A retired headteacher from Rhondda Cynon Taf is back in the classroom studying IT computer technology and is amazing her classmates – at the age of 100!
Margaret Eurfron Griffiths, of Ynyshir, Rhondda, enrolled for the weekly classes at Porth Plaza, run by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, in a bid to keep her mind active and to fulfil her lifelong promise to learn something new every day.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Adult Education Classes provide quality learning opportunities covering a wide range of subjects in local communities, for all ages.
Born in Aberaeron, Ceredigion, on October 25, 1921, Margaret returned to the family home in the Rhondda Valley as a child and has lived there all her life.
The year of her birth was also the year of the National Coal Strike, King George V was on the throne, Herbert Henry Asquith was Prime Minister and David Lloyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was also the year Welsh entertainers Tommy Cooper and Sir Harry Secombe were born.
Having attended grammar school in the Rhondda, Margaret was planning to go to college in London to pursue her dream of becoming a schoolteacher – but the war years changed her plans dramatically.
But having had a traditional Welsh upbringing, Margaret, an only child, went on to fulfil and exceed her career ambitions and even went on to travel the world.
Margaret Griffiths said: “Everything went haywire when the Second World War broke out – even the college I was about to attend got bombed, so I had to seek further education elsewhere in the country.
“The war years were incredibly difficult and sad. I lost six very close friends at this time and never got over such a loss. Myself and a mix of similar age friends from the local schools used to meet at Gambirini’s Café in Porth every Friday night, but sadly and slowly, our numbers depleted.
“The war years were a very dark time for us all and I often reflect upon that time and wonder how we managed to survive it when many did not. It was a time when we all had to grow up so quickly and a time that has left a lasting impression on me.
“After the Second World War, life improved in the South Wales Valleys. Suddenly there were jobs, trading estates opened and there was employment, which made a vast difference to people’s lives. We stopped being poor and fearing for our lives. Life changed dramatically for us all.
“I always wanted to teach young children, and everyone was amazed at my ambition considering I was an only child, with no siblings of my own. But I enjoyed my teaching career very much, it was very rewarding. I spent my life in the world of education, and I am still learning to this day. I have never stopped learning.
Margaret Griffiths was a teacher at Cwmlai Primary School, Tonyrefail, for 20 years before being appointed headteacher at Whitchurch Primary School in Cardiff, spending 40years in the teaching profession before retirement.
It was then that Margaret decided to spend five years travelling the world with her cousin, starting in the United States of America, then heading to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, North Africa, Canada and Hawaii, before returning home to Wales.
Margaret said: “I saw the world and have wonderful memories of those amazing five years, but I then returned home to Wales to lead a normal, quieter life, and was faced with finding new challenges.
“I retired from the education sector just before the introduction of computers, so I feel that I missed out greatly. So when these IT classes started up at Porth Plaza, I jumped at the chance to catch up. At 100, all the other learners are younger than me, but I enjoy the classes and the company very much indeed.
“We are all mature students who have taken up IT classes late in our lives, but we are all at the same level of learning. We have to do this in order to move with the times.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I intend to carry on doing what I do for as long as I can. I am still being educated, even at my age, and I am always happy to learn – long may it continue.”
Porth Plaza, home to the local library as well as many adult education classes, is open six-days-a-week. The venue has full wheelchair access and a lift to the second floor. All are welcome.
Posted on 05/04/2022