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Former Children’s Laureate visits Dulais Valley to honour friendship with late MP

Children’s author, poet, presenter and former UK Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen has visited Neath’s Maesmarchog Primary School where he officially opened new playground equipment and read some of his poems and stories.

Later, Mr Rosen, also a political columnist and activist who has written 140 books, went to Onllwyn Welfare Hall to present ‘An evening of Fun, Poems and Stories for All’.

The visit, on Thursday, October 20th, came about due to a link between Mr Rosen and the late former Aberavon MP Dr Hywel Francis.

Dr Francis, as a past pupil of Maesmarchog Primary school, had been trying to arrange the visit before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and was keen for the writer to visit the Dulais Valley.  Unfortunately, during the pandemic, Dr Francis sadly passed away and Mr Rosen became very ill with Covid.

Katrina Winston, the Head Teacher of Maesmarchog Primary School, in Dyffryn Cellwen, said: “We are delighted therefore that after his illness and the passing of Dr Francis, that Michael Rosen still wanted to visit the school and honour the commitment he made to his friend Dr Francis.

“We were delighted that Mrs Mair Francis, the widow of the late Dr Francis, was also able to be at the school to meet Mr Rosen.”

The playground equipment opened by the author came from a play grant given to the school where the children took a lead role in deciding on the design of the equipment.

They met the designer via Microsoft Teams video conferencing to ask him questions about the equipment including the sustainability of materials and also what his background was in terms of going into playground design.

Cllr Nia Jenkins, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, said: “I’d like to thank Mr Rosen for visiting the school to give the children an insight into his work and many years of writing. It was an excellent way to encourage children’s creativity and love of reading.”

The visit was facilitated by Sian Williams, Head of Special Collections and Librarian of the South Wales Miners’ Library and Dr Elaine Canning, Head of Special Projects, both of Swansea University.