The family at the heart of the Llandaff North community for half a century

The voluntary work of the Davies family has earned them awards and accolades and spanned three generations

Llandaff North Community Centre chairperson Allyson McQuade and her mum and former chairperson, Ann Davies.

ONE family have been working voluntarily to make a difference in Llandaff North for over 50 years, and they have no plans to stop anytime soon.

The Davies family’s remarkable voluntary work has continued through three generations and has “helped to shape the identity and unity of the Llandaff North community”, says councillor Jennifer Burke.

The work of Ann Davies and her husband, Alan, in their community began half a century ago when they started a fundraising group, along with other parent volunteers, to raise enough money to hire a facility where their children could go and play. The group put on various events such as Christmas fairs and markets during the 1970s.  

In 1977, they had raised enough to secure a lease at the old Booking Office in the centre of Llandaff North where they began to run community-based events. However, Ann and Alan recognised how influential a community centre could be in building a sense of togetherness in the area and soon after proposed this idea to the council.

The group pushed the council for the next few years until it obliged and began to build the centre in the early 1980s. Llandaff North Community Centre was officially opened in 1986 and Alan and Ann joined the original committee.

Ann Davies cutting the cake to celebrate the opening of Llandaff North Community Centre in 1986

Allyson McQuade, daughter of Ann and Alan and the current chairperson of the community centre, was in her early twenties when the centre was being built. She recalls there being “such a strong feeling of community” in Llandaff North at the time.

Allyson, now 60, began helping her parents out at the centre when she was 16, becoming the committee’s first junior member. By the time she was 18, Allyson was running her own youth club voluntarily at the Community Hall.

“Since I was a child, the idea of community has always been important in our family,” she said.

“When most children are young, they go away on trips with their family. We spent our lives at the community centre.

“The first bit of money I ever earned when I was 11 was from selling some of my old clothes out of my back garden. Everything I earned I put into the Community Association Fund.”

Once the centre was open, the committee ran a variety of events for the people of Llandaff North such as skittles evenings, quiz nights and a playgroup. Every year, a week-long festival would take place where the people of Llandaff North could take part in events such as tug-of-war or bingo.

After more than 20 years of voluntary work, in 1996, Ann and Alan won the Lord Mayor’s Award in Cardiff for their outstanding and selfless contributions to the community in Llandaff North. In 2012, they were awarded the second ever Owain Glyndwr Seren Award, which was created to reward and celebrate those who have become respected figures in their communities.

Ann and Alan Davies after winning the Owain Glyndwr Seren Award in 2012

Speaking to Wales Online after winning the award in 2012, Ann said: “This has come as a surprise to us, we are over the moon!

“When you work in a community you get as much back as you put in. I do love where I live.”

However, those running the centre have had to endure some difficult moments along the way. Under a year after winning the award in 2012, Ann suffered a stroke which made it difficult for her to contribute as much as she had previously to the running of the centre. Ann’s family picked up where she left off.

Alan took over the role of chairperson from his wife and Allyson and her daughter, Katie Bestwick, also took up roles on the committee. Despite her struggles, Ann continued to help where she could with running of events along with other volunteers.

On the eve of lockdown, the committee was told by Cardiff Council that it could no longer afford to fund the centre. The Davies family had two days to decide whether they would close down and hand over the building to the council, or if they were going to try and fund it themselves.

Ann was adamant that the centre she and her family had spent their lives running was not to be closed. A public meeting was held and the committee unanimously decided that they would try and sustain the centre themselves.

Allyson and Katie have worked tirelessly to maintain the beloved community centre in recent years. The committee have found funding through local businesses and raised money by putting on various events in the centre. Now, they are no longer making a yearly financial loss.

Allyson McQuade (right) with her daughter Lucy Hill.

The last four years since the funding was cut have been “really, really hard at times”, says Allyson.

“There have been a few times where I’ve thought ‘if we don’t raise some money soon, we could be in trouble’ but thankfully we’ve come through it.”

Since 2021, the Davies family have lost both Ann and Alan to illness. Katie, their granddaughter, has become secretary of the centre and Allyson took the role of chairperson in November 2023.

“Dad was given 12 months to live in 2021 and lasted two years. Both of my parents were fighters,” said Allyson.

“Throughout their lives, I don’t think mum and dad realised they were doing a wonderful thing, they were just doing their thing. I am so proud of everything they have achieved.

“I think it’s fitting that I’ve become chairperson, it’s what they would have wanted. The last thing I can do for them is carry on their legacy.”

Allyson and her family have no plans to stop their community work any time soon. Allyson’s 14-year-old grandson, Ryan Bestwick, has already started helping out at the centre.

“I think one day he’ll be the one to take over the running of the centre from me and his mum. It’s in our blood,” she said.