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Music man Mathew tunes in to Tabernacle opportunity

The people of a Swansea community are starting to breathe new life into one of their most high-profile historic locations.

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And it's music to the ears of the Swansea Council officers leading a revitalisation plan for the 147-year-old Morriston Tabernacle.

Indeed, one of the locals set to make good use of the famous chapel is Morriston musician Mathew Morgan. He plans to host regular guitar lessons there.

Mathew Morgan, aged 34, said: "The Tabernacle is an amazing venue in the heart of our community - I'm glad that there are plans to revitalise it.

"I will be offering classical guitar lessons from March and would like to expand by offering instruction in a variety of other instruments in the near future.

"With the Tabernacle's incredible musical heritage it'll be a pleasure to light up the venue with music made by me and my students."

Mathew lives in Chemical Road, Morriston, and has worked full-time as a music tutor with schools and private clients for around 15 years.

Council officer Jacqualyn Box, based at Tabernacle from where she is heading the project, said: "It's wonderful that Mathew and others are starting to make use of this beautiful building.

"It has been a beating heart for the community in the past and it can be so again.

"In view of the building's amazing track record as a space for high quality musical performances and the exceptional acoustics of the main chapel, it's especially encouraging to see new musical activities there."

Other new activity hosted at the venue since the revitalisation plan's launch in October includes a film show, weekly seated yoga classes and weekly Welsh language parent and toddler sessions - cylch ti a fi.

Other activities are in the pipeline and those leading the project are eager to hear from others who would like to use the Tabernacle.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "It's encouraging to see creative new use being made of one of Swansea's most celebrated buildings.

"I wish those making use of it all the best and I encourage the people from Morriston to make even more use of it."

Theplan to revitalise the Tabernacle is being driven by the council. The project represents an important development in the history of a building of national significance, one of only two Grade 1 listed structures in Swansea.

Morriston itself was key to Swansea's growth as a 19th century industrial powerhouse.

The council's revitalisation plan comes at a time when the building is in better condition than ever in living memory. However, it is used only for a limited amount of time each week.

Jacqualyn Box, of the council's economic development and external funding team, is based at Tabernacle from where she is gathering the views of people and organisations across the community to understand their aspirations.

Its official launch in October featured broadcaster Huw Edwards and Welsh Government Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport Lord Elis-Thomas.

The revitalisation plan - Morriston Tabernacle: Sustaining for Future Generations - is being funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund under its Resilient Heritage Programme. The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant was made possible by National Lottery players.

The £71,300 The National Lottery Heritage Fund award is supporting the work of Jacqualyn to develop a business plan and fundraising plan.

More info: Contact Jacqualyn Box - email Jacqualyn.Box@swansea.gov.uk, phone 07827 307968.

Classical guitar lessons at Morriston Tabernacle: Mondays 7-8pm from March 4; Thursdays 10-11am from March 7; Bookings: Phone Mathew Morgan - 07713 387435; Cost: £7.50 a session.

Photo: Guitar tutor Mathew Morgan at Morriston Tabernacle with Swansea Council officer Jacqualyn Box who is based at the historic venue.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund: Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK's heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk  

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