After the miners strike of 1984/5 and the terrible hardship endured, a group of enterprising women in the Dulais Valley established the Dove Workshop, a Community Education Centre. Today the workshop incorporates Dovecote Day Nursery, Cafe Sarn Helen and Sarn Helen Preserves, providing employment for 17 people.
When I had an idea to write a novel about the women in the miners strike, Mair Francis, who was very involved in the whole initiative, took me up to the centre to meet some women involved and get background research. Mair and the women were enormously helpful and I am very grateful to them. Vising the Dove Workshop was so inspiring and moving: I saw and heard about community resilience, recovery and hope. Mair has written the story here.
Now in my day job as a web editor, we’ve just launched a new site for makers and creators in South Wales, of all descriptions, and it seems fitting that Sarn Helen Preserves will be featuring as star turn in the catering for our opening workshop on Tuesday.
And that on Wednesday, Mair, the Dove Workshop and the women will be uppermost in my mind, as the cameras start rolling on filming of The Gritties, which they inspired.
Superstition in mining had it that if a dove was seen near a pit, then danger lay ahead. Thirty years since its birth, this dove has fostered growth and optimism.