Gaynor Madoc Leonard


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And the greatest of these is love

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2014-09-26

About a year ago, I started following a man called David Lewis on Twitter. In fact I bought chocolates from him; chocolates which he had made himself and which he was selling in order to buy his daughter a laptop for university.

From his tweets, I learned about his terminal illness, his troubled childhood, his extraordinary determination, humour and humanity.

David was expected to die by spring of this year; all those who care about him (and there are many of us) have been very glad that so far he has defied the prognosis, though not without considerable pain.

By following him on Twitter, I became aware of Harrison's Fund. Harrison is a young lad who is suffering from Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy and his family is determined to help find a cure. The disease affects 1 in 3,500 children, almost always boys. Sufferers generally do not expect to live beyond their 20s, although there are exceptions.

David has been writing poems for a time and I know that I was not the only person to suggest that he publish them. A kind and generous man, he decided to do just that and give all the proceeds to Harrison's Fund.

Somehow or other, I was appointed editor-in-chief and I enlisted the support of my own excellent editor, Eifion Jenkins, to help. I also contacted a friend, Natasha Kinley, who, as well being a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, is a talented jewellery-maker and artist. She has produced lovely artwork for this book and any subsequent books.

I mentioned David's troubled childhood. His father was alcoholic and abusive and was eventually sent to prison. David was determined to be the opposite of his father and has done his best to counsel and help troubled children during his career. Despite all the problems that he's had, his poetry speaks of love and joy. Above all, it is sincere.

David's book, "Slushy Tourette's", which is dedicated to his best friend (and tower of strength), Angela Spencer, is now available as an e-book (for any e-reader) from . You will also find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual suspects. It will also shortly be published on as a print book, again obtainable directly from lulu or from other online stores. All profits will go directly to Harrison's Fund; neither David nor I will benefit financially,

At the top of the page, I've quoted St Paul's words from his letter to the Corinthians. Other translations use the word "charity" instead of "love" but they are interchangeable, certainly in the case of David Lewis.

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PLAYTHING OF THE GODS (or why did that bird shit on me?)

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2014-10-17

We all have days when we wonder what the hell it's all about and, despite initial optimism, the past two weeks have been like that.

A couple of weeks ago, I helped to publish a book of poetry on behalf of my dear Twitter friend, David Lewis. I've already talked about him in my two most recent blogs but, just in case you missed those, David is a lovely, kind man who is in the final stages of a terminal disease and wants to help a charity called Harrison's Fund. The poetry book is being sold to aid that fund, with no money going to David at all.

Despite our best efforts and David's daily blog reaching thousands of people around the world, sales have been slow. A wonderful core of supporters bought the book and tweeted about it but things seem to have stagnated. Even a 25% discount by the publishers didn't seem to tempt many people. To say that this is dispiriting is to understate the case. As I've pointed out before, the e-book costs about the same as a cup of coffee and the print book about the same as an ordinary bottle of wine and probably less than a packet of cigarettes (I don't smoke so I'm not sure of the prices these days). While times are hard, people can generally find the cash for a couple of drinks so why can't they find that money to help thousands of children and their families?

To repeat what I've said before, Harrison's Fund is raising money for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. 1 in 3500 children (almost always boys) have this disease; that's an awful lot of children. Soon after I became involved, I saw a TV programme about a family which had a son suffering from the disease. The programme, DIY SOS Big Build (BBC), showed a charming young lad whose limbs are already beginning to fail; he may live into his teens or possibly into his 20s but not beyond that, unless some cure is found in the meantime. It was very moving.

Harrison, of the eponymous fund. is a young boy whose family is doing its best to raise awareness and money; the fund is part of the Duchenne Alliance. I can't imagine the pain the family must go through daily when faced with this uphill struggle and the knowledge that young Harrison may not be with them for much longer. Neither can I imagine David's pain as he struggles to stay afloat and do something very important with the time that remains to him.

This is one charity where we are not asking for money for just a sticker or a flag; you actually get something that you can keep and look at again and again. David has laid bare his feelings, so long hidden and repressed, and writes so sincerely of love and hope, without shying away from the prospect of death.

Each day, I think that sales of the book will be up and people will realise what we've been trying to do. Each day, I'm more than a little disappointed and the disappointment is heightened by the daily struggle with my father, who has severe dementia, and other personal problems which I won't begin to bore you with.

