6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cheshire Life today click here

Betws-y-Coed - a village full of talented people

PUBLISHED: 19:33 19 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:55 20 February 2013

Betws-y-Coed - a village full of talented people

Betws-y-Coed - a village full of talented people

This community in the hills of Snowdonia may be small, but it's full of people big on talent WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Jacha Potgieter has travelled the world but it is Betws-y-Coed hes settled in. It was his wife Gwen, from Deganwy, who brought the South African to North Wales. But the passionate conservationist is still busy helping animals in other parts of the world away from this small village in the Conwy Valley.

He has worked on game farms in South Africa as well as a professional cat hunter based at a weather station in the subarctic. The cat population had grown to more than 5,000 and was threatening species of birds and other wildlife.

But closest to his heart is the campaigning he undertakes for the humane treatment and protection of apes and orangutans.

He has volunteered in places like Borneo and Cameroon and fundraised for Ape Action and the Orangutan Foundation.

He said: I hate cruelty against animals and things like palm oil and bush meat, where wild animals are killed for meat, as well as rainforest destruction. These are big issues for me. I want to be able to make a significant contribution.

I try my best to help. There are lots of apes that need it and sometimes it can seem overwhelming but if I can help just one then I will be happy. They are lovely animals.

His passion for conservation led him in another direction, to become an artist. He studied fine art at Liverpool John Moores University and now paints and photographs orangutans and apes to raise even more money for the two organisations.

Jacha, who also gives talks to schools, said: This is something I very much enjoy.

It is also helping to raise awareness of something very important to me. I now travel to places like Borneo to get more information for my art work. I sell the paintings and most of the proceeds go to Ape Action and the Orangutan Foundation.

Much of his conservation ethos has been transferred into the running of the Alpine Coffee Shop in the village, the caf Jacha helps to run with Gwen. It is the only caf in Britain to be completely palm oil free. They make everything from scratch, including their own vegan ice cream. They use leftover tea and coffee to create compost to grow herbs for the caf.

Jachas work is exhibited in the caf and they hold events to raise money for the two charities. Visitors to the caf have raised the largest amount of money from individuals for the organisations. The total was 6,000.
Gwen and Jacha hope to open their own gallery in the village next year.
Jacha said: We think it would be good for Betws-y-Coed.

It is such a beautiful village. I cant get enough of it. We are so fortunate to live in such a nice place. Everybody is busy because its a tourist place but if people want help or if you need help, it will always be there.

The new gallery will exhibit Jachas work and feature the work of local blacksmith, Gerallt Evans. The former semi-professional rugby player, who has travelled the world representing teams across Wales as well as in Cheshire and Wirral, set up in the profession ten years ago at his farm Tan Lan, just outside Betws-y-Coed.

There he creates everything from door knobs, gates, fences and balconies to shop signs, interiors pieces and special commissions. His work can be seen in the village at the railway station as the 36-year-old, who is also a trained engineer, created the canopy and the decorative iron works for it. He has also created beds adorned with mermaids for new apartments that Jacha and Gwen own.

Being a blacksmith runs in the family. His great uncle, Ernest, plied the craft in nearby Llangerynyw. Gerallt has now established a reputation as an artist blacksmith.

He said: My great uncle would have loved the opportunity to be as creative as I am but the industry was different back then.

I love the challenge of trying things Ive not done before or taking on difficult projects. I feel really proud too that I have been able to do pieces for my local area.

Another person who contributes to the Betws-y-Coed community is Sue Vincent. The florist set up her quirky little shop in a tiny alcove between two buildings a year ago. Here she sells everything from garden tools to vintage furniture and also designs floral arrangements. She runs the business with partner, Simon Plummer, a tree surgeon.

The couple yearned for a lifestyle change and becoming a part of the Betws-y-Coed community has allowed that.

She said: We meet all sorts of people who visit the village and then they come back because they have enjoyed it so much.

There is a really strong village atmosphere here and a fantastic community feel, its almost old fashioned. We both love being here.


More from Out & About

Tue, 09:03

this Cheshire village is well connected as Janet Reeder discovers

Read more
Tue, 00:00

Epic views, wildlife and industrial history...this circular walk from Bull Bay in Anglesey has got the lot, so take your binoculars, writes Howard Bradbury

Read more
Tue, 00:00

Emma Mayoh meets some of the people making a big impression in this beautiful corner of Cheshire

Read more
Friday, September 15, 2017

Is Wales’s best restaurant to be found on a caravan park? Louise Allen-Taylor heads to Signatures in Conwy to find out.

Read more
Conwy Luxury Break
Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nestling on a hill minutes from the centre of Llandudno is Bodysgallen Hall, a country house hotel with history stretching back over 700 years. Review by Louise Allen-Taylor

Read more
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Not one, but two castles loom over us on this month’s walk - a circuit of Beeston and Peckforton, writes howard bradbury

Read more
Friday, September 8, 2017

This summer, the Nantwich Show celebrated 120 years. Rebekka O’Grady talks to both seasoned and newer competitors about what it’s like to take part.

Read more
Monday, September 4, 2017

The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park wowed visitors once again with fantastic horticultural displays, writes Rebekka O’Grady.

Read more
RHS Tatton
Sunday, September 3, 2017

If you’re visiting Chester check out the restaurant with a view at Brasserie Abode, says Janet Reeder.

Read more
Chester Luxury Break
Thursday, August 31, 2017

Katie Piercy from Cheshire Wildlife Trust explores what lives on our rivers, and the threats they are facing

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Cheshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Cheshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search