28/02/2016 Songs of Praise


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28/02/2016

Aled Jones visits Port Talbot, home of Britain's largest steelworks, as 4,000 workers and the wider community await news of hundreds of redundancies.


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Hello. It's St David's Day this week and I've come to Port Talbot,

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home to the UK's largest steelworks, where 4,000 workers

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and the wider community await news of hundreds of redundancies.

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My fears are for the young people who are currently employed there.

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They've got mortgages, they've got young families.

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It's going to be devastating. Absolutely devastating.

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And I need a former steelworker, whose recovery from a

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life-threatening accident at work was galvanised by his male voice choir.

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When I'm singing, I find the afterglow of it all creates a situation

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where I'm almost like being back in work.

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And I'm in Britain's smallest city here in Pembrokeshire, to find

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out more about St David, patron saint of Wales.

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And Diane's in Coventry to meet the stylist who offers spiritual advice,

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-as well as a shampoo and set.

-Make sure you do a good job!

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We've a great selection of music from across the United Kingdom,

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including from the Land of Song. It would be rude not to, wouldn't it?

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We're going to start with that famous Welsh tune named after

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the Rhondda Valley and it comes from the same church where

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almost 55 years ago, Songs Of Praise was first broadcast.

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-NEWSREEL:

-Where once, the economic blizzards of former years

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swept across Port Talbot, there now emerges the Abbey steelworks.

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Opened in 1951, the Port Talbot Steelworks once employed

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tens of thousands of workers.

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But today, the company has said tough actions are needed

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in difficult market conditions. Redundancies are inevitable

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to secure the long-term future of the site -

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a real concern for the people of Port Talbot.

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We don't know what's happening yet, so we'll just wait and see.

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-It's terrible.

-Bad, isn't it? really bad.

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Personally, I think it'll be, Port Talbot will start to die again.

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The plant, owned by the multinational conglomerate, Tata,

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is estimated to be losing £1 million a week.

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Workers can only wait to hear which of them will be

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affected in the coming months.

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Port Talbot has been synonymous with steel for more than 60 years.

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You can see why. It's such an imposing and impressive presence here.

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You can also see why job losses would cast a long shadow

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over the community.

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750 of the 4,000 workers are at risk.

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One man facing possible redundancy is Vince Lewis,

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who can see the blast furnaces from his home.

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-Nice to see you.

-Nice to see you.

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There's no getting away from work for you.

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-You practically live in the steelworks.

-I know.

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I can look out my window and I know exactly what's happening.

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What does that place mean to you?

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I've been there almost 32 years, so it's a big part of my life,

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part of my family's life.

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My grandfather worked there, my father.

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My brother works there.

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-My son works here, so...

-Gosh.

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Port Talbot, it's got a proud history in steel-making

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and long may it continue, yeah.

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People watching this programme all over the world

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without realising, maybe, will own some steel made there.

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Yes, definitely, yes.

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Your fridges, your microwaves, your car.

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You know, we make the finest quality steel in the world.

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You can tell that you're really, really proud of what you do.

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I am, yeah.

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I'm proud of my community, I'm proud of the town

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and I'm proud of the works, of the plant.

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How have you managed not to be too down about what's happening?

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I think I'm a naturally optimistic person

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and God willing, I think that we will prevail.

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-Have you turned to your faith at all during these difficult times?

-Yes.

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I'm proud of my faith.

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I was brought up Catholic and I attend Mass.

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And yes, I think saying a little prayer and asking God maybe

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to give the people with the power a little nudge in the right direction

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and maybe give us a helping hand to keep it going.

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One of the many businesses that may be affected by the job losses

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is the Docks Cafe, just down the road from the steelworks.

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I mean, I've got part-time staff.

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If jobs go, their job's going to go. You know what I mean? So...

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At the moment, we're OK.

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But what's going to happen next month?

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Retired steel worker and local councillor Dennis Keogh knows

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just how ingrained steel is in this community.

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This town has grown

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on the back of steel-making here.

