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Pupils take on ‘hat-tastic’ fundraiser for mum diagnosed with brain tumour

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Pupils get ready for Wear-A-Hat day

PUPILS at Halfway Community Primary School in Carmarthenshire are taking part in Wear A Hat Day for Brain Tumour Research after the mother of a pupil was diagnosed with the disease.

Mum-of-three, Jessica Jones, from Llanelli, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in 2020 after experiencing hearing loss and severe headaches the previous year.

Headteacher, Jayne Thomas has worked at Halfway Community Primary School for 25 years and said: “Jessica is a much-loved parent at the school and we really wanted to show our support for her and her family after her diagnosis and during her treatment.

“We support a lot of charities and are a family-orientated school. When Jessica told us about her brain tumour back in the first lockdown, it was absolutely heart-breaking. Her girls have been amazing throughout the whole experience. She has been incredibly brave at a difficult time, amplified because of the pandemic.”

In June 2020, the 38-year-old commercial banker 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.

Jess ready to walk

A few days later, she returned to the GP and was referred for a CT scan after an abnormally high blood pressure reading. Jessica was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli for further tests which revealed the devastating news she had a brain tumour, which was causing the intense pressure on her brain.

Jessica said: “I had no family with me due to COVID restrictions, just the doctor and nurse, who told me the news, 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.

“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 had 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 experienced vertigo and spent two weeks in hospital, with no visitors allowed. 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 coordination of eye and head movements and balance retraining to allow her to walk.

The whole family

She 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.”

Jessica’s three daughters, Ella who is nine, and five-year-old twins Emily and Lily attend Halfway Community Primary School and they, alongside 240 pupils aged three to 11, will be encouraged to wear their favourite hats and make a donation to Brain Tumour Research on Friday 25 March, as part of the charity’s iconic Wear A Hat Day event.

Jessica said: “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.

“The school has been very supportive as I have undergone my treatment which has helped them and lots of the teachers supported me during my fundraising challenge too.”

Just a year after surgery, Jessica took part in the charity’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge, raising more than £3,180.

Jessica now has yearly scans to monitor what is left of her tumour and in December 2021, received news that the remainder of her tumour is stable.

Jessica’s scar post-op

Now in its 13th year, Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £2 million for Brain Tumour Research to help fund the fight against the disease. It is one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved brain tumour research awareness and fundraising days.

This year, the charity’s Wear A Hat Day pin badges have a regal theme in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and several of the charity’s celebrity ambassadors are fronting the campaign, including TV personalities Danny Clarke and Sarah Beeny, actor and long-time supporter Dame Sheila Hancock DBE, and brain tumour survivor Caprice Bourret. Danny lost his sister to a brain tumour; Sheila’s grandson was treated for the disease when he was just four years old; Sarah was in her 20s when she lost her mum to a brain tumour; Caprice had surgery for a brain tumour six years ago. They are encouraging everyone to take part and help fund the fight against this devastating disease.

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Jessica for sharing her story with us and for her continuing support with fundraising. Jessica’s diagnosis reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate and can strike anyone at any time. We appreciate Halfway Community Primary School’s support and hope the children enjoy the day.”

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.

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Carmarthen representation at the Coastal Rowing World Championships backs sport to continue thriving in Wales

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Carmarthen’s Zoe Davies, race committee chair for the British Rowing offshore championships and umpire at the upcoming World Championships in Saundersfoot, is
delighted to see the world’s best coming to South Wales – and following her own eventful
introduction to the sport competing at the 2015 World Championships believes
participation will boom thanks to a home major competition.
The World Coastal Rowing Championships 2022, with the likes of two-time Olympic
champion Helen Glover competing, will bring together two exciting formats of rowing across
the two weekends in Pembrokeshire. On the first weekend beginning on 7th October, the top
club coastal rowers from around the world will compete in a course along the Saundersfoot
coastline, followed by the beach sprint rowing the following weekend.
Tipped to be a future Olympic rowing discipline, the beach sprint finals will be an exciting
and fast-paced spectacle where the best of the sport will be celebrated in Wales. Reflecting
on the excitement building as the World Championships near ever closer, Davies is backing
Wales to be the perfect setting.
“Wales already had an established coastal and offshore rowing community – I knew when
British Rowing were bidding to host the World Championships that it was a no-brainer. We
have water on three sides after all!
“Before 2015, and before I competed at the World Coastal Championships in Peru, I was
coxing the really fine boats you see at the Olympics, what people might consider the
classical rowing you’d expect to see. To be honest, I rated myself and when I was asked to
compete in Peru I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ When I got there – I was quite literally out
of my depth, I had no idea where I was.
“I’ve learnt so much being involved in coastal rowing – I have found its great fun, great
technique – and if you’re watching, it’s so easy to engage with. For people like me, who at
one time was almost snobby about it, it’s an eye-opening when you actually watch and
involve yourself in the sport. That’s why the World Championships here in Wales will be
such a big moment, it will no doubt inspire so many new people to get involve in the sport.
“Having done the two previous events at Saundersfoot in preparation for the World
Championships, the coastal rowing scene is just so friendly. Being a local girl myself, the
Welsh are always welcoming!
“What drives this passion in the sport is that people know how much coastal rowing gives
them. The feeling you get out on the water, where you’re not looking at your mobile phone
and you can enjoy the natural setting you’re in, there’s no wonder everyone is so
passionate.”

