Refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre confirmed

Following the meeting of Full Council on Thursday 22nd July, Monmouthshire County Council has confirmed that the proposed refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre has been agreed.  To enable residents to see the full development plans and find out more, MonLife has today (Friday 23rd July) launched their new microsite www.monlifeleisuredevelopment.co.uk.

Monmouthshire County Council’s MonLife is committed to investing in projects which will benefit the health and wellbeing of the county’s community.  Its leisure centres provide a vital hub to support physical and emotional wellbeing across all age demographics. 

The proposed refurbishment of Abergavenny Leisure Centre will create a wellness hub over the first floor of the building, to create modern leisure facilities for the local community and helping to increase participation in regular physical activity.

The proposed new facilities will include:

·        Extended Fitness Suite

·        Power Assisted Exercise Studio

·        Dedicated Spin Studio

·        New Fitness Changing Facilities

·        Ground Floor Coffee Vending Offer

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, said: “We are committed to investing in and developing leisure facilities across our county to support the health and wellbeing of our citizens.  The continued investment in leisure facilities will have a significant impact on wellbeing for not only now, but also for our future generations. I would encourage local residents to have a look at the plans and find out more about this exciting project.”


Here’s to a summer of fun in Monmouthshire – time to make some magical memories’

Make some magical memories this summer,’ that’s the message as MonLife, gets ready to welcome children and young people in Monmouthshire to its exciting wealth of activities and fun across the county. The Monmouthshire Games, indoor play centres, theatre events and many more activities have been organised with the intention of keeping children and young people active and entertained during the summer break.

The Summer of Fun kicks-off with ‘The Monmouthshire Games’ taking place between July 26th and August 27th, with action-packed days offering more than 30 different sporting activities that can be enjoyed by children and young people aged 5-11 years old at all four of the county’s leisure centres. The Monmouthshire Games provides a unique opportunity for both children and parents. Participants can meet new friends, develop new skills and confidence, whilst parents are content knowing that their child is safe, happy and having hours of sporting fun.

MonLife has organised free activities for the whole family to enjoy over August, including archery, a climbing wall, clay play, badge making, natural art collage and orienteering. Visit the MonLife Activities website to see what free activities are at your nearest local venue: Family Days – MonLife Holiday Activities.
The dates and locations are:

  • 10th August – Old Station Tintern 11:00 – 16:00
  • 11th August – Shire Hall 11:00 – 16:00
  • 17th August –Abergavenny Museum and Castle 11:00 – 16:00
  • 18th August –Caldicot Castle 11:00 – 16:00


MonLife’s Youth Service will also be providing a ‘Summer of Fun’ with provision for 11 years plus and a range of activities and opportunities including Graffiti workshops, outdoor activities, Skate Jam plus much more. 

Open-air theatre events at Abergavenny Castle grounds have also been scheduled this summer, with Horrible Histories: Gorgeous Georgians & Vile Victorians taking place live on stage on 28th July. There are plenty of other theatre events on at Abergavenny Castle throughout summer for all the family to enjoy, including The Great Gatsby (11th August), Pride & Prejudice (14th August) and David Walliams’ Mr Stink (22nd August).

Families can also book a visit to MonLife’s indoor play centre at Monmouth Leisure Centre this summer, which features an exciting three storey, action-packed climbing maze and a unique ‘beat the clock timing’ system. All of Monmouthshire’s leisure centre swimming pools are open for the summer holidays, including family bubble sessions, junior swim lessons and aqua classes.
Local swimming timetables can be found here: Swimming – MonLife Holiday Activities

Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “MonLife has done an excellent job ensuring the children of Monmouthshire have a fantastic summer with all they have planned. There were less opportunities for children to enjoy a variety of experiences in 2020, this summer promises to be different with many new memory-making opportunities being held again. There is something for every child in Monmouthshire to enjoy this summer – sporty, creative, arts loving, or fans of the great outdoors – this summer will be lots of fun in the gorgeous, Monmouthshire, great outdoors.”

