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Rowing challenge for Millenium Centre Anniversary

Thomas Sinclair

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Maggy Clarke: ‘Its going to be tough’

Maggy Clarke: ‘Its going to be tough’

AN INTREPID team of oarsmen (and women) will be rowing arund the west coast of Wales over the coming fortnight, as part of a programme of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of Wales’ Millenium Centre.

Among the rowers will be 71-year-old Maggy Clarke from Porthmadog. She will be aiming to complete the first five legs of the ‘Cob to Cardiff’ challenge – a 230 mile row in a Celtic longboat from Porthmadog to Cardiff Bay.

The sea journey will form part of an array of celebrations for the Millenium Centre’s Ar Waith Ar Daith event, planned by world-renowned outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank.

The Porthmadog boat will stop over in Aberdyfi, New Quay, Fishguard, Whitesands Bay, Dale, Tenby, Mumbles, Porthcawl, and Barry before arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September, accompanied by a flotilla of Celtic longboats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast.

Setting out on 2 September, Ms Clarke, along with a 20 strong rowing team from Madoc Yacht Club Rowing Porthmadog, will attempt the club’s most ambitious challenge to date. On board their Celtic longboat, they’ll also be carrying an engraved slate plaque – as a gift to Wales Millennium Centre – brought down from Llechwedd Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog, by zip wire, mountain bike and finally the Ffestiniog railway, mirroring the journey taken by the piece of slate that formed the foundation stone for the Wales Millennium Centre, put in place by opera star Bryn Terfel. In Porthmadog the engraved plaque will be met by local MP Liz Saville Roberts, who will pass the plaque on to Maggy and the team in their Celtic longboat, ready to be rowed down to Cardiff.

Working in relays, the Porthmadog boat will be averaging around 20 – 30 miles of arduous rowing per day to complete the journey down the west coast of Wales to Cardiff Bay, facing the challenges of unfamiliar waters, unpredictable weather and high seas. As they progress on their journey, they will be joined by around 25 boats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast, arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September to take part in Wales Millennium Centre’s breath-taking 10th Anniversary outdoor spectacular, the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event.

Maggy Clarke said: “It’s going to be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s wonderful that the Celtic longboats get to play a part in the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale and it will be a beautiful sight to see so many of them rowing into Cardiff Bay together.”

Co-organiser of the Cob to Cardiff Challenge, Richard Aherne from Madoc Yaught Club rowing Porthmadog said: “We’ve crossed the Irish Sea in the Celtic Challenge, rowed a marathon up the Thames in London’s Great River Race, and we regularly race at clubs along the coast, but this will be a spectacular challenge of endurance and determination in potentially tough conditions, a marathon every day, and the club is looking forward to rising to this exciting challenge.”

“We were inspired by watching Celtic longboats racing off Aberdyfi, echoing the race to get a pilot out to sailing ships to help them navigate into port” said John Wassell, Producer for Walk the Plank and originally a boatbuilder himself. “Realising that many ports and harbours around the coast of Wales are connected by a network of rowing clubs, we contacted the Welsh Sea Rowing Association, and we were delighted when 15 clubs responded. The Porthmadog boat is making the longest voyage: 230 miles through some treacherous waters…a tough challenge in a rowing boat! “

The flotilla of Celtic longboats will form a striking part of the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event, in Cardiff Bay on 12 September. Taking place on an immense scale, with over 700 participants from across Wales, this unforgettable event will celebrate Wales’ rich cultural heritage and history with a breathtaking display of procession, dance, aerial artistry, projection, storytelling, music and pyrotechnics.

“More than 150 rowers will accompany the Riches of the Sea procession into the Roald Dahl Plas, and at the end of the event, the boats will set off back across the Bay, a flame blazing in each boat, symbolising the return of the fires of creative inspiration which nourish the Wales Millennium Centre to their communities “ added Liz Pugh, Artistic Director.

Danielle Milliner from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association commented: “When John Wassell of Walk the Plank and Wales Millennium Centre first approached the Welsh Sea Rowing Association with the idea that they wanted our Celtic longboat rowers to form part of the Wales Millennium Centre 10th Anniversary celebration event we were delighted. I am really pleased that so many of our clubs will be taking part in this event and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all in the WSRA that we are proud of ‘MYC rowing Porthmadog’ for taking on such an arduous challenge of rowing all the way to Cardiff. We are all excited and looking forward to forming part of the grand finale procession of Ar Waith Ar Daith at Cardiff Bay. This sensational sea spectacle will surely be a memorable event for all our sea rowing community and we thank you for inviting us.