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The Sandfields estate down there -

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there are 5,000 families living down there -

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was built as a result of this steelworks,

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to house steelworkers.

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So there was a lot of money coming through here?

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-At one time, it was known as Treasure Island.

-Really?

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-And Eldorado.

-THEY LAUGH

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What was it like, back in the day, then?

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Well, it was an incredible place to work

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because it's like a small town in there, you know.

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There is nearly 100 miles of road in there.

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There's over 150 miles of railway line in there.

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-Goodness me!

-It covers an area of roughly 20 square miles.

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Wow!

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And how many people work there?

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When it first opened, 22,000

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and they would come up from as far as Llanelli,

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-they'd come in from Cardiff.

-Goodness me!

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It had its own station at one time.

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How do you feel seeing it as it is now? It's changed a lot.

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It has changed a lot and that is because of technology.

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We've increased steel production but we've reduced the manpower.

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Unfortunately, that is the way.

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Redundancies looming, they say.

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Unfortunately.

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What impact do you think that'll have on this community?

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My fears are for the young people who are currently employed there.

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They've got mortgages, they've got young families.

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It's going to be devastating, absolutely devastating.

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My hope is that Tata will keep the faith

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and will continue to make steel,

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because we make such good quality steel.

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We'll be back here later in the programme

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to meet some singing steelworkers who rallied around

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when one of their own was seriously injured.

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But up next, a performance by classical singing twins,

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Richard and Adam.

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# I believe for every drop of rain that falls

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# A flower grows

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# I believe that somewhere in the darkest night

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# A candle glows

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# I believe for everyone who goes astray

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# Someone will come to show the way

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# I believe

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# I believe

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# I believe above a storm the smallest prayer

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# Will still be heard

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# I believe that someone in the great somewhere

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# Hears every word

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# Every time I hear a newborn baby cry

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# Or touch a leaf

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# Or see the sky

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# Then I know why

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# I believe

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# I believe above a storm the smallest prayer

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# Will still be heard

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# I believe that someone in the great somewhere

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# Hears every word

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# Every time I hear a newborn baby cry

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# Or touch a leaf

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# Or see the sky

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# Then I know why

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# I believe. #

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This year we are sending our very own church detective,

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Richard Taylor, on the trail of Britain's patron saints.

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Today, he's walking in the footsteps of St David. Who else?

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His saint's day is on Tuesday.

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1st March is the first day of spring and it's also

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the feast day of the man known affectionately in Wales

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as Dewi Sant, St David.

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This local lad lived and worked here in Pembrokeshire

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and to find out more,

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I'm on my way to the beautiful city that's named after him.

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David lived about 1,500 years ago,

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after the departure from Britain of the Christian Roman Empire

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but before the arrival of missionaries

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from the Roman Catholic Church.

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It was a period when Christians like David stood alone in Britain,

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keeping the faith against pagan rivals.

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There are some fantastic stories about David.

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His birth was predicted by the wizard Merlin.

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He was a relative of King Arthur.

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He was born during a mighty thunderstorm on the cliffs

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just along from here.

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He saved ships at sea, he raised a child from the dead

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and he cured the sick.

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Whatever the legends, we do know

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that David founded a monastery and a church just over the hill

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on the spot where his cathedral now stands.

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David was a monk, an abbot and a bishop

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who spent most of his working life in this little valley.

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He and his companions led radically simple lives

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of prayer and study and work,

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eating only bread and water

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and foregoing all personal possessions.

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But how did David come to be so popular in Wales

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that he became its patron saint?

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One reason is that Welsh people do like a good speaker

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and St David was one of the very best.

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He was so persuasive a preacher that people believed

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they could see the white dove of the Holy Spirit

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sitting on his shoulder and whispering in his ear,

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and that on one occasion, a miracle took place

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when the ground that he was preaching on rose up underneath him

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to make a little hill so that people could hear him even better.

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Whether Wales really needs another hill is another question.

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I'm meeting with the cathedral's dean to find out

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if you can separate David fact from David fiction.

