Janice Dudley, a lady known locally as Mam Plaid, and with good reason
I often use the term glass half full. And this elegant lady, with the most wicked sense of humour epitomises the very saying. The minute she walked into a room her presence was known. She like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds. No wonder her local group called her Mam Plaid.
Wherever and whenever our paths crossed I’d get a beaming face, and not just a cuddle but always a cwtch. Always going to, or had been to, a meeting serving her community. And that was something Janice was so very passionate about and something that kept a bond between us. But my criticism of the party she represented as a councillor and community councillor never phased her. She’d always say “now Darren, we need to look at the bigger picture, things won’t always be this way”. And seldom would she disagree with my analysis. Instead, she would try and gently nudge me toward her vision of the bigger picture she strived achieve.
Janice was the driving force in the local Plaid Cymru group
Personally I believe much of Plaid Cymru’s successes locally were down to her commitment and dedication. Her ability to get everyone working as a team was inspirational. She’d roll up her sleeves, lead by example, and throw herself into the task at hand.
And I believe Janice’s humble upbringing influenced her greatly, with her community values cemented from a young age.
I joined Janice and others on their campaign trail, if only to offer my support. Despite my feelings of the national party, I believed in the team she had around her. We spoke about her own seat, one she never took for granted. But, despite all her hard work, she had doubts she’d get back in. Of course it turned out she had nothing to worry about as she walked it. During the campaign, Janice visited every ward in Neath to give her advice and support.
Mayor Mam Plaid
Becoming mayor made her so very proud. I was honoured to share the day of her inauguration and to see her family looking equally as proud. I know that was important to her, Janice always spoke with pride when talking about her family. And I know that day was just as much about them as the community she was about to serve as mayor.
Janice has had me dressed up as Mickey Mouse, giving talks to her Nifty group and also had me dressed in a high-viz jacket as a parking attendant at one local fun day. You name it, she wasn’t going to let me off the hook with just turning up and eating cake! To see her being recognised for all the hard work was the icing on the cake.
We spoke extensively about her role and her desire to make it different this year, harnessing the power of social media. I’d often find a random message placed in a random place from Janice, as she tried to navigate her way through Facebook. Quite often it wasn’t in context to thread she posted on, but I always got the message.
I called her days before Resolven carnival in a flap because I couldn’t make it. Despite having a full diary, she assured me she’d get there. At midnight the night before, I was sat with the carnival chairman on the phone to Janice giving her a run through of what arrangements were in place! While sat abroad I was able to watch her leading the carnival live, with a beaming smile taking it all in her stride!
She’ll forever be remembered with great fondness. I feel blessed to have had her touch my life in the way she did.
My thoughts are with her family and friends. I wish you strength for today, and hope for tomorrow, in the knowing that Janice touched so many lives.
Thank you for being a friend, Mam Plaid.