POET OF PONTYPOOL 2008: It is that time of the year again when all the local purveyors of words gird up their inventive brains and produce the poem that is going to walk away with the first prize.

The competition, which is sponsored by the Pontypool Community Council, in conjunction with Torfaen County Borough Council, is for two groups, that is for those over 18 years of age (no upper age limit) and the Junior Poet of Pontypool for 11 to 18-year-olds. Entrants in the latter section are required to state their age.

RULES AND CONDITIONS Only ONE poem per entrant. Poems not to exceed 30 lines. All entrants MUST live in the Torfaen area. There is NO entry fee. Entrant's name must not appear on the poem but poems must be covered by a letter containing:- YOUR FULL NAME AND TITLE YOUR ADDRESS THE TITLE OF THE POEM Entries can only be returned if accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope.

Poems are to be based on the topic: "ETERNAL OPTIMIST"

The panel of judges will be made up of one nominee from each of the following: Pontypool Community Council, Pontypool District Writers and Torfaen Library Service.

Entries to be submitted in a sealed envelope addressed to: POET OF PONTYPOOL PONTYPOOL COMMUNITY COUNCIL 35A COMMERCIAL STREET PONTYPOOL TORFAEN NP4 6JQ The closing date is Friday, June 6, 2008, at 4.30pm.

The results will be announced at a "Presentation Poets and Pints Evening" at the Pontypool Heritage Museum on Thursday, July 10, 2008.

Prize winners will be asked to read their winning poems at the Presentation Evening. Winning poems may also be published in the local Press.

As well as trophies for the first prize winners there will be monetary prizes for both competitions as follows:- 1st PRIZE - £25.00, 2ND PRIZE - £15.00, 3RD PRIZE - £10.00.

RGH AND SWH CARDIOLOGY FUND: This organisation, based at the Royal Gwent and St Woolo's hospitals are aiming to hit the the £1,000,000 mark when their next event has taken place.

That is on Bank Holiday Monday, May 26, when their New Cardiology Fun Run/ Walk for 2008 takes place. They emphasise that fancy dress is optional.

Due to the redevelopment of the Civil Service Grounds, where their run usually takes place, this year's event will start at Tredegar Park, entering at the Ebbw Bridge entrance on Cardiff Road.

The full route is about 5K, around Tredegar Park under the motorway bridge, over the public footpath on the old golf course and back around the perimeter of the playing fields. The shorter route is just around the grounds of Tredegar Park.

Medals will be presented to all finishers and T shirts will be given to all those who pay for entry to the longer walk/run.

The entry fees are for the long route, £6.50 before the day and £8.00 on the day and the shorter route £3.50 before the day and £4.00 on the day.

Entry forms are available from 01633 234308 answer phone or from the Outpatients' Department at the Gwent of reception at the Cardiology Department and local leisure centres.

It could be made into a safe family day out, as there is crazy golf, pirate boat water feature and other facilities, which are supplied at the park by Newport Borough Council and will be open over that weekend, There will be a £20.00 prize for the best fancy dress walker/runner on the day.

Prizes will also be presented to entrants raising the most sponsorship monies in both the categories.

FUTURE FUNDRAISING EVENTS: Following the Walk/Run the group's annual prize draw will take place on Thursday 26th June. Tickets are 25p each or £1.00 a book. If you could sell a few books of tickets please contact Newport 234308.

The Bike Ride follows on Sunday 14th September and then there is the Christmas Bazaar at the hospital on Saturday, November 29.

The Fund is always looking for people to join their band of fund raisers so if you have a few hours to spare weekly or even monthly contact them at the number shown previously.

The Fund is always grateful to receive donations of money in lieu of flowers from families and friends in memory of their loved ones.

SHORT HISTORY OF THE FUND: It was started by Dr John Davies. Money is raised by their Fun Run, Bike Ride, Prize Draw and Christmas Bazaar coupled with donations in memory of loved ones. They purchase equipment for the Cardiology Department which benefits all heart patients from all over the County.

They are all volunteers and have suffered from heart problems or have relatives who have. All these items are above those that are supplied by the NHS. They have also helped Caerphilly Miners hospital.

PONTYPOOL TOWN HERITAGE TRAIL: I picked up a very attractive leaflet from the library the other day. It described a suggested walk around the town centre starting from the museum and finishing at the NatWest Bank.

The impressive part of the contents is the lovely pictures of buildings in the town, which, unless you make a particular point of looking up at them, you forget how impressive some of the older buildings really are. Again there are very informative pieces under each of the pictures. Ones that bear a second look include the old Cooperative Society Store, now occupied by the Elephant Bedding Company, which I must admit I remember being built in 1938, the frontage of the Library which was built in 1908 with financial support from Andrew Carnegie, a US steel magnate who gave millions of dollars to the free library movement.

Then, of course, there is the Clarence Hotel, erected in 1825 and named after the Duke of Clarence, who later became William IV, the Town Hall which is described as a as an Italian style building and was donated to the town to commemorate the birth of his son and heir.

He was Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire at the time and was aged 77. I am not too sure whether the writer is amazed at the fact that he was still Lord Lieutenant at the age of 77 or that he had fathered a son at that rather advanced age.

The entrance to the market is shown as having been constructed in 1840. I am not too clear where the entrance led to, for the photo of the market hall shows it as being opened in 1894.

The four banks in the town are obvious choices and the oldest is Lloyd's, which was built in 1857 and is described as being in Italianate Palazzo style and then the HSBC, which is "classical in style with four bays, ionic columns and balustraded parapet. I wonder if the staff working in there have ever realised just how unusual their building is.

The description of Barclay's says that it exploits this angled site to best advantage with a bowed frontage crowned by a doubled dormer and a steep conical roof.

There is no description of the Natwest Bank but there is a potted history of the Bristol Beerhouse, which stood next to it. Here, William Jones, the owner, set up a Workingmen's Association to campaign against poor pay and working conditions.

They took part in the Chartists' march on Newport in 1839. They arrived after the failed attack on the Westgate Hotel and Jones escaped to the hills above Pontypool but was arrested a week later. With the other leaders, John Frost and Zephaniah Williams, he was sentenced to death but they were reprieved and were transported to Tasmania. Evidently the Beerhouse was demolished as recently as 1951.

One of the oldest buildings is described as the Corn Market which was where Hughes the stationers used to trade. There are two memorial plaques at the first floor level commemorating, in English and Welsh, Frances Bray, Lady of the Manor of Wentsland and Bryngwyn, who built the market house in 1730.

This pamphlet really is worth while picking up as it contains so much of the history of our town.