By a Llandaff 50+ Special Reporter
Many of you may be wondering what is the strange little building at the top of Cathedral Close in Llandaff village. It’s featured a few times in Whitchurch and Llandaff Living and we can now reveal that it’s finally open.
A formal ceremony took place when The Llandaff 50+ Activity Centre for Older People was opened by Patron, Baroness Finley of Llandaff. She welcomed supporters from Cardiff Council and local organisations to hear presentations from: The Pound’s architect, Carolyn Merrifield; Llandaff 50+’s Chair, Yvonne Apsitis; and Pound Founder and volunteer, Tim Egan, explaining the aim, purpose and use of the refurbished building. Hosted by volunteers, everyone enjoyed visiting the building and using the courtyard, and the rain kept off.
Two days later, the doors were opened for a public celebration. Unfortunately, it was the worst weather of the summer, so only the truly hardy ventured to take the tour, but the volunteers all had a very enjoyable day as there was plenty of cake to go around and good friends to talk to. Llandaff Councillor Sean Driscoll, cut the ribbon and Llandaff Society’s Geoffrey Barton-Greenwood compered the event, encouraging visitors to take cover whenever a storm appeared.
There were stalls to buy from, a Treasure Hunt to puzzle over, as well as storytelling from Richard Berry, to be heard. At the end of the afternoon, there was even a spontaneous visit of Welsh folk dancers from Gwyl Ifan. Performing around the medieval cross, they had visited from all over Wales and were ending their festival in Llandaff.
If you did miss out on the public celebration, then we can tell you that the building was offered to Llandaff 50+ as a Community Asset Transfer on a 99 year lease. During more than three long years, the charity raised: public awareness; community support; Welsh government funding; local Pound Founders’ funding; a lot of mud surrounding a previously-unknown Medieval hall house; begging letters when covid hit and building costs rose; and the hopes of all it supporters.
Finally, due to the unfaltering professionalism of visionary architect, Carolyn Merrifield of Downs Merrifield Architects, and the hard work and dedication of Mike and Garry from A&N Lewis, the derelict little building grew into a compact, comfortable and welcoming Centre. The decision to build for the future was seen as a little extravagant at the time but, as the future is now here and energy prices are soaring, it was an insightful decision. The efficiency of the air source heat pump, heat exchanger, solar slates and panels, light tube, underfloor heating and rainwater harvesting tank are all being monitored and explored for use in other retrofit properties. The Pound is, in fact, the size of a small bungalow.
So, now The Pound is finally open. It exists to fulfil the purposes of Llandaff 50+ charity which are: to help prevent loneliness and social isolation in the over 50s, and to promote volunteering opportunities. The idea is for those with skills or a passion for a subject, to pass them on to others in the community in a sociable and friendly environment. There are, currently, groups meeting to share Tai Chi, Watercolour Painting, Weekly Talks, and History Research.
In addition, there are Heritage Room Volunteers, a new venture where trained volunteers will help visitors to Llandaff by explaining the local history, giving directions to the restaurants and coffee houses, or even pointing out the Cathedral, hidden in the valley. The days when the volunteers are there, have also become little gatherings for locals, keen to hear the latest news or pass on a bit of gossip. All things to help build the community and ensure people feel that they belong.
The Pound is an innovative model to test whether ‘older’ people can provide activities for ‘older’ people and is being carefully observed by Welsh Government and Cardiff Council. So, with energy, eco, education and exercise, The Pound is truly a Centre for the future.
If you would like to volunteer or attend an activity session, you can complete the form available from volunteers in the Heritage Room, contact firstname.lastname@example.org , post to: Llandaff 50+, 2 Cathedral Close, Llandaff, Cardiff CF52ED, or drop a note into the mailbox.
More details are on the website: www.llandaff50plus.com