A report of the opening of the Kate Ayres Gustard Convalecent Home by the Free Press of Monmouthshire from Friday, October 9 th , 1925.

Click the images below to see readable version - also full transcript below!



The Magnificent Gift of Mr. W. S. Gustard


SATURDAY was verity another Red Letter Day in the history of the Pontypool and District Hospital, being the occasion of the formal opening of “Cefn Ila,” Llanbadoc, near Usk, as a convalescent home for Women and Children and an adjunct to the parent institution. The fine old mansion - a blend of ancient and modern building – and the charming demesne (as is now well known), the generous gift of Mr Walter Stafford Gustard, of The Mayfield, Usk, as a lasting memorial to his wife, who passed away some 18 months ago. The history of the movement needs no repetition here; it is fully given in the speeches which are fully reported below. The conversion of the mansion to humanitarian uses to which is now to be devoted has necessitated the expenditure of £2,500 from the funds of the Hospital, and it is gratifying to note that the Executive Board have been able to find the money out of revenue. The following are details: Repairs, renewals, decoration, etc., £850; furnishings, fittings, etc., £525; central heating, electrical lighting, etc., £810; water supply, engine pump, storage etc., £315. It is scarcely necessary to point out that the continued maintenance of the Home will call for increased financial aid from all interested in the beneficent work so admirably carried on by the Executive Board.


Cefn Ila is situated as near as possible in the centre of the county, some ten miles from the Hospital and some couple of miles from Usk by road. It can be reached from Usk on foot by a much shorter route: almost in a direct line from Usk bridge, over Graigynault Wood, and across some five or six meadows at an altitude commanding delightful views of the vale of Usk and into the surrounding hills. The house, approached by a sinuous carriage drive from a quite district road leading from Usk to the Prescoed, nestles under the crest of a hill, and has an outlook to the south-west over beautifully timbered and undulating park land. No more beautiful spot nor suitable place for the recuperation of health could be found. It is stated that the mansion was originally built in the reign of Charles 11 by Sir Trevor Williams, of Llangibby Castle, as a residence for one of his younger sons. The great historical character connected with Cefn Ila was Trelawney, the friend of Lord Byron and the Poet Shelley, who lived there for some years, laid out the grounds with ornamental shrubs and trees, and built additions to the house. Mr James Henry Clark, the veteran Usk historian, knew Trelawny well as one of similar tastes, and has references to him in his books. It was at Cefn Ila Trelawney wrote “The Adventures of a Younger Son” which was an autobiography and a sensation in its day. More recent owners or occupiers have Major E.L. Lister, Mr Hartmann, and the Marquis de la Pasture.


The house has a large hall, drawing rooms, dining rooms, library, smoking-room, butler's pantry, kitchen, servants' hall, &c. There are two staircases of oak with carved balustrades leading to 15 bed and dressing rooms with accommodation for almost 20 patients in addition to the staff. The basement, with cellarage, has been hewn out solid rock. Mr Gustard's munificence has not stopped at the gift of the house and grounds; he has presented also a unique clock and a handsome cabinet gramophone with 100 records. The clock case is of carved wood with designs of animals, and while a cuckoo calls the hour, an old man plays a tune. This is in the great hall. On the same floor and adjacent, on opposite sides, are lounges for the women and the children, appropriately and comfortably furnished. The whole building has been re-decorated and put sanitarily sound. Mr Charles F. Cox, of Pontypool was in charge of the engineering work. The model electric lighting plant has been installed in the stables or garage, and electric fittings have been artistically fixed in every room. The water difficulty has been mastered by the sinking of a well and the making of a chamber of reinforced concrete, whence the water is pumped by engine to the top of the building. With the installation of central heating every room can be kept at the same temperature. On Saturday the weather was gloriously fine and Cefn Ila looked at its best bathed in the hue of an autumnal sun, which emphasized the varying tints of the foliage around. There was an assembly of some two or three hundred friends of the Hospital and the Home from the Eastern Valley and from Usk, most of whom came by motor-car and charabanc. The addresses were delivered from the verandah of the house, the company assembling in the lawn in front, where as much seating accommodation as was possible was provided.