Summer of Fun is a Welsh Government initiative and runs from 1 July until 30 September. It provides a range of free leisure, recreational, sporting and cultural activities for children and young people aged 0-25 to help support their social, emotional, physical and mental wellbeing.

For more information on the events and activities in Monmouthshire this summer, visit: https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/childrens-activities/

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May Half Term fun with MonLife

This May Half Term we have a fun filled week of activities planned for children of all ages at our MonLife venues.

Nerys the Dragon and Ostin the Dormouse

Why not visit Caldicot Castle and Country Park and Old Station Tintern where you can say hello to our delightful new additions to the MonLife family; Ostin the Dormouse and Nerys the Dragon.

Ostin and Nerys feature between the pages of our new Explore and Create family activity packs that are available at both sites.  These fun-filled resources will enable you and your family to explore two of our fabulous attractions through a range of playful and creative activities and discover more about the nature and history of the sites.  The packs also include great ideas for continuing the fun at home.

You can collect Ostin and Nerys stamps and stickers for completed activities and even ‘transform’ you and your family into one of these cute characters using our Dormouse and Dragon photo cut-out boards.  Remember to tag us into your photos on social media.

Abergavenny Museum

Why not take a step back in time and visit one or our MonLife museums which are open throughout half term, enjoy the wonder of the history of Monmouthshire and open up this whole new world for your children.  Entry is FREE for all visitor s and your children can also take away quizzes and activity sheets to keep them entertained at home. 
For opening times please visit https://www.monlife.co.uk/heritage/

Our popular The Monmouthshire Games will be returning at all four of our Leisure Centres during half term week with a fun filled programme of activities.  You will need to book early to avoid disappointment as places are very limited.  Register your interest by clicking here and a member of the team will be in touch https://buff.ly/3y8jB6r For further information on The Monmouthshire Games please click here https://buff.ly/2ROnahB

Girl in swimming pool during swimming lessons looking at camera smiling holding hand in the air

If you are looking for some indoor fun then why not book onto one of our swimming sessions taking place at all four Leisure Centres by clicking on the following link and going through to the Leisure Centre of your choice https://www.monlife.co.uk/monactive/.

Monmouth Premier Play Centre at Monmouth Premier Leisure Centre after recent redevelopment
Monmouth Indoor Play Centre

Also don’t forget that our Indoor Play Centre at Monmouth Leisure Centre is now open, your place will need to be booked in advance so call the centre on 01600 775135.

MonLife also deliver Youth Work in the community through a range of activities and opportunities for young people aged 11 plus.  During the May half term The Attik (Monmouth) will be open Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 6pm, the Zone (Caldicot) Tuesday and Thursday 12pm – 8pm, the Cabin (Abergavenny) Tuesday and Wednesday 12pm – 6pm and Thornwell Wednesday and Friday 3pm – 8pm.  Positive Futures will be running on the Friday in all areas 6pm – 8pm. Each area will also carry out a litter pick on one day for each area for Keep Wales Tidy – Spring Clean Cymru.

For further information or if you need support please contact us via youth@monmouthshire.gov.uk


MonLife Over 60’s Programme extended to help improve physical and mental well-being across Monmouthshire

The MonLife Active 60 plus has been a great success with 85 participants engaged in the programme. This is a positive indication that people in Monmouthshire aged 60 plus want to improve their physical and mental well-being.

The members of this programme have their progress recorded through the means of digital reviews with fitness professionals and their activity recorded through the My Wellness App. The My Wellness app records outdoor activity like walking, cycling running and Live and On Demand classes. This a great way to record the progress of each active member and has given them great encouragement.

The Active 60 plus programme has provided a physical activity and social outlet for many of our members during these difficult times.

