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Brave Teddy highlights need for ‘Gift of Life’

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Adam Hughes: Just after his transplant.

Adam Hughes: Just after his transplant.

FOR Jess Evans and Mike Houlston from Cardiff, the birth of twin boys Teddy and Noah on April 22 2014 was one of both heartbreak and hope. Teddy was born with a rare yet fatal condition – anencephaly – but his parents were determined his short life would not be in vain. Once the diagnosis was confirmed during pregnancy, the parents discussed and wanted, if possible, for his organs to be donated. The family managed to spend precious time with him before he passed away and Teddy became the youngest organ donor in the UK. In the last ten years, 39 babies younger than two years old have become organ donors helping to save the lives of strangers.

As his twin Noah celebrated his first birthday the family used the anniversary to mark the occasion when his brother Teddy became a hero. His kidneys were transplanted to help save the life of another person.

Jess, 28, said: “Knowing that part of your loved one is living on in someone else is comforting. If it stops any other person going through the same thing then this can only be good. Teddy´s life had a very important role to play. Unless you have been through the same thing or know someone affected it´s hard to understand how important organ donation is.”

Mike, 30, added: “We want Teddy´s story to inspire others and help break any taboos people might still hold regarding organ donation. Organ donation wasn´t prominent in my life growing up and while I was up for it I never got round to doing anything about it. I´m sure there are many more men like me who think the same! I want to spread the word as much as possible about how organ donation saves lives, and that we should all speak to each other about our wishes. Without that discussion it is a very difficult conversation to have when it comes out of the blue. Put simply, you should ask yourself the question “Would you take an organ if you needed it?” Everyone would do so if the truth were told so we hope what Teddy did can educate people and prompt them to get talking.”

April 22 2015, the one year anniversary of Teddy’s heroism, was also a personal milestone for myself, it marked six months to the day since I received my kidney transplant and got to experience first hand the ‘gift of life’. In April 2013 I was admitted to hospital with symptoms of cramps, breathlessness, headaches, nosebleeds and chest pains. A simple blood pressure test at the doctor’s surgery had indicated a blood pressure reading of 230/170, high by anyone’s standards, but stratospheric for a 25 year-old.

This was the start of a three week stay in hospital. I had suffered Chronic Renal Failure, my blood readings were so dangerously unbalanced that I was told I may not have survived a fortnight longer. My blood pressure had been so high for so long that my heart’s muscular walls had doubled in size, I was seriously ill. Although I knew I hadn’t been feeling right for a few months, my decline from being a fit and healthy individual to being registered on the transplant waiting list was swift.

For nearly two years I was in a daily routine of medications, injections and ten hours of dialysis which took place overnight. I was unable to eat almost all of the food I liked and travel, which had been one of my main interests, was made almost impossible through the sheer amount of equipment and supplies I would have to take with me in order to survive.

For me the only option was a transplant and with an average waiting time for a kidney of between three and five years I was incredibly fortunate to have received a match in just under two years. I am one of the lucky ones and the need for donors has never been more urgent. More than 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant. Despite the huge advances in medicine and the great success of transplant operations, people are still dying while waiting.

There is a critical shortage of organs and the gap between the number of people waiting for a transplant and the number of organs donated is increasing. One donor can save the life of several people, restore the sight of two others and improve the quality of life of many more. The more people who pledge to donate their organs and tissue after their death, the more people stand to benefit.

In a recent survey 90% of people said they supported organ donation and almost everyone would accept a transplant if they or their loved one needed one. Yet only a third of people in the UK have registered to be an organ donor. Last year, over 40% of families refused to allow organ donation to go ahead, sometimes even when their loved one was a registered donor.

In September 2013 the Welsh Assembly passed what it described as it’s ‘most significant’ legislation to date. From December 1, Wales will be the first UK country to introduce a soft opt-out system for organ and tissue donation. The new law aims to make it easier for people in Wales to become organ donors. From this date, if you have not registered a decision to opt-in or opt-out of organ donation, you will be treated as having no objection to being an organ donor. This is called deemed consent. Thus meaning that if you did not want to donate your organs then you would have to ‘opt-out’.

