WITH the weekend passing marking the celebration of World Day Down’s Syndrome Day, one man new to Chirk has shown that anything is possible.
Michael Beynon has Down Syndrome.
He is also a company director in a high-selling family Welsh cakes business, an elite sporting competitor and a marathon runner – all by the age of 25.
Michael runs Coalpit Welshcakes with his mum and stepdad Erik and Stephen Walker, having started his business in Ammanford, in Carmarthenshire, before they moved to Chirk for family reasons six months ago.
They have a top-selling item – black Welsh cakes – which were borne out of Michael’s research into his great-grandfather and grandfather’s time as miners in South Wales, particularly wondering if the food taken down the pit by the men would ever turn black because of the dust.
Using his grandmothers’ Welsh cakes recipe, he then put his own twist on his thoughts and came up with a hugely-popular delicacy that helped him fulfil his ambition of running his own company.
Michael said: “Doing the business is very good – I like the cooking.”
Stephen added: “They used to have the miner’s fortnight, down in South Wales, similar to some of the things we have up here.
“Michael’s take on it was that when they went down the mines, then surely anything they took down there would go black, because of the dust?
“They were sitting down there because they never come up, they have their break down there.
“So it was his thought that wouldn’t have all the food been black? So we looked into a variation of a theme on the Welsh cakes to make them black.
“Initially it was a bit of a novelty item but it’s taken off since then.
“The black cakes are our biggest seller because of the uniqueness of them but Erika does do what we class as traditional, or gold, Welsh cakes and other Welsh items, when we’re doing hampers or lunch boxes.”
Michael: “I come up with funky ideas – yesterday I came up with coconut and rum.
“I like the white chocolate ones.”
Away from the business, Michael is finding his way into life in Chirk, including new ways to keep up his running after he became the first Welsh person with Down syndrome to complete the London Marathon, albeit virtually.
He is a born competitor, taking part in the Special Olympics for most of his life in a number of sports, and is looking forward to competing again.
And while he is training for the 2021 marathon, he says it is harder for him at the moment because they’re trying to find new and flat routes because he is visually impaired.
Erika added: “Well, not ‘flat’ flat, but an acceptable route because at times it’s hard.
“We’re used to mountains.”
Michael said he was looking forward to meeting new people when the lockdown restrictions end, but also meeting up with old friends from the Wrexham area too.
Stephen added: “Michael is a special Olympian and when we go together as a Welsh team, we’ve been with guys from Wrexham on the trips so he’s familiar with them.
“Because of the links between Wrexham and Germany, we’ve been on several exchanges trips with them, also he does have friends up here.”
Erika added: “I think life will continue as normal as possible up here and we’ve met some new people too.
“Someone called and offered him some work at the community cafe in Chirk which we’re excited about.
“When lockdown finishes we can go down and have a look there.”
For more about Michael’s company, head to https://coalpitwelshcake.com/about-us