Here is how the programme has helped one of our MonLife customers

“I have taken part in quite a few of your virtual classes and thoroughly enjoyed them all; Stretch and Tone, Gentle Exercise, Tai Chi. The classes are excellent and I’m amazed how well you can guide and monitor our individual progress throughout the sessions. They are all very well-planned, timed and focused on a particular aspect of our developing fitness with a clear explanation of how these exercises will benefit us. They have definitely made a difference to my health; I feel stronger and fitter, my flexibility is much improved and my back is less painful. I feel supported, encouraged and have a sense of achievement.  I feel proud when I tell my grown up children, who live so far away, that I have engaged in a session and I know that they are delighted.

Apart from a fairly regular walk, I was taking no other exercise. Going forward, it will be difficult for me to find an opportunity to leave my husband who has dementia and attend a Centre. As it is, my husband sits in the room, happy to see me and hear it all going on in the background. It certainly helps me to feel less isolated. 

I have recommended 60 plus to others and will continue to do so. In truth, it has been a godsend and I congratulate and thank everyone who has put the scheme together”.

The Active 60 plus programme allows participants to take part in their own time, at home and also has encouraged those to get active without the worry of attending a group. They experience social interaction on the live sessions, which is beneficial for members to feel good and motivated.

This digital platform has removed barriers to exercise for those that could not attend the gym due to commitments, time and resources.

Moving forward the Active 60 plus programme has extended its offer to access the MonLife classes on site as well as attending virtual classes. This is creating a wider community for the Active 60 plus in MonLife.

This membership offer is 1 month free and £16.00 thereafter and for the first 120 people that sign up to this programme they will be given equipment packs which include dumbbells, resistant bands and an exercise mat.  To sign up to the programme please click on the following link 60+ Health & Well-being Programme (office.com).  A MonLife qualified fitness professional will then contact you to ensure that the scheme is appropriate.


Rockfield residents encouraged to help develop community nature spaces in Monmouth

The Community Nature Spaces project is working to bring together communities and revitalise un-used or unloved playgrounds and make them accessible play areas that embrace nature.

Residents and stakeholders were invited to take part in a public consultation in February and by the end of March, Monmouthshire County Council and the consultants Pegasus had received in excess of 130 responses. Now, the council is asking residents of Monmouth’s Rockfield Estate to share their thoughts once again, in order to finalise plans for nine sites across the community.

The recent lockdowns have reinforced the importance of having a variety of good quality outdoor spaces that are easily accessible by everyone, so that they can spend time safely outdoors experiencing what nature has to offer in local neighbourhoods.

Ideas that fall within the Community Nature Spaces scope include community food growing, fruit trees and mini-orchards, re-wilding areas and the creating of mini-meadows on mounds and slopes for wild play and to encourage pollinators, and local provenance tree nurseries and planting for pollinators.

A spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said: “We’d sincerely like to thank everyone who has got involved and contributed so far – the detailed designs shaped by this consultation are now available on the Community Nature Spaces website (monnaturespaces.co.uk). We would now like to hear from local residents and groups that would be interested in becoming more involved in the project as it moves forward, or in specific aspects of the project, such as community food growing. The emphasis on community is key to this project coming to successful fruition.”

The detailed plans show the council’s current aspirations for the sites, subject to the further public consultation. Monmouthshire County Council have secured funding to deliver the Community Nature Spaces project during the 2021/22 financial year. In addition, separate consultations will be undertaken regarding the play areas at Hendre Close, Goldwire Lane and King’s Fee in Monmouth, which will all be improved for both play, enjoyment and wildlife.

Monmouthshire County Council has been working in partnership with Monmouth Town Council, Transition Monmouth, ACE (Action on Climate Emergency), Gwent Wildlife Trust, Rockfield Community Centre, the local schools and NRW (Natural Resources Wales) consultants Pegasus Group, and residents to develop Community Nature Spaces that benefit local communities at various locations, initially in Monmouth.

The Local Places for Nature funding is administered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) on behalf of Welsh Government.


