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Carmarthenshire students go for gold

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Benjamin Allen: Took home gold in the carpentry competition.

Benjamin Allen:
Took home gold
in the carpentry competition.

FOUR students from Coleg Sir Gâr have all scooped gold in an initiative designed to boost skills levels across the country.

The successful students were also announced winners of the Welsh heats in their respective categories of UK-wide WorldSkills competitions, SkillBUILD and SkillPLUMB.

19 year-old Benjamin Allen from Ammanford took gold in the carpentry competition and Charlie Short, 20, from Tumble, won the Wales plastering and dry wall systems final. Robert Goodman 20, from Cynwyl Elfed won gold in Brickwork, while in SkillPLUMB, Daniel Doughty 21, from Cwmann was announced winner in the Plumbing final.

Coleg Sir Gar students took the top two places in the carpentry competition, with Thornton Boswell, who is on the same course as Benjamin, coming second. The twelve finalists had to make a Mansard roof, a four-sided hip roof with two slopes on each of its sides, based on a basic drawing.

Benjamin, who is currently in his third year of a carpentry apprenticeship, said: “It was a real challenge. There was a lot to get done in the time and lots of difficult angles, which wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but we had had a lot of practice in college. I have always wanted to be a carpenter as my dad runs his own carpentry business in Ammanford and I’ve been helping him out since I was around 15. He is thrilled that I won gold and that I am now following in his footsteps.”

The finals were held in Deeside as part of the SkillBUILD, SkillPLUMB and SkillELECTRIC Welsh heats, which were sponsored by British Gypsum, STIHL and Crown Trade. SkillBUILD is part of the largest multi-trade competition in the country, run by CITB with the endorsement of WorldSkills. SkillPLUMB is organised by SummitSkills and SkillELECTRIC is sponsored by National Electrotechnical Training (NET) and the JIB.

As well as winning the Welsh heats of the WorldSkills competitions, the four students also scooped gold in the finals of Skills Competition Wales, a Welsh Government-backed initiative that is designed to promote the importance of vocational skills and developing a highly-skilled workforce with the aim of boosting the overall skill level and prosperity of Wales.

Supported by the European Social Fund, the Welsh Government is funding a total of 32 Skills Competitions in 2015 in a range of sectors, from welding and brickwork to popular music and web design.

The four gold medal winners are now waiting to hear whether or not they will go forward to represent Coleg Sir Gar at this year’s Skills Show Birmingham in November.

This year, competitors representing Squad UK are in the running to travel to São Paulo. The competition takes place every two years in cities across the globe and is the largest international skills competition in the world.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James AM said: “Having a highly skilled workforce is essential for the future of our country. It’s important to highlight the value of practical vocational skills that can be applied to our thriving industries in Wales. Skills Competition Wales aims to encourage young people and adults to develop their talents to the highest possible level and the healthy competition will set a benchmark for skills. Dozens of colleges, Sector Skills Councils and work-based learning providers across Wales are already involved in the initiative but we’re keen to see more Welsh businesses encouraging their talented young employees to enter.”

The Deputy Minister added: “It takes hard work, sheer determination and a lot of skill to compete against Wales’ most talented apprentices and learners, so their achievements should be commended and celebrated. We wish all the finalists and winners the very best of luck, not only in the next round of the competitions, but also in the careers they go on to pursue.” A GROUP of robin chicks have made a cosy home for themselves within a net at WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre. They were discovered by student Laurie Allnatt, who found the chicks when he entered a storage shed on site.

Learning Manager, Pam Styles said: “Some birds always seem to find strange and innovative places to make their nests and this was a really great find.

“The robin chicks are very young and we must be very careful not to disturb them. We have been watching their mum fly in and out of the shed to give them food. She is often perched on a tree right outside the shed guarding the area.”

This is not the first time a feathered family has picked an unusual location for their future home at WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre.

Pam continued: “A few years back one of our grounds staff was sweeping up, then he leant the broom up against a wall while he went for lunch. When he came back a swallow had made a nest on the top of it! We left the nest alone and found another broom.”

As well as the common sight of a robin, Llanelli Wetland Centre welcomes tens of thousands of migratory birds that visit every year.

The Wetland Centre in Llwynhendy, Llanelli, is a 450 acre mosaic of lakes, scrapes, pools, streams and lagoons.

So, if you visit the Wetland Centre anytime soon, be sure to look out for birds making their nests in unusual places. It can be quite a find.

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Community

NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse

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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.

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Pop-up craft stalls return to St Elli

Tamsin Mathias

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Photo credit: www.stelli.co.uk/about-us/

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.

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Community

Bread and Jam for Christmas

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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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