The changing face of Abergavenny through the eyes of an adopted son

Wednesday 3rd August 2011 10:00 pm
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A German man who first visited Abergavenny 59 years ago, became so enraptured with the "Gateway to Wales", that he has religiously returned to the town every year since.

Sixty-eight-year-old Udo Schultz made his first trip to the town which would capture his heart, in 1952.

As a nine-year-old German lad who had never visited Britain, let alone Wales before, it was a strange but fascinating experience for Udo, who told the Chronicle, "I first came to Abergavenny with my mother Wilma to visit my Uncle and Aunt, Elton and Anne Williams."

Udo explained, "Aunt Anne met my uncle a not long after the war when he was sent to Kiel with the British army to help repair the city's dock."

"My aunt was working as a translator in Kiel when she met her future husband. They fell in love and returned to my uncle's hometown of Abergavenny to be married, and that is the simple twist of fate which led me to this lovely town."

During his first trip to Abergavenny, Udo recalled how he fell in love with the surrounding countryside and revealed, "Up until that point, my world had been Kiel, which is by the sea and very, very flat. Here you have mountains, and such

beautiful mountains.

"I remember picnics on the Blorenge and Sugar Loaf, and playing cricket in the meadows, and thinking what a wonderful place to live.

"It seemed such a small and friendly community and the people were so pleasant.

When we left, I remember I couldn't wait to return."

And return Udo did. As a boy, as a man, as a husband, and as a father with two daughters of his own, whom he named Megan and Arwen in tribute to his family's long-standing Welsh connection.

During his 50th visit, Udo was given a special reception by the town's Mayor and is proud to call himself an adopted son of Abergavenny.

As a long-standing Abergavenny Chronicle subscriber who has the paper delivered to his address in Kiel every week, and an occasional post-bag contributor, Udo has firm opinions where the town is heading in the 21st Century. A town whose changing nature he has chronicled extensively over the years through his passion for photography.

Udo said, "Because you are protected by your beautiful mountains, the climate, compared with some of the surrounding areas, always seems to be sunny and mild.

"I like to think Abergavenny brings the sun out for you and out in you, but I worry from an outsider's perspective that the town could be damaged beyond repair if the cattle market is destroyed and the big chain stores move in.

"What is a market town without a market, and how many supermarkets does a town this size need? You can only eat three or four times a day you know.

"In my life I have travelled a lot and seen a lot of the world, and let me tell you, places like Abergavenny with its rich history and character are unique.

"That is why I come back here for three weeks every year, and look forward to every visit."

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