A COMMUNITY is in mourning after the death of a tireless local campaigner.

Howard Stone was a pivotal member of the Newbridge community and the main force behind the restoration of landmark Newbridge Memo.

He died on June 26, aged 79, and fulsome tributes have been paid ahead of his funeral service, which takes place in the town tomorrow (see details below). .

South Wales Argus:

(Mr Howard Stone, chairman of the Friends of Newbridge Memo. Picture taken in 2011)

In 2003, Mr Stone helped form the Friends of Newbridge Memo group, becoming chairman and spearheading the campaign to revive the once popular, Grade II listed building, which closed its doors 30 years prior.

Since Mr Stone's death, family, friends and residents of the town have paid tribute to him via the Newbridge Memo Facebook page.

Friend Richard Beavis summed up the feeling of many with his comment: “This man was the heart and soul of the Memo. A kind man with a great passion for this building all his life.

“I am so pleased and proud to have known him. God bless you Howard and rest in peace my friend. Thank you for everything. You will live on in our hearts forever. Sadly missed by me and by us all. Goodnight my friend and thank you.”

Back in 2003, for Mr Stone and his colleagues, the prospect of selling the building to Wetherspoons, or even knocking it down altogether for a car park to be built there, was incomprehensible.

And so began the long road to securing the building's future.

A meeting that same year saw hundreds of people attend to discuss the future of the building.

South Wales Argus:

(Charman of the Friends of Newbridge Memo, Howard Stone, answering questions in a public meeting about the renovation in 2004. Picture taken by Sean Healey)

The work of Mr Stone and the Friends of Newbridge Memo (FNM) saw them compete on BBC2’s Restoration in 2004.

Sadly, the Memo was a runner up in the overall final, however that did not stop Mr Stone from pressing on with his cause.

A comment he would use regularly was: "Nothing happens by sitting back and waiting.

"You make things happen or they don't happen.”

South Wales Argus:

(Friends of Newbridge Memo chairman Howard Stone (seated) with supporters L-R: Barbara Bevan, Tracey Lewis, Beryl Blanche, Malcolm Jones, Liz Hook, Becca Hook and Lyndon Bevan during the campaign for Newbridge Memo on BBC Restoration in 2004)

His dedication also meant that mementos from the building’s early years were returned to the committee, ready to be put in their rightful places once the restoration was complete.

An open day in 2004 allowed people to experience the building for the first time or relive their youth at the building. Mr Stone said that he believed a generation had already missed out on the beauty of the Memo.

On restoring the building he said: “We have to make this happen for the future in Newbridge and our children."

South Wales Argus:

(Finance Minister Jane Hutt visits Newbridge to announce EU Funding support for regeneration in Caerphilly. Pictured centre left is Howard Stone, Chair of Trustee's chatting to the Minister about building regeneration.)

Mr Stone and the FNM applied for £3.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008 but were turned down.

This led to then Islwyn MP Don Touhig calling for a debate at the House of Commons on the issue. At the time, Mr Stone believed that workingmen’s clubs and social history is being overlooked nationally and that he hoped the debate will air this.

South Wales Argus:

(RECOGNITION: From left, Howard Stone, Lord Lieutenant of Gwent Sir Simon Boyle and Barbara Bevan at a ceremony.)

He also showed his passion and commitment to the project by saying that the FNM will not give up their fight to restore the building and would again apply for Heritage Lottery Funding later that year.


While celebrating the centenary of the building in 2008, more funding was applied for as Mr Stone and the FNM committee went to the Big Lottery and they had been rewarded for their efforts with CADW and the Assembly both promising funding.

In 2010 the battle was almost over after winning £2.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Mr Stone said the money turned "what was once a dream into a reality", describing the seven-year fight for funding "a long old road, but we got there in the end".

December 2014 saw the hard work pay off as Prince Charles returned to the Memo to unveil a new plaque following the completion of the renovation works.

South Wales Argus:

(Howard Stone (R) is pictured with HRH Prince Charles on stage in the newly refurbished auditorium in December 2014)

Other people who commented in tribute to Mr Stone made reference to his teaching of lifesaving skills, of how he taught many to be a better person as a scout leader, and how his words and teachings have stayed with them.

South Wales Argus:

(HONOUR: L-R: Alan Parker (Hon. Secretary of Royal British Legion Newbridge); Nick Hayes (co-producer of the books); Ken Merriott (local Poppy Appeal organiser and RBL Newbridge); Chris Evans MP; Howard Stone (Chair of Newbridge Memo Trustees); Squadron Leader Roger Beech (Chairman of RBL Newbridge); and Lieutenant Colonel Mike Harry DL)

Mr Stones' funeral will be held on Thursday, July 11 at 12.15pm in St Paul's Church, Newbridge. This will be followed by committal at the Gwent Crematorium, Croesyceiliog.

Only family flowers have been requested, and donations in lieu to British Heart Foundation care of the funeral home will be accepted.