A volunteer who led the drive to turn the former Caerphilly Miners’ Hospital into a community centre has been nominated for a national award.
Caerphilly resident Katherine Hughes, who is the secretary of the Caerphilly Miners’ Centre for the Community, is one of five people from across the UK shortlisted for the Community Award category in this year’s National Lottery Awards.
In 2006, after first hearing about plans to close and demolish the hospital, Katherine, 71, knocked on neighbours’ doors to gather their views.
By 2008, a group was set up with the aim of preserving the hospital for community use, with Katherine appointed as its secretary.
Seven years later, the building reopened to the community following a large fundraising push, which saw £250,000 of Lottery funding given to the project.
This, combined with donations from other bodies, including the council and Welsh Government, as well as the public, helped the project reach its £925,000 target.
The centre now offers a range of activities, such as language, art, fitness, knitting and dance classes, as well as buddy schemes and other social activities.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many activities have been held remotely using video conferencing apps like Zoom, while classes have also been held to teach people how to use virtual technology.
Visiting the centre in April this year, First Minister Mark Drakeford described it as a “fantastic resource for people in Caerphilly”.
Katherine said she was “speechless” when she found out about the nomination.
“The National Lottery has played a vital role in getting this project up and running and in supporting our activities and ambitious plans over the years.”
“The centre has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic and it would have been a travesty if the building had been demolished.
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I had seen many iconic buildings across South Wales fall into decay for lack of support, but I believed that the Miners’ could offer a much-needed community resource.”
Katherine added: “I love volunteering here and being a part of a project in my own community is so rewarding and special. It is great being part of such an inspirational and vibrant project, with community members and volunteers from all walks of life coming together to support our common cause.”
The National Lottery Awards recognise people and projects that have benefitted from National Lottery funding and to celebrate individuals and groups making a difference in their community.
The winners will be decided by a panel made up of representatives of the National Lottery and its partner organisations.
The winners will be announced in the autumn, and will receive £3,000 towards their project, as well as a National Lottery Awards Trophy.
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