'The people are astonishingly generous here'
Swansea Bay is in the final four places to be named UK City of Culture 2017 – and the Evening Post has asked some famous faces to tell the world why this is such a special place. In the latest of the special series, Port Talbot poet and author LYNNE REES talks about the area and its people.
"I WAS born and grew up on the Sandfields estate, in the house where my parents still live.
"Aberavon Beach and the prom were a street away, and in the 1960s day-trippers to the beach used to park their cars outside our house. I remember feeling so lucky that I could walk to the beach with just a towel under my arm.
"I've always loved the beach — the view out to sea from the prom to the horizon. Since I've been writing Real Port Talbot I've got to know the mountains a bit better too, and the walks through them are amazing. I love the sense of aloneness I can feel in both places.
"The best thing about Port Talbot and Swansea Bay is the proximity of sea and mountains — a gift I only really appreciated after I moved away to live in Kent.
"The worst thing has to be the loss of heritage and architecture — most of which occurred in the 1970s with the demolition of old Aberafan. I'd like to believe that things are different now but the demolition, last year, of Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company house and Custom House has proved that's not the case.
"Michael Sheen's Passion sums up the spirit of the town — it re-ignited an interest and pride in Port Talbot in me and in many other people.
"Writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in the town taught me a lot.
The people of Port Talbot and Swansea Bay are friendly and astonishingly generous. The support of ordinary people for charity events; their willingness to help out others in trouble and in need is really inspiring.
"I am wholeheartedly backing the Swansea Bay City of Culture 2017 bid. This part of the country has been identified by its industries and pollution — I'm sure people still drive past the town and think of little else. It's time to change that perception — to show the outside world the creative wealth and energy that exists here."