Llandaff ‘rebel’ mams plan Christmas celebration

A GROUP of mothers are gearing up to spread festive cheer in Llandaff North and Gabalfa this Christmas.

YGC Rebel Mams have been holding themed events and community activities throughout the pandemic, and plan to close the year with a 12 Days of Christmas-themed celebration.

The group formed in April, when core member Pam French, 43, bought a horse costume to cheer up her son Fletcher, 3, who’d missed his birthday pony ride during lockdown.

This quickly escalated into the “Pam National”, with Pam running 7km in the costume as neighbours cheered on.

“We’d been really strict in lockdown, I hadn’t been out of the house really,” says Pam. “As I left our house I thought, ‘There might be no-one even watching this, and I’m just going to be here in a horse costume.’

As she got to Station Road, however, it became clear that this wasn’t the case.

“There were just people everywhere. Everyone had dressed up and come out, and they were cheering all the way around.” The event raised £900 for the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Since that first event, the group has grown rapidly. The YGC in its name is taken from Ysgol Glan Ceubal, the Welsh school where many of the group’s children attend, but they now boast volunteers from all over the community.

“Each time we’ve done stuff, we’ve accessed a whole other group of people,” Pam says. The group’s projects have ranged from a trick photography competition, writing song lyrics on the street in chalk, to movie, Halloween and zoo themed trails.

They’ve delivered food to students locked down in Talybont Hall, done shopping for senior residents, and organised group bike rides.

“A few older people I’ve met along the way, they didn’t want to do the more sociable stuff, but they did their windows for Halloween. We try to do things where there’s enough interest for lots of different people.”

The Mams have also taken up “guerilla gardening”, transforming patches of disused land near the Cow and Snuffers pub and on Western Avenue into wildflower gardens.

One member, Rebecca Sheehan East, is an ecologist, and with her help the group has built bug hotels and planted butterfly corridors. Pam also came up with “Bury 2020”, in which the group planted 2020 bulbs along Gabalfa Avenue.

“It’ll make 2021 a little bit brighter,” she said.

This weekend saw their latest idea come to life; a display of homemade poppies hung outside Llandaff Territorial Army Barracks. The display includes purple poppies, which commemorate military animals, and white, which represent a commitment to peace. They raised over £200 for the Royal British Legion.

Pam, now COO for recruiter Hamlyn Williams, met her husband John, 36, while serving in Afghanistan as part of the Army Intelligence Corps. The couple are now based at the TA barracks with their sons Fletcher and Florian, 6.

Carl Graham, husband of fellow rebel mam Kate, 41, served in the RAF for 22 years before starting work at GE Aviation. He had to take voluntary severance earlier this year when the site cut jobs following a sharp downturn in profits. The two have a son, Thomas, aged 7, and a daughter, Layla, aged 3.

“The kids miss their friends. It’s a constant juggle, trying to keep them off their screens and working, but their ability to adapt is incredible. The stuff with YGC Rebel Mams has given them a sense of purpose and belonging. Thomas even calls the Cow and Snuffers patch ‘our garden’.”

The focus is now on Christmas. The group are teaming up with Llandaff North Festival committee, responsible for the yearly Christmas lights, and will be putting together a festive treasure hunt.

Displays will be put up at various locations around Llandaff and Gabalfa during the run-up to Christmas Day, including the roundabout at the Council Hyb, and the Cow and Snuffers community garden.

“It’ll be something that encourages people to get creative every day,” Kate says.  

“If we have a mission, it’s just to spread cheer around the local community, and to help out wherever we can,” says Pam. “I just can’t believe we’ve done this much.”