Round about the beginning of this year I wrote an article in the Grassroots supplement of the Argus about a lady called Dorne Williams setting up a stall in the Pontypool market and how she was hoping to make a success of this new venture.

She called the shop Sweet Williams and it certainly brought quite a lot of glamour to the top end of the market. She always had a huge selection of flowers of all sorts made up into very pretty bouquets and floral decorations. As well as taking orders for delivery locally she also operated a scheme called Flowergram' which can arrange for floral tributes to be sent to any part of the world.

Dorne's business has flourished so well due to her own imagination and hard work that she has was able to move into permanent accommodation in Market Street.

She feels that this will give her a more secure footing in the town and that it will not be long before prospective customers will find her new shop and start to patronise it on a regular basis.

She has deliberately moved in time for the Christmas season and in her usual go getting way has arranged a number of special offers for this special time of the year.

She will combine with another local firm, Chocs Away, and offer a voucher for flowers of whatever sort the customer wants and some original chocolates. There will also be balloons and gifts of many types.

As a special venture Dorne offers a visit to those people who have been recently bereaved and are ordering a wreath for the funeral. She feels that those who have just lost a dearly loved relative can profit from having someone to talk to outside their immediate family.

In typical fashion Dorne is looking forward to the immediate future in her new shop and hopes that you will patronise this jewel in the Pontypool shop crown.

NEWS FROM THE TOWN CENTRE: At long last the premises that used to be the Co-op, and then was Hyper Value, have been completed.

As I reported a few weeks ago large-scale renovations were being carried out throughout the interior including rewiring.

Finally the work was completed and lorries started to arrive bringing a new stock of bedroom furniture of all sorts. The shop is completely filled now with the most attractive looking items some of which are quite expensive.

As was mentioned previously the name of the store has been changed from Bed Maker and it is now called Elephant Beds.

The term elephant is used on one of the windows to remind customers that they never forget to deliver on the same day. In addition they offer a large amount in part exchange.

Over the years the old Hodges building in Crane Street has had a number of occupants but has been empty for some time now. However I notice that the facia board right around the corner of the building has been covered over with white paint as if in readiness for the name of a new occupier.

A couple of firms have had a go at this at running a business from there including a motor spares company and, more recently, a café and take away food outlet.

I wonder what trade the new occupants will ply (if there are to be new people moving in there.)

MULTI INTERNATIONAL AID: The Executive Director of this organisation, Margery Pryce-Jones, recently gave a talk to the Pontypool Retired Men's Society.

It was entitled Russian Street Children' so the members really did not know what to expect.

It turned out that the problem was ten times worse than anyone could have imagined.

Over the years MIA have taken over a number of buildings where orphan children were housed. Unfortunately the latest one, Tula, had been used as a brothel even though it was owned and run by the local police.

Over the last four years MIA have sent in some bedding clothes and food to sustain the children while they sorted out the legal side. This sad place was in a very bad condition. There were no toilets, just four holes in the floor.

The children had taken to relieving themselves in the tress in all weathers.

When they were able to move in they found that conditions were even worse that they had first thought.

The open toilets were all under water, the roof of the basement was leaking like a sieve and the house was freezing cold. A number of gas fires left by MIA previously had all disappeared.

The Principal, who was normally not available when Margery visited, was in fact a 77 year old who had a bad drink problem, He and the rest of the staff were cruel and beat the children. None of the "teachers" had received any training.

A team of 30 courageous men and women from Stockton Heath arrived and pulled out all the stops and in ten days turned the place around and made it into a home fit for the children to live in.

This year 44 Scouts and their Leaders from Wales and the North of England arrived and decorated the premises and sorted out their electrical problems.

They have now discharged the Principal and a number of the teachers.

They have gained their license from the Minister of Education and they have been given a free hand to carry out all renovations on this building and to house and educate the 77 children.

Their biggest triumph has been the fact that over the four years they have had 47 children pass the entrance exam for the local college and this year the 10 children form year 2003 graduated.

MIA now have six orphanages and a baby hospital which is for up to four year olds, six holding centres and a unit in the State Prison in Moscow.

The work that they carry out is very expensive and the donation that the Men's Society made was much appreciated by Margery and the organisation.

She can be contacted at PO Box 182, Newport, South Wales NP20 6YL or on 01633 854732.

GWENT CATS' PROTECTION LEAGUE CHRISTMAS SALE: Loretta Kedward, the Secretary of this group of hard working and enthusiastic band of people tells me that their recent Christmas sale at the village hall in New Inn was very successful.

On this occasion they were blessed with a fine day and they estimated that there were about 50 people who came along to support them and their cause.

A number of them picked up Christmas decorations, gifts and collectable china and jewellery at bargain prices. The Cats' Protection Christmas cards, calendars, diaries and gifts also sold very well indeed.

The tombola was as popular as ever and the huge array of books attracted a lot of interest too.

Loretta has put me right on one important point. I had the impression that they took along some cats for adoption to their sales but evidently this is not so. Instead they hold monthly Cat Adoption Days at various venues throughout the old Gwent area.

They usually take about ten to a dozen cats for prospective owners to see and discuss what is required of them.

When a person chooses a particular cat a home visit is arranged to discuss further the needs of the cat and the responsibility of the prospective owner.

If everything proves to be satisfactory the cat is taken to its new home. Their last Adoption Day for the year 2007 will take place on Sunday, December 9, at Rhiwderin Community Hall starting at 2pm where they hope to secure loving homes for some of their beautiful cats in time for the cat and its new owner to settle in before the Christmas festivities get under way.

At any one time the League has about 30 to 40 cats in their care but this can rise to 80+ during the kitten season in the summer.

Each year they need to raise at least £40,000 to pay for the huge vet bills that they incur and also to buy food and litter. All cats taken into their care are blood tested, neutered, wormed, de-fleaed and checked overall by the vet.

Any problem is treated before the cat is considered to be ready for re-homing.

Therefore they have to hold fundraising events every weekend of the year.

Their last two events of 2007 will be a Christmas Fair at the Ambulance Hall in the Fairfield car park in Abergavenny on Saturday, December 8, and then a Cat Adoption Day on Sunday, December 9, at Rhiwderin.

They are already planning a programme of adoption days, supermarket collections and various sales for 2008. However the worst of the winter weather tends to limit their work hence their frantic activity at the moment.