It was in this spirit that I set out today, to do my daily errands. Gloom and doom dogged my footsteps but I told myself that at least it wasn't raining. No sooner had thought that, a bird flew overhead and I felt a splat on my coat and hair.

On top of the gloom and doom now came anger. The Furies had nothing on me; they could have taken my correspondence course. And I still feel rather angry. Is there no one who can do without a bottle of wine, a pack of cigarettes or a couple of beers at their local bar? Could they not take a few short minutes to go online and buy an e-book or print book which will help to make a difference to thousands of children and their families?

Too much to ask?

I'd like to thank those who have already bought Slushy Tourette's by David Lewis in either form. For anyone else who would like to buy, please go to either of the websites below: for the e-book for the print book

More information about DMD can be found at or go to http://

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By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2014-10-13

Over the past 10 days or so, David Lewis and I have been marketing quite frantically on social media, trying to sell his book of poems, Slushy Tourette's.

This book, both in e-form and print, will benefit Harrison's Fund, a member of the Duchenne Alliance. Neither David nor I will gain anything from the sales, apart from a sense of satisfaction. A small core of supporters has both bought the book (sometimes several copies) and helped spread the word via Twitter, but we need more sales! Until 15th October, is offering the print version (and all print books on its site) at a 25% discount with the code EATYOUREGGS. This is a fantastic opportunity to buy the book either for oneself or as a gift; it would make a super stocking-filler at Christmas or a rather wonderful and rather different wedding favour.

There are so many demands made of all of use these days, from umpteen charities, but this one is special. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy affects 1 in 3500 children (almost always boys) and they are unlikely to live beyond their 20s. Slushy Tourette's gives people the opportunity to do some good and to get something for themselves.

Like many people, I have charities which I support regularly and I tend to ignore the rest. And, like other people, I have problems in my own life which make it hard to care as much as I should about those in trouble, even if they are in worse straits than myself.

David is dying; he has a terminal illness and is in constant pain. I'm not sure what is worse than that. If I'm honest, I am feeling extremely tired; my father has severe dementia and I have scarcely seen my own home this year, being obliged to help my mother. The stress has affected my own health. In addition, my oldest friend has had cancer this year and, because of my situation, I have been unable to be of any direct support. That has upset me greatly.

You might say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, Yadda, yadda, yadda. We've all got our own problems". Indeed we have and many of them are far worse than mine, but if David can pull himself out of the slough of despond and do something positive with what remains of his life then the least one can do is log on to one of the websites below and spend just a little money (the cost of a fancy cup of coffee for the e-book or a bottle of very ordinary wine for the print version) to bring some hope to thousands of children and their families.

Just do it.


e-book at

print book at (with 25% discount through 15th October with the code EATYOUREGGS)

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The British Seaside Visit

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2014-09-01

The British seaside experience does not resemble that of, say, St Tropez. Back in the days when going for a drive was a pleasant experience, families would go to the seaside and very often end up sitting in their cars just staring at the sea; indeed, out of season, many people would go there simply to do that. A flask of hot soup and some sandwiches made it "a day out".

When the weather was pleasant enough to leave ones car, windbreaks would be employed on the beach and elderly members of the family would often be in their best clothes with shoes removed, sitting in deckchairs with their thermos of tea and the inevitable sand-filled sandwich. quite often the highlight of the outing would be an individual fruit pie purchased from the beach shop or café.  Fewer expectations and contentment with simple pleasures!

I was reminded of those days when I went to Tenby the week before last. I cannot honestly remember the last time I went there although I know that we did go as a family sometimes when I was a child. I wasn't even sure how to get there until I looked up public transport. As it happened, there was a train from Carmarthen, on the Pembroke Dock line, and I set off in sunshine.

It's an easy journey of about 40 minutes or so and Tenby station is a short walk from the centre of the town. My re-introduction to Tenby wasn't quite what I'd hoped; calling at the first pub I saw to use the loo (there being none at the station), I decided to have a cold drink there but when I asked for a ginger ale or ginger beer, the woman at the bar made it quite clear that I was persona non grata so I left in a huff. Fortunately, the natives were a great deal more friendly everywhere else. At the old market hall, which has a stone plaque outside reminding us of Tenby's history, the café provided a freshly-made crab sandwich and a big mug of tea. I bought 10 postcards for £1 (payable at the butcher's counter) and felt quite at home.

Opposite the market is The Tenby Deli which has a wonderful and high-quality selection of food and drink and has a café. I did some shopping there before I left!

