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Home / Latest News / Couple who built a theatre in their Cardiff home thought Queen’s Birthday honours mention ‘was a hoax’

Couple who built a theatre in their Cardiff home thought Queen’s Birthday honours mention ‘was a hoax’

They spent £500k converting their conservatory into a professional theatre in order to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

But when Hywel and Gwyneth Jeffreys got a letter through the door saying they were going to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours, they thought it was a wind-up.

Last week, the couple were finally able to go public after their British Empire Medals “for charitable services in Cardiff” were announced.

Retired teacher Hywel, 79, said: “The letter was very cryptic and we thought it might be a hoax. When you have worked with children for your whole life, you understand that you have to look at these things very carefully.”

Since retiring from Rhydfelen School in Pontypridd 20 years ago, the couple have raised tens of thousands of pounds for local charities by hosting theatrical events at a purpose-built theatre in their Roath home.

The theatre, which cost half a million pounds to build, can hold up to 140 performers and audience members and was originally adapted from a conservatory.

The room is fully kitted out with theatre lights and cameras trained on the stage. After each performance, they edit and produce films of the show, which they then sell to raise more funds.

Hywel said: “It’s really a form of studio. There was a conservatory there originally, but it was too limited for our purposes so we rebuilt it.”

The couple host four live performances, or “soirees”, every year, in both Welsh and English.

They have attracted successful performers such as Welsh National Opera star Rebecca Evans, as well as high-profile guests including the Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Hywel, who is originally from Carmarthenshire, said: “At Sunday School, we were taught to collect money for charity, so it was part of our lives right from the start.”

Hywel and Gwyneth, 81, married in 1961 and worked together at Rhydfelen School, where Hywel was deputy headmaster between 1964 and 1991.

After leaving full-time teaching, the couple decided to devote their newfound free time to charity work.

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