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MOD blast victim relives the experience

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Presenting the cheque for over £1,000: To Wales Air Ambulance

Presenting the cheque for over £1,000: To Wales Air Ambulance

HUW WILLIAMS, AKA Panther, was caught in an explosion, which occurred at an MOD site in Llangennech almost one year ago. Little was written or presented in the news about the accident at the time.

The Herald caught up with Huw at the Castle Inn in Llangennech one year on from the accident, where he was about to hand over over £1,000 to the Air Ambulance Service, who he says were prominent in saving his life.

Huw told The Herald what he remembered about the terrible accident, which caused irreparable damage and changed his life.

“I was blown up at Unit 21 at the MOD in Llangennech. I was working with chemicals and it all went up. I was blown back and, when I came to, my leg was facing me, having been blown off. It was held on by skin which had stretched and twisted. It was horrible. I was lying there full of burns.

“How I came out of it is a mystery. The fire brigade boys dragged me out. I remember laying there shouting for someone to throw a bucket of water over me. There was a young chemist standing a distance away at the time and he was blown back out of the building. I was taken to Morriston Hospital by Air Ambulance.”

Huw spoke about the quick actions of the Fire Service and Dr Rhys Thomas, who he says saved his life and ensured that his leg was saved.

“Dr Thomas was there in minutes and he had had experience with the troops in Afghanistan, so he knew exactly what to do. He is an ex-army doctor and told me he thought that he had left all this behind. God was on my side that day and he was there. They did a fantastic job at Morriston and they managed to save my leg by putting pins through what was left.”

Speaking about the role the Wales Air Ambulance played and how grateful he was to them, Huw said: “The Air Ambulance was in Swansea at the time. I just wanted to say thank you to the Air Ambulance and to Dr Rhys Thomas, who saved my life. We have a gardening club here at the Castle in Llangennech and, together with the Turnstyle and the Royal Oak in Felinfoel, we have raised the money. My partner and my children and friends have been amazing. I couldn’t get over how many people came to visit me in hospital and I would like to thank them all.”

We asked Huw what kind of impact the accident has had on his way of thinking and living.

He said: “It has been massive. It has changed my life altogether, especially the deafness. I was an avid sportsman and all that has changed. Hopefully I can make some form of recovery. I have had a second chance really. I was thinking that I would not see my two boys again. I remember thinking that I have had a good life so far and that was it, I was going to die.

“We all make promises that we will do things differently after something traumatic. I do get flashbacks and nightmares, especially if I see or hear things on TV. I can empathise with the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. I can envisage exactly what they have gone through, having been in such a big explosion.”

Huw was optimistic about the future and even spoke about plans to one day go up in the Air Ambulance.

“I am hoping to go up in the Air Ambulance some time. I have met Dr Thomas again and he said he was surprised that I survived.

“I am still receiving treatment and I do get setbacks but I still have my eyes. Thank God I put my safety glasses on.

“My face was a hell of a mess. I am trying to get back to some normality, whatever that is. It is going to take a long time but the main thing is that I survived and I am here for my family.”

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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