The Living Levels Partners were delighted to welcome over 110 people from the local area for the official Launch of the Living Levels Landscape Partnership on May 24th at the Lysaghts Institute in Newport. The Launch was the occasion to thank the partners and all those who have been involved in securing the HLF investment over the many years which it has taken to plan and build the Living Levels Partnership.
The Launch was opened by RSPB President and TV personality Miranda Krestovnikoff who gave an inspiring speech setting out the partners’ ambitious vision for the Gwent Levels. She underlined how the Living Levels programme will act as a catalyst for the partners to set a long-term vision for the Gwent Levels to ensure the restoration and survival of this landscape for future generations.
The venue for the launch, Lysaghts Institute known locally as the ‘Stute’, once belonged to the Orb steelworks and in its heyday employed 3000 local people and was a lively place of community congregation and social activity for the steelworkers and their families. Hosting the Launch here held true to the values of the Partnership which is all about understanding and appreciating local heritage.
Alongside the main address from Miranda, there were voices from the local community showing their support for the scheme. The Chair of the Living Levels Board, Tony Pickup who has been involved with conservation on the Levels for over 30 years kicked off the proceedings by welcoming and thanking the guests. Cllr Jeavons, ward member for Lliswerry then welcomed everybody to the ‘Stute’ by expressing his pride at being involved with this wonderful community-based project in both urban and rural areas in Newport. Anna Harris of Goldcliff Community Council and a fourth generation ‘Leveller’ expressed her delight in seeing the plans for the Levels come to fruition after supporting the project since the first seeds were sown some seven years ago. Coleg Gwent Photography student James Baker represented the students from the Foundation Photography Degree who have been working in partnership with Living Levels for the past year to capture the stories from the Gwent Levels landscape on camera. James said he had “no idea” about the amazing heritage of the Levels before starting the project and was really proud to have been involved in such an interesting project to bring the hidden heritage of the area to light for others to enjoy. Photography Course Director Pete Britton thanked the Living Levels Partners for giving the students the opportunity to be part of this very special community project.
The Coleg Gwent students’ exhibition ‘Levels through a Lens’ was unveiled at the launch and will now go on tour at venues across the Levels, starting at Newport Wetlands on June 2nd-3rd. The ‘Levels through a Lens’ project aims to build an up to date image library of everything about the Gwent Levels from the mouth of the River Rumney to the edge of Chepstow. The imagery that has emerged is both eye opening and visually dynamic. The photographs focus on man-made and natural elements within the Gwent Levels area as well as attempting to document society opinion and change.
The Launch drew in people from the Living Levels Partners and stakeholders, local Ward and Community Councillors, community and interest groups as well as local residents. It was wonderful to see John Griffiths AM in attendance to show his support for the scheme and the projects.
There was an incredible buzz and excitement in the air throughout the Launch and the Partners are delighted to be moving in to the delivery phase of the Living Levels programme.