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16 October 2014

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Heirlooms

By Sharon Williams
September 2005, Blaenau Gwent
A digital story from Capture Wales

Treasured Memories

Sharon's fondest childhood memories are rooted in Ireland. Today, she and her family continue to be drawn to the place where her Dad came from.

"In August this year, I helped plant a rowan tree in my aunt's garden in Ireland, in memory of my Dad, who passed away earlier this year. We had a service in the house with the local priest, and lots of people who had known Dad years ago. It felt very strange being in the place where Dad came from, and him not being there.

Although that visit was a difficult one, my memories of being there are of happy times and holidays. Me, my brother, Mam and Dad, would pack up and stay with his one sister for a couple of weeks each year. And the feelings that came with it were fantastic. For a start, there were lots of children around, and as I only had one brother, this was amazing.

My two aunts had 14 children between them, and we would mingle as one big package. There were ten girls to be around, and I just felt as if I belonged. My fondest memories mostly involved picnics - picnics up mountains, on the beach, at the zoo or even in the garden. There always seemed to be food involved and lots of running around. We were never sit-down children.

This carried on until I met my husband and had two children of my own. Ten years later, one of the many cousins was getting married, and invited us all over for it. It was wonderful how warmly they accepted us, and how well my children got on with their cousins. I can see how naturally they fit in. And it feels great to know that I have passed on to my children all the experiences that I had. I hope that as my children grow, we'll continue to be as close to our Irish family as we are today. And that on every trip, we'll be able to see Dad's tree grow bigger and stronger."

Sharon Williams

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am 37 and married to Stuart, my childhood friend, and we have two beautiful children, a girl and a boy. We live in Nantyglo and enjoy being together and visiting friends and family. I love reading books about real life and people overcoming adversity along the way. I am involved in the Friends of Oak Parc sensory garden project at Tri Chwm as it was where my father spent the last few years of his life before succumbing to Alzheimer's.

What's your story about?
It's about passing on the feelings and experiences that I had as a child onto my children, being able to feel the warmth and closeness of being with family although there is a huge distance between us. I gave the film the title of Heirlooms as I feel I am handing down these precious times to my children.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
My father passed away earlier this year and I had spent a lot of time with my Irish family (his sisters and brother) before and after his death. I feel as close, if not closer, to them as ever. I want to honour the fact that I am a part of them and that I love them totally.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
I found working on something I thought I didn't have a clue about very rewarding. I spent an evening thinking and looking for photos and films to put into the film. The end product is a wonderful way to show my family how much they mean to me and how I feel about them. This is the reward.

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