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16 October 2014

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Against All Odds

By Trudy Launchbury
June 2002, Tairgwaith
A digital story from Capture Wales

At the races

Trudy tells us how, with sheer determination and a lot of hard work, even the unlikeliest of projects can succeed.

"I've never spent a day in my life without a horse.

As a child my parents took me to compete at local horse shows and I loved it. I even met my husband at one. He had always wanted to be a jockey but his parents would not allow him. They wanted him to have a trade.

Our son showed no interest in horses at all, despite our efforts... and he's now a carpenter.

Horses even took us abroad where my husband's dream of being a jockey came true.

When we returned home to our coal mining village, all the pits were closed and open cast mining in its place. The ugly slag tips in front of our house were being removed. There was a rumour that there was going to be a trotting horse track on the reclaimed site.

Volunteers at the ready... total panic. Ammanford Trotting Club organised its first American-style harness meeting in 1979. Whilst racing our own horses I somehow got roped in to becoming a secretary... how this happened, I will never know.

Older members guided us along; I was just a youngster - of course 50-year-old men knew what they were doing. Sometimes it didn't feel that way to me.

Now at 50 myself I know that they did. I miss the members I no longer see, and marvel at the rest who still volunteer, despite the hip replacements, plastic knee joints and forgetting where they put their stop watch.

Sound - cheering at the finish line

I hope that when my turn comes I will take the orders with such good grace, should my niece Claire ever take my place."

Trudy Launchbury

Can you please tell us about yourself?
I am a 51-year-old housewife and I've been married for 33 years. I live with my husband, my son, my niece and a 73-year-old lodger we inherited four years ago. To avoid being bored I also work full time and do quite a bit of voluntary work as well.

What's your story about Trudy?
Well, there are two main themes in my story. One is noticing how horses have shaped our family's life and the other is showing how, with a lot of effort and hard work, some of the most unlikely projects can succeed.

Why did you choose this as your digital story?
The idea came after I went to the BBC open evening held locally where I heard that Digital Storytelling could create a small piece of visible history. I knew that this would give me the opportunity to put together the information that I had collected for several years into some sort of order that could be looked back on, not just a jumble of old photos and scrap-book memories.

What was the experience like at the workshop in Ammanford?
Nobody could have gone into a workshop more unprepared than I was. I almost did not go back the second day. It wasn't the computers, the script or even the group work that worried me but I was recording my voice-over, I thought that people would think that Bryn Terfel had narrated my story. The problem was solved by the clever sound man who just recorded my voice and played it back to me - no problems. After that hurdle it was a brilliant experience.

Would you recommend the Digital Storytelling workshop to others?
Most definitely. If there is a workshop in your area please go along and tell your story - I wouldn't hesitate to do another digital story should the opportunity arise again.

Your comments

"We've built a house overlooking the trotting track and what a wonderful view. The scenery all around is so beautiful it makes me feel proud that we chose that particular spot to build a house." Delyth Thomas from Tairgwaith, Apr 2009.

"I loved Trudy's story and as it happens she is married to my cousin Alfie. Since I emigrated to the USA over 40 years ago I really didn't keep in touch with much of the family. It was good to read how the trotting track came about. Tairgwaith and the surrounding areas looked so different once the tips were flattened and planted.Good luck Trudy." Diana Hamilton, Huntington Beach, California, USA, Feb 2008.

"It was a very interesting story as I have lived in Ammanford for ten years and never knew that this race track was there. " Bill Bishop, Ammanford, Wales. Sep 2007.

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