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‘Llanelli’s own version of Downton Abbey’

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Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 09.50.41THE HERALD caught up with author Philip Thomas to talk with him about his new book, which is all about Parc Howard, its history, and its importance regarding Llanelli’s history. 

The Parc is a part of Llanelli’s identity. For readers who haven’t been to the Parc, Philip describes it as ‘Llanelli’s own version of Downton Abbey’,

In the book, Phillip explores the site’s long history in depth.

Philip says Parc Howard is ‘a jewel in Llanelli’s crown’.

His love for history stems from his childhood when he would spend time at the Parc. While there, his mother would tell him about the mansion and the Stepneys.

Philip’s great uncle, Walter Cole, who was a prominent artist in Llanelli, had personal dealings with Lady Stepney Howard as he painted commissions for her.

The book covers the history of the Parc and Mansion

Philip told us that his research was done through ‘a lot of reading and through interest’. He said: “When I was in the forces, I used to visit a lot of historical sites and you just absorb what people tell you and what you read.”

For Philip, the process of writing the book was stimulating.

He told The Herald: “It’s always been an ambition of mine and I’m in the process of writing another two books.”

When it comes to Parc Howard, its biggest benefactor is Lady Catherine Howard, who donated Parc Howard to the people of Llanelli.

Lady Catherine’s history is covered extensively in the book. Philip explained: “She was concerned with people’s welfare and was protective of the welfare of Llanelli people. At the time, the people of Llanelli were very impoverished. There were a lot of industrial disputes, political disputes and we had the Llanelli riots, miners’ strikes. She was a very caring person.”

Today, Llanelli owes her a great deal, Philip says of Lady Catherine’s generosity: “I don’t think the townspeople realise what she’s done for the town; apart from Parc Howard, she gave us our first coat of arms.”

Explaining about Lady Catherine’s commitment to Llanelli and to the Welsh language, he said: “She was passionate about the Welsh. She learned Welsh from a minister. At her wedding, everything was in Welsh. Welsh was the central theme of her life.”

For Philip, the prime reason for writing the book is as a gift for future generations: “My aim is to record something and this is why [the book] is registered with the British Library. In 100 years time, it could be used as a point of reference; someone could come along and they could write more and that’s fantastic!”

Philip is a member of the Parc Howard Association.

In September, the association will begin to host tours of the grounds, which will last for around an hour to an hour and a half. Philip told us that visitors can expect see ‘more than they will be able to take in’.

Philip has been busy preparing for the tours and people will be able to see and hear about the mansion.

People can buy Philip’s book from Llanelli Library, Parc Howard mansion, Barry Lewis in Llanelli Market and also from Philip Thomas himself.

All the proceeds go to the Parc Howard Association.

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues

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POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre

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Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour

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POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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