The Big Walk came to Bridges

A Welsh walker who was hiking around half a marathon a day passed through Monmouth in May as part of ‘The Big Walk’.

The Big Walk’s Team Wales arrived in Monmouth visiting two projects, first Bridges Centre to find out about their befriending project and then Wyesham Community Woodland Project.

Jude Boutle from Llandrindod Wells was the Welsh walker, selected to take part due to her overwhelming commitment to her community. Jude and Team Wales walked through the border communities in the east of Wales heading towards Cardiff before carrying on towards Swansea and finishing back at Llandrindod Wells.

The walkers were bowled over at Monmouth’s Bridges Centre by the crowd waiting to meet them, including Mark Walton Director of Bridges with his staff, volunteers and some participants from the befriending project, the Mayor Terry Christopher and Nick Ramsay Assembly Member amongst others. Jude heard about the work the befriending project does pairing volunteers with older people who appreciate a chat or a hand with their shopping for example. The project includes a car scheme where volunteers help to get people in Monmouthshire out and about. This project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Jude Boutle, Team Wales walker said: “I can see that befriending is working here at Bridges, the welcome we received has been so friendly. I really enjoyed meeting the people who benefit from the scheme, as well as the volunteers and co-ordinators. It’s based on a simple idea but just spending a few hours chatting with someone else can make so much difference. I hope people will sign up to be drivers for them – volunteers get a lot of satisfaction from being associated with this scheme.”

A group from Bridges headed off with Team Wales to accompany them to Wyesham Community Woodland Project.

Meet our newest trustee - Brad Watson 

I started my involvement with Bridges in September 2016 when I began my new role for Archenfield Insurance in Church St, Monmouth. I have worked as an Insurance Broker for large national organisations and decided then that a new challenge with a locally based independent broker would be a good move. I live in Caerphilly and I’m not from the area but knew a lot about the town and its history from my father, a military historian and author, who spent time here and wrote the book;  ‘A History of The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers’.

Charity is very important to me and I have been an ambassador for a children’s hospice for the last few years and I’m always keen to support local causes in general. It was early on in my new job that I met Mark Walton and was impressed with his passion and the important role that Bridges brought to the local community and county. Following that meeting, my colleagues and I decided to assist where we could.  

We started off attending coffee mornings as volunteers, attended the relevant training and then were appointed to a couple of service users to provide company and support under Bridges’ Community Connections Befriending Scheme. I found volunteering very rewarding.

I jumped at the chance when recently asked to become a Trustee and I’m looking forward to adding value to a great charity and providing my business and commercial experience to help continue to move Bridges forward!

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with family, watching films and American Football and I’m also an avid hiker (I walked sections of the Great Wall of China last year and have just completed a combination of the National Three Peaks and the Welsh Three Peaks in July this year). When I’m not at home or in work you can find me in the hills and mountains!

Mark Walton meets the Queen


Mark Walton (Bridges Centre Director) was officially invited to the Buckingham Palace garden party this week to recognise his hard work in the public service sector. Mark took Ann Rosser (Chair of Bridges Trustees) who both thoroughly enjoyed themselves!

Drybridge House host wedding fayre in September


Drybridge House will host its first official wedding fayre in partnership with CJ wedding fayres next month. Not only will you get the opportunity to look around Drybridge House, there will also be a variety of local wedding suppliers displaying their products and on hand to talk to.

The event will take place on Sunday 2nd September between 11am - 4pm. Entry is free, but to register your interest and receive a unique access code to allow you to skip the registration queue at the event click the link below. 

Andrew runs an ultra marathon for Bridges


Andrew Johnson set out on the mighty task of running 100km in the Wye Valley Challenge last weekend! Andrew successfully completed the 100km run from Chepstow to Hereford on Saturday 11th August. He started in Chepstow at 7am in the sunshine and arrived at Hereford Racecourse in the rain just before 10:30pm, a total time of 15hrs 28mins.

Andrew said, "It was tough going at some points but I smiled all the way knowing that I was raising £1,300 for Bridges Centre which made it all worthwhile.”

A huge thank you to Andrew from everyone at Bridges Centre for raising this significant amount of money. If you would still like to sponsor Andrew click the link below. 


Beth is in training for her first half marathon

Beth started running in May 2017 just to keep her weight down and because she enjoys eating! Beth has since grown to really enjoy it and it has helped keep Beth in shape and allow her to eat the foods she likes! Beth aims to do about 15 miles a week to maintain her fitness.

Beth has completed a 5k race for life, a night Severn Bridge run and a 10k in Gloucester and after training over May Hill regularly, Beth set her goal on trying to run a half marathon and to raise funds for Bridges Centre.

Beth said "I have chosen to fundraise for Bridge Centre to help support the work they do for their local community in Monmouthshire."

This will be Beth's first half marathon and although it is a little nerve wracking Beth has done a few 10 mile runs and is looking forward to the challenge. 

The Cheltenham half marathon will be on Sunday 30th September. So sponsor Beth now by clicking the sponsor button below.


Community links strengthened by collaboration 

Three community organisations are working together to understand resident needs in Monmouth so each can have a positive impact on local service and activities provision.
This recently included a large survey of residents in the Rockfield and Overmonnow areas. Questionnaires were distributed and results gathered, online and in-print, asking what local people felt was important to them. The results of the survey data revealed a concern around loneliness for elderly residents, training and skills for employment and identifying and serving the needs of those seeking friendship. Also amongst the top concerns were traffic and transport provision. When asked for suggested improvements those surveyed fed back that friendship based activities and advice services were the most important categories. 
The full results of the surveys are available to local residents, publishers, Monmouth Town Council and Monmouthshire County Council. 

