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Local residents receive New Year’s Honours

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sian phillips

Award: Sian Phillips

A NUMBER Carmarthenshire residents have received honours this year. Mrs Rosalie Mary James has received an MBE or services to Agriculture in Wales. She is from Llandeilo. In local healthcare, Ms Wendy Angharad Churchouse from Carmarthenshire who is an arrhythmia nurse at Morriston Hospital has received a British Empire Medal for services to cardiac patients in south west Wales. Also in Carmarthenshire, Mrs Erika Walker has received the MBW for voluntary services to the community and Social Enterprises in her home town of Ammanford William Bruce McLernon from Swansea has received the OBE for services to Social Care and Local Government particularly in Carmarthenshire.

A graduate of Durham University, Bruce entered into Public Service with Durham County Council and became Team Leader with Gateshead MBC Social Services Department for an Action Research Project developing personalised care support. In 1986, he went on to be Principal Officer (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) for West Glamorgan County Council Social Service before taking up the post of Assistant Director (Support Services) in 1988. In 1996, he was appointed Assistant Director (Older People and People with a Physical Disability Services) with the City and County of Swansea. Having spent a further 14 years as Director of Social Care, Health and Housing in Carmarthenshire, Bruce was responsible for creating a new Directorate bringing together Social Services, Housing and Public Protection. Bruce is a Past President of the Association of Directors of Social Service, Cymru and Chaired the Mid and West Wales Health & Social Care Collaborative up until 2014 when he retired from public service.

Council leader Emlyn Dole told The Herald: “I would like to congratulate Bruce on this honour which is very well deserved for all his hard work. As the chair of the health and social care scrutiny committee for two years, I had the pleasure of working with Bruce when he was the director. “He was very easy to work with and was always willing to listen as well as educate. I am delighted that his efforts have been recognised.” In Ceredigion, Mrs Maureen Spowart Davies who is the Secretary of Trustees for the HUTS Workshop bas also received an MBE for voluntary service to people with Mental Health Challenges. She is from Newcastle Emlyn. Also in Ceredigion Miss Valerie Joy Cook has received the British Empire Medal for voluntary service to her local community in Borth. In Pembrokeshire there were two honours. Richard Graham Tovey Honorary Life Member, The Independent Association of Prep Schools, Leamington Spa who lives Haverfordwest received an MBE for services to education.

Pauline Griffiths, the curator at Narberth Museum received a British Empire Medal for services to heritage and the local community. One of Carmarthenshire’s most famous residents says she is overwhelmed with news of her award. Veteran actress Sian Phillips has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours. Phillips, who stole the show in The Archers’ version of Calendar Girls this Christmas, has been made a dame, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. The 82-year-old, who says she has no plans for retirement, is one of Wales’ most successful stage and screen stars and swaps her CBE for a damehood for services to drama. Sian Phillips, who is from Gwaun- Cae-Gurwen, near Ammanford, told reporters: “It’s a very nice thing to happen. When I first heard about it I was a bit overwhelmed – it was totally unexpected. “It’s something I’ve never thought about during my life. I got my first pay check in Wales at the age of 11 and a damehood would have been so remote to me as an ambition at that time and that’s the way it’s stayed. “I just wanted to become an actress and then when I became one I just wanted to get better and better (at the job). I’m not a celebrity – I don’t belong to that culture at all.”

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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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Fire safety plea as dry weather puts countryside on high alert

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WEEKS of unusually dry weather have put the UK countryside at high risk of fires which could be started by careless visitors, warns NFU Mutual.

The leading rural insurer is making a plea for people visiting the countryside not to use disposable barbecues, and to take care to avoid starting fires by accidentally dropping matches in such arid conditions.

Following an exceptionally dry spring, many parts of the UK countryside are at high risk of fires started by barbecues and cigarette ends, the insurer warns. These fires can put people, farm animals and wildlife at risk, as well as destroying natural habitats.

Over the past two months, firefighters have tackled grassland fires across the UK – including in South West England, Scotland and Wales.

In late March, a gorse fire on Dartmoor led to the closure of the busy A386 as the fire sent clouds of smoke across the carriageway.

In Wales, an early April grassfire near Stormy Down, Bridgend, caused damage to an area equal to about 25 football pitches.

On Salisbury Plain, a grassfire fire in early May which destroyed a plantation of trees was traced to a fire pit which had been used as a barbecue.

Scotland too has suffered a number of fires including one near Dumbarton in late April which required 20 firefighters to bring it under control.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “After a very dry spring, a dropped match or smouldering barbecue is all that’s needed to start a serious fire in our fields and forests.

“With more hot weather forecast, as many people are heading to the countryside, we’re urging visitors to take care to avoid starting a fire. All too often, disposable barbecues, which seem to have gone out, smoulder for hours and start fires which can engulf acres of growing crops and wildlife habitats.”

NFU Mutual claims statistics reveal the cost of farm fires totalled £69m in 2020 – a 40% rise from 2019.

NFU Mutual Countryside Fire Prevention Guide

Don’t drop used matches or cigarettes – they can smoulder and start a fire
Don’t use disposable barbecues on grass or moorland
Call 999 if you spot a grassland or moorland fire while out in the countryside
Avoid parking in country lanes where emergency services vehicle access could be blocked
Don’t drop litter – discarded bottles can focus sunlight and start a fire
Keep to footpaths when walking in the countryside
More information about safety in the countryside is available from NFU Mutual’s website: www.nfumutual.co.uk

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Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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EVERY child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education as part of the Welsh Government’s plans for a national music service, which will help ensure no child misses out due to a lack of means.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

The plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs. Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a number of key work programmes such as:

A review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.
A ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.
A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries
A new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.
These programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

The National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:

“Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument. The plan we are publishing today, backed by funding, will help deliver that vision.

“For too long, the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills has been for those few whose families and carers who can afford tuition. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition, and that’s why we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people to learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said:

“We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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