GWENT CAT SOCIETY: The secretary of this society, Loretta Kedward, has asked me to publicise their forthcoming Cat Adoption day, which is to be held at Panteg Public Hall on Sunday, March 16, starting at 2pm.

Loretta tells me that many of the beautiful cats currently in care will be there, and will be available for re-homing on the day or in the days immediately following.

Prospective new owners can chat to the fosterers and find out which cat would be the perfect one for them.

There will be many lovely cats of all ages, and all with sad histories, just waiting for a happy new start in life, so please come along and help them to a brighter future.

There will be stalls selling Cats Protection goods and cat items. Refreshments will be available at reasonable prices.

For any enquiries, please ring 01633 895223, or visit A BUSY YEAR SO FAR: The year 2008 has certainly been a busy time for the branch so far as they have had to relocate about 80 cats from the Alphasteel Plant when it closed down in Newport.

They do occasionally move small numbers of feral cats to new outdoor homes where possible, but, due to the already high numbers of feral colonies in their area, suitable homes are few and far between.

This was, therefore, a huge operation for their small band of volunteers to tackle.

The South Wales Argus very kindly highlighted the problems, and they received many calls offering outdoor homes for the cats and a great deal of food was donated.

There are now just a small number remaining on site, and they are being trapped and neutered ready to be moved.

The volunteers have spent many hours patiently trapping over 60 of the cats so far. All have full-time jobs, but they took leave days off and also spent their own time at evenings and weekends to get the job done as quickly as possible.

This unusual situation of so many cats having to be dealt with attracted much media interest, and was featured on BBC Wales' Today news programme, and also being filmed by Channel Five for their current series of Animal Rescue Squad.

Despite all this extra activity, the branch has still be kept busy organising Adoption Day' and various sales and collections to keep their finances on an even keel, and to try to find homes for their beautiful domestic cats in care.

In the last two months several disabled cats and those needing special homes have been brought in. Percy had been kicked and suffered a broken shoulder, Honey had to have an eye removed, and Coke whose leg had to be amputated.

All these cats, and many others, have had a second chance and are now enjoying life in their new homes.

The successful outcome for those cats is what makes all their hard work so rewarding Hopefully, the number of unwanted cats and kittens will come down in the future as a result of the increasing number of calls to their new neutering line 01495 772181, where owners can request a neutering voucher, which is then sent to the vet of their choice.

NEWS OF THE PARK: The Park really is the gem of the town, and I know of many other towns which would give their eyes to have such a splendid facility bang in their centre.

Walking past there the other day I was struck by the wonderful show of pretty flowers just inside the memorial gates. They are in stark contrast to the wreaths commemorating Armistice Day hanging on the gates.

They look rather tatty, and it would be more of a tribute to the Fallen' to remove them. After all, it is three months since they were first hung there.

On the opposite side of the road there is still no sign of the contractors arriving to start work on the Civic Centre.

A chap came up to me in the library when I was having my daily free read of the sports pages of the morning paper, and asked if I was the fellow who writes in Grassroots.

I confirmed that, and he told me the tale of a stone turtle or tortoise that had always been in the park just before the bridge. I remembered it well.

However, he said that he had been looking for it, as it had disappeared. He found it in the entrance to the tunnel that used to be used as an air raid shelter during the war.

It intrigued both of us how it could have got there, as it would be too heavy for one person to carry and too awkward for two. Again who had been that bothered to move it?

I found it where he said it was, but that also gave me the opportunity to see the great job that the park staff have made of the flowerbeds in the Italian gardens, and those spaces with shrubs inside their wooden fences.

THE FOUNTAIN: The one remaining eyesore in the Italian gardens is the old fountain. For years now it has been laid out ready to be restored to its former glory, but has remained as a big concrete monstrosity.

I was beginning to despair of the area ever being seen to, when, out of the blue, came a letter from Edith Price, the secretary of artREGEn, with a report on the proposed restoration and refurbishment of the fountain. She agreed that it is in a sad state, especially in such a prominent area.

Torfaen County Borough Council, artREGEN and Torfaen Museum Trust are joining forces to refurbish the fountain and pool.

They feel that Pontypool will benefit if the Gardens were once more a place of beauty. This is especially so now that the town centre is due for a major renovation, and the fountain would form a focal point within the Gardens.

An artist/sculptor will be employed to design the pool area, the pool itself and to reinstate and embellish the fountain.

Information on the progress of the project will be given to the public by way of "Road Shows" and advertised at various venues. Community groups will be invited to help the artist in the constructional work.

HISTORY OF THE ITALIAN GARDENS: It seems that there is very little information on how the gardens and fountain looked when they were created in the latter half of the 19th century.

There are Hanbury Gardens near Genoa on which the Italian Gardens in Pontypool were based. They are now in the care of the University of Genoa.

They are still in prime condition, and could possibly be a source of inspiration to the artist.

If you have any photographs, postcards or information on the early days of the Gardens, or are interested in their refurbishment, please contact Pontypool Museum, on 01495 752036.

As always, funds will have to be found for the project, but the Group think it will prove to be worthwhile and well worth the effort.

OPERA IN THE PARK: You will remember that this event was dead in the water as the Arts Council for Wales decided that they could not support it.

ArtREGEN felt that they were not on sufficiently sound financial ground to present it in 2008, but Torfaen County Borough Council came to the rescue and agreed to underwrite the event.

Again the Group have undertaken to find as much money as they can by their own efforts, and so, as Edith says, "We will be on the scrounge again."

The event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 15, and I will let you all know the details of the programme when I receive them.

LIGHTS ON THE RING: This was a third instance of Torfaen County Borough Council coming to the aid of local organisations.

As readers might have gathered over the years, another of my consuming interests in the town is Pontypool Rugby Club, having followed them since they reformed after the war in 1946.

I was dismayed to hear that the floodlights around the ring were not considered to be up to the standard required to pass the criteria required by the Welsh Rugby Union, for clubs in the First Division to be promoted to the Premier Division.

This was a real blow, as I had understood that the club had cleared every other hurdle.

It soon became obvious that the rugby club could not afford the large amount necessary to update the lighting, which was when they approached the council, to whom the ground actually belongs.

Council Leader, Bob Wellington recognised it as an emergency situation and spoke to the local councillors who gathered all the help they could.

In the end, it was agreed that they would pay for the lights, and there was an official launch when Mr Wellington and his deputy, Lewis Jones, and councillors John Marshall and Lyn Irwin met club directors, Merrill and Frank Stanton at the Park.

The council is constantly criticised for many failings, but it does seem odd that when they use their money in constructive ways for the people of the town, there is no officer or councillor who is personally responsible to tell the public of what they have done.

These three instances of the council's generosity I have had to gather up from many different sources.