A MUM has potentially slashed 10 years off her life by moving four miles up the road to one of Britain’s most deprived communities.

Barmaid Jessica Williams, 28, was born and raised in the well-off village of Litchard, South Wales, where Government figures show people can expect to live to 84.25 years.

Jessica Williams and Matthew Jenkins with Mickey, seven, and 11-month-old Max

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Jessica Williams and Matthew Jenkins with Mickey, seven, and 11-month-old MaxCredit: Huw Evans
The two areas are just four miles apart

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The two areas are just four miles apart

But Jessica has moved to the desolate village of Bettws – just a 10-minute drive away – where life expectancy is just 75.

The mum-of-two said: “Ten years is a lot – according to the figures, by living in Bettws I won’t reach my 80s.

“If I’d stayed in Litchard, where my mum lives, then I could expect to get to almost 85. It’s crazy.”

But Jessica, who moved to the village for social housing, says she has no plans to move back.

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She said: “I miss Litchard but I like it here, the people are friendly, it’s a nice place to live and bring up children.

“I don’t want to offend my neighbors but I can understand why there is such a big gap. Litchard is a bit of a posh area. People look after their homes, their gardens and themselves. That doesn’t happen so much here .”

Jessica’s mum Elizabeth Gammon, 52, would love her daughter to move back to Litchard. She said: “It is a concern, she’s my only child and of course I worry about her.

“But she loves it up there and there’s a lot going on to improve things.”

Dale Bridgeman, left, and Tyler Roberts say Bettws is 'a good place to live'

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Dale Bridgeman, left, and Tyler Roberts say Bettws is ‘a good place to live’Credit: Huw Evans
Newlyweds Kevin and Donna Turner say they love Bettws

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Newlyweds Kevin and Donna Turner say they love BettwsCredit: Huw Evans
A general view of properties in Bettws

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A general view of properties in BettwsCredit: Huw Evans
Properties situated along a street in nearby Litchard

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Properties situated along a street in nearby LitchardCredit: Huw Evans

Locals in Bettws (population 2,243) blame the village’s coal mining history for its bleach mortality statistics.

When the local pits closed down in the eighties it left a legacy of unemployment, damp housing and unhealthy lifestyles – with people smoking, boozing and turning to drugs.

Regulars in the village’s Oddfellows Arms pub say the coal mines claimed many lives and people just got used to it.

Carpenter Dale Bridgeman, 25, said: “My grandfather Arthur Hopkins died of pneumoconiosis at the age of 50 – I never met him.

“The coal mines have all gone now and Bettws is a good place to live – the countryside and forestry around here is amazing.

“But the youngsters don’t go out and enjoy it – they stick in the house on their mobile phones but that’s the modern age for you.”

Builder Tyler Roberts, 24, added: “There is a big alcohol and drugs problem in the village and surrounding areas.

“Part of it comes from coal mining which left a big drinking culture in the valleys.”

Litchard, on the outskirts of Bridgend, is in the top 10 per cent most privileged areas of Wales, a far cry from its near neighbor on the other side of the M4 motorway.

Mum-of-two Joanne Perham, 39, born and bred in Bettws, said: “My mum passed away at the age of 49 so I do worry.

“I am happy and healthy right now, but when you hear that people here don’t live long lives, it makes you think.”

“But I just got on with life, what else can you do? I’d never move down to Litchard, this is my home.”

Mum-of-four Amy Davies, 38, who is on benefits, said: “My mum died young – she went to bed and never woke up.

Jessica says she has no plans to move back to Litchard

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Jessica says she has no plans to move back to LitchardCredit: Huw Evans
Taylor Waters says he doesn't think Bettws is a bad place to live

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Taylor Waters says he doesn’t think Bettws is a bad place to liveCredit: Huw Evans

“She spent her life looking after friends and relatives, driving them to the doctors, the hospital, the chiropodists – then she died before them.

“It was stressful that killed her – I feel the same way myself. It’s not easy living here.

“My son had his bike stolen and he wants a new one. It’s £150, where am I going to find that from?”

Retail worker Taylor Waters, 23, said: “Looking at the figures, there’s a big difference between here and Litchard but living to 75 isn’t bad.

“People like to have a drink here and smoke a hit of marijuana but I don’t think it’s a bad place to live.”

Teacher Melissa Jones, 48, moved to Bettws three years ago because property prices were so cheap. She said: “It’s a bit cut off here so you have to have a car and that limits employment opportunities for some people.

“There’s only a couple of shops and a pizza takeaway, so there’s not a lot of choices for healthy eating.

Joanne, a cleaner at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, added: “A couple of youngsters died not long after my mum – one was in her twenties.

“But the people are friendly and very welcoming. It’s a nice place to live.”

Back in the Oddfellows Arms, newlyweds Kevin and Donna Turner, 64 and 56, were enjoying an afternoon drink cooling off from the June sunshine.

The pair, together for 22 years, were married at Bridgend Register Office two weeks ago. Donna is from Bettws but former retired miner and lorry driver Kevin is from Rotherham, Yorkshire.

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He said: “I love it here, the nearest seaside is only 20 minutes away, everyone pulls together in the village, it’s a very caring community.

“It has its problems, especially drugs, like everywhere else but I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

Bettws residents blame the village's coal mining history

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Bettws residents blame the village’s coal mining historyCredit: Huw Evans
One of the streets in Litchard, four miles away

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One of the streets in Litchard, four miles awayCredit: Huw Evans

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