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High Sheriff Discovers Bridgend’s Best Kept Secret

The High Sheriff of Mid-Glamorgan, Beverley Humphreys, has made an official visit to EcoDysgu in Tondu, Bridgend.

Founded in 2002, EcoDysgu, also known as ‘Bridgend’s Best Kept Secret’, provides alternative education and training for people of all ages, particularly those suffering from social exclusion, alcohol addiction and drug abuse in addition to those who are struggling to focus within the traditional education system.  At EcoDysgu education programmes are executed in specialist workshops, including carpentry, building, joinery and other practical skills, and each programme is complimented by a holistic therapy session.

Within her role as High Sheriff of Mid-Glamorgan, Beverley felt it extremely important that she visit EcoDysgu as the centre has helped and supported so many young people within the area. The role of the High Sheriff dates back to the 11th Century, when the High Sheriff was the keeper of peace, collector of taxes and even had powers of execution. Now, the role still acts as a bridge between the criminal justice system and the community, working closely with police and the judiciary to make our communities safer.

Of her role as High Sheriff, Beverley says:

“For me personally my role means encouraging and supporting the unsung heroes and heroines who are doing amazing things week in, week out, to help young people to channel their energies and fulfil their potential – in fact anyone who is trying to make their community -and thus the world – a better place.”

After hearing about EcoDysgu, Beverley felt that a visit to the centre was vital to her role as the work that Julie Lyddon, Founder of EcoDysgu, and her team do everyday for so many young people often goes unnoticed and unheard of by the wider community. Although recently being recognised at the Welsh Women Who Mean Business awards as Best Woman in a Business Investing in the Environment, Julie continual work that often has life-changing effects for people who desperately need emotional support, confidence and reassurance, have remained a secret for many years. Following her visit to the centre, Beverley hopes this to be no longer the case.

The visit itself involved a tour of the centre including indoor and outdoor workshop areas, vegetable patches, mud huts made from recycled materials and exquisite gardens made by specialist groups who have benefited from the centre.

Julie Lydon, Founder of EcoDysgu says:

“The ability to see and take part in a project from start to finish, such as the many handmade benches and carvings dotted round the woodland, provides an irreplaceable sense of pride and confidence to those who have never been given the chance or reassurance that they desperately need in order to lead a positive life. We felt Beverley truly understood the messages we are passing on here and are extremely grateful that she has taken the time to visit EcoDysgu to hear our stories and witness some of the unique workshops that take place.”

EcoDysgu is a not-for-profit organisation and often struggles with funding in order to carry out their workshops and specialist programmes. A café and self-catering accommodation is available within the picturesque surroundings and the organisation receives some support from the community and companies such as Sainsbury’s and Newport-based contractors, Dudley’s, who are helping the centre reach its goal of self-sustainability. Without such support and funding, the remarkable experiences and transformations that happen at EcoDysgu would not take place.

Beverley Humphreys, High Sheriff of Mid Glamorgan says:

“Our community needs special places like EcoDysgu and extraordinary people like Julie to nurture and support those who struggle  to find their  purpose in  life –  to bring out their potential and help them to know that they are valued as individuals and have their own important contribution to make to themselves, to their families and to the wider world ”