The following article is posted on behalf of Roddy Spence who sent us his account of time spent in Preswylfa Court. If there is anyone who would like to contact him, I will be happy to pass on your details.
1977 I was twelve and my brother thirteen , parents had separated ,and social services contacted ,,this was a journey of the unknown ,taken by a stranger to a new town a new environment the only place I ever knew was Caerphilly.
We are here Preswylfa assessment centre ,for how long I don’t know at that stage., first step reception get booked in I like to call it,as I looked out the window ,all I saw was twelve cotttages in a square which was surrounded by a fence ,on the one side Merthyr Mawr road on the other the busy main road , then I was allocated my house , the house manager and his wife lived on the property but had separate accommodation linked by a door . When i got there it was a formal but caring chat , then checked over for any medical problems ,lol yes have I got those dreaded lice , luckily no. The house was safe ,then had a bath , and then shown the room , which all the boys stayed in and the girls another separate room ,the next stage was shopping ,social services had an account with a trader in the indoor market , where ,when a new client entered Preswylfa ,we were kitted out with new clothing , it seemed like Christmas, then back home yes this was now my home , unpack , then get used to being in care.
Every resident had a rota , either doing the fire one day , washing breakfast dishes another , then school which even we had a uniform. Evening time everybody mixed setting the table washing , clearing , bath time was around seven to eight , and bed by nine. What I learned was to have self pride in how I dress, manners and respect.
Another part of my stay was how popular with the girls I was yeti was twelve and innocent ,met a girl who eventually moved to Cardiff to another home but while at Preswylfa at night was silly season , we boys would wait for the staff to got to bed then have the usual pillow fights , clown around , one particular night we decided to go along the hall way to the girls room , if caught we were in serious trouble as the girls room was out of bounds , but me i entered , there was about four girls in bed and a couple stared to laugh , we were just chatting and thought we heard someone come up the stairs you never seen me run so fast dive in to my bed under cover pretending to sleep .
Then it came Christmas, having only been at Preswylfa for a couple of months, my house most residents were long term ,but some houses had people being reunited again by family or high turn over of residents ,couple managed to go home for Christmas ,but myself and others we faced the challenge , and it was probably one of the best Christmases we had. We sat on the lounge floor residents and staff together to open the presents, which some were actually donated by the other people than the home , which i would like to say thank you , the staff made it feel Christmas at home.
We used have a hall there for community night on a Thursday I got caught under the tables snogging one of the girls , got a ten pence fine lol. Days out to the airport , then we had swimming , and Ogmore beach sand surfing , there used to be a support worker by the name of Rob a Christian , he looked a bit like Brian May what a man. I lived in house 6-7 and we had a woman worker there all she eat was cheeses and an apple, so skinny and Mr and Mrs Jones house managers. I was in a good house, the sad part was if you weren’t from bridgend you couldn’t go to the school which was right next door, so we had our own education which was amazing with 8-17 year olds getting taught the same thing. Through the strict but easy time in the home you got to learn responsibility even if was only making the coal fire in the morning ready for the residents coming down for breakfast.
I would like to thank all the staff during my stay for the experience , during the next few months it was staff talking about getting myself and my brother back to Caerphilly through foster parents and that’s where Preswylfa and myself departed but over the years when in Bridgend i would walk down Merthyr Mawr road , to reminisce.