REPRESENTATIVES from the emergency services and community groups who have supported people in their areas throughout the coronavirus pandemic attended a 'thank you' event in Pontypool today, on the 73rd birthday of the NHS.

Pontypool Community Council leader Cllr Gaynor James organised the event at the Italian Gardens, where a tree was planted last February to provide a lasting tribute to the work of NHS, key workers and volunteers.

“I had the tree planted back in February, during lockdown. I wanted something for the NHS and key workers and all the volunteers to say thank you,” said Cllr James.

“It’s absolutely amazing to actually thank them in person. I just wish that we could have had a bigger party and thanked more because there’s just thousands all over the country.

“It’s a mixture here of people from all walks of the NHS, volunteers, key workers, so if I say thank you to them, it’s saying thank you to all of them in the country.”


Lorna Virgo, from the Griffithstown coronavirus support group, which runs the Panteg House food bank, said: “It’s really lovely to be involved in today’s event.

“We have so many volunteers that have helped us since the beginning of lockdown, and for all the other groups that have been involved today, it’s really nice.

“It’s not over, but we are hoping to adapt in to whatever the new normal is. It’s not just about lockdown and covid now, it’s about being there to support the community longer-term.”

South Wales Argus:

Cakes and refreshments to say thank you to key workers and NHS staff at Pontypool Park

Cllr Matt Ford, vice chairman of Pontypool Community Council, and member of staff at Crownbridge Special School, said: “From a teacher’s point of view, even though a lot of teachers weren’t in school, they were still working – even when teaching their own children at home they were planning lessons for their classes.

“A lot of work went on in education that was not seen.

“The children have suffered the most. We underestimate the impact this has had on young people. Now it’s about doing work with them to bring them back to pre-covid.”

South Wales Argus:

A lime tree dedicated to health and care staff and key workers thanking them for their efforts during the pandemic has been planted at Pontypool Park

Torfaen MS and deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing Lynne Neagle also attended the event.

“It’s great to be here to get the chance to say thank you in person,” she said. “Everybody’s worked together in partnership to get us through this. I’s grateful for what they have done and I’m grateful to Gaynor for putting this on to say thank you to them.”

And Cllr Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen council, said: “The last 18 months have shown more than ever the principles that Nye Bevan set up the NHS to represent - about helping people, about all coming together as one and trying to help each other - are more relevant now than they ever have been.

“The response of people volunteering to help each other has been absolutely fantastic. People working in food banks like the one in Panteg House, or just keeping an eye out for each other, phoning up people who might be vulnerable and might be lonely. That’s shown the essence of what is special about our community.”