Something which caused me quite a bit of nostalgia was the department store, TP Hughes. The same firm had a large shop just three doors away from my parents' own shop in Carmarthen when I was a child, The staff were familiar faces at our counter, "Miss Willie" from the corsetry department being one of our regulars. Of course, in those days the store seemed a vast place to me and the Tenby branch is spread over a chunk of the High Street with a sort of "bridge of sighs" joining the different areas at first floor level (2nd floor in the USA).

It's impressive that there are so many independent businesses in Tenby although there are some of the usual High Street suspects too. I was delighted by Fecci's Italian ice-cream parlour (established in 1919) where I bought some delicious ice-cream. Emerging from the shop, I found it was pouring with rain so I just put a scarf on and headed down a charming little street toward the sea view. Eating ice-cream in the rain is all part of growing up and being British! In that particular street is a house called Tradewinds; the long passageway from the gate to the house is painted bright pink and embedded in the walls are souvenirs from all around the world.

It was pleasant just to wander; watching delighted tourists on the horse-drawn carriage or on the sight-seeing boats in the harbour. Eventually I returned to the deli and it was raining again. They had some tables outside with umbrellas so I sat at one of those with an excellent pot of Earl Grey tea, causing some amusement to the passers-by.

Ambling back to the station with my heavy bag, I stopped at the White Lion Street Gallery which I know has a good reputation. Having enjoyed looking at the original work there, I bought some cards and a book of photographs of Pembrokeshire.

I was back in Carmarthen before 4.30pm where the rain was bucketing down. There's nothing like a British summer - pack your socks, gumboots and raincoats!

The Gwynne House School Rhythm 'n' Blues Orchestra

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2013-06-02

Inserted is a picture of Gwynne House School's R'n'B Orchestra c1955 (before my time).Famous throughout Carmarthenshire for its association with Diwc Wellington, T-Bone Ifansand the artist formerly known as "Tywysog", a stomping good time was guaranteed by this "big band" (Jools Holland, eat your heart out). Duringmyown gradual rise from the triangle ranks through tambourine and recorder, to the conductor's dais,we touredthe clubs and dives ofthecounty (and who of uscould ever forgetthe night inFfostrasol?) in a bus which wasthe home of excess. I doubt there was anywhere at the time where more Tovali pop and Five Boys chocolate bars were consumed.

I won't give away anymore as I'm saving the seamier revelations for my memoirs.

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Trial by Jury

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2013-02-21

One of the top news stories today is the collapse of a trial in London simply because the jury did not seem to understand "the basis of trial by jury and simple legal concepts". At first I thought it might be because both sides had not presented the case sufficiently well but, having read some of the questions asked by jurors, it became clear that at least some of them hadn't any idea of how a court works!

In the light of the collapse, all the usual arguments against jury trial are coming out of the woodwork again.

Tempus fugit in a most frightening way and it is now many years since I did my jury duty but it remains the best job I ever had. I received a letter calling me to jury duty in November of one year and was obliged to go to the Old Bailey in the following January. First of all everyone had to negotiate the security arrangements at the door but the security people were cheerful and pleasant. Inside, I suddenly felt rather lonely and overwhelmed despite all the other people who had been called in the same way.

I was called to be a juror on a fraud trial and asked by bewigged and gowned men whether I was willing to give up possibly 6 months of my life to do this. I said that I would do so. There was much discussion regarding someone else who said that they could not do it as they were afraid of losing their job; prosecuting counsel and the judge made it clear that sacking someone from their job in those circumstances was against the law but everyone had the opportunity to back out.

Returning to my own job that day, I explained the situation and my employer (an apoplectic man at times) went through the roof and that could be a frightening experience, believe me. As I loathed him, I dug in my heels and decided there and then I was not going to give in.

The jurors chosen had to return to the court to confirm that they would be taking part; I sent the judge a note about my employer's reaction and said that my boss would likely be sending him a letter by courier at that very moment about it. To be honest, I can't remember whether the letter arrived or not but the judge and prosecuting counsel, after some discussion, very kindly asked me to make the decision about whether I wished to continue. I said that I wouldn't be bullied and that I would carry on.

The jury for the fraud trial ranged from a young lad of about 19 to a cheery pensioner and all ages in between. I recall a London cabbie amongst the twelve. I think it fair to say that we were all reasonably intelligent and understood the basics of what was required.

