FOR me the Llanelli Half Marathon, now in its 10th year, has a special place in my heart. It was the first race I did three years ago, after being challenged to run the Snowdonia Marathon. Since then it’s the first on my race list every year.
Set annually in early March, the weather is always a little challenging and this year was no different. The wind was strong and the rain might even have made Gene Kelly think twice about going out. But on the start line, the almost 2000 strong participants didn’t seem to care.
One of the great things about running and in particular the Llanelli Half Marathon is that it brings together all abilities and levels. Each runner has their own reason for being there. Whether that be running in memory of someone, running for a charity or simply running to keep fit. What we all have in common though, is we all love the ‘bling’. And having now run many races across the UK, the Lanelli Half Marathon has one of the best medals.
Joining me this year was my race buddy Mark Whitby, a seasoned pro who seems to race as much as I have hot dinners, friend and former colleague James Southon from Radio Pembrokeshire who is training for his first Marathon in April and Sue Whitby, Mark’s wife who is new to the sport.
The relatively flat race, starting at the Parc Y Scarlets, is well organised and takes in some magnificent views along the Llanelli coastline. At the sound of the air-horn, we set off on the 13.1 mile run, heading down the A484 to Bynea, then along the Millenium Coastal Path to New Dock before turning round and heading back to the Parc Y Scarlets.
Spectators and event officials lined parts of the course to give you that much needed encouragement as the rained lashed down, helping to make my running kit look more like a wet suit.
The biggest excitement for me comes with just over a mile to go, as you start to come off the Millenium Coastal Path and start hear the noise of the finish line. The announcer’s voice, faint at first, getting louder with every stride. Then comes the moment, the finish line is in sight and you look for that last push and that final sprint finish for the camera’s and souvenir picture.
This year the race was won by Bristol runner Angus Maclean, who completed the course in a record one hour, 11 minutes and 48 seconds. I was a little slower than that and crossed the line in one hour, 50 minutes and 51 seconds.
NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse
PROTECTING women and children from domestic abuse was the focus of a ground-breaking conference in Wales this week (Mar 28).
Organised by Cardiff University’s Exchange Network – with support from NSPCC Cymru / Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid – the event aimed to share information on the most effective approaches to tackle all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and support for victims – be they adults or children.
Preventing violence from happening and protecting those who fall victim to domestic abuse formed the focus of the conference, at Cardiff’s Novotel Hotel.
Representatives from Welsh Government, Relate Cymru, Barnardos and Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre also attended.
Domestic abuse continues to be a significant reason for young people to contact Childline. In 2016/17 volunteers at the NSPCC-run helpline undertook 120 counselling sessions with children from Wales who had concerns about abuse by a partner in their own relationship.
And 241 children from Wales contacted Childline to discuss parental domestic abuse.
Some young people who witness this also experience physical abuse by their parents. This can sometimes happen when they try and intervene in the abuse taking place, with some children telling Childline they were hit by their mother or father when trying to stop a fight.
“Sometimes my dad gets in a bad mood and gets really aggressive. He says horrible things to me and my mum and it scares me. In the past he was threatening to hit my mum, when I tried to get him to calm down he slapped me instead. I feel like neither of them listen to me and they don’t understand how upset it’s all making me.” (Girl, 16-18, Wales)
Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, Des Mannion, told The Llanelli Herald: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and it’s hugely important that we share information and discuss ways to both prevent violence and protect victims.
“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our advisers can offer guidance and get help where it’s needed.
“Stepping in early helps to change behaviours and avoid abuse escalating, and putting the child at the heart of interventions is paramount in keeping children safe and limiting long-term damage.
“It is also vital that children and young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support to overcome the trauma of witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.”
Any child worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
Pop-up craft stalls return to St Elli
LLANELLI’S St Elli Shopping Centre is once again playing host to a fantastic group of pop-up craft stalls today and tomorrow (Mar 1-2).
Following on from a highly successful outing just before Christmas, the ‘Pert A Blasus Pop-Up Emporium’ will see a variety of crafters take to the Atrium to sell their handmade crafts.
A group of friends who met whilst running stalls at craft markets around South Wales, Pert A Blasus brings together a host of skill sets and backgrounds – including a former kitchen fitter and scaffolder, a former clerical assistant, and a primary school teacher.
Primary school teacher Jill Davies has been crafting most of her life as a hobby; however, seven years ago decided to launch ‘Dzines by Jill’, which sees her hand-decorate plain pieces of ceramic and household items with her own unique designs.
Jill also organises her own ‘Made it Markets’ in Neath.
Also on board with Pert A Blasus is Steve Kennedy, who is the brainchild of ‘Cut n Scroll’, where he hand cuts items from wood and enlists the help of his wife Tanya for painting and gemming; Wendy Taylor, also a primary school teacher, who completed a precious metal course at Gower College and now makes her own items for her ‘Simplicity by Silver’ stall; and Jill James who runs her ‘Pretty Cute Fairies’ stall.
Bread and Jam for Christmas
A young woman with Spina bifida has been left alone in an empty home with nothing but bread and jam to eat and with no cooking facilities. Jackie lives a stone’s throw from Llanelli Town Hall and yet she claims she has been abandoned by the County Council, her AM, her MP and Social Services. She faces a wait until January 10 before service providers meet to discuss her case.
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