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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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The Burry Port Harbour Improvement wins top civil engineering award

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THE BURRY Port Harbour Improvement has been announced as the winner of the Bill Ward Sustainability Award at the recent ICE Wales Cymru Project Awards held on Friday (30 September) at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.

The Bill Ward Award is presented to the project best demonstrating the principles of sustainability, i.e. social, economic and environmental benefits during delivery and on completion. The Judges were impressed with the way two major companies, Alun Griffiths and Atkins, worked hand in hand on the project with their client, Carmarthenshire County Council, to deliver the scheme to a fixed budget, within programme and to the complete satisfaction of historic port custodians Cadw.

Burry Port Harbour is made up of three historic (tidal) basins contained by vertical masonry walls and earth embankments. The 3 harbours comprise 1500m of masonry vertical walls and revetments, which had fallen into disrepair and collapse since its heyday transporting coal in the 1800’s. 

The project is an ongoing, phased renovation with attention being given first to areas of instability. Displaced masonry has been recovered from the floor of the harbour and re-used. New materials have been chosen with care to ensure they are appropriate and will fit into the historic marine.

The work has safeguarded the historic masonry fabric for future generations, provided a safe harbour for the marina vessels and provided the waterside frontage for the Council’s vision to transform the harbour into a dynamic living, leisure and work hub for future generations.

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Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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Retired teacher, 75, dies following Saturday night incident in Burry Port

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RETIRED teacher Peter Ormerod, aged 75, who suffered serious injuries in an incident in Burry Port on Saturday night (24 September) has sadly passed away earlier today.

His family have paid tribute to him, saying: “Peter was a well-respected teacher and member of the community.

“A very loved and loving father, grandfather, brother and friend.”

The family requests privacy at this difficult time.

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