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Battle rages to save Swansea Sound

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SWANSEA SOUND, the independent local radio station which serves communities around Swansea and South West Wales, faces extinction.

The station’s owners, Bauer Media, plan to close the station’s Gowerton studios and transfer production to Manchester. Under the plan, programming would be centred in Manchester and the station’s local identity would be lost.


When it opened, in 1974, Swansea Sound was the first bilingual independent radio station in the UK. Its loss as a truly local broadcaster will add to the increased flight of local media to the control of distant corporations with no ties to the localities they are supposed to serve.
Swansea Sound is one of the oldest local commercial radio stations in the UK and the first and the last still broadcasting in Wales under its original name


Seventh on-air and almost 46 years old (start date September 30th 1974), it was part of the Independent Local Radio network under the watchful eye of the IBA (Independent Broadcast Authority)


It was created by a group of local business people, some from newspaper backgrounds.


It’s been a vital lifeline for community/local information especially during times of crisis and been a source of fun and community support through its roadshows (and their bus!) and charity work.


Programmes are still made by local staff who live in Swansea who know the makeup of the people.


It’s won many broadcasting awards for its innovative documentary programmes notably a Sony Award for “Aberfan -An Unknown Spring” in 1987 and a special award at the New York International Radio Festival for “Hooray for the Last Grand Adventure’” documenting Amelia Earhart’s 1928 flight to West Wales.


And now, cards on the table. This is a deeply personal story.
My late father, Lloyd Coles, joined Swansea Sound in early 1975 only a few months after it opened. Originally presenting the folk programme, for a time he presented separate folk and country music programmes, before becoming one of the UK’s foremost country music broadcasters and the winner of the International Country Music Broadcaster of the Year Award, presented as part of the annual CMA Awards.


The pay from Swansea Sound barely covered his expenses for making the journey from Pembrokeshire to Victoria Road, Gowerton. In the time before bypasses, road improvements and dual carriageways, the lights of his car illuminated the bends in the roads all-too-well for nervous front seat passengers. Those concerns weren’t eased by his habit of eating piping hot fish and chips from a precariously balanced wrapper perched in front of the steering wheel.


In the late 1970s, he walked from Pembroke Dock to Haverfordwest through snowdrifts which had paralysed the whole of south and west Wales to catch the milk train to Swansea and broadcast live and non-stop while the region was knee-deep in snow.


Back then, Swansea Sound was a lonely local voice, the echoes of which could barely be caught in South Pembrokeshire on a calm and still night. It was rooted in the area it served and the businesses advertising on it were cheerfully local and mundane. The presenters and freelancers (of which my father was one) didn’t get much for the efforts but they were all identifiably local voices, many of whom remain in the area long after they retired from the airwaves.


My father remained at Swansea Sound for over forty years. He didn’t retire and he wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye to his loyal listeners on air. Ill health overcame him. In those last years, he would struggle into a car – usually driven by a friend, my brother-in-law, and occasionally by me – and take his carefully handwritten scripts and CDs into the studio and broadcast live without giving a hint that his health was failing.


On one occasion, he turned over his car on the bends near Llanddowror. A fire crew cut him out and helped him through the car’s back window. The ambulance took him home, he then called my brother-in-law to make sure he got to the studio on time to make his broadcast live.


Local radio, local independent radio, commands that sort of loyalty from its presenters and its listeners. A lot of the voices aren’t as smooth and practised as the schmooze merchants on national radio – as the late Terry Wogan called them once ‘the anyhow brigade’.


‘That was Chaka Khan singing ‘I Feel for You’, which was written for her by Prince. Anyhow, here’s Simply Red…’


Local radio, the good stuff, is earthy and sometimes a little rough around the edges.


And now that is being lost in a sea of bland, one-size-fits-none, central programming.


Bizarrely, some of Bauer’s other stations in England will retain their local base. They offer – allegedly – more distinctive programming than the only independent radio station in Wales which remains true to its roots.
After almost half a century that would be disastrous for listeners, advertisers, local charities and decision-makers in area.


There’s a petition calling for the Welsh Government to step in – and it’s certainly something it should express a view upon – and another calling for Bauer Media to reverse its decision.


Both can be found online, at the Facebook page SAVE Swansea Sound and on change.org.

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Llanelli fundraiser boycotts her bed for Action for Children

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A LLANELLI woman is boycotting her bed for 24 hours this month in order to raise funds for Action for Children, the charity that runs the Carmarthenshire REFLECT project, based in the town.  REFLECT offers support to women whose children are in foster care or have been adopted. 

Helen Antoniazzi felt that this year it was particularly important to raise money to help Action for Children mitigate the impact of the pandemic.  Over the course of 24 days, Helen has committed to giving up an hour of sleep and to swap it for some physical activity.  She is asking her supporters to support her in this by donating money.  Helen’s efforts will culminate on the 9th July which is the official #BoycottYourBed night, Action for Children’s flagship annual fundraising event. 

Speaking about why she decided to take on this fundraising challenge, Helen said:

“I’ve long supported the crucial work that Action for Children do to support children, young people and families, but this year it felt even more important than ever to do what I could to raise money.  That’s why I decided to give up an hour’s sleep a night for 24 days as part of Action for Children’s Boycott your Bed campaign.  For each of these hours I’ll be swapping my sleep for physical activity.