Towy rowing club will be involved in the finale of the event, which will be shown live on S4C. Rowing coach Nicola Thomas told The Herald that it would be a fantastic display:

“There are two boats going up from the club – our junior rowers, who won the Welsh Championships, and our lady rowers in another boat,” she said.

“We’re meeting just outside Cardiff, for three days of rehearsals. All the boats will be rowing into the festival, coming together in a choreographed display.”

The Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event will take place in Roald Dahl Plas on Saturday 12 September at 7.30pm. Audiences are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage position to watch the show, and to dress appropriately for an outdoor show. The event is free to attend and suitable for all ages.

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Ray’s Renal Ray of Sunshine Run

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LYNDON and Alfie-Ray Rees from Llanelli had set themselves a challenge of running an Ultra Marathon, “Ray’s Renal Ray of Sunshine Run” on May 29 2021 in memory of Raymond Bolton a “larger than life” character that would always bring light and happiness wherever he went. 

A Llanelli man who doted on his family and was loved and respected by so many.

Ray worked down the mines in Cynheidre as an electrician and loved nothing more than building and flying model aircrafts in his spare time.

Ray made such an impact on everyone’s lives. A father figure to his niece, due to their close relationship she named her youngest son, Alfie-Ray. As a mark of respect Alfie-Ray, aged 12, wanted to run an Ultra Marathon of 31 miles on May 29 2021 for the Renal Unit that supported Ray through his treatment. 

All the staff at the unit could not speak highly enough of Ray, he was so full of sunshine and laughter he made a lasting impression on everyone he met. Ray sadly passed away in March this year and Alfie-Ray wishes to honour his memory.

Lyndon and Alfie-Ray Rees (12 years of age) completed the Ultra Marathon in 6 hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds. The run started and finished at Llanelli Leisure Centre.

The first part of the route involved running from Llanelli Leisure Centre along the coastal path to Pembrey, before running back to Llanelli Leisure Centre.

The second part of the route took them up the Path of Doom which is the old Mynydd Mawr Railway Line in Cynheidre before reaching Tumble and this was the turning point before they made their way back to Llanelli Leisure Centre to finish the run.

The weather was kind to us on Saturday and what a special way to remember and celebrate the life of the much-loved Raymond Bolton. This father and son partnership faced this epic challenge head on and their determination and self-belief allowed them to achieve their goal.

Furthermore, the charity’s motto is “Believe in Yourself, both Lyndon and Alfie–Ray are shining examples of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

Alfie-Ray, Anna Powell and Lyndon

Organisers would like to say a huge thank you to Llanelli Leisure Centre, First in Events, Daisy’s Little Coffee Shop, Picton Sports, Waunwyllt Inn, Hidden Carmarthenshire, Morrisons Llanelli, and Glangwili Hospital for all their donations and support for the Ultra Marathon.

The cheesecake at Daisy’s Little Coffee shop was a much needed sugar boost on the Ultra Marathon Route which fuelled Lyndon and Alfie-Ray to complete the run in record time.

Alfie-Ray, aged 12, said: “I was very nervous building up to the event and I knew it was a huge challenge. I started well and I felt strong but as the miles racked up so did the fatigue.

“The last 3 miles were the hardest it took all my mental strength to finish, but I was not going to let “Uncle Ray” down. Although I was visualising what I would be eating at the end of the race I was so exhausted I couldn’t eat my food. After a good night’s sleep, I more than made up for it the following day”.

Lyndon, father of Alfie-Ray, said: “Needless to say, I am very proud of Alfie-Ray and all of his achievements, however this takes it to another level. Alfie- Ray had a very good idea of what discomfort was ahead of him, but he dug deep and pushed on.

“Even I was shocked with the ease in which he covered the 31 miles”.

Anna Powell, Children and Youth Community Engagement Officer, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Lyndon, Alfie-Ray and the Rees Family.

“I am in awe of Alfie-Ray completing an Ultra Marathon at the age of 12, because the majority of adults would not even attempt it. Uncle Ray would be so proud of his achievement and what a positive way to remember him and celebrate his life”.

Lyndon and Alfie-Ray would like to thank everyone who has donated to date and they have raised £610 (and counting). It will make a huge difference to the Renal Unit in Glangwili Hospital.

There is still time to donate to this fantastic cause please click the link below : https://localgiving.org/fundraising/RaysRenalRayofSunshineRun/

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Llanelli fitness group thanked for NHS donation

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HYWEL DDA HEALTH CHARITIES has thanked Arumba Llan, a not-for profit fitness group based at Llangennech Rugby Club, Llanelli.

