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Young photographers are snap happy

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freja's entry

Timber: Freja’s entry earned her the runners-up spot

TWO teenage photographers from Wales have been named among the best in the country in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards on Friday (Dec 18). Mairi Eyres, 17, from Powys, and Freja Petrie, also 17, from Carmarthenshire, were both named as runners up during the prestigious award ceremony at the Tower of London. Their winning images were shortlisted by a panel of judges – made up of wildlife photographers and industry experts led by BBC Springwatch’s Chris Packham. Mairi Eyres ended up with a total of 12 images in the final and scooped top prizes for her Ant in Silhouette shot for the 16-18-year-old category and her set of wildlife framed in different ways – entitled Framed – taking top spot in the Portfolio category.

Speaking about her winning set of portfolio shots where she framed pictures of an ant, a red squirrel, a fieldfare, a fox, and a little Egret, she said: “When I photograph wildlife I like trying to frame the subject in an interesting or unusual way. “Sometimes this framing is achieved by using the shapes and spaces found in the surrounding habitat, and sometimes it involves making use of the way areas of the subject are picked out by the light falling on different elements within the picture.” Mairi was also commended with her second portfolio of shots showing Ptarmigans in their natural landscapes up in the Cairngorms, and commended in the 16-18 year old category for her image Robin in the Snow. Also named in the list of top young photographers was Freja Petrie, 17, from Carmarthenshire who entered a photograph of her black Labrador Timber into the Pet Personalities category. Speaking about her runners up image of her family dog she said: “To get this shot I sat Timber in front of a stable, leaving the door open.

This meant the background was black, but Timber was still lit from the side so he would stand out. Having taken the shot I increased the contrast and added a vignette to ensure the background was dark.” Judge Chris Packham said: “This year’s entrants were really at an exceptional standard – we had some very tough decisions to make. The skills that are showcased every year never fail to impress me. The inventiveness and creativeness that is demonstrated by such young people is fantastic. I hope they all carry on taking photographs long into the future so we can all enjoy more of their work. “It was fantastic to have so many entries for the new farm animals category too because these animals are so accessible. It is a great addition to the competition. “The range of animals in this year’s entries were varied which is great to see. We had everything from bugs, through to farm animals, cats and dogs right through to monkeys.” A set of 30 images were shortlisted by judges for the six categories Under 12’s, 12-15 years old, 16-18 years old, Farm Animals, Portfolio and Pet Personalities.

Wildlife photographer and YPA judge Andrew Forsyth said: “The quality of the YPA shortlist never fails to impress me. These young photographers produce such sophisticated images, but with a fresh vision that is unique to this competition. “The new farm animal category has been a success, encouraging young photographers to broaden their subject matter to animals that are all around us but often overlooked. They rose to the challenge and far exceeded our expectations.” The overall winner, Will Jenkins, 13, of north London, scooped the top prize with his image of a pelican’s beak – named Beak – and has been invited on a weekend photography break courtesy of Natures Images. Camera vouchers from WEX Photographic worth up to £750 are awarded in each category and an exclusive photo shoot at an RSPCA animal centre have been awarded to the winners from each age category. The competition is sponsored by Warners Midlands, Wex Photographic and Natures images. Full details and information please see www.rspca.org.uk/ypa.

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Third annual Burry Port Raft Race is eagerly awaited

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THE THIRD ANNUAL BURRY PORT RAFT RACE, organised by Burry Port couple, Craig and Isabel Goodman, will be held on Saturday (July 27).

The event which is held in Burry Port Harbour, raises much needed funds for both Burry Port RNLI and a children’s football academy and primary school the couple support in The Gambia.

The day launches at 12pm with stands, food stalls and children’s inflatable games and rides and these will be available until 5pm. You’ll also have a chance to meet the crews, who’ll be busy putting the final touches to their rafts.

Rafts launch at 3pm, followed by a presentation ceremony, including prizes for first raft over the line, first raft to sink and best dressed raft.

Craig said: ” A huge thank you goes to all our sponsors, including overall sponsor Dawsons, along with continued sponsorship from Celtic Couriers, Parker Plant Hire, Burns Pet Nutrition, Burry Port Co-Op, Llanelli Star, LBS Builders Merchants, Burry Port Marina, First Choice Flooring and Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.

For any further information about the event, please contact 07825 842981.

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The tale of the WW2 Luftwaffe pilot who mistakenly landed in west Wales

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IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.

On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.

Armin Faber mistakenly flew to South Wales after the dog-fight

Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).

One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.

Spitfire pilot Alois Vašátko lost his life in the battle

In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.

Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.

The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!

Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).

As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!

Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.

He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.

Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.

They did find one, however.

The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.

Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.

49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.

This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.

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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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