Mr Benjamin Nicholas, J.P., president of the Hospital and the chairman of the Executive Board, presided and was supported by Messrs Godfrey E. Jones, J.P. (hon. Treasurer), Geo. Jenkins J.P, Wm. George, C.C (vice presidents), W.J. Rogers (secretary), A. Leonard (chairman of the House committee), and the following members of the Board: Messrs H.A.G. Havard, S. Winsor, Alfred Gay, Charles H, Newman, John Thomas, Theos. Williams, John Jones, H. J. Bailey, John Beard, A. E. Hodge, W. E. Williams, G. Stiff, J. T. Thomas, A. F. Linton, D. Evans, W.E Evans, J.J. Dowell, F. George, and W. Thomas (auditor) Miss Dobell (matron of the Home), and Miss A.E Roots (matron of the Hospital). Amongst others present were: Dr. R.J.S. Verity (of the hon. Medical staff), Sir A. Garrod Thomas, (chairman of the Royal Gwent Hospital Board of Directors), Lady Garrod Thomas, Mr T. Baker Jones (vice-chairman, Royal Gwent), Mrs Baker Jones, Rev Martin A. Hasluck, B.A. (vicar of LLanbadoc), Rev Edward Morgan, M.A., R.D. (vicar of Usk) and Mrs Morgan, Dr E.L.M Hackett. M.C. (Usk), Mr Arthur Jenkins (miners' agent for the Eastern Valleys), Miss Ella Nicholas, Mr and Mrs A.E. Bowen, Mr Isca Bowen and Miss Bowen, Mr and Mrs Evelyn Waddington, Mr J.H. Humphreys CC., and Mrs Humphreys, Mr and Mrs Herbert Walker (Roscagh, Usk), Mrs P. Radcliffe (Twyn Bell), Mrs Newsham, Mr and Mrs J. Waddington, Mr W. Frost Roberts (Newport), Mr S. Richards, Mr W. H. Handy, etc. Mr and Mrs John Paton wrote regretting their inability to attend.

President's opening address

Mr Benjamin Nicholas, J.P., in opening the proceedings, said he regretted the absence of Mr W.S Gustard, their friend and the donor of the Home, who would have been the appropriate person to take the prominent part in the gathering that day. In spite of all endeavours, however, they had failed to persuade him to be present, and in the circumstances they must all excuse him. (Hear, hear.) As many of them knew, Mr Gustard had a serious breakdown in his health and spirits after the sad bereavement of his wife some 1½ years ago. The sore had not yet been healed and he did not feel confident enough of himself to be with them that afternoon. The gift of that beautiful house and grounds was really a commemorative action on the part of Mr Gustard – it was in loving memory of his lamented wife. (Hear, hear.) Exactly a year ago to that day they were celebrating the coming of age of the Pontypool and District Hospital, and now they were assembled on an equally pleasurable occasion to open a convalescent home associated with that hospital. (Applause.) Speaking for the Executive Board, he thought he might say that, but for the absence of their friend the donor, their cup of satisfaction would be running over. (Applause.) Fortune had favoured them in the matter of sunshine, everything was ship-shape within (as he was sure they would admit after an inspection), all that they had done in connection with the Home had been smiled upon so far, and there was every promise of a great prosperity to the establishment of a convalescent home. (Applause.) On the occasion of the Coming of Age Celebration at Pontypool they were considering the question of a very considerable expenditure - something between £20,000 and £25,000 upon an extension of the hospital premises. In January came the surprise offer of Cefn Ila, and the Executive Board had to consider how it would be safe for them to go and whether they could undertake the cost of running it as a convalescent home. Well, they accepted the gift (Applause.) They came to the conclusion that they should embark on the scheme, and although it had cost them a substantial sum of money to convert the house for the uses that it was intended they now felt very much satisfied with the steps they had taken and had great hopes of the great good that was to ensue from the establishment of that Home in the near neighbourhood of Usk. (Loud applause.) In conclusion, Mr Nicholas called upon the Vicar of LLanbadoc to speak as one intimately acquainted with the lady to whose memory the Home was dedicated.


The Rev. Martin A. Hasluck, B.A., said the occasion was historic, not only because it marked the culmination of many months of careful thought, arduous planning, and hard work, but because that day they began a new era in connection with Cefn Ila. Henceforward they would look to its being a home of blessing to countless multitudes of men and women of our own generation and of many generations to come. (Applause.) It was felt a matter of regret to them all, he felt sure, that the donor of that magnificent house and grounds was unable to be present with them that day. (Hear, hear.) They felt deeply for him. From what Mr. Gustard had told him he knew that the place, the scheme, and the great work in view were very close to his heart; that the interests of the Home and its future were his concern, and that his dearest wish was that the scheme and the work should go on to fulfilment and be a blessing to suffering humanity. (Hear, hear, and applause.) When men and women had feelings they could not express in words and in thought Mr. Gustard was very much in that case in this respect – when, from the utmost depths of their being they had feelings, ideals, visions, thoughts for which they found words inadequate, it was the material instinct of mankind to turn to symbols for expression. (Hear, hear.) That beautiful mansion which they were that day opening and dedicating, was a symbol of beauty and remembrance, and would be an inspiration of love to all connected with the Home. It would have a message of love, not only in its gift of healing, but a message of peace and of rest to men's souls in that quiet place, away from the haunts of men and away from the bustle and turmoil of every-day life, surrounded by the handiwork of God in nature. And they might prey that's patients might go forth therefrom not only healed and whole in body but with love in their hearts that would help them in the battle of life. (Applause.) Love was the expression of life, and that place, that Home, as a memorial, was not only an expression of love but an expression of a loving life of service.


