Keep up to date with the latest news and information in Pontypridd.

Pontypridd YMCA Memories Exhibition - An interview with Alan Humphreys

  • By James Payne
  • 12 Sep, 2017
We spoke to Alan Humphreys this week who runs Avant Theatre Company along with Rachel Pedley-Miller and is on the BID's Marketing & Promotion committee , Alan has been working as the  Community and Outreach Development Officer for the YMCA on their memories project. We spoke about what to expect in the upcoming exhibition, and Alan's thoughts on Pontypridd and the Business Improvement District. 

Can you tell us about the upcoming exhibition in the YMCA

The project team has been going through the archives left in the YMCA, and we've discovered lots of photos and spent a lot of time digitalising the  images to create a huge database of all the key memories and events in the town. My role as the Community and Outreach Development Officer was to go out and find people who have used YMCA in the past, we are delighted that there will be 10 major stories which will be exhibited at the Lido. 

The exhibition involves stories from across Pontypridd, are there any that we should be looking out for?

One person we spoke to was part of the boxing club at YMCA, said that boxing helped him discover values and learn discipline, the YMCA wasn't sure originally if contact sport would work, this man's trainer would go to end of the earth once driving all those involved up to Bargoed in a small car to participate in a boxing match. We also spoke in depth with Elizabeth Williams - a former chairperson and another who's uncle was invovled when the boys club was formed, there was also a lady who referred to going to the YMCA in the 1980's - so there was stories from different periods. 

We selected four short stories and took them to Coed-Y-Lan Primary School and asked the children to draw pictures  of the story, which were then animated using a animation company from Caerphilly, these will be on display at the exhibition. There will be another video from a local filmmaker who will share memories of Pontypridd.

From my point of view it’s great to see what Pontypridd was like,  and now seeing it with new eyes. It's great to see  the importance of the YMCA as it was a key place for people to go – many of the people met their partners there. Hopefully there will be a lot of interest in the exhibition. I will be very interested to see what was in there when I was growing up.

It’s exciting to see the new YMCA will be developed after previous uncertainty, people in the town are very hopeful to see what it is going to become.

What are your hopes for the YMCA and Pontypridd for the future?

I personally feel more involved in Pontypridd than I ever have been. Pontypridd could become a very exciting area with the Taff Vale & YMCA developments. It’s really exciting to see new jobs coming to the area. From the arts and YMCA’s view – people will use Pontypridd in the future because it’s in such a strategic location, it would be great to encourage arts venues and societies to work together rather than be competitive and to have cooperation. It's good to see that the Muni is putting a focus as a music venue, and hopefully they will keep getting more and more exciting acts for people to see. It's great to see Pontypridd have many new businesses including the Soul Spice in the Market - it's important that we don't get stuck in the old ways, I'm very hopeful for Pontypridd. 

What do you like about Pontypridd, and what would you change?

Pontypridd has a lot of options and a lot to offer, the town centre can be improved – however you’ve got several national stores and all the major banks and there are plenty of pubs. There are areas that could be cleaned and modernised.

It would be good to see businesses be more technologically advanced, by having the option of contactless payment, and it would be very exciting to see an advertising screen in town to help advertise whats going on in the area. The biggest key is communication, the challenge is making sure everyone knows what is going on. The Your Pontypridd BID website could become the key element in making sure people are informed, it’s a wider issue in the county – there’s a lack of a central point where you can access the key information.

The app would be an excellent idea if the BID proceed with the idea in the future. The Lido has become a very key to the attraction in Pontypridd, it’s excellent value for money and the park remains an important part of the town. I would like to see if the theatre above the market could be refurbished, it would be a huge project but it would be excellent to bring it back to the community. 

Did you know anything about Business Improvement Districts before Your Pontypridd?

I was not aware of BIDS before Your Pontypridd. The first I heard of it was when I spoke to Terry Chinn from Clwb Y Bont. I think the purpose of BIDS is to help restore towns and cities that may have been affected by a lack of funding, in theory it’s a great idea as it gives the business community a voice, it’s interesting to see what BIDS prioritise in terms of what projects they do. The most important thing is that the arts community can contribute – older views and politics sometimes get in the way of the best ideas. The more stuff that happens, the more people become involved.

What do you think of Your Pontypridd and it’s impact so far?

I believe the parking offer  is great. Its refreshing to see somebody else trying to do something in the town, who can do implement different ideas. It would be good if events and promotion could go hand in hand, any way to advertise the Your Pontypridd brand needs to be considered, and be as creative as possible. The BID are key to changing the perception at the University, making Pontypridd a place to visit, hopefully the Student Card will attract students. I would like to see free train travel between Pontypridd and Treforest to encourage students to travel into the town. The fact that the conversations can be had about ideas without interruption is a great thing, and will help restore Pontypridd’s reputation.  In general I think it’s positive, as it encourages different ideas and gets many different people involved. 

How do you see YMCA and the arts and creative sectors and BID working together in future?

It's great for the YMCA & the arts community to engage to be able to feed into ideas, it’s always good to have local artists performing in events, promotion is very important – the venues linking together would be good. Its key to have quality, but to also consider the local people and groups who could be involved, it’s important to build communication with the BID. The YMCA has a long way to go until the final stages of the development, the BID can play a key role in promoting that and helping them when the YMCA building relaunches. 

Many thanks to Alan for speaking with us, 

Alan and Rachel run the Avant Theatre Company based in the Rhondda and have several upcoming projects working with RCT Theatres including a live soap opera & hip hop dance project. Avant have also been working on a project in the Museum – gathering stories about life in the Rhondda during World War I.  