Cyrus Todiwala comes to Bridges Centre 


Cyrus Todiwala (OBE, DL) will be making a special guest appearance at Bridges Centre in September, ahead of his appearance at Abergavenny Food Festival.

Ticket sales have gone incredibly well and we expect a full house on the evening. 

New Bridges Car Scheme in Abergavenny 

Bridges now have a pilot Community Car Scheme in Abergavenny! So far lots of people have registered, however the Car Scheme is in need of extra support to get out and about.

Could you spare 2 hours a week to help administer the scheme? A volunteer is needed to take phone calls and arrange journeys with volunteer drivers. If you can use Excel it would be a bonus but isn't essential. Please contact Amanda on 07741 572897 if you think that you could help. 

To see what Bridges Community Car scheme is all about click this link -

Cookery schools are back with a bang!


Following from the success of Franco Taruschio and Lindy Wildsmith's sell-out cookery schools at Bridges, our Autumn and Winter courses are back. 

Our first course is on Saturday 20th October called "Autumn in Italy", followed by our "Christmas in Italy" course on Saturday 1st December.

Both courses proved extremely popular last year, with bookings already being made. So for more information or to book call 01600 228660 or email .  

Kevin and Sally raise £1,800 for Bridges Centre


Former Chepstow Round Table Chairman Kevin Jordan and his fiancée Sarah Bailey from the newly formed Chepstow Ladies Circle ran the Newport Marathon on Sunday 29th April to raise money for The Bridges Centre.

In his time as Round Table Chairman (2017/18) Kevin had the pleasure of working with the Bridges Centre on a couple of occasions and was completely inspired by our work for the elderly and vulnerable in the local community. In December Chepstow Round Table donated gifts and time to personally deliver the gifts to lonely and vulnerable elderly in and around the Chepstow area.

Kevin and Chepstow Round Table's newest member Oliver Spurway visited the homes of some of the most vulnerable with gifts and were deeply humbled by what they saw. Kevin commented,

“Last year I had the privilege of personally going out with the Bridges Centre befriending coordinator delivering small Christmas gifts to the elderly who have no one. One lady had recently lost her husband, had no understanding of running finances of a house, her phone had been cut off, she had no family, she had no money and no food in the house. It was the 19th of December and she didn’t get any money until the 27th December.

The Bridges Centre befriending service meant these lovely ladies had someone to ask about all these questions, someone to arrange a Christmas dinner for them, someone to fill their fridge, they had someone to put them in touch with people to help with their difficulties. They had someone to listen to them, something we all take for granted each day. Before the Bridges Centre getting involved they had gone weeks without seeing anyone. Not a soul. I was touched to my very core by what these fantastic people do.”

Kevin and Sarah had heard about the very first Newport Marathon coming up in 2018 and signed up for this mammoth challenge and had no idea how they were going to finish it. Both gentle leisure runners, they had never gone beyond a half marathon in the past. Sarah joked

“We are by no means athletes and are both quite partial to a beer and a pizza on the weekend but we do love a challenge. This was certainly going to be one. We knew it was going to absolutely destroy us”

On the day of the race Kevin and Sarah were stunned by the support for the event and the runners. Kevin said

“I have no idea how we finished this race. We didn’t manage to do anywhere near enough training as the dreaded lurgy went through the whole family. However, on the day the adrenaline kicked in along with the packs of sweets from the crowds and miraculously got us to the finish line. I could feel my legs starting to go at about 19 miles but kept focused on the prize of seeing all of this money go to the Bridges Centre. Finishing the race was a mix of emotions and pain but wow! We made it.”

The combined donations from all of the sponsors totalled a massive £1,500 before gift aid is applied.

Mark Walton from Bridges Centre said

“We are enormously grateful for Kevin and Sarah’s massive effort in raising this fantastic sum for our befriending scheme. This will help us to continue our work of making a real difference to the lives of isolated and lonely people on pour community”

Ten questions to get to know our staff at Bridges Centre! 

Mark Walton - Centre Director 

1.     When did you start working for Bridges and what role were you in?
April 2007 as Centre Director.

2.     What do you like to do in your free time?
Swimming, tennis, theatre, watching cricket.

3.     What is your favourite holiday destination?
France and Pembrokeshire.

4.     Do you have any pets?
Oscar, a rather old cat.

5.     At this moment in time what is your favourite song?
“Lovely Molly" by Sam Lee. Anything by Paul Simon. 

6.     If you were going out for a meal, where is your favourite place to eat and what meal would you order?
Fish and chips at The Shed in Porthgain or Cassoulet in South West France.

7.     How would you describe working for Bridges in three words?
Varied, interesting and fulfilling.

8.      What would you say your greatest achievement is?
The fact that my children all still want to come on holiday with me.

9.        What are your favourite movie?
"A Serious Man", "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", "The Graduate".


10.        What is your favourite group?
"Calan", a folk Welsh music group.
This is the last newsletter to be produced by Dorothy Laidler who has been working at Bridges in various roles since February 2016. She is leaving Bridges to start a new career with a local estate agent. We wish her the best of luck and thank her for all her hard work and enthusiasm during her time here. 

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