“Life was difficult for vulnerable children and their families before the pandemic. Now things are even harder. Action for Children’s frontline, key workers have kept 99% of services open throughout the pandemic, continuing to support vulnerable children, young people and families who were already in desperate need.

“The number of families relying on Universal Credit has doubled. Households with children are twice as likely to have suffered financial hardship – like falling behind on bills or borrowing to pay for basics – because of coronavirus. At the start of the pandemic, Action for Children launched a Coronavirus Emergency appeal which has provided essentials, like food and warm clothes, to around 20,000 children and young people. But more needs to be done. 4.3 million children in the UK are living in poverty. That’s 9 children in every school class of 30.”

Action for Children supported more than 27,000 children, young people, parents and carers in Wales last year with Nina Rice, the charity’s fundraising Regional Manager for Bristol, Bath and South Wales, adding: “Helen is showing tremendous commitment by swapping her bed for an hour’s exercise every day for 24 days.  It is great to see such passion for an event that will improve the lives of the children, young people and families we proudly support in our communities and that have been stretched to the limit during the pandemic.

“We love Helen’s unique take on Boycott your Bed, which is all about sleeping somewhere extraordinary on 9 July (Action for Children’s birthday) whilst raising awareness and funds for our charity.  I hope she inspires others to do something equally challenging as we approach the big night as this is a remote event, where anyone can take part, wherever they are based. Helen will join everyone and come together virtually on the night, to enjoy an evening of virtual entertainment.”

Anyone wishing to support Helen in her bid to raise money can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-antoniazzi

 If you want to spend the night in the most unusual place you can think of while enjoying a star-studded evening of virtual entertainment you can register here: https://boycottyourbed.actionforchildren.org.uk/community-registration/

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NHS Wales announce first and second dose vaccination walk-in clinics

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Hywel Dda UHB is running walk-in vaccination clinics this week. There is no need to contact the health board to book an appointment and if you have already registered using the health board’s online form, you are still welcome to attend the walk-in clinic.

If you have a scheduled appointment, please keep your appointment time. 

With the rise in cases across the UK it is important that as many people come forward for their first and second vaccines.

First vaccine walk-in clinics for anyone aged 18 and over who hasn’t had their first COVID-19 vaccine yet:

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3FL): Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm.
  • Cardigan (Teifi Leisure Centre SA43 1HG): Friday 25 June, 9.30am to 5pm.
  • Carmarthen (Halliwell Conference Centre, UWTSD, SA31 3EP): Monday 21, Tuesday 22, Wednesday 23, Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. 
  • Llanelli (Ffwrnes Theatre SA15 3YE): Thursday 24 and Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. 
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ): Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June, 10am to 8pm

Second vaccine walk-in clinics (please only attend if the centre is giving the same vaccine that you had for your first dose. This information can be found on your vaccine card.)

  • Aberystwyth (Thomas Parry Library, SY23 3FL): Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Moderna vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 11 April.
  • Llanelli (Ffwrnes Theatre SA15 3YE): Monday 21, Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Moderna vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 11 April.
  • Tenby (Tenby Leisure Centre, SA70 8EJ): Friday 25 June, 10am to 8pm. Second dose Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine only if you had your first dose on or before 25 April.

If you are unable to attend a walk-in clinic, you can still request your first vaccine by completing this form

To request your second dose please use this request form.

If you or someone you know is unable to use an online form, please contact our booking team on 0300 303 8322.

Important: By travelling to a centre, you accept there is a risk that all vaccines will be allocated before you arrive. If you arrive after all the vaccines are allocated, we will take your contact details and add you to our reserve list.

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Chairman Announces her chosen charities for her year in office

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CHAIRMAN, Cllr Tegwen Devichand has chosen the following four charities to support during her term of office.

Alzheimer’s Society is a care and research charity within the UK for people with dementia and their carers. They provide information and support, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.

Links Llanelli is a unique Llanelli Mental Health Charity, providing support and learning opportunities to those within our community who have or are experiencing mental ill-health. 

Links aims to support people experiencing mental health issues to build confidence, self-esteem and skills.

Links also provides support for veterans and blue light teams living in Carmarthenshire. Veterans are able to access all the activities available at Links. Additionally, for those who live in rural areas or are socially isolated, can be provided with befriending buddy telephone calls and outreach NAAFI mornings which are held in various locations throughout Carmarthenshire on a monthly basis.

Ty Bryngwyn Llanelli Hospice is a Designated Centre of Excellence providing specialist palliative care for the community of Carmarthenshire. It is the only Hospice in the area with inpatient facilities.

Llanelli Hospice provides specialist palliative care both in the community and in its seven inpatient beds.

Wales Air Ambulance is an all Wales charity providing emergency air cover 365 days a year for those who face life-threatening illness or injury. The Dafen airbase, which covers South Wales, is one of four airbases in Wales and this coverage means that an air ambulance is  only 20 minutes away. 

Chairman, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said, “As a Council we like to financially assist worthwhile causes and I am delighted to be supporting such worthy charities. I believe that these charities touch us all in one way or another. I will be as supportive as I possibly can be under the current difficult times when charities need that ‘little bit extra’ financial support. The people in the area are always very generous in their support of such worthy causes. I was chairman in 2012 and I have been a councillor both on County and Community level for over 17 years and know how important lending our support can be.”

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