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£50,000 from National Lottery and Welsh Government will grow green spaces in Pembrey and Burry Port

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BRAND new community outdoor spaces in Burry Port are being created with the help of a new £50,000 nature grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Welsh Government.

The project is amongst the first to have been supported via the new grant programme, Local Places for Nature, which aims to encourage and support community based projects to restore and enhance the natural environment on our doorsteps.

Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council will use the funding towards four projects across the town, at an overall cost of £98,500.

Work will include planting a new community orchard to encourage healthy eating; creating a sensory garden to enable elderly people and those with learning disabilities to better connect with nature; and building a children’s eco park to help youngsters appreciate their natural environment.

The existing allotment at Pembrey Community Growing Space will also be extensively updated, creating new facilities so older and less able members of the community can learn how grow their own food.

All four sites (Pen y Bryn Avenue, Tan y Bryn Park, Burrows Terrace and the Community Growing Space) total 0.78 hectares, and will be linked by a new nature trail so residents can enjoy exploring the town on foot with a dedicated quiet and calm walking route.

Louise Robinson from Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council said: “With our communities recovering from the COVID-19 restrictions, this exciting new project for Pembrey and Burry Port has become a top priority for us.

“We are working extensively with local residents and an army of around 200 volunteers to develop and deliver a project that is for their community, making the most of some currently underused outside spaces to support people’s emotional, social and physical well-being by encouraging wildlife and biodiversity.

“For instance, the new eco park at Burrows Terrace will transform what is currently a locked ex-playground into a space that will enable children to learn and play in a natural setting with wooden play equipment made from local logs, helping them learn to value their natural environment as they grow up. Children from the local school will even help design the play equipment themselves, as well as where to place bird and bat boxes, bug and hedgehog hotels.”

The Local Places for Nature Capital Fund will run until March 2021, and is still accepting applications until October. Grants will range from between £3,000 and £100,000, with the total funding pot available worth £2.3 million. The Fund is made up of £2.1m from Welsh Government and £345k from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this fantastic project for Burry Port, which will help revitalise and improve existing outdoors spaces as well as create brand new ones.

“The natural environment is one of our greatest assets and our oldest form of heritage, but it is under serious threat. This money from the Welsh Government and National Lottery players will work hard to ensure our important natural heritage is cared for. It will help reconnect people with the natural world on their doorstep as well as protect that environment for years to come.

“The National Lottery Heritage Fund has identified nature and landscapes as a priority in our new Strategic Funding Framework, as we believe that looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more important.

“With COVID-19, people are more than ever realising the value of having pleasant outdoor spaces to relax, enjoy and exercise in, and many have had the opportunity to appreciate the importance of Wales’s natural environment to our wellbeing.

“I look forward to hearing from more applicants to the Local Places for Nature scheme through to the deadline in October, and to supporting many new projects in the fight against climate change.”

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “We have seen a greater appreciation of nature during the pandemic and the way in which it underpins our health, our economy and our wider wellbeing.

“The Welsh Government is committed to halting and reversing the decline in nature and making sure everyone in Wales can enjoy nature from their doorstep, and the Local places for Nature scheme reflects the determination of organisations and communities in Wales to do more for nature, even in these very difficult times.

“The creation of new spaces for nature through this scheme will provide opportunities for communities to come together, to be inspired and to accelerate the transformational changes needed in our economy and society to respond to the climate emergency and to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity.”

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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New Year – new start – for two seals released back into the wild

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Two grey seal pups have been returned to the wild for the New Year following months of RSPCA rehabilitation.

They were released at Port Eynon, Gower, Swansea, on 3 January as the sun rose – just days into 2021 – by  RSPCA animal rescue officer Ellie West and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben – who caught the beautiful event on camera. One seal had been originally rescued from Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire – the other from Trevone in Cornwall. They were both found in distress, underweight and with injuries.

Ellie said: “This was such a lovely release – to see them both enter the sea happily where they belong with the sun rising in the distance was just glorious. It was a lovely way to start the new year.”

The seals had been transferred to the Welsh coast from RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre in Hastings the previous day and had spent the night at the RSPCA Llys Nini Branch seal unit.

