Latest news & views


MonLife Heritage Museums brand new collections website

MonLife Heritage Museums are proud to announce the launch of a brand new collections website at www.monlifecollections.co.uk The new website provides free access to search hundreds of records, allowing users to read material and view images for items within the collections from across Monmouthshire. The Museums team will continually be adding more to the website, so we recommend that users keep coming back to see what’s new.

  • Discover historical objects, works of art, photographs and documents cared for by MonLife Heritage.
  • Search for special people, explore notable places, travel through time and discover different themes.
  • Hundreds of Monmouthshire records are already on our collections search.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, MonLife Heritage have been researching new ways to diversify our offer – between January and March 2021, with thanks to a Welsh Government Local Government Cultural Recovery Fund grant, members of our team have been able to dedicate their role to the creation of the collections website. We have worked alongside Digital Heritage Consultants, Orangeleaf Systems Ltd to build our bespoke website.

Lydia Wooles, from the Museums online project team said “We really hit the ground running with the project, as a team we’ve learnt a lot in a short timescale. Records have been carefully selected to provide users with a flavour of the wide variety of artefacts and documents that we hold. It’s been such a rewarding experience working on this project.”

All of the records on the website relate to the story of Monmouthshire and include the nationally significant Nelson collection. From archaeological finds, extensive costume collections, to photographs and postcards – there is something for everyone.


MonLife celebrates launch with multi activity school festival

On Friday 17th January MonLife celebrated its official launch with a Multi Activity School Festival at Monmouth Leisure Centre.

The festival saw 85 children attend from Osbaston, Kymin View and Trellech Primary. The children had chance to take part in a number of sessions that included boccia, learning, football, team building plus much more. The sessions showcased the diversity of MonLife and the fantastic services that we have to offer.

The strategic focus of MonLife is on physical and mental health and wellbeing, providing opportunities in learning and experiencing, achieving a more physically active lifestyle for all. Health and wellbeing are embedded in every service area of MonLife and this means that we are ready to play a part and support schools in the launch of the new curriculum.

Richard John, Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure, said “I was delighted to attend the official launch of MonLife, which brings under one umbrella our leisure and community services for the first time.

Our MonLife services are really important for the mental and physical wellbeing of all local residents and that’s why we’re investing and upgrading facilities, including our leisure centres. We want to ensure that as many residents as possible can take part, evidenced by our insport Silver Award for improving access for disabled people.

This launch embodies our commitment to protect locally accessible services for residents, including helping people lead more active and independent lives through our array of diverse services and facilities.

The whole day was of celebration of our services and enhanced the vision to enrich people’s lives and create vibrant places. I hope as many residents as possible will take up the opportunity to experience our wonderful facilities and services and see for themselves how MonLife can impact on the mind, body and soul of our community.”


Monlife awarded top accolade for supporting disabled people accessing sport

Monlife is celebrating being given a top award for helping people with disabilities accessing sport.

The service group managed by Monmouthshire County Council was awarded the insport Silver Standard at Full Council by Michelle Daltry Partnership Manager, Disability Sport Wales on Thursday 16th of January.

The insport Development programme aims to support and deliver inclusivity for disabled people through a toolkit developed by Disability Sport Wales, supporting the inclusive thinking, planning, development and delivery.  This means that MonLife Active staff can deliver across the spectrum to disabled and non-disabled people at whatever level they wish to participate or compete.

By achieving this standard opportunities are widened, participation will increase, disabled people become more active and engaged and we have a nation who are hooked on sport for life.  This will deliver a cultural change in attitude, approach and provision of physical activity and wider opportunities for disabled people.

Throughout the four standards; Ribbon, Bronze, Silver and Gold, each partner is supported by Disability Sport Wales to grow their expertise and understanding of disability sport. With the aim of Partners becoming progressively more independent and able to demonstrate improved delivery and support to disabled people.

Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Education and Leisure said: “Achieving the Silver award demonstrates the commitment to inclusion from MonLife and Monmouthshire Council to increase sporting opportunities for disabled people and our ongoing commitment in  playing a significant role in building sustainable and resilient communities, reducing inequalities and supporting vulnerable people.  Cabinet fully supports the journey to the Gold Accreditation”.

Michelle Daltry, Partnership Manager at Disability Sport Wales said “Disability Sport Wales wish to congratulate MonLife on their achievement of the insport silver standard.  It is a real testament to the calibre of work they are currently doing and have committed to do in the future, and will ensure the ongoing development of inclusive sports to disabled communities in the Monmouthshire area.  Congratulations to all involved.”

As MonLife continues on its insport Development journey receiving the Silver standard is a real testament to all staff involved.  MonLife are committed that all service areas will illustrate the inclusive cultural change by going through the insport accreditation with core aims to include its partnership working with Education, Health and Social Services.


New project to support green initiatives

New project to support green initiatives

The Gwent Green Grid Partnership, a new ground-breaking project, aims to improve and develop green infrastructure – a term used to describe the network of natural and semi-natural features, green spaces, rivers and lakes that intersperse and connect villages, towns and cities – as well as provide green job opportunities within the area.  Green infrastructure has a crucial role to play in addressing nature, climate change and health emergencies.

Monmouthshire County Council, working with Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen councils as well as Natural Resources Wales, Forest Research and the Severn Wye Energy Agency, leads the partnership.  The organisations will work together to ensure that the area’s natural resources are healthy, resilient to pressures and threats and thereby better able to provide vital health and well-being benefits for current and future generations.

The Gwent Green Grid Partnership will bring to life the Gwent Public Service Board’s commitment to implementing the Well-being Of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Environment (Wales) Act through improved collaboration with partners, involving local citizens and delivering across all seven well-being goals.

The project will deliver a range of well-being benefits for local communities and plans to make improvements to green spaces, urban and country parks, cycleways and public rights of way.  It will facilitate better woodland management and creation and take action to protect and enhance vital habitats for pollinators. The partnership will also explore better management of natural spaces to provide opportunities which deliver preventative health-focussed activity.

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for green infrastructure said: “I very much welcome the establishment of the Gwent Green Grid Partnership, bringing together Gwent’s local authorities and three other organisations to protect and improve our natural environment while providing opportunities for the area’s communities.”

The project is supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas and is funded by the Welsh Government’s Enabling of Natural Resources and Well-being Grant.

For more information about this partnership, click HERE.


As part of our Green Infrastructure (GI) service, the Gwent Green Grid Partnership has contributed to many of the milestones outlined in the following report:


Countryfile Ramble for Children in Need

Get on your walking boots for the Rambling challenge 2021

Last autumn the Countryside Access Team and many others in Monmouthshire CC, undertook sponsored walks to raise money for BBC children in need.  This year, on Friday 8th October, the Countryside Access Team are undertaking their team meeting, whilst walking through Castle Meadows and along the canal. Usually the team has its meetings on Microsoft Teams, but this time we are going to walk and talk.  At the end we shall all generate some money in aid of Children In Need.  We are looking forward to getting some fresh air, enjoying the autumn colours and seeing each other “in real life” again!

We’re challenging other teams in Monmouthshire to do the same, so get out and have one of your meetings whilst walking!!! … Who can find the best view, picnic spot or project to visit?  Go that extra mile, put your boots on to energise your team and help children in the UK. Don’t forget to tag us in @MonLifeCountryside or @MonLife on Facebook and @MonCountryside or @MonLifeOfficial on Twitter. We’d love to see how you got on!


Why Walking Meetings?

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nothing will feel better than venturing out after an intensely focused morning at a desk.  Walk and talk with your team members about some ideas they have for new or existing projects.  We have all had over a year now of Teams meetings.  Take advantage of our beautiful landscape and getting outside can clear your head. Get some exercise and engage in our favourite type of discussion – the walking meeting.   Walking meetings are particularly useful when decision making, team building and bonding are of critical importance. They also enhance creative thinking.  The casual nature of walking and talking helps people let their guard down and ideas held back on Teams come spilling out.  A study published in the European Journal of Development Psychology found both children and adults performed a memory exercise better while walking than sitting. 

“The greatest mental benefits of walking are explained not by what it is, but by what it isn’t.  When you go outside, you cease what you are doing, and stopping trying to achieve something is often key to achieving it…And in some hard-to-specify way, even the distractions of walking – traffic noise, bird song, people – seem to help”.

Oliver Burkeman

We all spend too much time seated at our  desks.  Regular movement is essential to our well-being.  One study has found that 12 minutes of walking can increase happiness, vigour and attentiveness significantly more than time spent sitting.  


Tips for organising a walking meeting:

Though walking meetings are fairly self-explanatory, the following preparations can make them more fruitful:

– Those with, or who live with anyone who has Coronavirus symptoms, should stay at home.

– Let everyone know in advance where to meet, how long you will be outside and to wear suitable clothing.

– Make sure you choose a venue which you can all easily get to.

– Plan your route. Choose a venue where you can walk in a circuit to get back to the start and is not too strenuous or adventurous.  A simple walk around a park, wood or greenspace is good for walking/talking meetings. 

– Check what the weather will be like.

– Wear appropriate warm clothing and shoes.

– Bring snacks, a flask of coffee or other drink!

– Take regular stops so you can as a group discuss items together.

– Walk slowly, at a pace suitable for all and encourage everyone else in team to do the same.

– Breath and encourage mindfulness.

– Review relevant documents: know your meetings objectives and glance over supporting information beforehand.  Don’t forget to share any necessary information with participants.

– Use your smart phone to take voice notes and take follow up notes.

– Take a photo to use at your next Teams meeting.

– Use the environment to illustrate points, have a laugh and be proud that you did it together as a team.

Download your own Sponsorship Form HERE!


Council to run survey on tourism industry

Council to run survey on tourism industry

Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an up to date survey on the area’s tourism industry.

Monmouthshire’s strategic Destination Management Plan, which guides the running of the county’s tourism sector, is due for review and the council will ask businesses, residents and visitors for their views on how the area’s potential is developed, managed and marketed.

Tourism is vital to Monmouthshire’s economy and generates income to support a wide range of businesses that benefit from spending by visitors.  According to figures supplied by tourism economic indicator STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor), the 2.28m visitors to Monmouthshire in 2019 brought in almost £245m to the local economy and supported the equivalent of 3,119 full-time jobs.

While the council is keen to promote economic growth and recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic it recognises the balance to be struck between economic, environmental and social perspectives if tourism is to develop sustainably.  It aims to develop a tourism economy that avoids a negative impact on the environment while ensuring a positive experience for visitors with a warm welcome from Monmouthshire’s communities.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Whether you’re a business involved in the visitor economy, a Monmouthshire resident or someone who’s visited the county over the past three years, we’d welcome your views.”

To access the survey, log onto: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/destination-survey.aspx

by Tuesday, 30th November.  All who complete the survey will stand a chance of winning a Christmas hamper from the Wye Valley Producers collaboration packed with the area’s finest award-winning produce!


Summer of Fun Review 2021

MonLife wanted to make the summer of 2021 a special one for all of our communities given the events these past two years. The easing of lockdown restrictions enabled MonLife to bring back many of our much loved schemes and activities including ‘The Monmouthshire Games’.

Children in Monmouthshire in particular have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday with wide range of play provisions. Two flagship programmes, The Monmouthshire Games and The School Holiday Enrichment Programme took centre stage and were supported by a wide range of MonLife services aimed at children and young people. Below you will be able to find our review and can help us celebrate our Summer achievements.


Improvements set for Chepstow Leisure Centre pool area

MonLife has announced a programme to carry out much-needed improvements to Chepstow Leisure Centre’s swimming pool hall.  These will include redecoration, an upgrade to glazing in the viewing area, a replacement ceiling, an LED lighting upgrade and installation of new air handling units.

Scheduled to start on Monday 25th October, the work will necessitate the closure of the pool.  The expected re-opening date is 4th January.  Meanwhile, the rest of the leisure centre will remain open and MonLife will automatically freeze the membership of its Aqua holders while work continues.

MonLife members with any queries about the pool area refurbishment should email: monmemberships@monmouthshire.gov.uk – meanwhile, groups with bookings for the pool have already been notified of the closure.  Anyone with a general query on the work should contact chepstowleisurecentre@monmouthshire.gov.uk.  MonLife will also launch a dedicated microsite on Tuesday 28th September with up to date information on the scheme’s progress and a list of FAQ’s.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “I’d like to thank visitors to Chepstow Leisure Centre for their patience while work continues and I’m pleased that these refurbishments will provide an improved service to users of the leisure centre.  I’m also glad that many of the measures implemented will result in improved energy efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions.”


National Fitness Day

This year will see the 10th Anniversary of National Fitness Day. Every year National Fitness Day highlights the importance of physical activity in helping us lead healthier lifestyles and this year’s focus aims to show that fitness is for EVERYONE. In a time where health and fitness is more important now than ever, we hope that you will join us and the nation in celebrating National Fitness day and making this year the best yet.

MonLife is proud to support this cause as we understand the importance and impact that fitness can have on a persons life; whether it be physical health, mental health or simply socialising. Our four leisure centre’s in Monmouth, Abergavenny, Caldicot and Chepstow all strive to be a welcoming fitness hub for our local communities to work on getting back to fitness, getting back on track and getting back to feeling healthy and great. As part of our celebration and to give our communities the inspiration to get back to fitness, we are offering FREE five day gym passes across our sites. Terms and Conditions do apply.

In order to enquire about a 5 day free pass at your local gym, then simply pop in and ask or contact your centre directly via the following contacts:

In order to celebrate and build up to the big day, we have been using the hashtag #Fitness2Me as part of a campaign where people are invited to share what being physically active means to them. We want to encourage people from all walks of life, activity levels and interests to share what fitness means to them, it will inspire others to live happier and healthier lives through being active. So far we have had a great response from our members at our local centre’s…

We do however also want to highlight that National Fitness day is not limited to activities in your local gym or leisure centre. Alternatively, why not go for a nice walk at one of our Heritage sites? Below we have three different trails you can follow at Abergavenny Castle, Caldicot Castle and Old Station Tintern. These trails are there for your well-being and are a perfect way of getting fit and active! Take a look at our flip-book below to look at your local options and enjoy.


Play Schemes offer fun and activities to county’s young people

Children in Monmouthshire have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday, thanks to two successful play provision schemes offered by MonLife, the council’s tourism, leisure, culture and youth services body.

The Welsh Government-funded School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) has provided healthy meals, nutrition and food education, physical activity and enrichment sessions to children in specific areas of the county during the summer holidays.

The free four-week programme has seen over 420 children sign up at five schools, with sessions at Overmonnow Primary and Kymin View Primary in Monmouth, Thornwell School in Chepstow, Caldicot’s Dewstow Primary and Deri View Primary in Abergavenny.  The response to the scheme was overwhelmingly positive with a large majority of children delighted to make new friends and try new sports.

Meanwhile, MonLife has offered the exciting and popular Monmouthshire Games, with a range of different interests and hobbies keeping children and young people active and entertained over the summer holidays. The five-week programme featured at all of the county’s leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth, with almost 900 youngsters participating.  Nearly all expressed their desire to attend future events.

This is the sixth year that MonLife has organised the Games. Aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 11, they have encouraged thousands to develop confidence, meet new friends and most importantly have fun through sport.    With challenges caused by the pandemic, this year’s events also aimed to help improve wellbeing and promote healthy bodies and minds.

Monmouthshire’s Cabinet member for Community Wellbeing and Social Justice, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “The School Holiday Enrichment Programme and The Monmouthshire Games have been especially valuable during the pandemic, allowing the county’s children to be active, have fun and socialise.  They have been brilliantly organised by MonLife staff and give parents the peace of mind that their children are looked after in a fun and safe environment.”

The Monmouthshire Games and SHEP attracted a total of 7,750 attendances over the summer while children enjoyed 7,240 free meals provided in line with the wide range of benefits delivered by SHEP.  


Closure on footpaths in Caldicot and Rogiet extended

In December, Monmouthshire County Council made a Traffic Prohibition order to temporarily close footpaths 6 and 13 in Caldicot and Rogiet. The legal closure due to end on 23rd June has been extended for a further 6 months due to continuing safety issues.

Speaking on the closure, Councillor Lisa Dymock, cabinet member with responsibility for MonLife said: “We are deeply concerned that people are at risk. This section of footpath contains two live firing ranges and we have had reports about people continuing to use the path, wandering around the foreshore and elsewhere putting themselves in danger. An alternative route is in place following the Wales Coast Path, which is well signed and maintained and we appeal to people to use this path instead.

“A multi-agency approach is being taken to resolve the issues on this popular path. These include fly tipping, arson, vandalism, gates being left open, which allowed cattle to wander off, damage to the sea wall, illegal cycling, motorbike use and consideration of range safety measures”.

A Monmouthshire County Council spokesperson added: “Notices regarding the closure of the footpath and alternative route are available on Monmouthshire County Council’s website and we have been endeavouring to keep them up on site. However, there has been problems with individuals removing the signs. This is an offence, but it is also putting visitors and local people in danger and hampering our endeavours to deal with the issues”. If you or anyone should witness someone tampering with the signs, then please contact: countryside@monmouthshire.gov.uk


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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