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Llanelli’s 101-year-old Basil Smith is fundraising for Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice

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Sara, Jason, Alfi and Besi

BASIL SMITH, the 101-year-old tennis playing legend from West Wales, has written and published his autobiography and is now selling copies with all proceeds going to Tŷ Hafan’s children’s hospice. 

No stranger to adventure, 101-year-old Basil, from Llanelli, has travelled extensively, played tennis to professional level and to this day, continues to play the game he loves. He has even been featured on S4C and Radio Cymru for his exploits. 

Now enterprising Basil is in the middle of another enterprise – selling copies of his autobiography ‘A Centenarian Reflects’ which he wrote and published last year and which he hopes will raise in excess of £1,500 for Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice which supported his great-great nephew Alfi. 

“I’ve been very lucky in my life and I have had a good life,” said Basil. “But in 2013 my wife had major stroke and just three days later, I had an operation to remove a tumour at Morriston Hospital. I was very fortunate, as I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy at all. I was 92 then and what happened that year made me think about my health and how lucky I have been throughout my life.” 

It was in 2013 that Basil was thrilled to become great-great-uncle to twins Besi and Alfi, however his joy turned to sadness when little Alfi was diagnosed with Neonatal Marfan Syndrome. 

Referred to Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice, which is based in Sully, near Cardiff, Besi and Alfi, together with mum Sara and dad Jason, spent a very happy weekend at the hospice around Christmas 2014. 

Sadly, just a few months after their stay, little Alfi passed away on St David’s Day, his parents’ wedding anniversary. 

Alfi and Besi

Sara, a pastoral officer, from Ammanford, said: “The twins are eight now and will be nine-years-old on May 1. They were very, very wanted and very longed for. We had nine rounds of fertility treatments to have them. We sadly lost Alfi when he was 22-months-old. 

“This sums up how we feel as a family: ‘With all that we have been through, all the hurt and all the pain, and all the struggles that have come as a result of losing you, we’re still forever grateful that we had you Alfs.’ 

“Even though we only got to stay at Tŷ Hafan the one time as the four of us, that visit was very special because we could relax a little, knowing that all Alfi’s care needs were catered for. The responsibility for his care needs wasn’t just down to us for that period of time so we could just be mum and dad to the both of them. 

“Tŷ Hafan has been brilliant to us ever since and we always go there on the anniversary of Alfi’s passing to spend time there and remember him. 

“Basil is an amazing gentleman. We’re very grateful to him for doing what he is doing for Tŷ Hafan.He’s been everywhere and done everything and he is a real character.” 

Basil Smith

Basil’s sister-in-law, Eira, grandmother to Sara added: “Alfi, Besi, Sara and Jason had wonderful time at Tŷ Hafan and it is a very special Welsh charity for children in Wales. 

“My brother-in-law Basil supports a lot of charities and wanted to do this one for Tŷ Hafan which I think is absolutely marvellous.” 

Basil, who grew up in Llandeilo, had 170 copies printed and has already sold 120 copies. Now he is hoping to sell the final 50. 

“I hope people throughout Wales will support Tŷ Hafan by buying my book and in lots of other ways,” says Basil. “There are so many illnesses out there and so many children that need their help.” 

Paula Langston, Head of Community Fundraising at Tŷ Hafan said: “Basil Smith is an amazing gentleman and an absolute inspiration to us all. We are incredibly grateful to him for what he is doing for Tŷ Hafan and everything Basil raises for us via the sale of his book will help us to continue to provide vital care and support for children with life-limiting conditions and their families in Wales.” 

If you’re interested in receiving a copy of ‘A Centenarian Reflects’ please email Tŷ Hafan supportercare@tyhafan.org or call Tŷ Hafan on 02920 532255 (Monday to Friday, 9-5pm). 

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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