PeopleOf Cwmamman

Glanamman Branch of St. John's Ambulance Brigade with Dr. John Davies

St John's Ambulance Brigade outside Glanamman School c.1950.

Sammy Hicks, Headmaster, in suit, seated centre left. Dr. John Davies in suit, seated centre right.

A new divison of the Saint John's Ambulance Brigade at Glanamman was sanctioned at the Executive meeting of the Priory of Wales, held at Cardiff on Monday the 23rd of January, 1933.

The Welsh Priory was established in 1918. In 1907, King Edward VII authorized the Grand Prior to establish new priories in Great Britain and the British Empire. The first priory to be established as a result of this was in Wales.

On the 8th of March, 1933, the Brynseion Dramatic Society, under the directorship of Mr Morgan Rhys Roberts, performed the drama, "La Zone" at the Workmen's Hall, Garnant. The performance was given in order to raise funds for the newly formed Glanamman Ambulance Division. The Chairman was T. J. Evans M.E., manager of Gellyceidrim Colliery, who praised the young men of Glanamman for their interest in first aid.

The 14th of September 1933, edition of the A. V. Chronicle, reported that the Glanamman Ambulance Division; "one of the most progressive in the district", had held a meeting at Glanamman School, where the decision was made to hold an ambulance competition in order to raise funds. This competition was to be the first in the district. The open competition was held at Glanamman County School on the 30th of September 1933. The prize was a "massive" silver cup, donated by Mr Luigi Carpanini and Sons; a popular Italian family who owned an ice cream business in the village. The newspaper stated that the various ambulance brigades do good work at factories, collieries and at various accidents, but highlighted the lack of public support for the Ambulance movement until first aid was needed.

The same edition of the Chronicle, reported on the rescue of a 6 year old boy who fell into the River Amman near the Kings Head, Glanamman (Penpound Lane). A girl who witnessed the accident told her father, Jack Hext, who dived in and rescued the boy from the deep water. Artificial respiration was reportedly applied to the boy for a full hour by members of the Glanamman Ambulance Division before the boy came round. He was later taken to his home.

On the 10th of December 1933, there was a large crowd present for the sacred concert at the Workmen's Hall, Garnant. The function was organised in order to raise money for the Glanamman Ambulance Brigade. The president for the evening was the Sir Alfred Cope, K.C.B., who, during his speech, thanked the Brigade for his invitation to the event. Sir Alfred praised the movement and recognised that they did not get any financial support from any source, but depended upon subscriptions and public support. He also acknowledged that many lives had been saved by the ambulancemen who tended to victims of accidents before the medical men arrived. Mr. Sam Williams, manager of the Labour Exchange acted as the chairman for the evening and gave a brief outline of the history of the Brigade and their successes. He stated that the Glanamman Ambulance Brigade was formed two years previously by Dr. J. P. Dunne and Mr. T. J. Evans, M.E., the manager of Gellyceidrim colliery, Glanamman. Classes were held weekly at Glanamman Council School. Mr Williams continued by stating that to date, Glanamman Ambulance Brigade were the winners of four silver cups (two outright), four sets of medals and many other trophies.
Mr Williams related a story where on one occasion, before returning home from a competition at Ystalyfera, the Glanamman Ambulance Brigade attended to a man on the fairfield who had broken his leg. The ambulancemen set the man's leg and were highly complimented by the doctor on their good work.

Prior to the St John's Ambulance Brigade being formed at Glanamman, the Gellyceidrim Colliery officials set up their own first aid classes and this was reported in the A. V. Chronicle's 4th November 1926 edition. The classes were held at Glanamman Council Schools every Thursday evening throughout the winter months and the invitation to join was extended to anyone who wished to volunteer. By the end of November, the A. V. Chronicle was reporting that Glanamman had the strongest and best attended Ambulance Classes held under the Carmarthenshire Education Committee, with attendances ranging from 66 to 71 per weekly session. The classes were taken by Doctor Rhys of Glanamman and the officials of the Gellyceidrim Colliery were in regular attendance.

The very popular Doctor John Davies, who appears in the above photograph, became Medical Officer of Health for Cwmamman Urban Council on Wednesday the 27th of November 1935. Part of his duties was to report on the general state of health of the people of Cwmamman at the monthly council meetings. His report would include the number of births, deaths and number of cases of infectious diseases, eg; Diphtheria, and offer advice as to any steps that should be taken. He had his next door to the Community Centre on High Street, Glanamman. This building was later used as the Glanamman Library. The Glanamman and Garnant libraries have since merged and the one library is now located at Ysgol Y Bedol school in Garnant.

Thanks to Dilys Jenkins for this contribuition. Information was taken from the Amman Valley Chronicle and the St. John's Ambulance Website, which includes information about the history of the association.

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