“These two pups – nicknamed BB8 and Luke Skywaker – have been in the fantastic care of RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre who have given them the best rehabilitation over the past few months. It’s always fantastic to hear when they have put on the appropriate weight and can be released back into the wild,” added Ellie.

Ellie had been involved in the initial care of the seal rescued from Abereiddy Beach back in October.

“He was a weaned pup that had pretty much moulted out all his baby white lanugo coat, so he was fully weaned, but he was found quite underweight, lethargic and had the snotty face of a sickly pup,” she said. “He also had a lump on the top of his neck.

“He was reported to myself and Keith and we asked Welsh Marine Life Rescue (WMLR) to attend who very kindly collected him and cared for him for a few days until we were able to transfer him to the wildlife centre.

“Once again we want to thank WMLR for all their assistance, expertise and all their hard work this past season. We could not do what we do without them.”

At RSPCA Mallydams Wood Wildlife Centre the seal had the lump removed under anaesthetic by the vet team.

The second seal from Cornwall came into RSPCA care in November and weighed just 16.3kg. The seal had suffered a few small wounds and was a bit wheezy, with centre staff treating him for lungworm and administering antibiotics. When he left the centre the seal – who was named Luke Skywalker – weighed a healthy 40kg.

Before release, the seals were given identification tags in their hind flippers for ID purposes. The RSPCA often receives good feedback from sightings – and the scientific results received reveal that seals that go on from rehabilitation survive in the wild.

The RSPCA advises that if members of the public spot a seal on a beach that they think might need help, the best thing is to observe them from a distance and do not approach them.

Seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Never try to return a seal to water yourself, as you may put yourselves and the seal at risk by doing this. It is also advised they keep dogs away from any seal and keep them on leads on beaches that have seal colonies too.

It’s not unusual for a seal pup to be alone, as seal mums leave their pups very early on in life. So if the seal pup looks fit and healthy and shows no signs of distress, it should firstly be monitored from a safe distance for 24 hours.

If you see a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a busy public beach, or if you think the seal may be sick or injured, please stay at a safe distance and call the RSPCA’s advice and cruelty line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin (but not bony) with a visible neck, like a dog.

There is more information on the RSPCA website about what to do if you see a seal or pup on the beach alone.

If you have an animal welfare concern or find an animal in distress please call 0300 1234 999.

This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. Already this Christmas we received more than 44,000 calls to our cruelty line but the calls to our rescue line are not stopping so neither will we. To help our rescue teams continue to reach the animals who desperately need us this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Winter Rescue #JoinTheRescue

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Community Midwife home for Christmas after 85 day battle with COVID-19

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SHARON GEGGUS, a community midwife from Llanelli is home for the holidays after a three month battle with coronavirus.
Sharon began to feel unwell in September, experiencing shortness of breath and a high temperature.
As these symptoms persisted and her condition began to worsen, she was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli on 16 September, with a temperature of 41°C.During her stay, she credits the support of her family and the staff at Prince Philip Hospital for helping her get through the ordeal. Speaking of her experience in hospital, Sharon says: “I was sedated for about five weeks, but I was told that the staff were playing music for me. They had contacted my family to find out what my favourite songs were, and they would play those.
“It was really hard but the hardest times I didn’t really know about – my family were the people going through it. I can’t stress how well the staff looked after me. I used the iPads provided through the hospital to keep in contact with my family and the staff would also help me phone and communicate with my family.  
“The ITU staff and the staff on Ward 9 where I went for rehabilitation were amazing. I’m a community midwife myself and I would obviously treat someone how I wanted to be treated – but they really went above and beyond.
They would sit and chat with me when I was feeling down and they made sure I was in contact with my family all the time, even letting me hang up pictures of my family on my wall.”
Sharon was clapped out of the hospital on 10 December, 85 days after being admitted. Even though she is home, the road to recovery isn’t over.
She says: “There’s still a long way to go but I’m getting there. I can get around using a walking frame and only need oxygen when I’m really moving about. It’s so nice to be home, I think you just sort of relax a bit and move around more and just feel better for being back with your family.”
Reflecting on her experience, Sharon offered this advice to others with COVID-19: “Keep in touch with your family as much as you possibly can, it’s what got me through. I wouldn’t really know what else to say, just keep positive and keep in touch with your loved ones, that’s what really helps.”
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