For more information visit -

The Pontypridd YMCA Memories Exhibition will be held at Pontypridd Lido Visitors Centre, between the 16th and 29th of September, between 10am - 4pm! For more information about the YMCA and their refurbishment of their current building visit -  - you can also like them on Facebook -  or follow them on Twitter  

Recent Posts

By James Payne 13 Dec, 2017

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced a new small business rate relief scheme is set to be introduced from the 1st of April 2018 in Wales.

The new permanent scheme means that the number of properties eligible for small business rate relief will be limited to properties in each local authority. This is aimed at preventing larger and national chain businesses benefiting from the scheme.

The plan is for relief to be targeted more effectively to help small and local businesses, with £7m every year being reinvested to help small businesses.

The SBBR scheme will also provide

·        More support for the childcare sector, increasing the upper threshold for rates relief for childcare providers from £12,000 to £20,500.

·        Targeted support for small hydropower projects, in line with the Budget agreement with Plaid Cymru.

·        £5m of investment to extend the temporary high street rates relief scheme into 2018-19;

·        An extra £1.3m for local authorities for 2018-19, to give them the power to target relief to help local businesses including those who would benefit most from the additional assistance.

Mr Drakeford has also announced an extra £9m and £22m, will be allocated in the final budget in 2018/19 and 2019/20 respectively, with the aim of switching from RPI to CPI for business rates from April next year.

The Finance Secretary also announced today an extra £9m and £22m will be allocated in the final Budget in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively, to support the switch from RPI to CPI for business rates from April 2018.

Professor Drakeford has said that the introduction of a permanent small business rates relief scheme next year would “provide certainty and security for small businesses in Wales.” The permanent scheme would see the Welsh Government maintain their level of support for small businesses after £110m of support this year. Mr Drakeford added that “the scheme will target effective support to businesses – helping to create jobs and deliver benefits to the local communities”

Changes to the Small Business Rates Relief scheme are being introduced following a public consultation on a permanent scheme in the autumn.

By James Payne 13 Dec, 2017

Forget Me Not
A brand-new play by Avant Cymru

“It’s not the man who has the most, who gives the most away”

Through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Avant Cymru have worked with communities in Pontypridd and the Rhondda Valley to research and discover the stories from World War I –particularly about the effect it had on the people who left for the war, and the people who were left behind. Using these stories as inspiration, Avant Cymru are producing a brand new theatrical promenade experience at 1:30pm and 7:30pm Pontypridd Museum, 25-27th January 2018. Tickets are priced £10 and £8, and can be purchased from our website.

Artistic Director of Avant Cymru, and Director of Forget Me Not, Rachel Pedley: “Knowing that it’s the centenary of the last year of World War I, we wanted to mark what the people of the Valleys contributed at home and on the front-line. Research was a really important part of this, and so working with Glamorgan Archives, Pontypridd Museum and local
people was crucial to make sure we found the facts and stories that remember the contribution from Valleys residents.

We’ve been so inspired by what we’ve found – letters were an important form of communication, and this will play a big part in the storyline. Real words from actual soldiers have inspired the dialogue, and the storyline has been influenced through people’s experiences in trench life, the chapel and at home – the audience will get to be part of this through our exciting and interactive approach. “

The cast includes Daniel Rochford – originally from Pontypridd, Daniel was in S4C and BBC’s Hinterland/ Y Gwyll, and appears regularly as Ifan Harri-Parri in The Harri-Parris Radio Show on BBC Radio Walesand BBC Radio 4. He’s looking forward to being able to perform in his hometown, a chance not often presented to him.

We are particularly excited to bring this production to Pontypridd, a town rich in artistic history but now lacking when it comes to new, exciting and risky theatre. The town has shown its support through Pontypridd Town Council and Your Pontypridd, alongside RCT Theatres and RCT Council. On top of that, ticket holders can get 15% off at New York Pancake Department by displaying their ticket – it is open until 8pm on each night of the show.


Avant Cymru are a forward-thinking theatre company from the South Wales Valleys. We produce professional shows with and for our community and perform these locally, nationally and internationally to showcase inspiring, compelling and relevant stories from the Valleys. Find out more about us here.

Examples of our most recent work:

Killer Cells review
• Rhondda Road feature, review – also will be featured on BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales w/c 4th December 2017

In Autumn/Winter 2018, we will be performing and touring Blue Scar – a Hip Hop dance tale from the proud past of the South Wales Valleys. 

Follow us @AvantCymru
07834 402953

For further information and pictures or to arrange interviews and press tickets, please contact

Producer Alan Humphreys – / 07817 132754 @avantcymru
By James Payne 08 Dec, 2017

There are currently four defribillators based in Pontypridd Town Centre based at: 

The Patriot Bar
25B Taff Street
Tel No:  01443 407915

Wales Air Ambulance
75 Taff Street 
Tel No: 01443 491408

Lido Ponty
Ynysangharad Park
Tel No: 0300 004 0000

South Wales Police
Berw Road
Tel No: 01443 743654

South Wales Police Taff team are currently fundraising to get more defibrillators in the town centre. On Saturday the 16th of December, the SWP Taff team will have a Santa’s grotto in Pontypridd Market which with free entry. Please feel free to talk to the SWP Taff team and make a donation to help raise money to put more defrbillators in the town. 

You can donate and help the cause right now by visiting   - any support would be much appreciated, and don't forget to visit Pontypridd Market on the 16th of December. 

More Posts
Share by: