Mountain Ash Teacher Wins Pupils’ Award for Best Teacher

Religious Studies teacher David Church won the ‘Pupils’ Award for Best Teacher Award’ on Sunday evening following the virtual ceremony.

Over the last twenty-three years, Mr. Church has taught thousands of children and engaged pupils and staff in highly successful charity projects, most recently in partnership with twenty-one local charities, national charities and international charity projects, raising over £32,000 and enabling five pupils to win international scholarships to India, worth £17,500.

Mr David Church – Picture Credit: Brad Williams

Pauline Jarman, Chair of Governors at the school told CVN,

“I have known Dave Church since the first day he came to teach at MACS some 23 years ago. His caring attitude is reflected not only in his style of teaching but his encouragement to pupils to think of others less fortunate by fund raising for worthy causes, whilst, at the same time, pupils learn and gain a better understanding of the causes and effects of social deprivation. But he promotes positivity, despite the challenges. Children have won scholarships with Dave’s help, which enabled them to help build a school in Rajasthan in India.

“He also provides the opportunity for two sixth formers annually to visit Poland as the school’s Ambassadors to Auschwitz.

“I supported Dave’s nomination and spoke to the judges when they visited the school some months ago, as did other colleague Governors. We had every expectation that Dave would be the worthy winner of the award for his record would be hard to match, let alone beat. Well done Mr. Church.”

In June, year 11 pupil Alysa Neads received a global Diana Award for her social action work undertaken in Penrhiwceiber. This was thanks to her work undertaking the First Give programme, and Mr Church’s nomination of her. The Diana Award is ‘The most prestigious accolade that a young person aged 9 – 25 can receive for their social action or humanitarian work.’ Alysa was one of just one-hundred and eighty four global winners, one of eight Welsh winners and the youngest winner in Wales! Mr. Church ensured that her win was highly memorable, by secretly arranging a wonderful message of congratulations from none other than TV’s ‘Pride of Britain’ host and BBC Radio Wales broadcaster, Carol Vorderman.

Alysa had led a team of her peers, awarding £3,058 to the Lee Gardens Pool in Penrhiwceiber through the First Give programme, which encourages young people to tackle social issues in their communities, during curriculum time.

In summer term 2019, through their Religious Studies lessons with Mr. Church, Alysa Neads, Madison Cornish, Carys Simpson and Teigan Maund decided upon the Lee Gardens Pool as their chosen charity. They undertook ninety-seven hours of social action, raising the profile of the charity in the local and wider community. The pupils organised twelve charitable events in the local community, which raised a phenomenal £2,058 in just eight weeks! They also went on to win the school First Give final, gaining a further £1,000 for the Lee Gardens Pool through a First Give grant. In total, the pupils awarded an incredible £3,058 to the Lee Gardens Pool, which has made a huge difference to the charity, working tirelessly in a socio-economically deprived area.

Photograph (L-R): Mr. Church, Mr. Mead (Deputy Headteacher), Madison Cornish, Carys Simpson, Alysa Neads, Mrs. Mackie (former Assistant Headteacher) and Mr. Badma

The charity work that Mr. Church has undertaken with his pupils was even commended in person by royalty in March, 2018.

At the personal request of the Duke of Sussex, Kensington Palace extended an invite to Mr. Church to choose three pupils to meet Prince Harry & Meghan backstage, for a private five-minute conversation at WE Day UK, held at Wembley Arena, London.

Photograph: Mr. Church, MACS pupils Lowri Morgan, Nicole Walker, Conor Acteson, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Nicola Brentnall, CEO The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust
Credit: The Royal Photographer, Kensington Palace.

WE Day is a celebration of twelve thousand young people and their teachers from across the UK and their incredible efforts of social action. Tickets cannot be purchased for this event and pupils ‘earn’ their place at WE Day, by way of charitable invitation. It features a star-studded line-up of royalty, world leaders, motivational speakers and A-list celebrities. The event in 2018 included Julia Gillard (Former Prime Minister of Australia), Liam Payne (pop star), Nicole Scherzinger (pop star), Tom Walker (pop star) and Naomi Campbell (supermodel) amongst many others. The 2019 event included Lewis Hamilton (seven time formula one world champion), Leona Lewis (pop star), Jamie Oliver (chef and TV presenter) and Idris Elba (actor) amongst many others.

The WE movement work in partnership with First Give to give ticket allocation to schools deserving of tickets to the unique event. It is a private event and no tickets can be purchased to attend. Pupils ‘earn’ their ticket to WE Day, by undertaking social action in their local communities. Added to this, Mr Church, is the WE School Co-ordinator for MACS, and he worked tirelessly to secure extra tickets, to reward every single finalist of the MACS First Give competition and the school Senedd members.

After attending WE Day in 2017, the school were invited to apply for the ‘Virgin Atlantic – Be the Change’ scholarship programme. This is a chance for young people to win a once in a lifetime trip worth £3,500 to spend two and a half weeks in Rajasthan, India to help build a school for young children. Only thirty pupils from across the UK are selected every year.

In Easter 2018, three MACS pupils won a place on the scholarship programme, thanks to Mr. Church’s work with them. The first winner was Nicole Walker (who had previously won £1,000 for Women’s Aid Rhondda Cynon Taf, in the 2017 First Give programme). The second winner was Lowri Morgan who assists in running the Cynon Valley Pals, a charity for disabled children and their families. The third winner was Conor Acteson.

Photograph (L-R): Mr. Church, Craig Kielburger (Founder of WE Movement), Nicole Walker, Conor Acteson and Lowri Morgan at WE Day UK, 2018

In September 2018, the annual UK First Give Awards were held and hosted by Cynon Valley Senedd Member, Vikki Howells at the Senedd, in Cardiff Bay.

Cynon Valley Member of Senedd, Vikki Howells

MACS was nominated in the ‘School of the Year’ category and Nicole Walker, won the ‘Alumni of the Year’ award! Just prior to the awards, Mrs. Mackie (former Assistant Headteacher) applied successfully for a grant of £1,800 from the Queens Commonwealth Trust, in partnership with the WE Movement and Mr. Church, for a project in the school related to enhancing the teaching and learning experiences for pupils.

Mountain Ash Comprehensive School were invited to meet the royals for a number of reasons:

1. Sector-leading and award-winning pupil engagement with local charities through the First Give programme.

2. Being the first school ever in the UK to have three children (in the same year) to win the prestigious ‘Virgin Atlantic – Be the Change’ scholarship programme to India. The following year, Mr. Church enabled a further two pupils, Kia Kinsey and Charlotte Napier to also win these scholarships.

Photograph: Kia Kinsey and Charlotte Napier

3. For recently winning the £1,800 grant from the Queens Commonwealth Trust, to improve Teaching and Learning experiences for MACS pupils.

4. For being one of the most engaged schools in the UK WE Movement.

5. At personal request of the Duke of Sussex and Kensington Palace.

Just four schools from across the UK were invited to meet with royalty in this private meeting, backstage at Wembley Arena, London. MACS was the only Welsh school to receive this invitation. Unexpectedly, Mountain Ash Comprehensive was also featured in Hello Magazine on the 18th March 2018, covering the WE Day event.


The Headlines (Wednesday 4th September)

– Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has announced the road closure arrangements for its ongoing essential repair scheme to the Pontcynon River Bridge in Abercynon. You can read more via Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s website:…/RoadclosurearrangementsforPontc…


– The Cynon Valley Museum has a brand-new exhibition, “Rugby: In the Land of our Fathers”. This exhibition, in the build-up to this year’s Rugby World Cup, reveals the history of rugby in Wales from the very beginning to the present day. The exhibition takes an in-depth look into rugby in the Cynon Valley; with focuses on the current clubs playing in the valley and the 27 players from Cynon Valley who have won an international cap for Wales.

The exhibition is open to the public until 28th September 2019, there are activities everyone including picking your World Cup starting 15, comparing your height to rugby players, designing your own kit and recording your memories of rugby and rugby clubs, be it playing, watching, or a different memory.


– Would you like to learn Welsh? Here’s your chance! Visit the Welsh Stall at Mountain Ash’s library based at Canolfan Pennar, on Friday 13th September 9.00am-1.00pm to ask questions and find out more.


And finally,
– Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is once again hosting its Careers Fair with over 40 employers & organisations in attendance.

Those looking for employment, wanting to take their career to the next level, or interested in furthering their learning can find out more at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Careers Fair on Thursday September 19 at Llantrisant Leisure Centre from 10am – 6pm.

The first careers event of 2019, held in March at Sobell Leisure Centre, Aberdare, attracted over 1,600 visitors, and the event at Llantrisant Leisure Centre on September 19 is expected to be just as popular.
You can read more about this event here:…/Archive/2019/S…/CareersFair.aspx


RCT’s Careers Fair is back

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is once again hosting its Careers Fair.

Those looking for employment, wanting to take their career to the next level, or interested in furthering their learning can find out more at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Careers Fair on Thursday September 19 at Llantrisant Leisure Centre from 10am – 6pm.

The first careers event of 2019, held in March at Sobell Leisure Centre, Aberdare, attracted over 1,600 visitors, and the event at Llantrisant Leisure Centre on September 19 is expected to be just as popular.

Over 40 employers and organisations will be at the RCT Careers Fair in Llantrisant Leisure Centre, all of which are looking to promote and share their career and training opportunities.

The event will also include workshops on key issues such as job interviews and application form completion tips, developing a career in social care and information sessions on apprenticeships including; qualification frameworks, entry criteria, sectors and job roles.

Cllr Maureen Webber, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said:

“The RCT Careers Fair brings together high-quality employers looking for new staff, all in one place, meaning that opportunities are closer to residents and easier to access.

“Every event, we rotate between the Rhondda, Cynon, and Taff-Ely areas of the County Borough, to ensure that residents within Rhondda Cynon Taf have equal opportunities to attend.

“As well as employers, the Council’s award-winning Employment, Education and Training Team will be there throughout the day, providing workshops and advice from creating the perfect CV, to interview techniques and career progression.

“Our approach to employment, education and training has secured national acclaim, which even led to the Council winning the Macro-Employer of the Year Award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2018. The Careers Fair will showcase the opportunities on offer for our residents, regardless of age, career interest or experience.

“With exam results announced just a few weeks ago, this could be the perfect opportunity for those who have decided not to go to university and enter the world of work to see where their qualifications could take them, as well as apply for any suitable vacancies.

“The Council is committed to attracting high-quality jobs to the local area and helping our residents into sustainable, reliable and well-paid employment, and the RCT Careers Fair is one way in which we are working to accomplish this. By bringing employers into the local communities, residents have the chance to interact with businesses, discover vocations they may not have considered, and potentially walk away with an interview in the bag!

“If you are considering a career change, looking to start out, or thinking of returning to work, I would encourage you all to attend the RCT Careers Fair and see where it could take you.

Other employers, training and education providers that will be on hand throughout the day include:

Apollo Teaching Services

Applied Nutritional Research Limited


ategi Shared Lives

Care Cymru

Carers Trust South East Wales

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board



Dwr Cymru Welsh Water

Education Supply Pool

ELITE Paper Solutions

Fostering RCT


Innovate Trust


Mears Group

Motonovo Finance

Network 75

New Directions

OP Chocolate Ltd.

Peacocks Stores Ltd

Radis Community Care


Rhondda Cynon Taf Council

Royal Navy

Rubicon Wales

Sony UK Technology Centre

South Wales Fire & Rescue Service

South Wales Police

Stay Well at Home Team

The Vale Resort

Transport for Wales


University of South Wales

Willmott Dixon

Y Prentis

The RCT Careers Fair will be at Llantrisant Leisure Centre, Thursday September 19 2019, 10am – 6pm. For further information please email: or visit the WhatsOn page:


Warning for rain in place on Friday

The sunshine will soon be a distant memory tomorrow as we return to the unsettled conditions.

Met Office issue a yellow warning for rain for Friday.

The Met Office has issued a yellow, ‘be aware’ weather warning for rain which comes into force at 8am Friday and will expire at 10pm.

Much of us have seen the sunshine today but that will be short lived.

However, according to the Met Office outlook we could see a return of the sunshine, next week.

Met office
Credit: Met Office UK.


Local singing group receives community fund

A singing for Lung Health group in Abercynon has been awarded a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The group which meets every Wednesday at Abercynon Community Centre has received crucial funding that’ll make the programme more accessible for those in the area living with a lung condition.

Singing group
Credit: British Lung Foundation

Singing for lung health is a nationwide programme produced by the British Lung Foundation which aims to give people the skills and confidence they need to improve their breathing and increase their lung capacity.

The hour-long sessions are based around a series of exercises that encourage people to think about the way they are breathing and how they can control their breath.

Appropriate songs are used to put these exercises into practice in a fun and effective way, as participants are focussing on singing rather than breathlessness.

Following an initial set up grant, each group is run and paid for locally by individual group member donation and fundraising.

Tanya Dower, singing leader for the Abercynon group said, “We are thrilled to have received this funding, and thank the National Lottery players and the community fund. It means we can carry on with weekly sessions into 2020. The group members have worked so hard to sustain the group and are seeing real benefits of the programme. The funding is seen as acknowledgement of that.”

In addition to providing physical health improvements, the sessions also have a positive impact on the members mental well-being.

Joseph Carter, Head of the British Lung Foundation in Wales said, “We’re seeing a much-needed increase in social prescribing here in Wales and one of the reasons for that is the incredible benefits we’re seeing it has for both physical and emotional well-being.

“It’s great to see the Singing For Lung Health programme go from strength to strength. We hope that we can continue to work with the health boards to integrate them into a complete respiratory care package that caters for the varying needs of those living with lung disease.”


Catch up on the week’s news

Here are the headlines from this week:

Headlines this week
The headlines from Cynon Valley News

The search for missing 32-year-old Jordan Moray from Aberdare continues. He was last seen on 24th July. South Wales Police are appealing for information and add they’re concerned for his welfare. Other search teams have been set up, including one led by Ex Special Forces, Jason Bowen. There’s also a £3,000 reward for anyone with information on Jordan’s whereabouts, which may lead the search teams to him.

A sex offender from Mountain Ash who went on the run to Brighton has been jailed for three years & four months. Ian Campbell hid amongst the homeless for almost 2 years, but thanks to a police appeal on Facebook, officers were able to track Campbell down and arrest him.

Two yellow weather warnings by the Met Office are in place for wind & rain. The warning for rain covers Friday & the wind warning covers Saturday.

The Nos Galan is back this New Year’s Eve and registration for the iconic event opens on Monday 9th September.

Construction on a new primary care health centre in Mountain Ash could start as soon as October 2019, according to Cllr for Mountain Ash West, Andrew Morgan. The Labour Councillor who also leads Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council said, “Pleased to see the new Primary Care Health Centre for Mountain Ash is going to planning next Thursday recommended for approval. Long campaign for this project to go ahead and subject to planning approval next week, the construction will start October/November 2019”.

A new exhibition has opened to the public by local group, Miskin Art Society, at Cynon Valley Museum.

And finally,

Congratulations to Llwydcoed Band for becoming National Eisteddfod Champions 2019.

Plus, “It’s taken four years and three refusals to secure funding” – Diane Locke, Lee Gardens Pool as the charity is awarded £455,601 by the National Lottery Community Fund.


Search for missing Aberdare man continues

It’s been 16 days since 32-year-old Jordan Moray from Aberdare was last seen.

