PEMBROKESHIRE learners have been rewarded for their successes at two major skills competitions, in an event celebrating talent across Wales.
Winners gathered at St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay to be honoured for their achievements at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show.
The event saw Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, hand out medals to 39 students, trainees, apprentices and employees who all won at competitions in 2014.
Pembrokeshire College students and graduates Annalea Lawrence, 39, from Pembroke; Luke Lawrence, 20, and Nicola Ashby, 32, from Pembroke Dock; Gabriella Coates, 19, from Tenby, and Marie Crayford, 44, from Saundersfoot, each took medals after triumphing in their chosen skill sector.
The Deputy Minister said: “This event is about celebrating the successes of our Welsh winners at Skills Competition Wales and The Skills Show, a group of people who will now act as role models to young people in Wales.
“These competitions help drive up standards in vocational skills and help us showcase the talent we have in Wales all over the world.
“We’re showing that we have talented students, trainees, apprentices and employees and we have forward-thinking training companies, colleges and employers.
“These competition winners are a testament to what can be achieved through dogged determination as well as skill.”
During Skills Competition Wales, the country’s most talented learners battled it out in competitions ranging from reflexology to web development to be named the ‘best in Wales’ in their chosen skill.
Initially, entrants competed against colleagues within their college and the best were then entered to compete at a national level, as part of heats organised within colleges across Wales by Skills Competition Wales (SCW).
In addition, The Skills Show, at the NEC in Birmingham then saw over 600 participants from across the UK take part in more than 60 competitions to be named the ‘best in the UK’.
Annalea and Nicola were awarded bronze and silver medals respectively in the reflexology category at Skills Competition Wales; Marie in aromatherapy, while Gabriella took gold in beauty therapy. Luke Lawrence was highly commended in the welding category at The Skills Show.
Gabriella said: “The Skills Show experience has been absolutely amazing.
“It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but I learned so much from it and the end result was definitely worth it. I’d recommend it to any learner.”
Backed by the Welsh Government, through the European Social Fund, Skills Competition Wales promotes the importance of developing a highly-skilled workforce, aiming to boost high level skills in Wales.
Barry Liles, WorldSkills Wales Champion and principal at Coleg Sir Gâr, who hosted the event, said:
“Taking part in skills competitions increases employability, employee skills, employer competitiveness, business growth and ultimately improves the economy of Wales.”
“The amount of passion and concentration shown at these events, the results of months and years of hard work, is always fantastic to see and every person involved should be hugely proud of what they have achieved.
“I’m extremely proud to be a part of such an inspiring scheme that has gone from strength to strength over the past four years.”
To register your interest for the next cycle of WorldSkills UK Competitions, visit www.worldskillsuk.org
Llanelli fitness group thanked for NHS donation
HYWEL DDA HEALTH CHARITIES has thanked Arumba Llan, a not-for profit fitness group based at Llangennech Rugby Club, Llanelli.
The club has over 60 members and has donated £2,500 to Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official NHS charity for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. The money will be used to support the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at Prince Philip Hospital.
Over the 9 years it’s been running, Arumba Llan has raised approximately £70,000 through weekly classes held at Llangennech Rugby Club.
They are a non-profit organisation and all the money raised from running classes, along with various charity events and theme nights, is donated to good causes.
Managing Director and instructor Nia Gibbs said, “2020 was a very difficult year for us as for every charity. We relied on kind donations from the girls who participated in live classes on Facebook with me and the few months of actual classes we’ve managed to have. Despite this, we decided this year to donate £2,500 to the ICU in PPH as a way to thank the NHS for their wonderful work, in particular to PPH, as we like to support local causes in Arumba Llan.”
“Teresa Owens helped me with deciding where the money was most needed. I only knew that I wanted the money to help with COVID in some way. She is a wonderful human being along with a massive gang of ladies who support me.”
“I believe these funds are greatly required by the hospital and it is a chance for Aumba Llan to thank the tireless work of the staff and a tribute to their selflessness during this precarious climate.
“It is also of great pride that we have members of Arumba Llan who are employees at PPH.”
Catherine Cole, a Sister in Prince Philip ITU said “We would like to thank the Arumba Llan for the very generous donation. It will be used to benefit the ITU providing services and activities above and beyond core NHS expenditure such as extra patient comforts, the most up to date medical equipment, more welcoming surroundings, staff training, development and wellbeing initiatives and enhanced care. Thank you”
To find out more about Hywel Dda Health Charities go to hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk.
Burry Port residents urged to pool ultrafast broadband vouchers
OPENREACH is asking people living in Burry Port to get behind a push for faster broadband.
Ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband is within touching distance for people living in Burry Port – thanks to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme.
The company – the UK’s largest broadband network used by customers of BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen – is urging people living or working in Burry Port to consider pooling Gigabit broadband vouchers available from the UK and Welsh Governments to help build a new, gigabit-capable network, where fibre is run directly from the exchange all the way to each property.
Many residents have already pledged their support, but those who haven’t and don’t currently have access to a 100Mbps broadband service can check if they qualify and pledge their voucher on the Connect My Community website.
If enough people come forward to pledge, and validate their vouchers – before the scheme ends – Openreach can work with the community to build a customised, co-funded network and bring full fibre broadband to areas not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.
