Community Spirit – Alive and Thriving in Barry
2016…uggghhhh…we lost Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood and Ronnie Corbett to name a few, we voted for Brexit and the States chose Trump, Wales just missed out on a place in the Euros final and Barry continued to be a totally awful place to live, with terrible people and no sense of community spirit.
Oh wait, hang on, that last bit isn’t true.
On the contrary, 2016 has continued to prove why Barry is such an amazing place to live. Whether you’ve been here since your birthday suit days or are a newcomer, I would hope you’ve had at least one experience this year that has made you feel proud to be part of the town and happy to be living here. If you’re struggling, here’s some reminders of the huge amount of goodwill, generosity and community spirit generated over the last 12 months.
1. The Phantom Water Fountain Painters
A calm summer’s evening back in July and suddenly social media went crazy. Three guerrilla painters had been spotted over the Knap, giving the water fountain in the Gardens a makeover. Dressed in what can only be described as 1990s rave couture (hi viz boiler suits and stiletto heels), the three ladies in question had decided to make a night of it, sipping on el vino collapso as they completed the task. The finished product was amazing and made me feel very proud that people in the town are willing to take matters into their own hands and at their own cost to make a positive difference.
2. Ovarian Cancer campaigning
In May 2016, ovarian cancer campaigner Lesley Woolcock sadly lost her battle with the disease. Lesley remained positive and continued her fundraising and campaigning right up until the end, organising a Celebration of Life party on receiving her terminal diagnosis and a Ladies Day fundraiser right before she died, raising over £2000. Even in death Lesley’s legacy continues with her family and friends carrying on her great work. A fashion show organised by The Queen B boutique raised another £2000 and the ‘Light Up for Lesley’ event in November at Barry Cemetery was attended by over 300 people. Lesley’s sister Alison told me that she truly believed in community spirit and loved anything that showed the positive side of Barry or brought people together. What a great philosophy.
— CancerResearchWales (@cancer_wales) November 15, 2016
3. Barry dentist scales new heights and polishes up on his climbing skills
Only in a town like Barry could a man who inflicts pain on people for a living raise over £5,000 from its residents. Many people will know Kenneth Chow from his time at Patrick Daly Dental Practice and in November this year he climbed to Everest Base Camp for his chosen charity, Bridge2Aid. Ken told me that the majority of his fundraising had come from Barry residents, many of whom didn’t even know him. Ken was really touched by the generosity of the Barry community. It didn’t stop him moving to Porthcawl though did it?
Come back Ken, all is forgiven!
— Ken Chow (@kenchow1981) November 26, 2016
4. Rubbish left by beach visitors is rubbish, but gets sorted
Remember the summer, you know, that one week of temperatures above 15 degrees we had back in July? If yes, you’ll also remember the outcry at the mess left on the beach by visitors. It was a terrible way for Barry Island to be portrayed in the media, but the actions of two Barry residents, Hannah Andrews and Sian Brooks, meant the focus quickly turned positive after the girls organised an impromptu litter pick along the shoreline. The story was picked up by social media and quickly spread across South Wales. It also prompted a response from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and I’m hopeful such scenes won’t be repeated in 2017.
On a similar note, Friends of Barry Beaches turned six. FOBB is a great community organisation, run entirely by volunteers. They organise monthly litter picks and do a tremendous amount to ensure the impact of beach visitors who can’t manage to put their rubbish in a bin is kept to a minimum. Happy birthday FOBB and thanks for all your hard work!
— O'shea's fish & chip (@Osheascafe) July 19, 2016
5. Park Run goes from strength to strength
The Barry Island Park Run started in May 2015 and for the last 84 weeks, without fail, the event has proceeded and allowed seasoned runners and newbies alike the opportunity to participate in a free, timed 5km run on a Saturday morning. I’m a huge advocate for the power of running (or any exercise really) on positive mental wellbeing and the fact that week in week out at least 16 volunteers have given up their time in 2016 to ensure the event takes place in Barry is incredible. The Barry Island Park Run team are always on the lookout for more help and participants – take a look at www.parkrun.org.uk/barryisland. There’s an extra run on 1 st January 2017 at 10:30 – the ideal start to that New Year fitness regime!
6. Craig’s Corner opens for business
Local resident Bette Sim was delighted to open her Craig’s Corner charity shop in new premises at 254 Holton Road in September, having been running it out of her house in recent times. The shop aims to cater for Barry’s most vulnerable residents and offers clothes and household items for those most in need at prices far below normal charity shops. All of the money raised goes to Bette’s chosen charity, Coffee4Craig. Great work Bette!
7. Barry Round Table
Barry Round Table continued to “do more” for the town throughout 2016, including producing a charity calendar featuring some fantastic shots of Barry (£5, ideal stocking filler!). Having secured exclusive access to Santa, they are also out and about in December on his sleigh, coming to a street near you soon to raise funds for local good causes.
8. Academy Espresso Bar breaks the internet
At 10:12 am on 7 th December Academy Espresso Bar did something that encapsulates everything I love about Barry. Their announcement that they would be opening on Christmas morning for the homeless, vulnerable, elderly or those on their own sent social media into overdrive (865 shares on Facebook alone). Offers of help came far and wide and Barry really came into its own. By 5pm all the volunteer slots had been filled and other local businesses had offered help including Bay 5 Coffee and Vale Cake Boutique. Dru’s interview with The Daily Vale brought a lump to my throat when he explained the thinking behind it. We are a town full of amazing people and this proves the point perfectly. Merry Christmas to all involved.
9. London Marathon fundraising
Ok, so this is personal to me, but definitely worth a mention. I secured a place in the 2016 Virgin London Marathon with a target of raising £1600 by April 24 th , race day, for my chosen charity, the PSP Association. Chances are you have never heard of it, let alone felt the urge to donate money. Nevertheless, through the incredible generosity of the town and the help of some very special people, I hit the target by mid-March. A skittles tournament raised £900 in late January, a collection at a family birthday party garnered another £200 and a series of raffles at The Park on Six Nations days ensured my last few weeks of training weren’t hampered by worries of not making the grade. A huge thank you to anyone who spared cash, you don’t know how much it meant to me.