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Traditional Nepalese festival celebrated in Llanelli

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LAST Saturday (Sept 27) saw the Ghurkha Nepalese Association host a special evening at the town’s Selwyn Samuel Centre. The day marked the celebration of Dashain, the traditional Nepalese Festival.

Dashain is traditionally celebrated over a period of fifteen days, normally during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon.

The Herald proudly caught up with Mayor Cllr. Jeff Edmunds and Paolo Piana (Chair of Llanelli Community Partnership) to have their take on the special evening which was utterly unique.

A mixture of traditional foods with specialist meat proved popular as did Nepalese Rum during the celebration and was something entirely different!

Chair of the Llanelli Community Partnership Paolo Piana said: “There are currently fifteen Nepalese families residing and working here in Llanelli. All of the families were of Ghurka soldiers who’ve served in the Ghurka regiments of the British Army. The connection of the British Army goes back over a period of 200 years when the British forces based in India found that they were unable to defeat these tough warriors and instead recruited them in the British Army.”

“Most of the families have resided in Llanelli for over thirteen years and their children are ascertaining qualifications through local schools, colleges and universities.”

“The Chair of the Ghurkha Nepalese Association Tanka Rai warmly welcomed the Mayor Cllr. Jeff Edmunds, Mayoress Cllr. Lauren Edmunds plus myself.”

Also in attendance was Ann Evans (Chair of Llanelli Multicultural Network) plus representatives of the Royal Naval Association including Chair Dennis Morgan.

Mayoress Cllr. Lauren Edmunds presented bouquets to two young nurses who’ve recently qualified and have gained employment in Prince Philip Hospital. That was a very proud moment for everyone and worthy of celebration in itself!

The heritage and culture of the people from Nepal has enriched our town and helped to add to the cultural diversity in Llanelli. I’m so proud to have been invited along.

Mayor Cllr. Jeff Edmunds said: “Saturday’s event was wonderful, it was a celebration of the Nepalese New Year, 2067. There were around ten tables that seated nine families at the Selwyn Samuel Centre, it was an ideal venue and very accommodating.

“The support was clear for all to see with some families in attendance from Bridgend, however most are residing in Llanelli. There were children at the celebration who’d lived in Llanelli for some thirteen or fourteen years, my daughter Lauren who’s Mayoress knew some of the individuals that had received schooling in Coedcae Comprehensive School when she’d attended as a pupil.”

“A proud moment for all was when two of the ladies who’d qualified as Nurses and work locally in Prince Philip Hospital received gifts which they loved. I think that they’ve a lot of colour to add to our culture. Two young ladies did a traditional Nepalese dance which was impressive.”

“Speeches were extra special also, I was proud as Mayor to make a speech and Paolo rose to the occasion with his words for the Ghurkha Nepalese Association. It was something entirely different to celebrate the New Year with a diverse cultural group and celebrate their traditions. The Royal Naval Group were in attendance with ex serving members seated at our table. They proudly wore cookery badges that had been given to them by the Ghurkha retirees. They were clearly proud to wear the badges, I’d have worn one, I would in a heartbeat. It was a tremendous honour for me to have been invited as Mayor.”

“They all work in the economy and are extremely proud individuals. They’ve served so valiantly within the British Army and for our country. We should recognise this. Infact the Ghurkha regiment won twenty six Victoria Crosses, they have the highest count in the whole of the British Army. That’s the highest badge of honour that the country can give, imagine that!”

“Apart from their bravery and how they represented us in the first and second world war as well as other wars and in peace time also, they’re very generous people. The hospitality was second to none and the fact that they’ve bedded into our culture pleases me. We were looked after and had a superb time.”
The Nepalese Rum was a surprise as it was 57% alcohol/108 proof, whisky is 40 proof. The hosts were eager to pour seconds. I took a little sip and it was a strong tipple, possibly an acquired taste but a new experience that was extremely kind.

The Selwyn Samuel was an ideal venue and the staff couldn’t do enough. It’s great that this is an annual event and it was a pleasure to be welcomed by such wonderful people as Mayor. Wales is now their home.

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Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize

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LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.

After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.

The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.

“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.

“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”

Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.

“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”

Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.

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Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended

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THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.

Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.

Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.

It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.

The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.

“It is not appropriate to comment further.”

Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.

She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.

According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.

“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.

“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”

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Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour

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POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.

According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.

These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.

HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.

Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.

Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.

“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.

“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.

“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”

These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.

The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.

That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.

Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”

Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.

“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”

He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”

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