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Where did his influence come from?

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I mean, why David as opposed to any other man?

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I imagine he must've been a very charismatic character

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and I think that's evidenced by the fact that,

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you know, the cult of St David must've been

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so strong that six centuries later, they built this great cathedral.

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There's something very special about this place.

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I think it's truly amazing that after all these centuries,

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people still come here in their thousands

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and still find hope and inspiration in this place.

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Do you think David does lie here?

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Well, we're not sure, but when we were restoring the shrine,

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the archaeologist did some research

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and he thinks it's as likely as not

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that there may be something contained within the shrine.

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CHURCH BELLS RING

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In a sermon that he preached shortly before he died,

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St David said, "Be joyful and keep the faith

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"and do ye the little things that you have seen me do."

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Coming up, Diane's off to Coventry to meet a hairdresser who provides

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more than the usual chitchat with your cut and blow-dry.

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But first, it's to Southampton for this popular worship song.

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I wouldn't normally travel to Coventry to get my hair done

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but at this salon,

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stylist Anthony Holder-Simms offers more than just a new hairdo.

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I'm in your capable hands. Make sure you do a good job.

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'Anthony is a partner in this busy hairdresser's

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'and he has discovered that a strong Christian faith

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'is every bit as important to his clients as his nimble fingers.'

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What is it about hairdressers in general that makes people

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confide in them so much that it's almost like a confessional?

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They start talking to you

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and sometimes they tell you

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things in their life that's happened to them

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and then they will just let off steam about everything,

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regardless of what's going on at home,

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what's going on with their children, what's going on at work.

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But there's times when I know that people have come

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and you can just see that they are dealing with some stuff

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and a lot of people just break down in front of me.

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But soon, Anthony realised that people wanted to chat

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about more spiritual matters.

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The Bible talks about the head is the covering

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so with that, people can come to for us to be their covering

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so that when they feel like they're lost or

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they feel like they can't do this, they can come to us

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and we can just pray with them so that they can

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know that there is a God and there is a God in their situation.

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Word got around and before he knew it,

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Anthony had his own mini-church in the room above the salon.

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They started to come and tell their family members, tell their friends

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'and Thursday nights they just kept coming and coming and coming.'

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# Praise, praise

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# Praise, praise... #

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And so Anthony and his team are styling

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their own brand of passionate praise and worship

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with a growing congregation.

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# My chains are broke

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# My chains... #

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'I love singing with all my heart

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'and I love hairdressing.'

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I believe that I can actually talk to people more

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so I can evangelise to people about the word of God.

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We do their hair and we do what we need to do with them

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and make them look great,

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but there's no point just making them look great

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when inside, they're bleeding, inside they're down.

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In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Like when you have a child - to me, hairdressing is my child.

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It's something that no matter what's going on, it will bring me through,

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through God.

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So people now know that this is the salon

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where you have your hair done

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and your heart, soul and spirit sorted out.

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When you work with people in anything, it's hard.

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But if God is for me,

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and he's told me to do this,

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no matter what...may come my way,

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I know that God's got my back

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because I'm doing his work.

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MALE VOICE CHOIR SINGS

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Earlier in the programme, we saw how news of hundreds of job losses

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at the largest steelworks in the UK is having a far-reaching effect

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on the morale of Port Talbot and the surrounding area.

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I'm here at one of the locals,

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trying to keep their spirits up with song.

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THEY SING IN WELSH

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'The 80-strong Kenfig Hill Male Voice Choir

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'is made up of men from across the community,

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'including steelworkers past and present.'

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They sound brilliant.

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For choir member Michael Down,

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his presence here might be described as a miracle.

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Three and a half years ago, he sustained life-threatening injuries

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after an accident at the steelworks.

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# Amen. #

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Take us back to that day in August, if you don't mind.

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What exactly happened?

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On that day, I was on a machine and somehow,

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the machine broke into speed

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and I was caught by the machine

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and dragged in

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and spun around...

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and I was bashed about a bit.

