FILM star Michael Sheen has backed a campaign to reopen a Gwent day centre for vulnerable adults by reading a poem in its praise.
Written by campaigners who have been battling to see the Tudor Centre in Abergavenny brought back into use the ‘Padlock, Padlock’ poem describes the currently shuttered facility as a “more than bricks, more than a site/It was hope in the morning and peace at night”.
The poem has been shared on social media by the Save Tudor Street Campaign and this Sunday the campaigners were given a boost when the star, who is also well known for campaigning on social justice issues, shared a recording of him reading it.
Newport born Sheen posted the recording in a reply to the campaign’s Tudor Street Day Centre account on X, formerly known as Twitter, after it asked “all Michaels, including you” – in a post directed to the actor’s @michaelsheen account – to read its “community poem” on video.
Sheen, who’d previously shared a tweet from the campaign group, posted a recording on Sunday afternoon that has now been viewed more than 171,000 times on the social media site.
Mike Youell, who described writing the poem as “a collaborative effort” said to hear the acclaimed actor – who has also recorded Dylan Thomas poetry and a stirring speech intended to inspire the Welsh football team ahead of last year’s World Cup in Qatar, as “amazing”.
He also said the recording was very timely with Monmouthshire county councillors set to vote on a motion calling for the centre to be reopened when they meet this Thursday, September 21.
Mr Youell said: “Having Michael Sheen’s support has been a monumental boost for our campaign. It’s not just about the celebrity endorsement; it’s about lending credibility and a louder voice to a cause that profoundly affects the lives of vulnerable people in our community.
“Michael’s participation makes it clear that this is a human issue deserving of attention and immediate action. His reading of our poem resonated deeply, encapsulating the collective yearning for justice and equality.”
Mr Youell, who said he has known people who previously relied on the Tudor Centre through a local arts group and through Cwmbran’s Able Radio, said he had always imagined the Twighlight and Frost/Nixon star, reading the verses.
He said: “While writing the poem, it was envisioned that Michael Sheen would one day read the poem out. It became a bit of an obsession to get him to read the poem, although we haven’t pressured him too much, as he is very busy and helps so many other social causes.”
The poem also refers to padlocks with the campaign’s most recent action having been a protest in which padlocks have been attached to the fence around the centre as a symbol of it remaining under lock and key since closing, at the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, and their attachment to the building which has been described as a traditionally a “cornerstone of support” for vulnerable adults with a range of disabilities, both physical and mental.
The council, which in November last year said it intended selling the centre for social housing, is now considering it as one of three potential bases in Abergavenny for its My Day, My Life support service for adults with learning disabilities.
Campaigners had previously forced the council to put its plans to permanently close the centre on hold. A review of the support service found it had deteriorated and among its recommendations, which have been accepted by the council, are the service should have a base in both Abergavenny and Monmouth.
The council has said it is it still working on implementing the outcomes of the review it had commissioned including determining where it should have support bases in Abergavenny and Monmouth.
The Tudor Centre has previously been included in a shortlist of sites for Abergavenny along with the town’s community centre and the Melville Theatre but campaigners say as the centre was previously a support base it had the necessary adaptations and facilities and have disputed the other buildings are fully accessible.
Monmouthshire council will consider a motion, from opposition Conservative group leader, that directs the Labour-led council administration to prepare to reopen the Tudor Centre as it works on implementing the review when they meet on Thursday, October 21.
The poem in full
In the heart of Abergavenny’s grace,
Stands Tudor Street, a familiar place.
Once filled with laughter, with joy, and talk,
Now silent but for the “Padlock, padlock.”
It was more than bricks, more than a site,
It was hope in the morning and peace at night. A place for the weary, the tried and true,
A home for me, a sanctuary for you.
“Padlock, padlock,” on the gate we find,
A rusty symbol of the ties that bind. Yet, memories linger in every hall,
Of hands that helped, and hearts that saw.
We hope for the day when doors swing wide,
When laughter fills every room inside. To find the magic that once we knew,
And break the chain-make old things new.
“Padlock, padlock,” let this not be the end,
For Tudor Street has been a lifelong friend.
With public will and voices loud,
We’ll turn the key, make spirits proud.
So here’s to Tudor, in its quiet stand,
A monument to kindness in this Welsh land.
Though silent now, its story’s not done;
With love, we’ll unlock a new chapter begun.
— michael sheen 💙 (@michaelsheen) September 17, 2023