By working with Openreach in this way, more than 150,000 homes and businesses across the UK can already benefit from ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband.
Connie Dixon, Openreach’s partnership director for Wales, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for the community of Burry Port to bring full fibre infrastructure to the town but the clock is ticking.”
“Deadline for vouchers to be pledged and issued is the end of March so we need as many people as possible in Burry Port to get involved so that we get enough pledges ‘over the line’. Everyone who pledges a voucher will be doing their bit to help make Burry Port one of the best-connected places in Wales. Pledging couldn’t be simpler, but we need residents to act quickly.”
Connie added: “Thousands of homes and businesses across Wales can already upgrade to the Openreach full fibre network and local people can use our online postcode checker to see what’s now available.
“We’re investing £12 billion to build full fibre broadband to 20 million homes – and more than three million of those will be in the toughest third of the UK – but we can’t upgrade the whole country alone. This latest support from government, alongside help to remove red tape and barriers that slow down the build, is vital.”
To claim vouchers which contribute towards the cost of building the new network, residents are asked to commit to ordering a full fibre service from a provider of their choice for at least 12 months once the new network is available.
Eligible residents can qualify for up to a maximum of £3,000 while small to medium sized businesses can claim up to £7,000 under the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which has been topped up by Welsh Government funding.
Carmarthenshire County Council leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “We welcome this scheme and would strongly recommend residents and businesses in Burry Port seeking ultra-fast, ultra-reliable internet speeds to register their interest now. Fast, reliable connectivity is vital to support business growth, help communities to thrive, improve health and well-being, and make it easier for people to get online and access public services. This has been particularly highlighted during the current Covid-19 pandemic.”
Full fibre technology provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; meaning fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and enough capacity to easily meet growing data demands. It’s also future-proof, which means it will serve generations to come and won’t need to be upgraded for decades.
Fibre optics – strands of glass around one-tenth the thickness of a human hair – transmit data using light signals. Fibre is smaller, lighter and more durable than copper cabling and less vulnerable to damage. This short video explains what full fibre technology is and there’s more info here.
Badgers saved in ‘bizarre’ situation at canal wall
AN RSPCA officer has labelled helping two badgers trapped on a ladder in a Torfaen canal as “the most bizarre and unusual” day in her 15 years on the frontline.
The animal welfare charity teamed up with firefighters from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to help two badgers, who had – unfathomably – got stuck between metal steps and the wall, on Pentre Lane over the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal in Cwmbran.
Video footage captures the badger’s plight and the moments they were saved.
RSPCA Cymru was called, with rescue officer Sian Burton and inspector David Milborrow rushing to the scene. They enlisted the support of the fire service as they sought to help the trapped badgers. The rescue took place on Friday (5 February).
A large animal rescue team from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service attended, and abseiled down the canal wall, with their ropes tied to an RSPCA van for security. Inspector Milborrow got hold of one of the badgers using a grasper – while firefighters held nets below him for extra security.
The second badger jumped into the water as the first was rescued – causing “serious concern” for the RSPCA. However, the badger then, amazingly, climbed up the ladder and into reach of the grasper, where he was also pulled to safety.
Both badgers have now come into the care of the RSPCA for a period of rehabilitation before an anticipated return to the wild.
ARO Burton said: “Without doubt, this was the most bizarre and unusual day of my 15 years spent on the frontline for animals. These poor badgers were stuck fast between the ladder and high wall, with no route to escape and the canal waters below them.
“Fortunately, we were able to reach the badgers with a grasper, as firefighters abseiled down the wall and looked to usher the animals towards safety. After we got the first badger, the other fell in the water – which did cause us some serious concern. But he got out of the water – and climbed up the ladder, and we soon grabbed him too.
“Both badgers are a bit rough, and have some cuts – so have come into our care for some rehabilitation. We really hope we can release them back to the wild soon.
“We’re so grateful to the member of the public who spotted them – and the incredible firefighters and large animal rescue team from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. It’s a great advert of what we can achieve together for animal welfare.”
The badgers had initially been spotted by local resident Mandy Williams, who sounded the alarm after her dogs – Tara and Bella – showed an unusual amount of interest in what was happening at the canal wall.
Mandy said: “Last week, my dogs had spotted a squirrel at the canal – and when Tara went back there, I assumed she wanted to have another look. But then Bella ran over too, so I had a look myself – and was shocked to see two badgers staring back at me, trapped between the wall and metal ladder steps.
“They were wedged stuck and tightly together. I contacted the RSPCA – and waited with the badgers while they came. Occasionally, one would become loose and they’d fight a bit – so I did my best to reassure them.
“I don’t know if it’s because it is particularly slippy – meaning they’d fallen in, but both badgers were trapped and sadly without help there was no chance of escape from the canal.
“The fire brigade and RSPCA staff were absolutely marvellous – and I’m so happy to hear both badgers are doing okay and are now in safe hands.”
A spokesperson for the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service added: “It was lovely to work with the RSPCA on this rescue. It was a once in a lifetime experience, not only did we have the opportunity to save one badger, but two. We’re pleased we were able to support the RSPCA in rescuing them before they are returned to the wild.”
Should you wish to help the RSPCA with their rescue work, you can donate online.