Clydach Landscape Enhancement Works

Monmouthshire County Council will be undertaking a series of landscape enhancement works at Clydach Ironworks on Monday 10 May 2021. The works will continue until the end of July 2021.

A footpath closure will be in place until the end of July when the works will be completed, however we will work with the contractor to open up sections as soon as possible.

This programme of work is crucial in helping us to improve this historically important site and allow it to become an important gateway for visitors and local residents to access the eastern end of Clydach Gorge.

The works will:

  • landscape the former industrial features of the Cemex site and reprofile the area in front of the existing ironworks so as to provide a continuous and improved landscape setting for the ironworks
  • incorporate new visitor access
  • create a performance area and a picnic area

If you have any concerns or queries please don’t hesitate to contact us countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk
01633 644850


MonLife’s Open Access Play Sessions brought fun to the Easter Holidays

Last month saw the introduction of new Open Access Play Opportunities for children between the ages of 5-11 across the county.  Organised by MonLife, part of Monmouthshire County Council, it brought together teams from sports development, leisure and outdoor adventure to plan a programme with a variety of activities, each risk assessed and following government guidelines in order to keep the children and staff safe. The Open Access Play Opportunity was offered for seven days throughout the Easter holidays, between 10am-11.55am, and was accessible for children from across Monmouthshire.

Across the four MonLife leisure sites in Monmouthshire, children were able to attend and participate in a range of fun activities all delivered by trained staff. These activities included bottle rockets, daily mile, nature scavenger hunts and dance activities. The atmosphere on each site was filled with fun, with children enjoying themselves. The events held had a positive impact on parents, children and staff as this was the first chance to feel some sort of normality.  “‘I get excited every morning to come to the open access play, to see my friends and to play sport” and “Open Access Play has allowed me to meet new people and make new friends whilst playing sport,” we just a couple of the positive comments from the children taking part. The week’s activities were, in some instances, the first opportunity that children had to re-engage with others in a safe environment since Christmas.

The Open Access Play Opportunities sessions provided the parents and carers in the community with a scheme that they could trust and they can resume some normality of work life. In addition it provided staff with the opportunity to return to the workplace and re-engage with staff.  ‘’The Open Access Play is a great provision to offer a morning of sports, different activities in which children can participate in with their friends, all whilst having fun,” said one of the leisure team.


Residents urged to lock up the lawnmower for ‘No Mow May’

Monmouthshire County Council is urging people to lock up their lawnmowers for ‘No Mow May’. No Mow May was created by Plantlife as a way to encourage more people to allow spring flowers to bloom and provide food for bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators. 

Spring is the time of year that many wildflowers blossom and this first flush of nectar and pollen is essential for the survival of many insects, and the other birds and animals that feed on them.  The No Mow May campaign has engaged many organisations and individuals including the National Trust, businesses, and celebrity gardeners such as Monty Don championing the cause. 

Monmouthshire County Council will be taking part in No Mow May again this year, mowing areas only where there is a need, for example for safety at road junctions, to maintain pathways or to enable sports to be played. Citizen scientists who have taken part in Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey of household lawns have shown that reduced mowing can provide enough nectar for 10 times more pollinating insects.  Researchers found 200 different plant species on lawns, some of them rarities such as eyebright and knotted clover.  The most common flowers are daisies, white clover and selfheal, and over half a million individual flowers were counted during the surveys. More flowers are found on lawns that are cut every four weeks, because short stemmed flowers such as daisies, selfheal and dandelions have a chance to bloom. A greater variety of flowers, but not necessarily larger numbers, are found on lawns that are left to grow even longer.

Plantlife’s research shows the huge benefits to pollinators of mowing less frequently. They recommend that some areas are cut monthly to allow short stemmed flowers to bloom, and to leave other areas to grow long which encourages a wider range of plants to flower, and these will attract different pollinators such as hoverflies and a greater variety of bumblebees.

