12 JUN

Meet Cynthia, one of our Climate Champions!

We all used to swap fruit in the summer. So even though we were poor, we were healthy because we had all this fruit.'  


Meet Cynthia

Cynthia moved to Wales in the mid 80’s, living in Kidwelly first. She has fond memories of living in the bailey of the castle, but as she found work in Neath, she needed to move somewhere she could travel easier – and this brought her to Llanelli. 


Cynthia recalls – ‘’The most memorable year for me was in 1997. Princess Diana sadly died and Llanelli had a flower festival. It was beautiful. Some of the creative work around the town amazed me. But then it changed - they decided it would be Carmarthen flower festival instead. That’s when it stopped, and that was quite sad. 


People were getting interested in growing stuff, and it put a bit of a stop to it.  


At the time, I grew gooseberries, raspberries, red currents, strawberries, tomatoes… so for a lot of the year I was eating my own fruit. If you personalise your garden for what you like, you can get a lot from a small area. It takes the pressure off buying things in the supermarket. 


I was brought up in a very poor area, but I didn’t know I was so poor. The neighbours all shared back then. We had apple trees in our garden, one next door neighbour grew strawberries, another grew gooseberries and rhubarb, and a woman up the road grew pears, and we all used to swap fruit in the summer. So even though we were poor, we were healthy because we had all this fruit.  


At Halloween, we’d make our own toffee apples, and put potatoes straight in the fire without tinfoil, they were delicious.’’ 

What do you think would help Llanelli become a Zero Waste Town?

‘’People need to be a bit more community minded. If you start it in a small way, it builds. 


I’ve moved into a flat because I can’t manage the garden anymore, but in my kitchen windowsill I’ve got strawberries and tomatoes growing, it doesn’t matter where you are, you can grow food anywhere, we can all be doing it, and we can share it with others.’’  

What are your biggest concerns about Climate Change?

‘’It’s wildlife I worry most for - When they’re killed in these wildfires, they don’t just come back once you’ve cleaned up.

We’ve got major problems with the climate, and I think most people aren’t aware of how bad things will get.’’ 

How are you making a difference?

‘’I’m currently doing a number of projects funded by the Arts Council.


I did a ‘Walk with Mother Nature’ with myself playing the part of Mother Nature. It was to highlight what we are doing to the animals - what a huge impact we’re having. I’ve talked about animals which are becoming endangered, and the impact that will have on us too.


If we lose bees and we have to cross pollinate ourselves, we are in real trouble. There are so many people on the planet and there is such a need for food. 


In another piece of work, I’m planning a group activity where we visualise sending all the humans to Saturn, and only the animals are left.


The animals are just so glad to get rid of us! I try to be a bit light-hearted, but get an important point over.’’ 

What message would you like to share?

‘’If we don’t start thinking differently, there’s no future for us. We can all make changes, no matter how small.


Just over 3 years ago, I used to buy a plastic bottle of water every day, I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t know what damage the plastic was doing in the oceans.


I watched this programme about plastic, and I said to my grandkids, I’m going to stop having plastic bottles. They told me giving up one bottle wouldn’t make any difference! 


After 1 year, I said to them I’m still doing it, I’ve saved 365 bottles from damaging the environment. 


3 years later I said to them, I’m STILL doing it and I’ve saved over 1000 plastic bottles from harming the planet. So, a small change does make a difference. 


And if you can persuade one other person to do the same? You’ve doubled the impact! 


I also flatten all my cardboard, so I can get twice as much into a blue recycling bag, which means I’m using half as many plastic bags when I put my bins out – its small but it does add up. We can all make a difference. 


I always think about how to make everything go that little bit further or have more than one use.’’ 

What motivates you?

''My motivation is the welfare of animals. They need us to stand up and protect them from the damage we are creating. We should hang our heads in shame.''

Who inspires you?

''Mary Peters – she was an athlete. She won a Pentathlon Olympic Gold. She was Irish, and she had nobody to fund her. Everything was done in the back yard, and she was the first person to inspire me and make me realise you can achieve something great without being well-off or being funded. That determination inspires me.''  

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Meet Cynthia, one of our Climate Champions!