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Journey of respect and tribute

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pc_Walkers-Pembrokeshire-Coast-Path-above-Marloes-SandsA special Pembrokeshire Herald report by Dennis O’Connor
IF A tribute to the bravery of our armed forces can be measured in miles, then the rugged beauty of the 870 mile Welsh coastline will bear witness to a unique and moving tribute over the next few months as eleven teams of four men and women embark on a personal journey of respect and tribute. 
Fifty young Welsh Guardsmen have lost their lives whilst on active duty since the end of WWII. Jan Koops and David (Dai) Graham are both veteran Welsh Guards who served in the Falklands War.
They are aware of the devastating impact that active service can have on soldiers and their families as they cope with bereavement and these two men are the driving force behind the team organising the Walk on Wales (WOW) challenge which aims to raise one million pounds for the benefit of two charities, the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal and the Combat Stress Charity.
Each name, rank and number of the fallen has been inscribed on a specially commissioned silver baton which also conceals the names of a further eight soldiers from other regiments and Corps who were killed on active duty whilst attached to the Welsh Guards. The baton will pass from team to team along the coast for the duration of the walk (August 25th – November 2nd) before finally being delivered to its resting place at Llandaf Cathedral.
Both charities provide essential support. Many have returned safe from battle but have suffered and continue to suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which severely inhibits their ability to lead “normal” lives.
In preparation for the event, the teams have undertaken months of arduous training out on the coast in all weather conditions. Each mile completed in training has been considered as a small sacrifice to those who have given so much more.
The WOW logistic team based in Cardiff has been busy ensuring that the success of the event and safety and welfare of the teams and guest walkers remains a priority. This has been aided greatly by significant sponsorship by large companies including Bluestone and Radio Pembrokeshire.
The Pembrokeshire coast bears host to the Walk on Wales teams as they enter St. Dogmaels on October 3rd before continuing along the whole of the coast towards the Carmarthenshire border. 
Team 7 (New Quay to Whitesands Bay) is led by Jim Salmon, who is from St. Davids and Team 9 (Freshwater West to Burry Port) is headed by another local man, Rob Davies from Letterston.
Both men are veteran Welsh Guards, and Jim says: "I'm privileged to be part of a team involved in raising funds for these two charities.” Rob Davies added,  ‘I loved my  time in the Regiment and really enjoy getting involved with all  things to do with the Welsh Guards, so when the message came to me that Walk on Wales was looking for someone to lead a team from Freshwater West to Burry Port, I jumped at the chance.”
Throughout the challenge, the teams will be joined by some well-known faces including including MPs Stephen Crabb and Simon Hart. Members of the public who want to pay their own personal respects are welcomed and encouraged to sign up to take part in this unique event. Registration is easy through the Walk on Wales website. You can walk any distance of your choice on any day or week stage.
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Community

Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion

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During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.

Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.

Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.

To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.

Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.

If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.

Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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WASPI women help MP take pensions case to House of Commons

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WASPI women have helped Ben Lake, Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, to take the case for 1950s women’s pension injustice to Parliament at a packed out Drop-In information session at Westminster on Wednesday 4th March.

“It was a pleasure to co-host this important event, bringing WASPI representatives from across the UK to Westminster to meet MPs of all parties face-to-face,” said Mr Lake. “It gave the WASPI women a chance to share their personal experiences and to show how these unfair pension changes have impacted upon the lives of 1950s women.

Unfortunately, despite being invited, Stephen Crabb MP (also Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee) and Simon Hart MP (also Secretary of State for Wales), failed to attend. Across their Constituencies there are over 10,000 1950s women affected and many were left disappointed that their MPs did not support them at this event.

After the Drop In Session, Ben Lake took the WASPI women around the Houses of Parliament. He was a very knowledgeable guide and told the ladies some interesting stories. They saw some of Prime Minister’s Questions and a House of Lords debate. It really was a day to remember!”

Pembrokeshire WASPI along with multiple 1950s campaign groups from across the UK will travel to London on 21st July for a mass rally to support the appeal for pension justice, at the Supreme Court. For the first time in this 9 year campaign, a coach will depart from Haverfordwest.

A local spokesperson for Pembrokeshire WASPI said “Whilst our WASPI aim is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements and compensation for all 1950s women who have been affected by the 1995 and 2011 Acts, we support the Backto60s with their appeal. Over 10,000 women are affected across the two Pembrokeshire constituencies and they want this issue resolved. To date there has been too many words and not enough action. Successive governments have failed to address the injustice done to the 1950s women. At least 82,000 women between the age of 60 and 65 have died since the fight for justice started including members of Pembrokeshire WASPI. Others have been plunged into poverty or are having to work longer in physically demanding jobs which is having an impact on their health. The appeal will see the collective voice of 1950s women groups pulling together for the first time ever to support the Backto60s and to let the Conservative Government know that we are NOT going away. Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will be in the favour of the 3.8 million women affected”.

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