother was born in 1942, it was given to her as a christening present. “My mother still has it in her china cabinet at home.”
Duncan was clearly delighted by the cup’s journey. “A little beaker like that can only have been made in France,” he explained. “So, your great-grandfather dug it out of the mud in Ypres? Presumably, it belonged to a Frenchman. In a French trench was it?”
Ruth told him how the family had presumed the beaker was a stirrup cup, but Duncan explained how cups of this kind were often given as a christening gift in France. “On the front, it’s engraved with the chap’s name, which may well have been the soldier of the Great War who lost it,” he told Ruth. “So, it’s been recycled, used as a shaving mug and then recycled again. “It’s been used as a christening mug, back to what it originally was!” Despite the incredible story behind the beaker, there will be no need to get it insured, unfortunately. “I’ll tell you the truth,” Duncan said, “it’s not a valuable thing. It’s not actually silver. In fact, it’s electroplated – it’s silver plate.”
However, he stressed that there were many ways to value an object. “This is a fantastic example of an antique, or an old object that doesn’t have to be worth much to be enormously valuable,” he said. “It’s the best history of an object I’ve heard in a long time, it’s really quite moving.”
Delighted Ruth told him: “My mother will be really chuffed.”
For the first time ever I have no news of any successes or a record of activities to note. Since March, the school doors have closed, the noise of children has gone quiet, however the noise does continue but behind their own doors at home.
The highlight of our week as staff is to receive pictures, videos and work completed by the children – keep them coming – they bring a smile to our faces,
Keeping in contact is very important to us in Cae’r Felin. Over Easter the staff created a video for the children as a message to all the children and of course to wish them a Happy Easter. Our aim is to support the parents as much as possible by sharing useful ideas, websites and links. Through phone calls we hope we can resolve any concerns or problems.
The staff are by no means redundant – far from it. They are planning and preparing appropriate tasks that can be completed at home and then put on the electronic platform so that the teachers can mark and support further. They also have been phoning to catch up with parents and pupils and of course they are also working in the hubs supporting the vulnerable and key workers children – some in Carreg Hirfaen and the others in Y Ddwylan.
We wait weekly for the updates from the Assembly with regards to our schools, but no school will re-open until we can ensure it is safe and purposeful during this strange time. We look forward to see the school full of chat again and the yard full of laughter and play. Once again the sun sets on the hill and I look forward to reporting again.
Thank you to all the staff and parents for all their support and patience.
A few words, hoping that you are all keeping safe and well during these extremely difficult times. Covid 19 has changed our world but at the same time it’s given us all an opportunity to contemplate and value what’s important to us all. Many of you are either shielding or self-isolating and restricted in your day to day way of living, while others have had to be brave and go to work for our benefit.
I sincerely thank members of the Community who have volunteered to help during these testing times. Your contribution is priceless and you have led the way for the sake of others. Being kind to each other and taking the time to ask “how are you” gives such comfort and reassurance. We can all be proud of the effort that’s been made.
Whatever the future holds we must remember the Local Community Services and Businesses that have been the backbone of our Community. I hope we all continue to support and see the value of our priceless Local Services and that we must never take them for granted.
Following this storm “the sun will shine again” and we’ll all have the pleasure of socializing together.
In the meantime if anyone requires anything please call me on the usual number 07792 199161 or email me on
Warm Regards and please Keep Safe.
Linda Evans (Councillor)
In March, before the lockdown, Mary Thomason told the Llanfihangel-ar-arth and Parish Local History Club about her remarkable great uncle, John Pryce Jones. He was an illegitimate child who was born in 1894. He was brought up by his aunts in Bryn Hafod, Pencader. He went to the village school and then Llandysul Grammar School. He studied in Aberystwyth University and received a degree in physical chemistry.
After serving in the Navy in World War One he went to work for the Reckitts company in Hull where he did a lot of research on pigments and became famous for his work. He also had an interest in bees and studied the properties of honey.
He was honoured with FRIC and FLS. He married in 1921 but sadly his son died by falling through ice when he was 19. After retiring John Pryce Jones moved to Boncath and died in 1956. There are more details about him on the website www.pencader.org.uk.
