I was brought up in a small mining community in South Wales. The community there was based around the pit. It was a safe and friendly place to grow up, as everyone knew who’s child you were if you needed any help. The Fry’s factory here in Keynsham had a similar role when I moved here, in 1962 so it felt quite familiar in many ways. It was the major employer then, and most people had a link to it.
I was lucky to be able to take 12 years off work to raise my 3 boys. During that time I became involved in the PTA and was a school governor. I started becoming more involved in the community in 1993/4. Keynsham Community Association (KCA) was established then, and we were trying to find premises for a community space. The old Magistrates Court on Bath Hill was an option offered by Wansdyke District Council but it was knocked down and is now the Jehovah’s Witness’ meeting room. We really wanted space in the centre of town on the parking space which is now Tesco’s but the council were offering the space behind St John’s Church which is still a car park. We reluctantly agreed to accept this offer only to find that the money we had been promised by the Council had already been spent on a new hall in Midsomer Norton.
I taught Maths at Wellsway, and later was involved in teacher training at Bristol Poly. That was a great job which gave me the opportunity to visit schools all over the area . I really enjoyed that part of my life. Meanwhile, I worked on a project to promote community arts and a community newspaper.
I became involved in a creative writing group who wrote what became a musical called “People of Nothing” based on an episode in the life of Keynsham’s Workhouse which stood on the site of our present Health Centre. From a small beginning it ended up as a piece playing to a full house in St John’s Church over 4 nights and involved Wellsway School Orchestra and junior school children as well as many adults. It was a very satisfying project to be involved in.
The Millennium Mosaics project was also a wonderful thing to be involved in. Some of them have gone now, however you can still see a few in Keynsham Park. KCA produced some resources and documentation giving details which was distributed to all local primary schools.
Because I have a history of trying to find community spaces, I volunteered to help in what has become Community at 67. It was a sub-post office, and after it closed, it was offered to the community group Keynsham South Forum. I run a weekly maths club there for years 5 and 6 pupils from any primary school. It’s on Wednesdays from 4-5. I am planning an activity making mathematical mince pies before Christmas.
I have devised a Maths Trail which is based around our Civic Centre trying to show that maths is not just sums and doesn’t have to be done sitting down! The booklets for this can be bought at the Town Council Offices and at Community at 67 and a measuring wheel can be hired.
Last year I lost my husband. I think that my community links have helped me greatly. A lot of people are very alone when they lose someone. — at Keynsham High Street.