The club has over 60 members and has donated £2,500 to Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official NHS charity for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. The money will be used to support the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) at Prince Philip Hospital.

NHS staff receiving the cheque

Over the 9 years it’s been running, Arumba Llan has raised approximately £70,000 through weekly classes held at Llangennech Rugby Club. 

They are a non-profit organisation and all the money raised from running classes, along with various charity events and theme nights, is donated to good causes.

Managing Director and instructor Nia Gibbs said, “2020 was a very difficult year for us as for every charity. We relied on kind donations from the girls who participated in live classes on Facebook with me and the few months of actual classes we’ve managed to have. Despite this, we decided this year to donate £2,500 to the ICU in PPH as a way to thank the NHS for their wonderful work, in particular to PPH, as we like to support local causes in Arumba Llan.” 

“Teresa Owens helped me with deciding where the money was most needed. I only knew that I wanted the money to help with COVID in some way. She is a wonderful human being along with a massive gang of ladies who support me.” 

“I believe these funds are greatly required by the hospital and it is a chance for Aumba Llan to thank the tireless work of the staff and a tribute to their selflessness during this precarious climate.

“It is also of great pride that we have members of Arumba Llan who are employees at PPH.”

Catherine Cole, a Sister in Prince Philip ITU said “We would like to thank the Arumba Llan for the very generous donation. It will be used to benefit the ITU providing services and activities above and beyond core NHS expenditure such as extra patient comforts, the most up to date medical equipment, more welcoming surroundings, staff training, development and wellbeing initiatives and enhanced care. Thank you”

To find out more about Hywel Dda Health Charities go to hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk. 

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Burry Port residents urged to pool ultrafast broadband vouchers

Thomas Sinclair

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OPENREACH is asking people living in Burry Port to get behind a push for faster broadband.

Ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband is within touching distance for people living in Burry Port – thanks to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme.

The company – the UK’s largest broadband network used by customers of BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen – is urging people living or working in Burry Port to consider pooling Gigabit broadband vouchers available from the UK and Welsh Governments to help build a new, gigabit-capable network, where fibre is run directly from the exchange all the way to each property.

Many residents have already pledged their support, but those who haven’t and don’t currently have access to a 100Mbps broadband service can check if they qualify and pledge their voucher on the Connect My Community website.

If enough people come forward to pledge, and validate their vouchers – before the scheme ends – Openreach can work with the community to build a customised, co-funded network and bring full fibre broadband to areas not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.

By working with Openreach in this way, more than 150,000 homes and businesses across the UK can already benefit from ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s partnership director for Wales, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for the community of Burry Port to bring full fibre infrastructure to the town but the clock is ticking.”

“Deadline for vouchers to be pledged and issued is the end of March so we need as many people as possible in Burry Port to get involved so that we get enough pledges ‘over the line’. Everyone who pledges a voucher will be doing their bit to help make Burry Port one of the best-connected places in Wales. Pledging couldn’t be simpler, but we need residents to act quickly.”

Connie added: “Thousands of homes and businesses across Wales can already upgrade to the Openreach full fibre network and local people can use our online postcode checker to see what’s now available.

“We’re investing £12 billion to build full fibre broadband to 20 million homes – and more than three million of those will be in the toughest third of the UK – but we can’t upgrade the whole country alone. This latest support from government, alongside help to remove red tape and barriers that slow down the build, is vital.”

To claim vouchers which contribute towards the cost of building the new network, residents are asked to commit to ordering a full fibre service from a provider of their choice for at least 12 months once the new network is available.

Eligible residents can qualify for up to a maximum of £3,000 while small to medium sized businesses can claim up to £7,000 under the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which has been topped up by Welsh Government funding.

Carmarthenshire County Council leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole said: “We welcome this scheme and would strongly recommend residents and businesses in Burry Port seeking ultra-fast, ultra-reliable internet speeds to register their interest now. Fast, reliable connectivity is vital to support business growth, help communities to thrive, improve health and well-being, and make it easier for people to get online and access public services. This has been particularly highlighted during the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

Full fibre technology provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity; meaning fewer faults; more predictable, consistent speeds and enough capacity to easily meet growing data demands. It’s also future-proof, which means it will serve generations to come and won’t need to be upgraded for decades.

Fibre optics – strands of glass around one-tenth the thickness of a human hair – transmit data using light signals. Fibre is smaller, lighter and more durable than copper cabling and less vulnerable to damage. This short video explains what full fibre technology is and there’s more info here.

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