The Chairman had said that he (The Vicar) would speak to them of Mrs Gustard, of her unselfish devotion and her thought for others. He would prefer to repeat to them the words which Mr. Gustard said to him the other evening, because they expressed the message he would give to them that day. “You know”, he said, “that Cefn Ila is given thankfully by me in memory of a beautiful character, of one who always considered the sufferings of others before her own. You know I am giving Cefn Ila not only as a lasting memorial to that loving character, but to the Glory of God, Who has put it in my heart to give what little I can towards helping the sick and alleviating suffering, knowing that she would delight in the purpose for which Cefn Ila is given”. (Applause.) Those were Mr Gustard's words and he thought they expressed what he would have them bear in mind that day. That beautiful home of healing, that beautiful memorial of a loving life - was also a witness to a man's faith that in human relationships, enriched and enlightened by love, was to be found that lasting, abiding, and permanent reality that continued amid all the changes of this mortal life - the love of man for man. In his message, Mr Gustard would have them go on and bear witness to the faith that death did not sever, that passing beyond the veil could not change their relationship one to another, but rather than in eternity and in the full presence of the profound love of God they would find not separation, but the fulfilment and enrichment of that love they had learned in this world, and all that devotion that had been poured out upon it. (Applause.)


Concluding, the rev. gentleman said he took it that they were there not only to assist at the opening of that fine work but to express their thanks for the magnificent gift, and he felt sure that the donor would tell them that the best way to do that would be to assist in every possible the furtherance of the scheme of the committee and aid the noble work alleviating human suffering so the men's bodies and souls might be the fit for the great purpose of life. (Applause.) In calling upon the Vicar of Usk for a few words, the chairman said the Rev. Edward Morgan was at Trevethin twenty-three years ago when the foundation stone of the hospital was laid, and he then offered the dedicatory prayer. He (the Chairman) was happy to see Mr Morgan present that day at the opening of their convalescent home, and would ask him again to offer the dedicatory prayer. (Applause.)


The Rev. Edward Morgan said it had been a very great pleasure to him to receive an invitation from the Chairman of the Executive Board to join them that day. He would like to point out as clearly as he could the connection between the human instrument of healing and the great motive power behind it. Hospital, homes, and kindred institutions, he believed, were the outcome of the faith of man in the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not think that could be disproved. In the old heathen world there was very little attempt made to save the sick as such. Our Lord took upon himself the human body, and it carried with it healing and health. The apostles were sent out with this double commission, “Go preach the Gospel and heal the sick” The two things went hand in hand together. The gift of healing ceased to be miraculous because the necessity of miracle had long since ceased, but wherever Christianity was preached there also had they the gifts and blessing of healing. They had heard that the great gift of Cefn Ila was the outcome of sorrow. He who first came to bring healing of body and soul was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief,” and here they had His servant making fruitful by God's blessing, a blow, a sorrow that may have spoiled or devastated a life - springing out into a new life through the pathway of suffering and sorrow. Prayers followed, including one of dedication, after which


Mr George Jenkins, J.P., described as one of the originators of the Hospital, proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Mr Gustard for his magnificent gift to the Hospital. When the offer of was first made a number a number of them were afraid to accept it, thinking they might not be able to keep a convalescent home going. Personally, he was an optimist and pleaded for a trial of the scheme. He had no doubt about its success. (Applause.) Now he still had faith that the venture would become a very great blessing to the men and women of Pontypool and district. (Hear, hear.) Some of them met Mr Gustard there afterwards, when they inspected the building, and they were, and they were charmed with his manner and his sympathy. He was willing to meet them in any and every way. (Applause.)


Mr Godfrey E. Jones, J.P., seconding, said the people of Pontypool very highly appreciated Mr Gustard's gift of that beautiful property, because for some few years they had felt the need of a convalescent home of that description, to which they could send patients who did not necessarily require hospital treatment, but a rest and a change of air and scenery. A long felt want had been met. (Applause.) Cefn Ila had had a very varied historical career. It had been owned by many well -known people and well-known families in Monmouthshire as far back as the end of the 16 th century. A Williams, of LLangibby, once owned it, and coming down to the middle of the of the 18 th century he found that Edmund Jones of Trosnant, was the owner. About the same period another gentleman who had some relationships with the owners was one named Griffiths, who was Christened at Trevethin in 1753, and who afterwards was the rector of Panteg. They would see, therefore, that although Cefn Ila was more intimately associated with the town and district of Usk, there still had been a relationship between it and Pontypool, of which it now become an offshoot of the Hospital. (Applause.) Since the property had come into the possession of the Hospital, the Board had spent £2,500 out of revenue to convert it to its present use. (Applause.) He hoped they would all agree that the work had been done in an excellent manner. (Here, here.) In conclusion, Mr Jones said the Executive were delighted to see so many Usk friends present that afternoon, and they hoped that now Pontypool had an institution on the threshold of that town, its people would give a helping hand towards keeping it on the high pinnacle it ought to be kept in memory of the revered lady in whose name it had been handed over that day. (Applause.)