In 2012/13, 36 people died in Wales whilst waiting for an organ transplant as a donor could not be found. In 2011/12 30,000 people died in Wales. Around 250 of these died in a way that would have allowed them to become a potential organ donor. But only 67 people became organ donors. Through the ‘opt out’ legislation it is hoped that waiting times for people requiring organ transplants and the number of preventable deaths can be reduced significantly.

It is rare for families to be in the awful situation where their loved one could be a potential donor. In 43% of cases where organ donation is possible, families say no to donation because they don’t know whether their loved one wanted to be a donor. When the new system is in place, families will know their loved one could have opted out if they didn’t want to be a donor. Therefore by proceeding with organ donation, they can be reassured that they are carrying out the decision of their loved one.

The law will mean if you support organ donation but simply haven’t got around to signing the Organ Donor Register, you won’t need to. As someone who has experienced first hand the positive impact organ donation can have upon a person’s life, the law change is an extremely positive move. Despite this I would still encourage people to sign up to be an organ donor. My message is a simple one: if you would accept an organ, surely you should be prepared to be a donor. Sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your relatives that you want to donate. You can do this online by following the links on http://www.organdonation. nhs.uk or by calling 0300 123 23 23.

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Community

Llanelli choir launches fundraising naked calendar

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MEMBERS of a Llanelli female choir have bared all to raise money for the town’s Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.  

Côr Curiad has created a cheeky fundraising calendar for 2023 – the second one they have done.

With around 50 members, photos were taken across Llanelli with strategically placed items to spare their blushes – all in the name of a good cause.

Llanelli photographer Graham Harries was behind the lens for the project.

The choir’s musical director Alex Esney, who is Miss December in the calendar said: “Local businesses sponsored the calendar and so many of the photos were taken at their premises.

“So for example we went to LTC Mobility Ltd and had scooters carefully positioned in front of us, it was a lot of fun.

“I also want to thank Ffwrnes Theatre for opening up especially for me to go and have my photo taken with the piano there.”

Alex said the aim is to raise as much as possible for the hospice, adding: “We did a calendar a few years ago but we now have more members so we thought it was time to do it all again.

“The ladies decided to ‘bare all’ to raise money for the hospice which provides such great care and support for families in their time of need, including two of our own.

“I think we pulled out all the stops this year, getting their clothes off at local businesses in and around Llanelli.”

One of the calendar photos (Images: Graham Harries Photography)
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Sponsor a Castle and help raise money for Wales Air Ambulance

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WALES Air Ambulance is calling for sponsors to join one of the most exciting public art trails the city of Swansea has ever seen. Have you ever imagined owning your own castle? Well now you can.

Businesses, schools and community groups are being encouraged to support the free family event, that will take place next July, by a sponsoring a castle which will help to raise vital funds for Wales Air Ambulance.

The Wild in Art Castles in the Sky trail will see over 40 large castles and 30 miniatures dotted across Swansea next summer and aims to attract locals and visitors into the city. Each giant castle, measuring over 2 metres tall, will be designed by a Welsh artist and will have its own tale to tell, celebrating the vibrancy, culture and creativity that Swansea has to offer.

The 10 week trail aims to connect businesses, artists, the public and community partners across the city providing a new, innovative, and uniquely creative avenue for collaboration.

Wales’ only dedicated air ambulance charity, Wales Air Ambulance, is taking the helm of the Wild in Art project, an initiative which has become an international success story in raising charitable funds through its creative and community-focused public art.

The unique art trail gives sponsors the opportunity to get involved in something completely different, whilst raising and boosting their business profile in the city and facilitating new stakeholder relationships.

In return, sponsors will receive a range of positive and exciting PR opportunities, brand profile and positioning, logos displayed on sculptures and a variety of promotional materials including the trail app and website. Businesses will also be invited to exclusive events along with other Castles in the Sky sponsors and will be helping to raise vital funds for the Wales Air Ambulance.

Back in 2018 Woodforde’s Brewery took the opportunity to be involved in their local Wild in Art trail, GoGoHares.

Judi-mare Alderton, Head of Marketing at Woodforde’s Brewery, said: “GoGoHares was just a lovely event to be a part of, raising money for a local charity and helping bring communities and businesses together.

“We’ve had lots of people visit us to see our amazing Hare sculpture, some just to take a photo, but a good amount who visited the pub and had a drink or meal too, which was obviously great for business.

