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Firefighters aim for Christmas number one

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FIREFIGHTERS from the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have launched their bid to reach the top of the chart and achieve a Christmas number one single.

The group, formed under the name ‘The Fire Tones’, was the vision of Welshpool Firefighter, Chris Birdsell-Jones, who dreamt of a band of firefighters reaching the top of the charts with the classic Christmas hit ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’.

The single is set to raise money for the Firefighters Charity and the Band-Aid Charity Trust.

Firefighter Chris Birdsell-Jones said: “It started when we were in a bar in Welshpool around this time last year – the first song that came on was ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

“As we sat there, everyone in the bar was singing along or tapping the bar and it got me wondering if we could do something for charity.

“I said it out loud and everyone told me I was dreaming! But a couple of days later there was a film on called ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ and the song is on the soundtrack, so I took it as a sign and got to work.”

Chris set about widening the search for talent from other UK Fire and Rescue Services to contribute to the single.

Interest and momentum quickly gathered, leading to an offer of a recording session at the BIMM Music College, Birmingham, in the newly built recording studio. From across the UK, firefighters travelled to Birmingham to record the vocals in a hectic 12-hour recording session, masterminded by producer Steve Osborne and expert vocal arranger Louise Warren.

Chris added: “We wanted to honour the spirit of the original recording, so we wanted to get it all done in one day, just as they did with the original Live Aid single.

“I must admit, I was nervous on the day because you’ve put all this work in and you’re wondering things like ‘is that person going to turn up?’ and ‘is this actually going to work? But on the day, it was just incredible, they played it back to us in the studio and it was ‘wow’, this isn’t just a bit of fun, they can really sing.

“We are doing this to raise money for two fantastic causes. I’m over the moon to have worked with such a talented group of people, and I feel proud and honoured to have been involved with such a fantastic project, whatever we manage to raise.

“The Fire Tones boast over 40 Fire Service personnel within its ranks. During the recording, we had to move out of the studio and go on a stage to record the chorus parts.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Rob Quin, Mid and West Wales Fire Service said: “This is a wonderful initiative by our firefighters in Welshpool, which has snowballed across our Service and across to other Fire and Rescue Services.

“I’m extremely proud of Mid and West Wales firefighters as our Fire and Rescue Service is amongst the highest contributors to the Fire Fighters Charity. Our firefighters and support staff are constantly fundraising to this fantastic cause, be it through traditional methods, such of hosting car washes and selling cakes, or highly ambitious projects such as The Fire Tones.

“I can’t wait to hear the song, buy it and show my support to the Fire Tones, Fire Fighters Charity and Band-Aid.”

The Fire Tones’ single is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music.

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Llanelli ‘Banksy’: Mayor covers graffiti rat in protective plastic

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LLANELLI Mayor David Darkin believes graffiti found on charity shop wall could potentially be a Banksy.

The piece has been covered with protective plastic by the council while they determine the authenticity of the piece.

David Darkin, Mayor of Llanelli told this newspaper: “I was approached by a local artist Roz Moreton, who believes the artwork is a Banksy in an attempt to preserve the piece.

Roz who studied art in Bristol and lived in London has said she has been exposed to numerous Banksy works including his rats on Westminster Bridge, and spotted the ‘rat’ straight away.

Darkin added “She first spotted the graffiti around ten years ago, but she kept her findings to herself so that she could go back and visit the work.

“It was only after the recent news of the incident in Swansea, where part of a suspected piece of Banksy artwork was stolen, that she decided to approach me to ask for help to protect the piece”.

The art dealer who bought Banksy’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ which appeared on a garage in Port Talbot in December, has met with the mayor in Neath to view images of the artwork.

John Bradner, Essex based gallery owner, paid six figures for the Port Talbot addition, is planning on visiting the site to see the piece for himself.

Mr Darkin added “After showing John Bradner the images he is fairly confident that the piece is Banksy’s work, the fact it was spotted ten years ago ties in with ‘Banksy’s rats’ which was his theme at the time when they appeared across industrial towns.

“Mr Bradner called me yesterday and asked if there was anything else I can do to preserve the piece until he comes to view it in a few weeks to check its authenticity.”

Speaking on the piece Councillor John Jenkins said “Fingers crossed it is a Banksy, but worst-case scenario it isn’t and is still a talking point and people still come and see him.”

Speaking to Mr Darkin he said no attempts have been made yet to contact Banksy to confirm the piece as far as he is aware.

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36 charges relating to chemicals and components for making bombs

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A 33-YEAR-OLD male  is facing 36 charges relating to chemicals and components which can be used to make bombs.

He was remanded in custody at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday (Feb 15)

The man, from Port Talbot, was arrested in October 2017 in an operation between counter terrorism officers, South Wales Fire and Rescue and The Welsh Ambulance Service.

Detective Superintendent James Hall said no known links to terrorist offences or groups were found. The man will appear in court again at a date to be fixed.

He has also been charged with possessing a taser and manufacturing and possessing class A drugs.

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University makes formal criminal complaint

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A FORMAL criminal complaint has been by made by Swansea University, as part of the ongoing investigation into the issues surrounding the recent suspension of four members of staff.

South Wales Police said: “Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police can confirm that they have received a complaint which is currently subject of consideration by both forces.”

Last November, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard B Davies, Dean of the School of Management Prof Marc Clement, as well as two other members of staff, who have not been named, were suspended.

Prof Davies has been suspended for alleged gross negligence whilst Prof Clement was suspended for alleged gross misconduct. Both individuals have denied any wrongdoing. Registrar Andrew Rhodes confirmed at the time that this action was taken after an internal investigation.

In a statement, the university said: “Swansea University has been in regular dialogue with the authorities since November 2018 based on the findings of our initial investigation. A formal criminal complaint has been made and the matter is with South Wales Police and Dyfed Powys Police. We will of course continue to co-operate fully with them. Our processes, which are being carried out by an independent investigating manager, are ongoing.”

The investigation has looked into the academics’ involvement in both the £200m Life Science and Wellbeing Village project in Llanelli, and a £600m plan for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait.

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