Jordan Moray Missing

South Wales Police are appealing for information after Jordan Moray was reported missing to them on 2nd August. The force said they are concerned for his welfare.

Meanwhile a seperate search group has been set up, led by ex Special Forces, Jason Bowen. Aberdare Fire Station is being used as the group’s base and searches are being conducted nightly from there.

There is also a £3,000 reward for anyone with information on Jordan’s whereabouts which may lead the search team to him.

Anyone with information is urged to contact South Wales Police on 101 quoting occurrence 1900284205 and you can also contact, with any information.


Penrhiwceiber: Road Closures & Diversions

Penrhiwceiber Road is closed and several diversions are in place as the next phase of work to be carried out for the Cross Valley Link gets underway.

Road Closure
Penrhiwceiber Road is currently closed for six weeks. Picture Credit: Mountain Ash Southern Cross Valley Link – Twitter.

One local councillor has asked people to obey the diversions and temporary one-way systems as the main road in the village of Penrhiwceiber is closed.

Cllr Gavin Williams has told Cynon Valley News that people are driving through Victoria Street, (a temporary one-way street) the wrong way and are failing to obey the signs. He said,

“Can all drivers please take notice of the road signs at the diversions through Victoria Street as it is a temporary one-way street at the moment with ample signage now indicating this, but yet people still choose to drive through there the wrong way. I have driven through there 3 times today and on all occasions was met by a vehicle travelling through the wrong way. If you’re involved in an accident there, it will be your fault.” – Cllr Gavin Williams on Facebook.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said the six week closure during the school summer holiday is to minimise disruption in order to progress with the next significant stage of constructing the new 60-metre road bridge.

The council added on their website,

“Saturday, July 20, for six weeks – a road closure on the B4275 Penrhiwceiber Road, with Glyngwyn Street and Victoria Street changed to one-way only (as indicated on the map). Access will be maintained for residents at all times. Traffic will be diverted via Mountain Ash Town Centre, Llanwonno Road and Glamorgan Street in both directions – with traffic on the B4275 coming from Abercynon being diverted straight onto Glamorgan Street.” – Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

For more information on this story, please visit the RCT Council website:-


Jayden’s Story

Reporter: Amelia Tipper

A heroic boy from Maerdy is doing his bit to raise bullying awareness by sending out kindness packages to children suffering from bullying to help brighten their day and make them smile.

Jayden Mckeague, who is just 8 years oldhas been making and selling bracelets in order to help fund kindness packages to send to children who are experiencing the effects of bullying.3143F350-9973-433D-80CE-A3CF72CE0E0C

Jayden, who is home-schooled, started this business last month because he loves to make people smile and wishes to spread happiness and positivity.

His passion to help other children was provoked by Jayden’s own experience with bullying, which began in reception class. For this reason, Jayden has started to write his own book to help empower children after they have suffered bullying.

Bracelets for sale include: an aromatherapy tree bracelet and a lotus flower bracelet with the price list ranging from £3.50 – £6.00.

For every bracelet sold, £1 goes towards the making of the kindness packages, which include items like; positive stickers, party toys, and bracelets.

He was inspired to start the business as part of the ‘Fiver Challenge.’ He began his journey of creating bracelets with £5 and has since been recognised for his dedication. He has recently won an award for the Most Inspiring Individual aged 5-8 years old and is due to collect his award at the Fiver National Awards in October.

When asked on how sending the packages makes him feel, Jayden said, “I enjoy the feeling of making people smile as it’s something money can’t buy.”

If you are interested in helping Jayden you can purchase bracelets via his website: 

Or if you would like to nominate someone to receive a kindness package, please contact:

You can follow Jayden’s bracelet account via Instagram – @Jayden’s_jewels.


Penrhiwceiber Road Closure

Penrhiwceiber Road will be closed for six weeks starting 20th July, according to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. Diversions will be in place. The works will be carried out for the next phase of the Mountain Ash Cross Valley Link.

Read more here: