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Tributes pour in for Jeff Connell

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jeffconnellFRIENDS, colleagues and local politicians have been united in their praise for photographer Jeff Connell and sorrow at his sudden passing on Thursday (Dec 10). Jeff worked as photographer for the Llanelli Star and was well known around Carmarthenshire as the friendly face of photography. His work spanned many years in local newspapers where he covered just about any event, which had been taking place in his home community of Llanelli as well as covering news stories, which had national significance. Jeff went to work for Carmarthenshire County Coun c il’s press team late in his career where he was reunited with many of his former colleagues.In a very personal tribute to Jeff his colleagues at the press office said, “Jeff Connell was a legend.

It feels wrong to use the past tense, it’s unbelievable he isn’t with us any more. He will be remembered for being one of the best, if not the best, photographer in South Wales. But to us as friends and colleagues he was so much more. He was known and loved by so many people, everyone liked him, he was full of fun, had a wicked sense of humour and a huge heart. “His loss will be felt by so many, most of all his wife Desna whom he absolutely adored and of course his family. Our hearts go out to them and we pray they find the strength to cope with their tragic loss. “Jeff was artistic, enthusiastic, kind, generous, loyal, hardworking, committed, unique. But these are just words and there are no words adequate to describe the legend that was Jeff Connell or the massive gap he leaves in all our lives.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Nia Griffith MP was equally generous in her assessment of how much Jeff meant to the community of Llanelli. She said of Jeff : “Everyone warmed immediately to Jeff and he will be very sorely missed. Jeff had the most charming way of persuading even the most reluctant of subjects to have their photo taken, and he did an amazing job of getting great pictures in all sorts of challenging circumstances. We tend to associate him with journalistic style photos, but his range was much greater. On one occasion, I was very privileged to watch him deliver his adjudication of a competition celebrating Carmarthenshire in memory of the late Ifor Russell to the Llanelli Photographic Society: he had clearly put an enormous amount of work into judging the competition.

He did not just tell us about the winners, but he gave really helpful, constructive and good-humored feedback to every one of the entrants, explaining how they could have improved their portrayal of Carmarthenshire…. It was a pleasure to listen to, and we all learned a lot. We will all miss him, and I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family.” Friend and fellow photographer Graham Harries of GPhotography said : “Jeff would always make time to say hello no matter how busy he was. He’d remember everyones name & trust me when you meet so many people on a daily basis that’s something special. Always the professional he’d get the job done with no fussing, always make those in front of his camera feel at ease & always considerate to those other photographers on the same shoot.”

Plaid Cymru’s Helen Mary Jones paid tribute to the much loved photographer saying : “I was very sad indeed to hear of Jeff’s passing. I had spoken to him just a few weeks ago when out canvassing with the Plaid Llanelli team. On that occasion he was, as always, full of warmth and humour, reminding me of some of the funnier photo’s he’s taken of me during my time as Llanelli’s AM, including making me pose on one leg and lean at a very odd angle when cutting a ribbon to open a new shop for Tenvous the cancer charity. “At the time I though he was crazy, but as always with Jeff, the photo came out very well. He really was a consummate professional, but more than that. He had a great knack for setting his subjects at ease, helping them relax, and getting the best out of them. Particularity with people who were a bit shy, or reluctant to be photographed – I’m thinking for example of a group of young people with learning disabilities in a community group I was visiting – Jeff was always very patient and kind, and the result was always a great picture that told a strong story. He taught me one important lesson for a person in public life – never argue with the photographer – they know what they are doing!

“He loved his community and cared a lot about Llanelli. He was a real character and will be much missed. My thoughts are with his family and friends.” Jeff’s friend and former editor of the Llanelli Star Robert Lloyd said he could not believe that he had gone. Robert said : “Jeff was one of those characters who was larger than life. He was a joy to work with and he was a consummate professional. His work was a strong feature of the newspaper and he could always be relied on to deliver that photo with impact. He always made people feel at ease and never failed to get a smile out of people. My thoughts are with his wife and family at this time.” Paying tribute to Jeff Connell, Keith Davies AM, said: “Jeff was a very wellknown man who I met on many occasions. He will be remembered for his excellent work and good sense of humour. “His sudden death is a loss not only to his family and colleagues but also to the wider Carmarthenshire community who will have met Jeff at the many events he photographed and supported.”

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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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