LOCAL AUTHORITY WORLD HERITAGE FORUM FOR UK: The chairman of Blaenavon World Heritage Committee, Mr Neil Lewis, has recently retired from chairing the local authority World Heritage Forum for the United Kingdom.

Neil retired from the forum after losing his seat on Torfaen CBC in May.

He chaired the body for 18 months, and has told me that he felt privileged to take on the role, and he took great pleasure in promoting Blaenavon and its World Heritage status during that time.

Neil travelled regularly to meetings at various World Heritage sites in the UK, and also attended meetings at the House of Lords and the House of Commons, where he was proud to make a speech about the Blaenavon World Heritage site.

Neil also attended a wonderful dinner at the Reform Club, in London, where he felt honoured and extremely privileged to be one of the guest speakers.

His speech followed that of Torfaen’s MP Paul Murphy, and Neil says it was an amazing experience to be there speaking as a Blaenavon man, telling the fascinating story of our industrial past and it’s achievement in becoming a World Heritage Site.

He has been invited to remain a member of the forum, as past chairman, which he has agreed to do.

The local authority W H Forum is an excellent organisation, which actively promotes World Heritage sites, lobbies for funding and exchanges ideas within the membership.

Westminster government gives no financial aid to World Heritage sites, however, the Welsh Assembly has supported the Blaenavon site both physically and financially.

Neil wishes to remind us all that World Heritage status has been a means to regenerate Blaenavon, also how important it is for our children’s children to understand Blaenavon’s part in the Industrial Revolution and its fantastic story which is a story about ‘people’, as opposed to ‘buildings’.

Neil also tells me that Blaenavon is the first World Heritage site to have its own centre, the newest member of the UK Forum leading the way forward in that area.

Blaenavon schoolchildren were asked to express their view of our Heritage Site in poetry, and the poem, see below, by a pupil from St Peter’s Church in Wales Primary School, is one that Neil particularly likes, and he has read it out during speeches on several occasions.

Neil has also recently received a letter from David Wright, MP for Telford, thanking him for his work for the local authority WH Forum UK.

The letter was sent on behalf of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary World Heritage Policy Forum.

HERITAGE There are many heritage sites all over the world, they are all very special places, built by many races. The Statue of Liberty in the USA, built 200 years or so to the day.

One of my favourites is the Taj Mahal, a beautiful palace in my mind, but now I know it’s a tomb built by a man so kind, he tried so hard to build a beautiful grave.

The Pyramids in Egypt, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the face of a lover that is the Mona Lisa.

The Great Wall of China is another landmark, it tells of an empire of man and their might, definitely a worthy World Heritage site.

But, what of Blaenavon? Is it equal to these?

Not yet, so far, but soon to be, please.

A Pupil, St Peter’s School BLAENAVON WORKMAN’S HALL: Contradictory to recent reports, I would like to point out that there IS access to Blaenavon Workman’s Hall for everybody, able-bodied or with mobility problems.

Although there are steps up to the main entrance and foyer, there is a side entrance with an area for parking for disabled visitors.

The side entrance has no steps and is situated a short distance away from the lift.

A notice on the front railings of the hall advises of the side entrance and disabled parking area, and there is a sign in the main foyer showing the lift facility.

Committee members on duty at the Workman’s Hall are always pleased to help visitors use the lift.

Do come and visit and enjoy the refurbished facilities at Blaenavon Workman’s Hall, everyone is welcome, of all ages and mobilities.

BLAENAVON LANDSCAPES: Andrew and Stephanie Nummelin , of Browning Books, 33 Broad Street, Blaenavon, are hosting an exhibition entitled ‘Blaenavon Landscapes’ during the month of August.

The paintings of Blaenavon in oil and other media are all the work of Louella Gwillim, who lives in Blaenavon and is inspIred by the area.

Louella has exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art, London, at its ‘Summer Exhibition’, and she also teaches, holding life drawing classes in Abergavenny.

Her work is is figurative; simple views, not traditional, often with an unexpected alternative view of the subject.

You can view this exhibition ‘Upstairs at Brownings’, from 10am to 5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, August 2 to August 30.

Telephone 01495 790089 for details.

PONTYPOOL AND BLAENAVON RAILWAY: Fans of Ivor the Engine will be pleased to know that everyone’s favourite little steam engine will be back in Blaenavon again in August.

If you visit the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, on Saturday, August 8 or Sunday August 10, at Furnace Sidings, Blaenavon, you will be able to see Ivor, along with his friends Idris the Dragon and Alice the Elephant.

Train rides from Furnace Sidings to the Whistle Inn run every half-hour from 11am to 5pm.

Tickets are £3 for children and £5 for adults and you can ride all day, if you wish.

There will also be competitions and free gifts for the children.

Telephone 01495 792263, or website http:/www.pontypool-and-blaenavon.co.uk/ for further details.