Donations amounting to £6,500 from The Co-operative’s Community Fund will allow four community groups to move forward with exciting projects in the Rhondda area.

The Friends of Tonypandy Communty College has been awarded £2,000 towards the development of an outdoor classroom and an organic allotment, within the grounds, for students of the college and the wider community to engage with the environment.

 Julie Atkins, of Friends of Tonypandy Community College, says “Being able to realise an interactive outdoor space provides so much scope for extended learning opportunities covering a range of issues from organic growing awareness to recycling and food air miles.

 “We’re extremely grateful to The Co-operative for this grant that means we can get started on the project and I’m confident it will have a lasting positive impact on the young people and adult learners involved.”

 The Civic Trust for Wales has received £2,000 towards restoring a Victorian statue in Tonypandy. The “Lady with the Lamp” statue depicts an Egyptian water carrier with a gas lamp, and was erected in 1909 in memory of local colliery owner Sir Archibald Hood. It was severely damaged in 1968 following a car accident, and then removed from public view completely in 1993.

 Lisa Brekmoe, of The Civic Trust for Wales, says: “We’re delighted to have been awarded a contribution towards the reinstatement of such an iconic landmark in Mid-Rhondda.

 “Not only is this an important piece of the area’s heritage, the project will involve a local artist working with young people to design and build a replacement plinth for the statue.”

 Another £2,000 has gone to Rhondda Cynon Taff Crime Reduction Association to pay for more “Crucial Crew” sessions, a service that educates year six school pupils about the dangers of areas such as electricity sub stations and building sites through purpose built scenario-based learning.

 Evan Thomas,  of Rhondda Cynon Taff Crime Reduction Association, said: “Since the introduction of the Crucial Crew services we’ve already seen a reduction in accidents and fatalities so it is vital we are able to continue spreading life-saving health and safety messages to children in the area.”

 Cwmparc Old Age Pensioners’ Association can look forward to a trip to the seaside thanks to a £500. Merle Loxton, said: “As many of our members struggle to walk around our hilly village, trips out to flatter seaside areas are most valuable to increasing independence and raising self esteem.

 “We now have a happy bunch of OAPs thanks to this funding from The Co-operative, and the group is very excited about the visit to Western-super-Mare.”

 Mike Ash-Edwards, Secretary for The Co-operative in Wales said: “The Community Fund can make a real and lasting contribution to local communities and all four Rhondda-based groups are certainly worthy causes.

 “Many community groups share the same values as The Co-operative and could benefit from an award and we would certainly welcome their applications.”

 The Community Fund offers grants of between £100 and £2,000 to community projects across the country. Local Co-operative members’ committees allocate awards based on a set of values and principles such as social responsibility and caring for others.

 About £100,000 is available annually in Wales to support charities and community groups and application forms are available online at www.co-operative.coop/membership/Community-Fund or by phoning 0161 827 5879.