Mr Stephen Windsor supported the resolution as a member of the Executive and as an old Pontypool boy, and dealing with the question of the association of Pontypool and Usk, referred to the interesting fact that Mr W. S. Gustard's mother was a Pontypool lady whom he remembered well. It was more likely that the mother's influence coupled with the memory of his loving wife, had prompted Mr Gustard to offer to Pontypool the gift which they so freely acknowledged. In reminiscent mood, Mr Winsor spoke of local conditions in pre-Hospital days, the building of the Hospital, its prosperity, and the desire to meet growing demands on the part of the governing body – men who tried to excel each other in giving their best in business, tact and sympathy on behalf of the institution. Cefn Ila was situate in one of the beauty spots in their dear old county, and there, away from the over-populated industrial areas where frail women and children had scarcely a chance to get strong, their woman and their children could brought and restored to

Continued on Page 2, col.5


Continued from Page One.

health and vigour amid glorious surroundings. He believed that as time went on they would realise more and more the great advantage of the Home, and that the generous donor would feel the beautiful truth of the words of the Master, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of my brethren ye did it unto Me.” (Applause.)


Sir A. Garrod Thomas (chairman of the directors of the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport) said he thought they might paraphrase the old saying by expressing “Happy is the institution that is launched on a day like this - with the green fields around and the sun shining.” (Applause.) Might the sunshine of success and prosperity continue with them for all time. (Hear, hear.) He was present at the birth of the Pontypool and District Hospital, saw it in its early teens, and was at its coming of age celebration. As a Monmouthshire man – though not by birth - he felt thankful to Pontypool for the additional beds they had provided for the sick poor of the county. (Applause.) Their average perhaps, was nearly as good as the best, but could still do with more. On behalf of the Royal Gwent Hospital he gave them his benediction. He wished them well and hoped all that came to the Home would be benefited and strengthened by their residence there. (Applause.)


Mr A.E Bowen said that Usk offered a very hearty welcome to the institution that had been started with such noble ideals. To everyone present must come the thought that no more delightful form of pious memorial could be offered to the world at large than an institution like that, surrounded as it was by natures charms, beautiful trees, pure air, and a noble aspect. It was in striking contrast with the smoke of the forge and the banging and clanging of the rolls. If Cefn Ila did not tend to restore patients to good spirits, health and happens he did not know what would. (Here, here.) Mr Godfrey Jones - who as hon. treasurer dealt with pounds, shillings and pence and ought to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer – (laughter) – had been inclined to deal with the past history of Cefn Ila. Well, many of them may have heard about Trelawney, the friend of Lord Byron and of the Poet Shelley. Trelawney at one time lived at Cefn Ila. He it was who built the wing of the house now facing them. Trelawney was an extraordinary character and a great man for trees. Although he lived there only a few years he had left his name behind in the trees, for they could not find such a collection in any other part of Monmouthshire. To those living in the district it was a great gratification that the old house should be put to such a noble use as it was going to be put in the future. In conclusion, Mr Bowen proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Nicholas - one of the most prominent citizens in the Eastern Valleys - for presiding on that interesting occasion. (Applause.) The proposition having been carried with acclimation.


The President acknowledged the compliment. He ought to say, he remarked that for the time being Cefn Ila would be for the use of convalescent women and children – not necessarily for patients recovering from illness or accident, but for those women also who, in the knowledge of their doctors, district nurses, etc., were in a poor state of health, and those children who would be benefited by a change of scene and fresh air. (Applause.) The present number of beds and cots was 19, besides the accommodation for the matron and staff. The Executive board were very pleased with the efficient way in which the contractors carried out their work - the builders, Messrs Powell Bros., and the engineers, Mr Charles F. Fox. The Board also had the valuable assistance - purely voluntary – of Mr G. R. Orchard, of Tirpentwys Colliery, as electrician. Mr Winsor then presented to the Home a metal vase in memory of his wife, who had recently passed away, and with regard to whom the President made a sympathetic reference. In addition, a cheque for £10 was received from Mr Woodley, Griffithstown, and Mr Jas. Clark, of Pontnewynydd, has presented a beautiful doll's house for the children's ward, in memory of his wife. The mansion was then formally entered by the Chairman through the main door, and the visitors followed for an inspection of the rooms. Tea was subsequently provided by the Chairman, Hon. Treasurer and Mr Godfrey W. James, J.P. , Mrs Branch being the caterer.