In her latest blog for Caerphilly Observer, Islwyn AM Rhianon Passmore pays tribute to the late Caerphilly Council leader, Keith Reynolds, and hails the opening of the new £25m Islwyn High School.
Today, Thursday April 27, the community of Islwyn surrounded by friends from across Wales will gather at St Sannan’s Church in Bedwellty for the funeral service of Caerphilly County Borough Council leader, Keith Reynolds. I know that the reception at Llechwen Hall to celebrate Keith’s life will be full of wonderful memories of a man who gave decades of distinguished public service.
The recent passing of Cllr Reynolds, elicited tributes from across the political spectrum. A common theme was of the pure decency of Keith, he was a gentleman.
Cllr Reynolds served his constituents in Aberbargoed with dedication for almost four decades. I served with Keith as a fellow Labour councillor for over a decade, then as a fellow cabinet member before Keith became leader of the council.
He was incredibly supportive of his colleagues. In fact he was there to offer advice and support for any member of the council.
When I was elected as the Assembly Member for Islwyn, Keith was always there for me. In the whirl of modern political life I knew I could pick up the phone and Keith would be there to discuss things with.
I shall miss him greatly.
My thoughts are with Keith’s wife, Sheila and their family. As we approach the local government and general elections with vigorous campaigning, let Keith’s example show that you can stand up for your beliefs without diluting your common decency and integrity.
In the week that we say goodbye to Keith it is apt that headteacher Tim Williams has been handed the keys to the £25.5 million Islwyn High School from the contractors Willmott Dixon. I was Education Cabinet Member under Keith’s leadership on the council when the decision to authorise the new Islwyn High School build was given the go ahead.
Islwyn High is the creation of the merger of Pontllanfraith and Oakdale comprehensive schools. This took place last September. The children will shortly make the move to the new Islwyn High School situated on the former Oakdale colliery.
We are shaped by our past but we must always move forward seeking out new opportunities. The past must act as an inspiration to us. Keith Reynolds’ life will inspire me. As I know the lives of the children’s families who once worked at Oakdale colliery will inspire them. Our children at Islwyn High will become equipped with the skills to enrich the community of Islwyn in the years ahead.