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Miraculous transformation of a rescued horse

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THE ‘miraculous transformation’ horses can achieve after being rescued by the RSPCA. It is perfectly highlighted by Jack. Jack is a veteran 15-hand chestnut gelding who is proving a perfect companion to animals and humans alike at his new premises in North Shropshire.


However, he looked a very different horse when he first came to the attention of the RSPCA in May 2018.


Jack had been abandoned with serious welfare concerns at stables in Furnace near Llanelli without the consent of the land-owner.


RSPCA inspectors Rohan Barker and Nigel Duguid arrived and found the horse to be emaciated, and in urgent need of help.


Inspector Barker said: “This poor horse had been mysteriously dumped at stables in Furnace in Llanelli, in a really bad way. His ribs and spine were visible, and he was badly emaciated. The veterinary examination confirmed he was suffering, and it was just miserable to witness.”


The horse was seized by Dyfed-Powys Police and taken into the care of the RSPCA – before heading to a boarding establishment in the Swansea area.
Poor Jack underwent many months of rehabilitation and care; including time under the stewardship of equine expert Juls de Smet, who looked after Jack for around 10 weeks as part of his recovery.


Ms De Smet said: “He’s such a friendly, easy horse who was no trouble at all. He appreciated us tending to him and helping him get better.


We found Jack to be such a sweet, genuine horse who was easy to treat and medicate. Such a gorgeous boy. It’s just such a great shame he had been left in such a horrendous state. It looks to me that as poor Jack was getting older, someone thought he wasn’t good enough anymore and just dumped him. It’s just so cruel.”


Jack was eventually adopted by Tina, at her yard in North Shropshire. Her family had recently been struck by great sadness – but Jack helped turned their fortunes around, as well as his own.


Sadly, the family saw two of their horses die within ten weeks in 2018, leaving the third horse on her own and without companionship.


However, Jack has proven the perfect addition to their family, and Tina was full of praise for both the work of the RSPCA and the role that rescue horses can play as companions.


She said: “Tragically, we lost two of our horses within just 10 weeks. It was an awful situation, and we were left with one horse, suddenly all on her own and lonely – having lost both her mother and friend within weeks. We were all so upset.


We were desperate to get some new company for our mare – initially moving three sheep in next door to stave off our lonely horse’s unhappiness. That’s when we called the RSPCA – and they were so helpful.
They soon found Jack, who’d they rescued some months earlier in South Wales. Jack initially moved in with us on a trial basis, and immediately was an amazing companion. He was a fantastic addition at such a stressful time when we were under real pressure to find another suitable horse.


His rehabilitation has continued with us – and the weight he’s put on, his beautiful shiny coat and his fantastic personality are a far cry from how the RSPCA found him in Llanelli.


“I’m so grateful to the RSPCA, who were just brilliant. I’d say to anyone – if you’ve got the right facilities, wherewithal, experience and space, rescue horses can make the most fantastic companions. After what they’ve so often been through, they deserve happiness, security and comfort.


“We completed the formal, final adoption of Jack a couple of weeks ago – and it was one of the best decisions we have made.”

Dozens of rescue horses are available for rehoming in or around Wales at any one time, and the RSPCA hopes to continue to transform the lives of horses rescued from incredibly difficult situations and finds them loving new families.


RSPCA equine welfare manager for Wales and the Midlands Gareth Johnson said: “Jack’s story shows the miraculous transformation rescue horses can go through.


“From being dumped heartlessly in Llanelli and a woeful condition to making the perfect companion to humans and animals alike many, many miles away in Shropshire – this has been some journey for Jack.


“There are dozens of other rescue horses in our care in and around Wales, and we’d love to introduce the equines in our care to prospective adopters across Wales. From adult ridden and companion horses to youngsters who will need bringing on in their new homes, people can start their search for a rescued horse on the RSPCA website.”


The RSPCA’s Homes for Horse campaign is aiming to find forever homes for horses and ponies by showcasing the versatility and capability of the horses it rescues.

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Food help available for projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen

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A great opportunity is opening up for food projects in Llanelli and Carmarthen. Food distribution charity FareShare Cymru is expanding further into West Wales and is looking for charities and community groups that provide food as part of their project. 

FareShare Cymru currently redistributes quality surplus food and drink from the food industry to over 170 community groups and charities based between Newport and Swansea. The surplus food benefits services such as homeless hostels, community centres, refugee centres, primary schools etc.

FareShare Cymru turns the environmental problem of food waste into a social solution. They aim to maximise the social impact of food that would otherwise go to waste; encouraging members to provide a service that is more than just food handouts and that tackles the causes of food poverty rather than just the symptoms.

FareShare Cymru offers a competitively priced membership scheme to provide a weekly provision of a variety of meat, dairy, fruit, veg and ambient produce.

It’s vital for a lot of the older diners who perhaps wouldn’t come out otherwise. But without Fareshare, that might not be able to happen. We couldn’t necessarily go out and buy all the produce you provide us. We couldn’t afford to. – Liam Turner, volunteer chef at Cornelly Luncheon Club 

This growth is happening thanks to a grant from the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Fund, which aims to divert waste from landfill.

Expanding into West Wales has been on our agenda for some time and we are grateful to the Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme for supporting us to be able to do this. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has meant it is more important now than ever to get good, nutritious food to those who need it and to support community resilience. – Katie Padfield, Head of Development at FareShare Cymru

If groups are interested in finding out more about becoming a FareShare Cymru member, please contact members@fareshare.cymru. For more information about our service, visit www.fareshare.cymru

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Woman who had to re-learn how to walk after brain surgery is stepping up for charity

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A WOMAN who was left unable to walk after brain surgery is now taking on an ambitious 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge to help find a cure for brain tumours.

