JUST over a year ago Gwernyfed RFC were presented with the opportunity to buy their Trefecca Road pitches from Powys County Council.
Given the chance to secure the future of rugby in The Black Mountains, club members voted to seize the opportunity – and seize it they truly did, raising the purchase price within 15 months against a projected timetable of 10 years!
As Shan Thomas, the group’s chairman of fundraising, said: “Nothing any good comes easy. We formed a fundraising committee and it is down to the dedication and sheer hard work of the committee and so many other people, together with the huge generosity of our community, that we have looked up at a mountain – and climbed to the summit.”
Initiatives have ranged from the traditional fetes and cake stalls, through the ‘sale’ of squares on the pitch for supporters whose names will be memorialised as heroes and heroines of Gwernyfed, choir concerts and, most strikingly, a cycle ride involving 60 riders and many more support staff that took the team from Holyhead RFC in Anglesey to Llantwit Major RFC in the south – 240 miles in two exhausting days.
On Saturday last at the club’s annual Family Fun Day, lead organiser and all-round inspiration Geraint Skyrme presented Shan Thomas with a cheque for £45,000 – the reward for the cyclists’ and their supporters’ magnificent effort. “This ride and everything that went into its organisation and success speaks volumes for the spirit and camaraderie that we are privileged to be part of here at Gwernyfed,” said the former first XV hooker. “To be able to help secure the club’s future by taking part in what was a humbling effort is something that we will carry with us for ever.”
Shan Thomas confessed herself to be overwhelmed by the massive support and huge generosity demonstrated by so many people. “From the child who threw a few coppers into a collecting bucket through to our many generous sponsors, we have been so fortunate to have has such unstinting encouragement. No words can really sum it up but I hope that a huge ‘thank you’ goes some way to recording just how grateful everyone at Gwernyfed RFC is,” said the emotional club stalwart.
The marvellous contribution from the cycle ride means that the purchase of the pitches will be completed in the near future.
To make the achievement even more special, Gwernyfed’s vice chairman Peter Weavers was able to announce on Saturday that Mary Jones and her family had very kindly agreed that the fields would be named after the club’s late president, hon secretary, life member and friend to all, Brian ‘Titch’ Jones – a fitting tribute to a man who was the very foundation stone of a great community club.