MEET THE FRIENDS OF PENLLERGARE
We are the membership part of the Penllergare Trust and were formed as a separate support group within the parent organisation. As part of our social programme we help to raise funds towards the upkeep of Valley Woods while promoting the work of the Trust in all its endeavours.
Friends share their enthusiasm for a project and according to their time and skills, contribute energy and resources to the venture. At Penllergare we have an amazing and dedicated group, many of whom have been with us from the beginning and have seen the gradual realisation of our restoration journey and want to help.
At its heart the Friends of Penllergare is a social group brought together by an interest in a very special place. By attending monthly meetings with guest speakers who give talks about Penllergare and related topics, we further not only our own knowledge of the place, but also spread the word into our communities. The historical background story to Penllergare is of unfailing interest, so also is the natural world of Valley Woods. Trees, birds, wild-flowers and fungi have all been featured talks in recent years, as well as future restoration plans and on-site projects that have recently been completed.
Of course we are! However, our involvement is not all cerebral; cups of coffee, cake, biscuits and chat (dare I include ‘gossip’?) feature highly on the monthly agenda too! There is also the annual visit to another property, museum or garden of interest to look forward to; the popular Concert with Carols at Christmas; a fantastic evening raffle with a myriad quality prizes (the Friends are nothing if not generous!); the occasional quiz; plus promotion and organisation of the jewel in the Friends’ crown, the perennial fundraising Potting Shed Sale.
During summer months we have varied walks in Valley Woods on offer. Sometimes they complement a previously held talk, other times they can be historical, take an aspect of the environment or just walk for sheer enjoyment. Why not come along and stretch your legs with us!
Overseen by the Trust’s Treasurer, and co-ordinated through the Friends’ Action and Advisory Group, the members have control of all the money they raise by their own efforts through events and activities. They decide from a given list where their financial support is needed most. In recent years they have contributed to the construction of the Woodland Centre, repairs to the Trust Landrover, plants for the Rockwork Garden, plus sponsoring leaflet reprinting and redesign of the website.
Not content with the above, a significant star-turn of the Friends’ achievements is the 200 Club. Run as a separate fundraising entity within the Group and open to every member and their extended family and friends, it encourages us all to participate in a monthly draw by having ‘a small flutter’ with a £10 ticket number (or two, or three!) Who has won the monthly draw and how often, is a never-failing topic of conversation, while the Grand Draw for substantial prizes at Christmas generates much excitement in the run-up to the festive season!
However, not all our Friends live near at hand (some are as far away as Scotland, London and Canada!) and not all are able to meet and socialise. We keep in touch with all our members through regular mailouts and online news bulletins. Our lavishly illustrated brochure ‘Pen-Friends’ has become an exemplar in its field, containing articles by founder members, staff and fellow Friends with the added bonus of many fabulous photographs from users of the Woods. During the 2020 pandemic we added ‘Friends in Lockdown’, an online monthly bulletin to replace physical meetings, which looks as if it will run and run – provided everyone keeps contributing!
The quiet underside of the Friends’ work also includes historical research and archiving. Some of our members are intensely interested in the story of the old Penllergare estate and the achievements of the renowned family whose home it was and the people who worked there, and who, for over 200 years, contributed so much to the history of Swansea, to Wales and the World.
With a membership now standing at over 400 individuals, there is still room for many more to join the Penllergare Valley Woods family. Everyone needs their friends, for companionship, support, to offer encouragement and always being there when needed in good times and bad.
Please join us by becoming a Friend of Penllergare Valley Woods and help us make a difference! Join the Friends