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-What injuries did you sustain them?

-Ah...

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Multiple fractures of my skull.

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I lost my ear, my arm, though it's back on now.

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I broke my neck,

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-I broke my leg and my hip...

-Goodness me!

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She was told I wouldn't speak, I wouldn't see,

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I wouldn't talk, anything.

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I was lucky to be alive.

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And I'm really grateful for... whatever...

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Whoever saved me.

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-Who do you think saved you?

-God, I think.

-Really?

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Yes, I think so.

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He says that God saved him.

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-Who did you turn to?

-Well, this is it.

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I didn't have the faith to think

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everything was going to be all right.

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I didn't know.

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And I remember being in the hospital, in the chapel

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and then I was just laid down in the chapel,

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literally on the floor and, um... I didn't have any answers.

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I just felt I really was at the foot of the cross and it's...

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I have turned everything over to you.

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I think, when trauma happens,

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it chucks you out of your little bubble

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and your comfort zone that you're in,

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and you are forced to find a way through it, really.

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And...it's made us better people.

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-Which is...

-Stronger people.

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A bit of an anomaly, but it's made us,

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we feel it's made us better people.

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APPLAUSE

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Just 15 months after the accident,

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Michael received a standing ovation when, remarkably,

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he was able to rejoin the choir.

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When you're up there with the boys now, singing, how do you feel?

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Marvellous.

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I find the connection with the people around me

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and the afterglow of it all creates a situation

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where it's almost like being back in work.

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And I find it really... well, absolutely rewarding.

0:28:390:28:44

Well, listen, I think you're a huge inspiration,

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-how you can even just be smiling.

-I hope I am, I hope I am.

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-You are.

-I hope I inspire other people to walk the walk.

0:28:490:28:52

# Now I've been to the Highlands of Scotland

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# To Paree and the fountains of Rome

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# But wherever I go

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# In my heart I still know

0:29:110:29:13

# There's just one place that I call my home

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# There is a land that's dear to me

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# And it's called the land of song

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# And it will be eternally

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# The land where I belong

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# A land full of warmth and laughter

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# From the people you find in there

0:29:460:29:51

# And when they sing, they can raise the rafters

0:29:510:29:56

# With the hwyl that will fill the air

0:29:560:30:01

# And of this land, I'm proud to be

0:30:040:30:08

# Yes, I'm proud to be a part

0:30:080:30:14

# Its history, its melodies

0:30:140:30:18

# Are written on my heart

0:30:180:30:23

-# So sing

-Let the voices thunder

0:30:230:30:27

# Sing, sing

0:30:270:30:29

# Till they're heard in the deeper vales

0:30:290:30:33

# Of the land you are proud to be born in

0:30:330:30:38

# The glorious land

0:30:380:30:42

# Of Wales

0:30:420:30:46

# Wales

0:30:460:30:49

# Wales. #

0:30:490:30:53

And that's almost it for this week.

0:30:550:30:57

My thanks to the community here, for their warm welcome.

0:30:570:31:00

I really didn't expect anything else.

0:31:000:31:02

Next week, it's Mothering Sunday

0:31:020:31:03

and we'll be meeting the grandmothers

0:31:030:31:06

who are full-time carers to their own grandchildren.

0:31:060:31:08

Until then, it's our closing hymn for Lent.

0:31:080:31:10

Hwyl fawr. Goodbye.

0:31:100:31:12

Aled Jones visits Port Talbot, home of Britain's largest steelworks, as 4,000 workers and the wider community await news of hundreds of redundancies. And for St David's Day, Richard Taylor traces the history of the patron saint of Wales.

Hymns and music this week:

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah performed by Choirs and Congregation of Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church I Believe performed by Richard and Adam Beautiful One performed by performed by Beechcroft Choir Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord performed by Michael Powell and band All saints of Wales performed by Choir and Congregation of St Davids Cathedral There Is A Land performed by Kenfig Hill Male Voice Choir Courage, Brother, Do Not Stumble performed by St Machar's Cathedral's congregation.