TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Gwent man who helped to transform a church in Torfaen from a small congregation to one which now regularly welcomes 200 worshippers.

Peter Sweeting, the first-ever elder at Noddfa Church in Abersychan, where he worshipped all his life, died last month aged 67 after contracting coronavirus.

Hundreds lined the streets in the town on Friday to pay their respects to a the former Usk College lecturer, who the church's Pastor John Funnell described as a “local hero”.

Watch the parade and service for Peter Sweeting here

Steadfast in his community work, Mr Sweeting – who worked at Pontypool Museum right up until his death, delivered countless food parcels to the most vulnerable in Torfaen during the pandemic.

He died in hospital on February 14 after three weeks in intensive care at the Grange University Hospital, a month after becoming ill with coronavirus symptoms.

South Wales Argus: Outside Noddfa Church on the day of Mr Sweeting's funeral

Outside Noddfa Church on the day of Mr Sweeting's funeral

Wife Sandra Sweeting, also an avid Noddfa churchgoer who had been with Mr Sweeting since they were 15, said he was the kindest man she had ever known, and her best friend. This year was their golden wedding anniversary.

Mr Sweeting is survived by a large family including his seven children and six grandchildren.

South Wales Argus: Mr Sweeting during the pandemic

Mr Sweeting during the pandemic

“I am told I met Peter when we were in pushchairs as babies, but I became his girlfriend when I was 15,” Mrs Sweeting said. “We both attended Noddfa as small children, and haven’t stopped. His faith always meant a great deal to him.”

Mr Sweeting kept the church open when it was at its lowest ebb in its 200-year history in 2013, with a congregation at one point as small as seven people.


After the deacon left, Mr Sweeting often held services himself at the almost empty church, and asked part-time preachers to hold services every Sunday.

On one particular Sunday seven years ago, he asked Pastor John to hold a service, and both hit it off immediately.

Since, with Mr Sweeting as his right-hand man, the duo transformed the church to one facing imminent closure to welcoming more than 100 worshippers every week, with a large Sunday school and a youth group.

The church is now also famed for ‘Carols Under The Arch’, which welcomes more than one thousand visitors each year, and has served hundreds of families with a variety of community services.

South Wales Argus: Pastor John at Noddfa Church

Pastor John at Noddfa Church

Pastor John said: “Peter was active and healthy, enjoyed climbing and hiking, and was heavily involved in the church.

“He supported the church’s homeless ministry, the Foodshare program, and he ran the youth club for more than four decades.

“We thank God for Peter’s faith and commitment over the years, and rejoice that he got to see the fruits of his labour. Well done good and faithful servant.”

South Wales Argus: Mr Sweeting and Jill Hobbs as WW2 workshop tutors

Peter Sweeting and Jill Hobbs as WW2 workshop tutors

Mrs Sweeting said her husband was a “humble and modest man” who would have been overwhelmed by the response on the day of his funeral.

“I was so heartened to see so many people there, I hadn’t even realised how well thought of he was,” she said.

“I’ve since seen more than one thousand people have watched the service online. I don’t think I even know one thousand people. It’s remarkable. The tributes have been amazing and truly heartwarming.

“He was extremely modest, and always thought of himself as a small cog in a big wheel. We were very blessed to have him in our lives. He was a kind man, a wonderful father, and my best friend.”