“Overall, we were just really pleased to be part of Norwich’s now famous art sculpture events and felt blessed that the trail encompassed part of our beautiful country.”

The Charity relies on charitable donations to raise £8 million each year to keep the helicopters flying in Wales. The charity does not receive funding from the National Lottery or direct funding from the government.

It provides vital 24/7 emergency air cover for those who face life-threatening illness or injuries and is the only air ambulance charity based in and dedicated to Wales.

The Castles in the Sky trail takes place from Saturday, 8 July until Saturday, 16 September 2023 and will be delivered in partnership with creative producers, Wild in Art, and is supported by Principal Partner, Swansea Business Improvement District (Bid).

Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea Bid, said he felt there were a huge number of incentives and benefits to getting involved in the project.

He said: “I believe Castles in the Sky will be one of the most fun and ambitious art projects the city has ever seen. It is a fantastic opportunity to bring the city together and connect businesses, artists and residents through the power of creativity and innovation.

“The project will leave a long-lasting legacy that will inspire civic pride across generations, delight the whole area and drive Swansea’s feel-good factor. Swansea Bid is thrilled to be the Principal Partner for Castles in the Sky and we hope you can support us.”

If you want to learn more about sponsoring a castle email hello@swanseacastles.co.uk or visit the Castles in the Sky website (www.swanseacastles.co.uk). For further updates visit Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Llanelli Christmas Carnival and Lights-switch on to be held November 18

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MARK it in your diaries, Friday, November 18, is the day that the carnival returns to the streets of Llanelli, starting the official countdown to Christmas in the town

People from far and wide are welcome to come together again in Llanelli to enjoy all that the carnival has to offer.

One of the largest community Christmas events in Wales, the vibrant parade, featuring dressed lorries, sleighs and tractors, will travel through the town and the official switch on of the Christmas lights is not to be missed. The fun will begin at 4pm with the opening of the fairground rides.

The celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table with the funfair supplied by South Wales Showmen’s Guild and entertainment provided by Anyone Waiting and Terry Dean.

Keep an eye on the council’s social media channels for more information nearer the time.

Anyone who is interested in entering a float in the carnival should contact Roger Bowen at Llanelli Round Table on 01554 750008.

The carnival procession itself will leave Festival Fields, Pwll, at 6.15pm, and make its way into the town and arriving shortly after the Christmas lights switch-on at 6.45pm.

To enable the carnival to proceed, the road closure of Station Road and Church Street, Llanelli, from its junction with Murray Street to its junction with Gelli Onn, will start at 5.45pm and be in place until 8pm.

Gelli Onn will also be closed to westbound traffic only, from its junction with Thomas Street.

A fireworks display will mark the finale of the entertainment at 7.40pm whilst the funfair will remain open until 9pm.

Announcing the Christmas lights competition winners

Every year, Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Rural & Town Councils and Ymlaen Llanelli, run a Christmas lights design competition with the winning design displayed in Stepney Street, Llanelli.

We are delighted to announce that the 2022 winners are Phoebe Davies, Halfway School, Llanelli, is the winner of the junior category and Sophia Rose Walker who also attends Halfway School, Llanelli, has been crowned the winner of the infant category. A huge congratulations to both!

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John said: “The Llanelli Christmas Carnival is the highlight of the year for thousands of families from the town and for those who travel from beyond to enjoy the spectacular parade.

“Lots of people work hard to put an event of this scale on, with months of planning involved. It promises to be a great event this year and topped off with a fireworks display.”

Llanelli Carnival – A timetable for the day

12:00pm: Cowell Street closed
4:00pm: Big and small funfair rides open with lots of side stalls plus selection of hot and cold refreshments
5.45pm: Road closures in place for Gelli Onn westbound, Church Street and side streets.
6.15pm: Carnival parade leaves Festival Fields, Sandy Road*
7:00pm: Arrival of carnival parade in Town Hall area*.
7.40pm: Spectacular Firework Display ** (Town Hall Gardens)
9:00pm: Fun fair closes
*Please note all times and activities are subject to change. Road closures will start to take effect from 12noon, effecting town centre to traffic until around 8pm.

** Timings subject to change due to Carnival Parade

For more up to date information on the day, check Discover Carmarthenshire

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