Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010
Valleys champion urges homecoming
Roy Noble and Gaynor Madgwick
Gaynor meets another champion of the valleys - Roy Noble of BBC Wales

Gaynor Madgwick from Aberfan urges people to take a fresh look at the south Wales valleys in 2010.

She's been appointed Merthyr Tydfil's representative for the valleys' Heart and Soul of Wales marketing campaign.

The aim is to promote a positive view as people visit high-profile events such as the Ryder Cup in Newport and the National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.

Gaynor hopes to provide positive proof of the region's resilience herself as a survivor of the 1966 Aberfan disaster.

Speaking to Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales, Gaynor said she believed the community spirit and charitable nature of valleys people set them apart from others.

"Valleys people are the first to offer their support and give what they can to help others," she said.

"It's our way of giving something back to people."

Valleys Homecoming is being launched later this month as a major part of the Heart and Soul of Wales campaign.

People around the world who left the south Wales valleys or with family links to the region will be invited to make a return visit and see how their homeland has changed.

But Gaynor said the valleys' strong sense of community spirit survives, despite huge changes in the local economy and its relative poverty since the decline of heavy industry.

Poster image for Heart and Soul of Wales campaign
Local people are being asked to say what they like in the area

"People visiting the area are always commenting on how friendly and down to earth valleys people are because they get such a warm welcome here," she said.

"Everyone talks to each other and there is a very strong community spirit."

The Valleys: Heart and Soul of Wales campaign is part of a £22m three-year assembly government project to raise the profile of the south Wales valleys.

It intends to build on investment in the region to date and help boost the local economy.

The drive covers nine areas - Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend, northern areas of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and the eastern valleys of Carmarthenshire.

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