Monmouthshire’s Nature Isn’t Neat programme of reduced mowing fits with Plantlife’s findings, as many more green spaces will be mown less frequently across the County in an effort to support the nation’s struggling pollinators and insects.  There are other important benefits to reduced mowing, for example, longer grass has a better root system, which opens up the soil and makes it more absorbent and better able to deal with the kind of heavy rainfall that a changing climate is bringing.  Longer grass can also absorb more CO2, so can act as a carbon sink.

There is still time for local residents to take part in a survey to find out what local people think about mowing green spaces less often, and the impacts of this on wildlife and on people too. 

Nature Isn’t Neat public perception survey (office.com)

The Nature Isn’t Neat programme has been funded by Welsh Government and National Heritage Lottery Fund and has enabled Monmouthshire County Council to purchase specialist machinery suitable for cutting and collecting longer grass, and provide information to local residents about the importance of these changes for supporting biodiversity.


Gilwern Outdoor Adventure

The Covid pandemic has hit the outdoor industry hard but we have been lucky to have the support of MonLife, Monmouthshire County Council and Welsh Government.

Since the beginning of the year we have been a re-engagement program working with targeted Monmouthshire pupils.

The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme has been running throughout the pandemic with online meetings and now staff are happy to be back in schools working face to face. The weather may not be ready for us but the expeditions season has started and it will be a very busy summer.

As things start to reopen we look at the changes that have taken place over the last 15 months. MonLife are also looking at investment into the Gilwern Outdoor Adventure Centre – some really exciting times ahead.

As we await the next review from the Department for Education on when residential trips can recommence we have in the meantime been working with local schools delivering activities on the school sites. This is part of a wider program we are developing as adventurous outdoor activities are now part of the new national curriculum.

The increasing levels of outdoor learning in schools as a result of the pandemic is a positive which we all need to engage with, embrace and enjoy whatever the weather.


Call to get Monmouthshire buzzing with wildlife

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT ALL POLLINATOR PACKS HAVE NOW SOLD OUT

Monmouthshire County Council is pleased to offer residents and community groups an exciting opportunity to get involved and to enjoy the nature and wildlife in their own gardens or local open spaces.

The Resilient Greater Gwent project is being funded by Welsh Government’s Enabling of Natural Resources and Wellbeing Grant, and aims to promote nature to encourage communities to value their landscapes and wildlife and to also get involved for their own health and wellbeing. Residents are able to apply for pollinator packs, which include all the tools needed to create a pollinating paradise in their own green spaces. The project follows the council’s commitment to promoting biodiversity and encouraging nature to thrive.

It comes at a time where pollinators are in decline across Wales, Britain and Europe and have been for many years. In Wales, the main groups of pollinators are bees and wasps, flies (including hoverflies), butterflies, moths and beetles. Collectively, these are responsible for pollinating approximately 75% of temperate flowering plant species and critical to maintaining human life. 

Residents wishing to turn their garden’s into the perfect habitat for pollinating species, can apply for a free ‘Pollinator Pack’. The pack includes:

  • Wildflower seeds to scatter in gardens to grow a beautiful variety of pollinator friendly plants and flowers.
  • An insect house to attract a variety of species.
  • Illustrated wildlife guides to help identify the visitors that are attracted to green spaces.

Monmouthshire residents are also being offered the chance to loan a trail camera to record wildlife in community gardens, open spaces or school grounds. These portable infrared trail cameras use motion sensors to record images and video of animals or birds that might pass by. The LED array even allows video footage and pictures to be captured in complete darkness.

These trail cameras are available to loan free of charge. The cameras will be available to community groups, their members as well as schools. 

To apply for a free pollinator pack or to loan one of our wildlife cameras, please email Helen Fairbank, Behaviour Change for Wellbeing Officer at helenfairbank@monmouthshire.gov.uk

For more information about the Resilient Greater Gwent Project, please see https://www.monlife.co.uk/connect/green-infrastructure/green-infrastructure-projects/