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Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 -2020

Commemorative tree planted for celebrated Swansea poet

Commemorative tree planted for celebrated Swansea poet
Commemorative tree planted for celebrated Swansea poet

The Community celebrated poet Vernon Watkins loved to call home has honoured the 50th anniversary of his death with the planting of a commemorative tree.

Watkins, a member of the famous Kardomah Gang of young artists which also included Dylan Thomas, lived in the Gower village of Pennard.

 And on Thursday his wife, Gwen Watkins, was guest of honour at the official tree planting in the grounds of Pennard Primary School. The memorial stone which will accompany it will include words chosen by Gwen, saying ‘Tree of beginning, Autumns tree Divine imaginations tree’

 

Susan Rodaway of the Swansea Rural Community Voice project said the commemorative tree is being accompanied by an ornamental stone and information board.

She said: 

“The Swansea Rural Community Voice project is built around a digital platform provided by VocalEyes Digital Democracy. This provides local people with the ability to post ideas, rate and debate them, providing opportunities for people and organisations from across the community to work together to make the best ones happen. 

 “When the Vernon Watkins tree was suggested by local business, Gower Unearthed, as part of their Vernon project, it shot straight to the top of the ratings chart. 

 

“Thanks to the local community, and many organisations including The Gower Society, The Gower Landscape Partnership, Pennard Community Council and VocalEyes we raised the money for the stone. The tree, a silver birch, has been donated by Pennard Stores.”

 She said:

“The 50th anniversary of Vernon’s death also coincided with the 50th anniversary of Pennard Primary and Pennard library, so it’s become a tremendous opportunity for the community to collaborate and celebrate an event that will stand the test of time. 

 “Gower Unearthed have run several workshops at Pennard Primary. The children have learned about Vernon Watkins and have produced a magnificent Poetry-tree”

 Swansea Council has also been backing the project and Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Major Projects, said: 

“Pennard is a thriving community in the heart of Gower and it’s fantastic to see people joining forces and giving real meaning to a significant event in their history.

 “While Vernon Watkins is a favourite son of Swansea and his story is part of our city’s story. But to the people of Pennard he is a local hero and the tree planted in his memory is a testimony to that.”

 

The Swansea Rural Community Voice project is up and running in all eight rural wards of Swansea (Bishopston, Pennard, Gower, Fairwood, Penclawdd, Pontarddulais, Llangyfelach and Mawr) All members of these communities can register to have their voice heard at www.vocaleyes.org

 

The project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

 

And for more information about its work on Gower, please go to www.vocaleyes.org.  

 

Gower Unearthed is funded by the Gower Landscape Partnership to engage the community with the cultural heritage of our local area. 

 

Through its project ‘Flux of light script of the stones’ they have interpreted and celebrated the life and work of Vernon Watkins. We have looked at Gower from the sea and land. 

 

Groups and individuals Gower Unearthed have engaged are: YMCA LGBTFG, Swansea Arts society, artist David Marchant, actor Adrian Metcalfe, local historian Gary Gregor and Pennard primary school. 

 

All contributors have created art poetry and song to display in the local and wider community in further exhibitions and a launch festival event. In working with the support of other groups we can enjoy and ensure a lasting legacy preserving Heritage for the next generation. 

 

There will be a yearly event run from Three cliffs coffee shop that ensures Vernon Watkins has a permanent place in our yearly calendar.