Residents created history when they buried three generations of memories and mementoes in a time capsule at a new community garden.
The Mayor of Llandudno, Francis Davis and his wife, Sonia, cut the ribbon to officially open the garden, specially created as a place of relaxation and enjoyment for residents of Cysgod y Gogarth in Trinity Avenue, Llandudno.
Cysgod y Gogarth was built in 2015 by housing association Cartrefi Conwy as one of its flagship developments, comprising 26 one and two bedroom apartments specifically designed for the over 60s.
The garden formed phase two of the development and its opening was an occasion of great celebration, according to Cartrefi Conwy older persons’ co-ordinator, Nerys Veldhuizen.
She added that the burial of the time capsule was an especially emotional moment.
Nerys was one of the ‘three generations’ whose contributions to the time capsule made up nearly 100 years of memories.
She explained how Cysgod y Gogarth’s oldest resident, Alf Davies, 97, had included a letter detailing anecdotes of his life in Llandudno.
At the other end of the generations scale was a contribution from fellow resident Kath Gardiner, who proudly put a photograph of her eight month old grandson, Robin, into the time capsule.
“Then in the middle there is me,” laughed Nerys, who will be 50 on July 3.
“I have included a little note talking about what a lovely place North Wales is to live in and how privileged I have been in my work to meet the wonderful residents of Cysgod y Gogarth who I now consider as good friends.”
The idea is that the time capsule will be unearthed and re-opened in 50 years’ time and all the enclosed memories rekindled.
Nerys said: “By that time the garden will be thriving, Robin will be 50 and hopefully I will be 100 and still here to tell the tale of how the amazing Cysgod y Gogarth story started!”
Also in the time capsule was a photograph of the late Eluned Willingham, supplied by her son Derek Willingham.
His mum was caretaker at Llys Seiriol which was previously on the site now occupied by Cysgod y Gogarth. On the back of the photo Derek wrote about how he remembered the site as a field in which there was a donkey when he was a child and how he and friends used to ‘dare to run across the fields.’
Other additions to the capsule included a copy The Times newspaper, detailing results from the previous day’s general election. A mobile phone, a shiny new £1 coin, an old penny, a first aid kit and a storyboard made up of original samples of the Cysgod y Gogarth interior decor were also included.
The garden was designed by Cartrefi Conwy environmental development officer Matt Stowe, with the help of all the Cysgod y Gogarth residents, who were praised by Cartrefi Conwy managing director Gwynne Jones for having done ‘a fantastic job’.
Gwynne said: “When we built Cysgod y Gogarth we purposely left the task of designing and building the garden until after all the residents had moved in. That was because we wanted each and every one of them to be able to have a say in how they would like the garden designed, what kind of features they would like to see in it and which kind of plants and shrubs.
“The result is a garden which they feel real affection for and are greatly proud of. Many of our residents had their own gardens before they came to live here and we wanted them to feel the same way about this communal garden as they felt about the gardens they once tended in their previous homes.”
Designer Matt Stowe said the residents played a big part in formulating the design and several raised beds were purposefully left unfilled so they could get to work straight away through the summer propagating and tending flowers, shrubs and vegetables.
He said: “There is a small greenhouse for them to grow seeds to bring on as plug plants which can then be put straight into the beds. There’s a tool shed, a central grass area for activities and socialising, plus a seating area for relaxation.”
As the sun came out for the official opening two residents were given a special round of applause for their work keeping the beds and turf well-watered in readiness for the big day. Kath Gardiner and Ernie Seabright have been taking it in turns to hose the garden, morning and evening, to prevent the young plants drying out in the sun and the sea breeze.
Ernie, a retired motor industry computer operator, originally from Birmingham, has lived in Llandudno 12 years.
He said: “Coming here was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. It’s a beautiful part of the world.
“And watering the garden is no trouble at all. I’ve been happy to do it, the garden is such a joyous place for us. It’s great to be able to come out here and chat with friends.”
Resident Burt Barrett, who was a bookbinder in Llandudno for 50 years before retiring in 2005, said the garden was a welcome addition to Cysgod y Gogarth.
He said: “It will be lovely to be able to come out on a warm day to sit and relax for a little while.”
Retired nurse Pat Farley, who lives in the neighbouring community, was delighted to be invited to the opening day.
She said: “The residents here have been so kind to me and I’ve made some good friends. They often invite myself and other close neighbours to social activities.
“But this garden is particularly magical to me as it has a such a lovely view of the Great Orme, where my late husband, Eric, is buried.
“My mobility is not good now so it is difficult for me to get up there independently, but I know I can come here, sit down and look up at the Orme where he is. He’d be happy about that.”
Bill Hunt, a board member and chair of Cartrefi Conwy Operations Committee said: “One of our key goals is to further the quality of life for our residents wherever possible and from the feedback here today it is clear to see that this garden has certainly done that. I’m positive it will be much appreciated and lovingly tended by the inhabitants of Cysgod y Gogarth for many years to come.”
As he interred the time capsule into a spot among the flower beds, Llandudno mayor Cllr Davis said: “This is a box filled with happy memories, which is entirely appropriate as I am sure that this very garden will also be a place where happy memories are created among Cysgod y Gogarth residents, their families and neighbouring friends.
“Not only is it an attractive addition to the premises, but it is one which will always be of invaluable benefit for the residents.”