Bishop’s Letter – 29th June 2018

Bishop Richard writes…..

29th June 2018

Dear Friends,

With the creation of the new Archdeaconry of the Gwent Valleys, I have been reflecting on the legacy of the mining industry which has shaped the work and culture of the area around us.

Earlier on in the year, I dedicated a new stained-glass window in Risca to commemorate the mining disaster that took place in 1860 when 146 men and boys lost their lives.  At one level, it is obviously a very long time ago but the original memorial had deteriorated and local people wanted to still remember and there is a great deal to remember. The cost of lives, social deprivation and a scarred landscape still remain.

As many of you know, I served as Vicar in Cwmtillery and Six Bells. Although my ministry was 30 years ago, I can still recall the conversations relating to the accident of 1960 in Six Bells when 45 men lost their lives.  It is a common story across South Wales where it is it estimated that over 6000 miners died in accidents in the 19th and 20th centuries.  We also remember the widows and children whose lives would never be the same.  We also remember those with mining related illnesses whose quality of life was impaired and shortened. It is a national story as many came from across the UK for work.

And we remember in different ways. There are the national museums such as Big Pit and the sculptures like the Guardian. While these are outwards signs of suffering, loss and human cost, we must remember that they are also signs of pride, of human resilience, of companionship and of community strength.

Remembering can be difficult. Many, reflecting after the closing of the mines, said it was a time of exploitation. Idris Davies, the poet, spoke of Monmouthshire as the place ‘greed was born.’  While that is too harsh an assessment, it is true there were many instances of injustice where workers were seen as a commodity. Of course, this was not confined to the South Wales minefield. Factory and mill workers in Northern England also bore the brunt of others prosperity. Business came first.

But all was not bad. The valleys are loved by those who live in them.  There is laughter and great spirit as well.


In the places of my boyhood
The pit-wheels turn no more
Nor any furnace lightens
The midnight as of yore.

The slopes of slag and cinder
Are sulking in the rain
And in derelict valleys
The hope of youth is slain.

And yet I love to wander
The early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

In Gwalia, my Gwalia,
The vandals out of hell
Ransacked and marred forever
The wooded hill and dale.

They grabbed and bruised and plundered
Because their greed was great
And slunk away and purchased
The medals of the state.

And yet I love to wander
the early ways I went
And watch from doors and bridges
The hills and skies of Gwent.

Though blighted be the valleys
Where man meets man with pain
The things by boyhood cherished
Stand firm and shall remain.


Idris Davies from Rhymney


Miners cannot be remembered only as victims. They were men of their age and context but also ordinary men, family men, making a living. It was hard work and they were brave and hardy.  We give thanks for them and for the valley communities they shaped.

Celebration of the new Archdeaconry of the Gwent Valleys and the Installation of the new Archdeacon, Newport Cathedral

Saturday, the 7th July marks the historical creation of the New Archdeaconry and the licensing of the Reverend Canon Sue Pinnington MBE. As this is a ticket-only service, please let us know if you have not received your ticket(s) in the next few days as they have now all been sent out.

Please remember all Diocesan Clergy and Lay Ministers are expected to robe. Please wear cassock, surplice, scarf and hood as appropriate. Please be at the Cathedral by 3:30pm to robe in either the Dean’s Vestry or the Cathedral Hall as your ticket states. We ask that all others arrive by 3:45pm to ensure there is enough time to find your seats so that the service may start promptly at 4:00pm.


The Reverend Graeme Carby is retiring from Cyncoed Ministry Area this month.  Graeme has served for over twenty years in Cyncoed and is a well-loved priest. Graeme has played a significant role in St David’s Church in Wales School and was chair of Governors for many years. We worked out that Graeme has had a positive impact on over 5,000 pupils!  He leaves with our blessing and gratitude.

Reverend Sally Ingle-Gillis has been Licensed as Curate in Charge of the Wentwood Ministry Area. Also, two Licensed Minsters (Readers) join the Ministry Team. David Harper was newly Licensed, and June Powell was licensed to the Benefice following her move from Tredegar. We wish them well in their new ministry as well as the Reverend John Waters and Kay Denly (ordinand) who are already part of the team.

 Commissioning of Kathryn Stowers

 You may remember that Kathryn Stowers, our previous communications officer, left the diocese to train as a Salvation Army Officer. I am pleased to share that she will be making her covenant vows on Thursday, 5th July. I know Kathryn would dearly love to hear from her colleagues and friends at this particular time. Any words of encouragement and wisdom would be very helpful indeed and gratefully received. Please post these to Bishopstow for the attention of Kathryn and Veronica will ensure Kathryn receives them.

After the commissioning and end-of-term celebrations, Kathryn, Matthew and Menna will be moving on to Eston. Kathryn loved working with us and keeps us all in her prayers.

Bishop Richard