“From a spectator point of view, I just know everyone will be glued to the action. The racing
is quick, you don’t need to know rowing to enjoy the competition and understand what is
happening. It’s a day at the beach, it’s a completely unique experience because the area is
stunning – Wales is the perfect setting for the world’s best offshore rowing talent.”
With the discipline growing at an exponential rate, as boats are made available across Wales
for grassroots coastal rowing clubs to engage more and more participants, Davies sees a
bright future for the sport – and a new generation inspired by a World Championships
coming to Wales.

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Community

Popular physical activity game Beat the Street gets underway in Llanelli

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BEAT THE STREET is a free, interactive game that encourages people of all ages to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives by rewarding teams with points and prizes the further they walk, cycle and roll.

There are prizes for the teams that travel the furthest with vouchers for books and sports equipment. There is a total points leader board and an average leader board so opportunities for teams of all sizes to win.

Beeping and flashing sensors called Beat Boxes will be placed on lampposts around the area for the duration of the six-week game. Primary school pupils will be provided with a player pack containing a map and a card for the child and an accompanying adult. The wider community can pick up a contactless card from a distribution point listed at www.beatthestreet.me/llanelli

Players then travel between the contactless Beat Boxes scoring points with their cards as they go. The further players travel, the more points they score for their community or school team. Each week is themed with different activities to help participants get the most out of their Beat the Street experience.

Beat the Street Llanelli is provided by Intelligent Health, commissioned by Carmarthenshire County Council and is supported by Sport Wales.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John, said: “We are delighted to bring this innovative and compelling game to Llanelli and we can’t wait to see how far everyone is able to walk, run, cycle and scoot. The game brings a competitive element to physical activity, but more than that, unites communities, helps people get to know their local area, reduces carbon emissions and improves both physical activity and mental health.”

More information is available at the Llanelli | Beat the Street website and on social media @BTSLlanelli

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Gêm gweithgaredd corfforol boblogaidd Beat the Street wedi cychwyn yn Llanelli

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Mae Beat the Street yn gêm ryngweithiol, rhad ac am ddim sy’n annog pobl o bob oedran i ymgorffori gweithgaredd corfforol yn eu bywydau bob dydd trwy wobrwyo timau â phwyntiau a gwobrau po bellaf y maent yn cerdded, beicio a rholio.

Mae’r timau sy’n teithio bellaf yn cael eu gwobrwyo gyda thalebau ar gyfer llyfrau ac offer chwaraeon. Mae yna fwrdd arweinwyr ar gyfer cyfanswm pwyntiau ac hefyd bwrdd arweinwyr cyfartaledd felly mae cyfleoedd i dimau o bob maint ennill.

Bydd synwyryddion o’r new ‘Beat Boxes’ sy’n bîpio a fflachio yn cael eu gosod ar bolion lampau o amgylch yr ardal am gyfnod y gêm chwe wythnos. Bydd disgyblion ysgol gynradd yn cael pecyn chwaraewr sy’n cynnwys map a cherdyn ar gyfer y plentyn ac oedolyn sy’n dod gyda nhw. Gall y gymuned ehangach godi cerdyn digyswllt o bwynt dosbarthu a restrir yn www.beatthestreet.me/llanelli.

Yna mae chwaraewyr yn teithio rhwng y ‘Beat Boxes’ digyswllt gan sgorio pwyntiau gyda’u cardiau wrth fynd. Po bellaf y bydd chwaraewyr yn teithio, y mwyaf o bwyntiau y byddant yn eu sgorio ar gyfer eu tîm cymunedol neu ysgol. Mae thema bob wythnos gyda gwahanol weithgareddau i helpu cyfranogwyr i gael y gorau o’u profiad Beat the Street.

Mae Beat the Street Llanelli yn cael ei ddarparu gan Intelligent Health, wedi ei gomisiynu gan Gyngor Sir Caerfyrddin ac yn cael ei gefnogi gan Chwaraeon Cymru,.

Dywedodd y Cynghorydd Gareth John, yr Aelod Cabinet dros Adfywio, Hamdden, Diwylliant a Thwristiaeth: “Rydym yn falch iawn o ddod â’r gêm arloesol a chymhellol hon i Lanelli ac rydym yn edrych ymlaen at weld pa mor bell y gall pawb gerdded, rhedeg, beicio a sgwtera. Mae’r gêm yn dod ag elfen gystadleuol i weithgarwch corfforol, ond yn fwy na hynny, mae’n uno cymunedau, yn helpu pobl i ddod i adnabod eu hardal leol, yn lleihau allyriadau carbon ac yn gwella gweithgarwch corfforol ac iechyd meddwl.”

Mae rhagor o wybodaeth ar gael ar wefan Llanelli | Beat the Street ac ar gyfryngau cymdeithasol @BTSLlanelli

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