THE COUNTY HOSPITAL LEAGUE OF FRIENDS: Fundraising is the constant aim of this group of hard working people, and their bank balance certainly received a shot in the arm when a local hospital porter, John Wedlock, joined with two friends, John Jayne and Nathan Powell, and they agreed to have their heads shaved for the charity.

The event was held at the Masons' Arms in Griffithstown and Kath Evans, the secretary of the League, has asked me to convey their heartfelt thanks to the landlord and staff for allowing them to use their facilities.

It was a bitterly cold night when John's wife Sara took the razor to their heads. They were also joined by pub regular Kelvin.

They raised £52 on the night and they hope to achieve their target of £300-plus through the generosity of the people who sponsored them.

The money raised was spent on presents to the 158 patients who had to stay in hospital over Christmas and the new year.

SINGING THE SEASON: On the afternoon of December 13, the choir from the Griffithstown Baptist Church visited the Rowan, Capel, Hanbury and Usk wards to give a programme of carols and festive songs.

Kath would like to thank them for giving up their time, and to say that the patients really enjoyed their singing.

On the 19th the Linden singers called on the Taly Garn Unit and the Cedar ward for another rendition of carols. Again thanks are extended to the ladies for their much-appreciated music.

Kath has asked me to extend a sincere thank you from the League of Friends to all those people who have helped out their cause during the last year.

THE PREPARATION OF SHOPS IN TOWN: I see that the old Kwik Save premises have now been completely renovated and are being advertised on a large notice board outside as being available for rent or sale.

Among the national names that I have heard were due to move into the building were Iceland, Morrisons, Lidl and even Savers, even though they have only just opened a branch across the road.

One knowledgeable person tried to convince me that Tesco were finding that they are bulging at the seams and needed more premises in Pontypool.

Even with the centre of the town having moved to the Tesco site there are still quite a lot of shoppers using the town centre, and a fairly large store in the Kwik Save shop would only attend to that. This is particularly so on a Wednesday, when the open-air market comes to town.

By the way, what a shame that there do not seem to be any plans to improve the indoor market. A lick of paint would improve its overall appearance quite a lot.

It's a good job that all the other work in the town is being undertaken by private firms, who do not have to rely on council decisions to improve such an impressive building as the market.

I just cannot imagine any other local authority that would fail to make the best of such a jewel in their crown.

The shop that used to be occupied by Q and S, formerly Hughes the stationers, has had a lot of work done on it and looks as though it is ready for occupation.

It is not a terribly big shop, but it would certainly look a lot better whoever takes it over.

THE RENOVATION OF ANOTHER SHOP: Tucked away in Crane Street is a tiny building, between what used to be Hodges and then Motor World, and the gap leading through to the cafes.

Years ago it used to belong to a well-known Pontypool resident, John, or Jacky, Gould. He was well-known because of his dancing, not because of the shop, but, even so, he ran quite a thriving little business there selling all sorts of goods.

I see now that it too is being renovated and presumably there is an owner in mind.

Jacky, of course, set up the Dancers' Club on the roundabout in Park Road, which was a well used local facility until that night when it was burned to the ground.

Incidentally, it seemed that I heard that the police had a couple of suspects for what was thought to have been an act of arson, but I don't remember anyone being charged.

Passing by the roundabout leading to the multi-storey car park I noticed that there were machines clearing the site of the old burned out Dancers' Club. It is a tidy sized area for whatever is proposed to go there in the future.

Incidentally, I once saw a record sleeve of modern sequence dancing music and there was a photograph of Jacky Gould. It certainly showed how high up in the dancing world he really was.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Fair play, the lights in the town certainly added to the festive air.

Some years ago I complained that, while there were plenty of lights in the town centre they petered out a bit as you approached the Clarence.

This year I notice that there are the same number in this end of town as the rest.

This thought came back to me when I was driving through New Inn one evening; the Christmas lights there are just as attractive as in Pontypool, but, for some reason, they stop about halfway down the main street.

They do not start until you reach the Green Lawn club coming from the Pontypool direction, yet I am sure that all those good people between there and Pontypool Road Station pay their Council Tax regularly.

EX Q@S PREMISES: I have already mentioned the preparations going on in the shop that used to be occupied by Q@ S and before that by Hughes the stationers.

There were a lot of Christmas articles in there and it seemed to be doing quite a brisk trade.

The day that I went in was a Wednesday, which meant that the outdoor market was in full swing with lots of people moving around there.

I do not know whether it is to be a permanent fixture in the town or whether it was just set up to take advantage of the holiday trade, but it was good to see the premises all renovated and in use.

BUS SHELTERS: As all my readers know, the vandalism of the Town Hall bus shelters subject has been a constant source of worry to me.

I still do not see why the council persists in installing glass, which they know the local yobboes absolutely love to shatter with their Saturday night bricks. Surely there are more modern substances nowadays that could resist their regular offences.

However this article is by way of praise.

They normally wait until the three of the shelters on the down side are made to look like London after a bombing raid before they think of renewing the sheets of glass.

On this occasion, there were workmen replacing cover, and, of course, straightening out the metal work as well, although only one of them had been severely damaged.

Another blessing was that they used a local firm to do the work, lbion Welding, which was set up by Tony Simons, who was connected with the running of the Pontypool Rugby Club for many years.

EX-MOTOR WORLD: The renovations on this shop on the corner of Crane Street continues, and it really does look as though someone is seriously thinking of taking it over.

SIGNAGE OF THE OLD' TIMES: This is another subject that if not cleared up immediately the event is over makes the town look silly.

There was a Christmas Cavalcade through the town on Saturday, December 1, and a number of signs were placed on the main streets saying that they would be closed on that date.

I can never understand how it is that the contract is placed to erect the signs, but there seems to be no mention of removing them when the date is passed.

Still, I suppose we can not expect too much, as there are large signs on the Clarence at least saying that there are bollards in action in the middle of town and they have never worked properly.