• DJ

The Cwmbwrla Connections Advent Calendar - Day Twenty Two


What were you doing in 1980?

Swansea City were two thirds of the way through their meteoric rise from the Fourth Division to the First.

Bjorn Borg was winning his fifth and final Wimbledon title.

Luke Skywalker was discovering the identity of his father in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

And Paula Morris was starting out on a forty year journey that’s seen her improve the lives of countless young people in this part of Swansea.

When Paula supervised her first cub scout meeting she was doing a one-off favour for a friend. But the enjoyment and satisfaction of helping children find a sense of purpose proved irresistible. It still is. Along with her colleague Diane, Paula is a group leader for Brynhyfryd, Manselton, Fforestfach, Plamarl, Morriston, Caerethin, Penplas, Portmead and Greenhill. She’s worked with very young children, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood and every age in between. These young people come from the most varied of backgrounds and the one thing they all have in common is their respect for the lady who has influenced their lives so positively.

The cub scout movement began in the early years of the 20th century and quickly became a global phenomenon. Cub scouts are taught to follow a path of duty, honesty and loyalty, qualities that will be familiar to anyone who has worked alongside Paula.

In 2020 they’ve also been taught to follow a path of adaptability, as social distancing restrictions prevented group meetings and took their gatherings online. As the leader, Paula had to learn very quickly to communicate via new media. She took it all in her stride, as she does with every challenge she faces, and parents of Paula’s cubs credit her with giving them a taste for online learning that has improved their school work. When you add the hours Paula has devoted to her cub scouts to the hours of community service she’s offered as a lockdown volunteer in 2020, it’s difficult to fathom how she finds the time for anything else. In fact, she fits these selfless commitments around a demanding full-time job.

Cwmbwrla has been blessed with a remarkable group of community champions who’ve brightened their neighbours’ lives during this challenging and sometimes chaotic year.

What sets Paula Morris apart is that she’s been doing it for forty years.

Swansea City haven’t exactly been consistent since 1980. On the good days we won trophies at Wembley, but on the bad days we came close to bankruptcy. Bjorn Borg’s had his ups and downs too, and not every Star Wars film made the fans happy.

But Paula has been as reliable and true as the sunrise. Day after day she’s embodied the community spirit that makes so many of us proud of where we live, so it was appropriate that this week Emma Shears presented her with a Community Spirit Award to mark four decades of outstanding service. The award came with the grateful thanks of the people of Cwmbwrla, Manselton, Brynhyfryd and Gendros, adults and children, past proteges, current colleagues and lifelong friends. It’s the least this lovely, unselfish lady deserves.

Merry Christmas Paula.

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