The History of the Sandville Self-Help Foundation

The original founder of the Sandville Self Help Foundation is Sister Gwyneth Poacher, one of the first Macmillan cancer nurses to operate in the local area. Gwyneth has a long career in the nursing profession and through both her personal and professional experience and dedication the self-help centre evolved. 


Gwyneth, Ruth Foster and Gwyneth’s colleague Rosemary Harrington recognised that when an individual was diagnosed with cancer there wasn’t the opportunity for these individuals and their families to meet others who were going through similar experiences. Gwyneth realised the importance and necessity of a support group to help patients with life changing and life limiting conditions. Gwyneth spoke with Mr Danny Jones the owner of the Sandville Hotel in Porthcawl who agreed to the monthly meetings being held in the Sandville Hotel, the first meeting was held on the 5th February 1983 and hence the name Sandville Self Help Foundation. As more people attended and the support within the community grew, Sandville Self Help Foundation was registered as a Charity under the Charity Commission with a small group of trustees and volunteers. As the number of patrons grew it became apparent that new premises were needed.

The meetings were relocated to the Court Coleman Hotel in Pen Y Fai, as Gwyneth had previous connections with Court Coleman having held several successful seminars there. The meetings were increased to weekly and fund raising started in earnest. Through fund raising the Foundation was able to buy new premises at the Pen Y Mynydd House in Kenfig in 1990.  It was renamed the Sandville Court in recognition of the original Sandville Hotel and Court Coleman.


Sandville Self Help Foundation grew from strength to strength in the new premises. The Foundation appeared on the television documentary ‘Who Cares Wins’ and Gwyneth herself was awarded a Heart of Gold from Esther Rantzen in 1992 and the funds towards the build of a hydrotherapy pool. The Duchess of Kent visited the centre in 1993, opening the Hydrotherapy Pool and signing the visitors’ book ‘Katherine 1993’.


With the charity thriving Gwyneth was awarded an MBE for her services in June 1993, from Queen Elizabeth II, and attended the first ever Welsh Investiture at Cardiff Castle. Through continued fund raising and donations from local businesses the centre benefitted from the addition of a hydrotherapy pool, a treatment and relaxation room and a chapel. 


Gwyneth Poacher MBE officially retired from the Foundation in April 2022 and Sandville Self Help Foundation is now under new management.

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