The trial took place in a modern annexe to the Old Bailey where we had a comfortable room. We organised a kettle, teabags etc. and made ourselves a home from home for the next 6 months. Fortunately, we got along very well and all had a sense of humour. The court Clerk and usher were enormously helpful and kind too.

Obviously, I cannot say anything about what was discussed in the jury room or how we came to our decisions, but watching how a court works and observing how a clever QC can manipulate a hostile witness was a fascinating experience. The case involved an enormous amount of money but, at the very start, we were told that if we could understand a bank statement and balance a cheque book, we would have no problem understanding the prosecution's case. And so it turned out. At the end of the case, the judge said that the prosecution's presentation should serve as a model for other fraud cases and he was very complimentary to us also. At all times, we had been treated with respect. We were also told that we would not need to do jury duty again, having given so much of our time.

By the way, I returned to my job and my boss bided his time; he allowed a few months to pass before giving me notice! It was a relief actually, as I hated the job almost as much as I loathed him.

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Getting down to work and having brilliant ideas...ho hum

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2013-01-07

Now that the third in The Carmarthen Underground series of books is out and selling like, er.....smallpox virus, those brilliant ideas that come to one in the far reaches of the night have started making their way to Madoc Leonard Towers.

Today, I've completed a rough draft of some song lyrics to go in the fourth and final book in the series. The song will be echoed in the book title as the working title I had for the book was bothering me and I've decided to change tack completely although the central event of the novel will be the same.

What I would like to do is to find someone willing to write some music (preferably for the harp) to go with the lyrics and then I'd have someone create a video of photographs of the Towy Valley to go with it. As I want this to be a professional and high-quality video, the photographs have to be equally professional. It would be nice to have the lyrics up on the screen as well. Naturally, there would be credits at the end for everyone concerned. Doing this on an invisible budget should be interesting!

As I've written only a couple of chapters and some notes for the book so far, there's time enough but at least I'm now making a start.

The various discussions on Americymru over the period of my membership have made me realise how little people know of us beyond our borders. I feel that I'd like to use this novel, in part, to further people's knowledge of Wales so there'll be some research to be done (and not just eating Welsh chocolates or drinking Welsh beer and whisky although I hope to do some of that!). A Twitter friend has already given me one idea to incorporate into the story so I'll see what else I can come up with.

I've got a strong idea of how I want the cover to look too so that should help get some chapters done in the next few weeks, I hope.

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Eisteddfod Winners

By Gaynor Madoc Leonard, 2011-11-05

I've been researching my ancestry for several years and, fortunately, have relatives who have archives of a number of people on my mother's side of the family.

The reason I first started my ancestry tree was that I knew nothing about my paternal grandfather but, inevitably, I've done a great deal of research on my maternal ancestors and relatives too. Amongst my maternal associations are Lewis Thomas and Sir Thomas Herbert Parry-Williams, though I should stress that neither of them is a blood relation as they both married into the family, as it were.

While Parry-Williams will no doubt be familiar to you, Lewis Thomas may be less so. He married my first cousin (twice removed), Mary Emiah Jones; she was born in Llanon, Carmarthenshire, and became a teacher in Pontyberem. Lewis Thomas was, according to the BBC website where I got this information, a pioneer of the art of Cerdd Dant (singing to harp accompaniment) in the first half of the 20th century. He was born in Pontyberem, the eldest of a collier's nine sons. He went down the mines himself until he became a shoemaker. He married and opened a shop in Pontyberem where he had shoemaking apprentices. He won prizes at three National Eisteddfodau: Caerphilly (1950), Aberystwyth (1952) and Ystradgynlais (1954). He was also made a member of the Gorsedd at the Llanelli National Eisteddfod in 1930.

Sir Thomas Herbert Parry-Williams, the illustrious poet, married my second cousin (once removed), Emiah Jane Thomas (plenty of Emiahs in the family, you'll notice!) who became known as Lady Amy. As you will know, he too was very successful at National Eisteddfodau, winning both chair and crown on two separate occasions.

What impresses me about Wales is that those who have entered (and won) competitions in local and national Eisteddfodau are not necessarily highly-educated or even the offspring of parents who are highly educated (Parry-Williams was, of course). It says much that the son (or daughter) of a collier or, for that matter, a farmer, shoemaker or anyone, can achieve so much in the arts of music, poetry and prose. It's very egalitarian and all the more to be applauded for that reason.

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