Village community spirit still shines after 75 years

With communities rallying together in the Coronavirus crisis, one local village is discovering that its community spirit was just as robust 75 years ago.

Aberporth Village Hall is working with a team of volunteers in a project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to transcribe more than 80 years worth of minute books. The handwritten archives have recorded village hall meetings since the late 1920s and document the community activities throughout World War II.

A special War Comforts Fund Committee was set up just after the outbreak of war in 1939 and met faithfully throughout the war arranging fundraising events and knitting scores of mufflers, jumpers and gloves for the troops.

Towards the end of the war the committee arranged drama productions which attracted audiences of 500 to the village hall – with today’s health and safety rules it’s only licensed to hold 200!

In 1945, after VE day, the committee changed its name to the Aberporth Welcome Home Fund.

VE day itself only gets a passing mention: “Coming to the thanksgiving service on the day this war be officially declared over, Mr Thomas Brynteg proposed that our three ministers should arrange and draw up a programme for this service and that it be held at the village hall at 3pm of that day.”

The minutes also include a sobering list of the 11 men from the village who had “made the supreme sacrifice”.

The committee raised £839 6 shillings and 5 pence – equivalent to about £12,500 in today’s money. The cash was distributed between all the 105 serving men and women in the village plus the dependants of those that had lost their lives.

The minute books, once they are all digitally transcribed, will be put on line for everyone to access and the originals sent for safekeeping to Ceredigion Archives.

Hall project officer Sue Lewis said: “Going through these archives has been very uplifting – especially in the current circumstances. Aberporth – like all communities – has been through dark times before but still come through and survived with a strong community spirit.”

The project ‘A village hall for generations’ – funded by the Lottery and Ceredigion County Council’s community fund – also includes a film of villagers’ memories plus scanning days to collate images from local residents for display boards. The first scanning day will be held hopefully in September.

Pic: Hall project officer Sue Lewis with the War Comforts Fund minute book.