NEWPORT Memorial Hall was packed to bursting last month for the AGM of the town's community forum.

The event was a chance to spread the news about the work of Newport Community Forum which included: a survey of community assets and needs; producing Newport handbook and town map; running the Good Neighbour scheme; a Friendship and Fitness group, and Newport warm memories café.

The forum also works with the town council to sort out traffic, parking and pedestrian issues.

This year, the forum will again be busy, running a project called Wellbeing Newport, thanks to a grant from Pembrokeshire County Council's Enhancing Pembrokeshire and match funding from the government transformation scheme, and Wales and West Housing Association.

A project called Newport Intergenerational Skills Exchange (NISE) will also be launched, thanks to a grant from the West Wales Care Partnership.

The town council has achieved an asset transfer and a group of 28 volunteers now runs the Canolfan Croeso visitor centre, sharing the building with the community library. Both services prove how the community can not stop services being shut down but sustain their commitment over the years.

Fifteen other groups reported on their activities. They ranged from the time bank's knit and natter - knitting jackets for featherless hens - to Brithdir's build your own methane digester course.

The Environment Group fought for a change in planning policy to restrict new housing to those who would make it their principal residence; Newport Memorial Hall purchased a kiln for local potters to complement the medieval pottery kiln; Ysgol Bro Ingli's parents' association has run a project to increase use of the Welsh language. There are advanced and beginner Welsh classes, a University of the third Age (U3A) and seventeen weekly activities in the memorial hall.

Although the town is rich in civic life, one thing every group wanted was more people to volunteer their time.

Guest speaker Cris Tomos reported how some towns and villages in Pembrokeshire were setting up their own renewable energy and earning from it.

He ended with the recent success of the county council in getting a £3million grant for the haven area to research becoming a hydrogen power plant instead of a fossil fuel one.

"The event brought home through real examples how much people can achieve for themselves," said forum secretary Sandra Bayes. "Which was felt to be a vital asset in uncertain times."