Jessica Jones, 38, a commercial banker from Llanelli in Carmarthenshire will be taking part in the challenge in aid of Brain Tumour Research just one year after brain surgery left her unable to walk.

Speaking of the challenge, Jessica said: “Given where I was this time last year, it will be incredibly challenging for me, but I am so eager to be active again and given the donations received to date, I’m fully dedicated to embrace and complete it.”

Jessica, who has three daughters, Ella, eight, and five-year-old twins Emily and Lily, first started experiencing hearing loss and tinnitus in 2019 and later suffered with headaches.

It wasn’t until June 2020, that she went to the GP to get her hearing and headaches checked and was given migraine tablets and told to go back if the problem persisted.

A few days later, she returned to the GP and was referred for a CT scan. During the two to three-week wait for a scan, her blood pressure became abnormally high and she was admitted to Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli for further tests. Jessica went into hospital on her own due to COVID-19 restrictions and after two days of tests was given the devastating news that she had an acoustic neuroma causing pressure on her brainstem.

Jessica said: “I had no family with me, just the doctor and nurse, who told me as I sat on the end of the bed on my own. At that point, all you want is your family around you for support to cuddle and comfort you – I had no one. Receiving the news was a very emotional experience but I am so grateful for the emotional support I received from family, friends and staff at Prince Philip Hospital, in the next few days which followed.

“I had to tell my husband, family and friends over the phone. Knowing very little about acoustic neuromas, I researched more about the brain tumour whilst in hospital to prepare for what was ahead of me. Throughout the last 12 months I have always tried to remain positive but it has been an emotional rollercoaster and I have been afraid.”

In January 2021, Jessica underwent a gruelling 13-hour operation where surgeons removed a section of her skull from behind her ear, and successfully took out most of the tumour. Surgeons advised to leave a small part of the tumour which had grown around the facial nerve, to avoid causing facial palsy however the procedure has left her with single-sided deafness.

Following surgery, Jessica’s first recollection was when she opened her eyes, was that the whole room was spinning.  She went on to continue to experience a form of vertigo by simply turning her head or speaking. Jessica spent two weeks in hospital, with no visitors. Aside from hearing loss, acoustic neuromas and their surgical removal can cause vestibular damage, which can result in balance issues. Simple things like standing were difficult in the first few days, post-surgery, but Jessica worked with her health team at Heath Hospital in Cardiff to improve co-ordination of eye and head movements and balance retraining to allow her to walk.

Jessica said: “I was unable to stand without vomiting the first few days. Thanks to the support of the team there, I finally left the hospital after two weeks, trundling along on a Zimmer frame at the age of 37.

“When I was home, I paid for weekly sessions with a neuro-physio who helped me build the confidence and strength to walk without the frame.”

Jessica now has yearly scans to monitor what is left of her tumour and on Christmas Eve, received news that the remainder of her tumour is stable. She describes this as ‘the best Christmas present’ she could have ever wished for and continues with her very positive outlook on life, to ‘make the most of every day’.

She added: “One of the hardest parts of my hospital stay was being unable to see my husband and girls, I was really sad to miss the twins turning four at the end of January, as I was in hospital at the time. When I came home, the girls put on their nurses’ uniforms to celebrate ‘Mammy’ coming home.”

Just a year after surgery, Jessica is taking part in 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge to fundraise and raise awareness for Brain Tumour Research to help find a cure for the devastating disease.

She said: “My diagnosis has left me feeling fatigued. I returned to work in September and working from home, sometimes I don’t walk more than 2,000 steps a day. I’m taking part in this challenge because without the years of medical research undertaken my outcome and life could have been so different. I will be eternally grateful to the neuro team and to all those who have undertaken research into brain tumours whose dedicated work has allowed me to carry on with my life.”

After a successful first challenge a year ago which raised nearly £1 million to support vital research and campaigning, Brain Tumour Research’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge is back. The charity is calling for people to step up to the Facebook challenge and make it even bigger and better in 2022. Participants will receive a free emoji t-shirt and fundraising pack when they receive their first donation and a special medal if they raise £274 or more. 

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re sorry to hear about Jessica’s diagnosis. It’s incredible that she is using her 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge just a year after surgery and learning to walk again, we wish her the best of luck. The best part of the challenge is that you can fit your steps in with your everyday life. That could be having a coffee and catching up with friends at your local park, walking your commute or school run instead of driving, getting off the bus a few stops earlier or walking around your house whilst on the phone. You could even team up with friends or colleagues and complete your steps together!”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

You can sponsor Jessica on her 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge by visiting  www.facebook.com/donate/620046872540775

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Business

Applications open for emergency financial support from Economic Resilience Fund

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Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000

BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now apply for emergency financial support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said £120 million would be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2 announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.

The application window will be open for two weeks, with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following positive engagement with businesses, trades unions and other partners, we recently changed the eligibility criteria for the ERF support. The ERF grant is a Wales-only top up payment that currently supports eligible businesses who have seen a 60% drop in their income between December and February compared with the same period two years ago. The new criteria means that businesses in these sectors who have seen a 50% reduction in their turnover will now also be able to access the ERF.

“This means more businesses will receive more support from the Welsh Government.”

Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Wales can also receive support from the Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant which is being administered by local authorities. Businesses will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Local authorities are also administrating a discretionary fund for sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates. Last week this was doubled to £1,000.

The Welsh Government has provided in excess of £2.5bn funding to Welsh businesses since the start of the pandemic. Focused particularly on backing small businesses and Welsh communities, it’s targeted approach has helped protect in excess of 160,000 Welsh jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

Apply for Economic Resilience Fund support here:

COVID-19 Support for Business | Business Wales (gov.wales)

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