One of the oldest charity traditions in Wales, which has taken place in Rhondda Cynon Taf for over 400 years, has this year been held online.
The Edward Thomas Trust, which dates back to 1678, makes its special awards each year at St Gwynno’s Church, situated in the Parish of Llanwynno, the last resting place of legendary Welsh runner Griffith Morgan (Guto Nyth Bran). But due to the restrictions in place, the latest ceremony took place via Zoom.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, also a Trustee of the Edward Thomas Charity, said:
“I am delighted that the latest Edward Thomas Charity event was able to go ahead, albeit online due to the restrictions in place. So many individuals do so much fantastic work within our communities, especially during the past two years, which have been among the most challenging for so many people.
“Congratulations to all of the latest recipients of the Edward Thomas Trust, keeping up an age-old tradition in Rhondda Cynon Taf.”
First held even before Griffith Morgan was born in 1700, the long-standing tradition began upon the death of local landowner Edward Thomas, of Llanwynno, who gifted his beloved Tir-y-Ddualt Farm to his nephews and heirs in his Last Will and Testament, on the condition that they and future heirs bequeath the princely sum of £5 every year, to be divided among 10 chosen members of the parish.
The awards recognise individuals for their dedication and commitment to others, which includes community workers and volunteers of the Parish. The local authority took over the function of “overseers” of this historic charitable tradition, said to be the oldest in Wales, in 1927. Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is today responsible for maintaining the age-old tradition.
In later years, the local authority applied to the Charities Commission in a bid to alter the original format of the bequest and decided to preserve the tradition in a different way. Those selected from the Parish each year now receive a specially-minted 50p piece from the Royal Mint at Llantrisant in recognition of their hard work and effort in improving their respective communities.
The latest online ceremony was chaired by Councillor Jill Bonetto, Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf. Committee members in attendance were Councillors Adam Fox, Elaine George, Rhys Lewis and Sue Pickering and Father Michael Gable.
The latest Edward Thomas Trust recipients are:
Marcia Rees-Jones – for services to her community, which includes providing laptops to local schools during lockdown to ensure under privileged children were not disadvantaged through lack of access to IT equipment. She has also funded a defibrillator in the Tyntetown area to ensure the life-saving device is readily available in a central location should it be needed.
Glyn Bennett – for voluntary work within his community, which includes serving as treasurer of Abercynon Community Centre for a decade and assisting with the general running of the community centre, ensuring its popularity and success.
David Healy – for services to charity and the community, which includes being the lead of RCT Heart Heroes, which provide vital defibrillators to the communities of RCT. He has inspired many communities to accept the challenge of installing these lifesavers within their respective communities and he also maintains these machines to ensure they are working when needed and provides training so people can operate them correctly.
Brian Arnold – for services to his community, which includes his voluntary work with organisations and events, taking a keen interest in everything that happens in Ynysybwl and having served as a councillor previously for many years.
Oliver Wilson – in recognition of his charity work, which includes taking part in sponsored walks from Penrhiwceiber to Llanwonno, raising thousands of pounds for good causes. Born with Cerebral Palsy, he also competes in his local football team, scoring goals and having fun.
Margaret Main – for services to music, charity and the community. Having studied at the Royal College of London as a concert pianist in the 1950s, she went on to become a very accomplished organ and piano player, being called upon many times to accompany soloists in the area and play at weddings. She also provided piano lessons to local children and was accompanist with Pontypridd Amateur Operatic Society, a member of Pontypridd Women’s Institute, and remains active in her community at the age of 81.
Elizabeth Maier Leach -for services to her community, which includes litter picking, which she started doing while out walking with her children. She takes great in her surroundings and is aware of the danger of litter to wildlife. Her aim is to set a good example for future generations.
Mandy Haydon-Hall – in recognition of her community work. Having been working with the Pontypridd Ministry area for some years now, firstly volunteering at the Connect Café in St Catherine’s Church and then becoming administrator for Pontypridd Foodbank before taking over as the manager in May 2018. At start of 2020, the mother-of-seven responded to Storm Dennis and led a team which provided food and hot drinks to those affected by flooding. This was followed by her work responding to the COVID-19 crisis
Gareth French – in recognition of his voluntary work at the Connect Café located at St Catherine’s Church, Pontypridd. He also bakes, maintains the church grounds and parts of the surrounding area.
Amanda Jane Ellis – for services to her community. She has been a Community Councillor for more than 20 years and has been involved in many projects, such as helping the Butchers Pool Committee to become a registered charity. She is also a volunteer at the local Day Centre and helped local residents hit by flooding during Storm Dennis and also during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now involved in a school uniform exchange initiative.