Because of the virus we had to cancel the rest of our programme as well as our annual historical trip. Hopefully we can restart sometime in the autumn and reschedule the three talks that were postponed. More details will be available in the newsletter and the website above once they are available.
Nature Notes: June
Whilst the weather may have turned, what a glorious spring we have had! The hedges are looking luscious and green, and unmown verges are bursting with Oxeye daisies and Red Campion. Our garden has been full of bumblebees, honeybees and ladybirds flying from flower to flower.
It is also definitely fledgling season – my bird food reserves are being eaten at an incredibly fast rate by hoards of new great tits, blue tits, house sparrows and greenfinches – I can’t keep up!
The star of our garden are the swifts – we spent the hot days having a squad of swifts screeching their way over our garden like the Red Arrows doing a display, with quick dips into their nests in our house now and again to feed some noisy broods!
Red kites and buzzards circling high in sky, enjoying rising plumes of warm air, accompanied them – there’s no way they’re doing that for anything other than fun! Some of the things I’ll be looking out for over the next few months include elderflower – to make cordial – and watching the foxgloves become wonderful towers of purple as they keep growing higher and higher.
Environmental tip: Have a go at making a pond! It can be any size (ours is only 50 x 50 cm), and it could just be a bucket. Fill a container with water; rainwater, if you can, and make sure there is something in it (like a plank of wood) so that if anything goes in, like a frog, they can get out.
If you can, get hold of some pond plants, and put a few stones in the bottom. Then wait – it took less than a day to get our visitors in there. If the water goes green, don’t worry, just leave it, and if you remove any plants or leaves from the pond leave them by the pond for a day before clearing them away, so any tiny creatures can crawl out and back into the water. For more tips on creating ponds go to www.rsbp.org.uk and search for creating a mini pond.
Due to the serious nature of the coronavirus, we would ask everybody to have a look at our Facebook page to keep updated. For the moment the Family Centre is open and we are asking all service users whilst here to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly. At the moment all our regular community services are functioning, that is: Save Easy at 2:00pm on a Tuesday, Sewing Club at 10:00am on a Wednesday and Lunch Club and the Food Cooperative on a Thursday. All being well, Gwyneth will be holding another popular storytelling and singing session on the 31st March at 10:30am.
We open Tuesday from 9.00 to 3.00 pm Wednesday 9.00 to 12.00am, and Thursday 9.00 to 3.00pm
Members attended our annual St David’s Day celebration at a lunch at Gwarcefel Arms, Prengwyn on the 25th February, 2020. All were warmly welcomed by the president, Mrs Fioled Jones. In particular, she welcomed two brave husbands, Tom Lewis and Dafydd Jones and our guest speaker, Mrs Anne Thorne, Llanllwni.
After the meal, Mrs Jones officially welcomed the speaker and made particular reference to her past participation in Merched Y Wawr national competitions. Mrs Thorne is originally from the Neath Valley but she and her husband, David, have made their home in the area and raised their children here. They have both worked very hard to promote and further Welsh language, history and culture.
We had such an interesting afternoon, learning about the history of one of the prominent women of the Neath Valley namely Winifred Coombe Tennant. The reference for some of the information was a book by Peter Lord entitled Between Two Worlds. Winifred was born in 1895 and received a good education which included schools in Italy and France. She married young to an older man who was very wealthy and led a privileged life. However, she worked very hard in her community and had a great interest in many things including the Eisteddfod and the world of Art, being a patron of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. She also worked in the field of Women’s Suffrage.
The above only gives a flavour of our afternoon’s talk by Mrs Thorne. If you have a chance, do go and listen to this story or find the book for yourself; it really is fascinating.
Mrs Fioled Jones thanked Mrs Thorne for the interesting story heard during the afternoon.
Our next meeting will be at Capel Nonni, Llanllwni on 30th March at 7 o’clock when Non Elias from Melysion Mam will be joining us.
Please contact: Fioled Jones – 01559 3846177
Gwyneth Alban – 01559 384344
Ann Phillips – 01559 384558