Moylgrove, in the north of the county, is a pretty little place with a community of about 200 people, many of whom have a keen interest and involvement with the community centre. Quite a high percentage of the local people are incomers who first discovered this lovely spot while holidaying here, and couldn’t bear to leave.
Like so many of these centres in Pembrokeshire the original building was the village school, built by the community in 1868 and closed in 2003. Cymdeithas Trewyddel, the committee which had originally been set up to campaign against the closure, became a social organization, holding parties and other local events. In 2007 it acquired the old school building and formed plans for its refurbishment as a community centre.
Three of the ten voluntary trustees who have come out to meet me, Kingsley Chesworth, Anne Graves and Kathy Slark, describe its poor condition at the time, with dry and wet rot and no adequate heating.
The villagers have only the Poppit Rocket for transport out, or must rely upon the goodwill of neighbours for lifts. There is no pub or shop and without the Hall, no place to gather, so they came together, sought advice, acquired funding and brought the building back from the brink.
“It needed a new roof, new electrics and a great deal of work to turn it into the comfortable and flexible centre that it is today,” Kingsley explains; and they have done a great job.
There are no paid workers at Moylgrove Old School Hall. The 25 to 30 volunteers, many of whom are retired, keep everything in order.
The place consists of a main hall, once the schoolroom. It is big enough to seat 70 people at tables or 100 in rows. The echo reducing measures the local people have put in go a long way to improving the acoustics for everyone, especially people with hearing difficulties. There is no hearing loop as yet, but the Trustees have considered installing one. They have an excellent sound system.
There is also a comfortable meeting room with a large corner sofa and table, a store room where short mat bowls and other equipment can be stored. There has been a grant for the bowls which is very popular in the village.
A large well-equipped kitchen is also available for hire.
There is level disabled access to the hall, disabled loos, and parking for about twenty cars. Outside, a newly renovated seating area makes a great social space with a lovely view of this beautiful area. This was funded by the County Council’s Enhancing Pembrokeshire grant.
I am told that the centre is in constant use by a variety of clubs, including table tennis, fitness, both English and Welsh literary groups, crafts, coffee mornings, meetings, talks, Singing for Fun, and other social events, like the tea parties and the music events that draw people from a wide surrounding area.
An editorial committee of seven produces a very fine newsletter two or three times a year. They kindly give me a copy of the latest July edition and it includes both English and Welsh articles on a range of news and views. They also have a booklet on the history of the old Moylgrove school which includes fascinating pictures of pupils who once attended.
Some of these historical images decorate the main hall, along with a delightful tapestry that has been created locally to depict life in the village.
I am told that one of the best things about the village and the centre is how many people are involved in making it work. Everything is run by committed volunteers who give so much of their time to be of service.
I am asked to mention one volunteer in particular who, I am assured, is a mainstay of the community, always somewhere in the background giving a helping hand. Vanessa Woodcock, they tell me, is a marvel, tending the flowers, organising garden visits locally, and instrumental in setting up the short mat bowls.
“Everyone has their heart in the village,” I am told; and the community centre is where those hearts come together: both those who have made their permanent home here, and the people for whom this is a retreat from their other lives. All are welcome.
Website for information, events, and booking the hall: https://moylgrove.wales; Facebook: https://facebook.com/moylegrove Enquiries: 0845 519 2791 0000