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Jail suspended for death crash pensioner

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crowncourt-1024x682A WELL known Aberystwyth man died in a head-on car crash when “age caught up” with an elderly driver and she fell asleep at the wheel.

Margaret Christopher, aged 81, had been looking for a layby to take a break when she failed to even attempt to take a left hand bend and drove straight into Dai England’s Peugeot 208.

Mr England died two days later from injuries to his heart and his central nervous system.

His daughter Rhian, a passenger in the front seat, suffered fractures to her arm, elbow and knee and spent three months in a wheelchair.

For the 48 hours after the crash doctors thought Christopher would die but she survived.

Today, she admitted causing death by careless driving. She was jailed for 14 months, suspended for two years, and banned from driving for two years.

Francis Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on March 19 last year Christopher, then aged 80, was part way through a six and a half hour drive from her home in Southport, Lancashire, to her daughter’s home in Broad Haven. She had promised to look after her daughter’s dog while she went on holiday.

Christopher had taken two breaks, the last one in Machynleth. But as she approached Aberystwyth on the A4159 at Lovesgrove she felt she needed another one.

Mr Jones said Christopher entered a left hand bend but drove straight on and her Vauxhall Astra hit the Peugeot.

Mr England and his daughter had to be cut out of the wreckage. At the scene he was able to talk to paramedics but the 67 year old died in the University of Wales hospital in Cardiff two days later.

Mr Jones said other drivers thought Christopher had not even tried to take the bend and there was no sign that she had braked.

Rhian England remembered her father braking hard and turning to his left, but he could not avoid the collision.

Mr Jones said both cars were in good condition, as was the road surface, and the weather had been fine and visibility was good. Speed was not a factor, he added.

Christopher, he said, had no recollection of the collision and could not offer an explanation.

In a victim impact statement Mr England’s widow, Mair, said she thought about her soul-mate all of the time. They had been married for 44 years and had three children and two grandchildren.

Andrew Nuttall, the barrister representing Christopher, said she also thought about Mr England and his family every day.

“She understands very well that words give little comfort to the family. But all she can say is that she is very, very sorry.

“She really has no idea what happened. She has decided never to drive again,” he added.

Judge Huw Davies told Christopher, “Age caught up with you in a tragic way and without warning.

“You think you must have fallen asleep. There is no other explanation for what happened.”

He said Christopher had “taken a chance” by undertaking such a long journey at her age.

“That day, that drive was asking too much or your stamina. But you took the risk of carrying on,” he added.

Judge Davies said Christopher had been driving since 1960 and had an impeccable record.

But he had to pass a prison sentence that was aimed at the whole community and reflected the consequences of driving without due care.

Christopher, of Hoole Lane, Banks, Southport, was also ordered to pass an extended driving test should she ever want her licence back.

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Amendments introduced to the Cardigan Safe Zone

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AS MORE people are expected to visit Ceredigion’s towns over the coming weeks and summer months, changes are required to ensure our streets are safe for everyone, by allowing people to maintain a 2 metre social distance at all times.

Introducing changes over the Easter period has meant that some amendments will be made over the coming weeks.

Following a review, the initial phase of the Safe Zone (Phase 2) for Cardigan will be amended to Phase 2a, with Morgan Street and The Strand remaining as a one way system (unchanged current arrangement).

Road closures affecting the High Street in Cardigan will commence ahead of the May Bank holiday weekend at the end of May. The road closures will be between 12pm and 4pm daily.

As part of Phase 2a, the following work is being undertaken:

  • Placing road markings for all disabled bays along High St & Pendre
  • Placing loading bay road markings opposite Dewi James Butchers
  • Introducing new reflective bollards to replace the red/white baulks. This will allow traders to operate in the road as per their licence. The widened footpaths within the trading areas in the road will be raised to the same level as the adjacent footpaths to create a flat accessible area for pedestrians.
  • Placing a chicane outside the Black Lion Hotel to slow traffic flow
  • Implement a one way system along College Row to improve pedestrian safety
  • Reversal of one way along St Mary St to allow access to Chancery
  • Close the top of Pwllhai for licenced trading and pedestrian safety

A map of Cardigan and all the latest information on the Safe Zones is available on Ceredigion County Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/safezones   

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New Quay youngster answers RNLI’s mayday call and raises nearly £2,000

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OVER the May Day Bank Holiday weekend a New Quay schoolboy took to the water on his paddle board and raised nearly £2,000 for the RNLI Mayday Mile appeal. He is now urging more people to take part this May in any way they can to raise funds for equipment before the busy summer season on the coast. 

Steffan outside Newquay RNLI lifeboat station after completing his challenge

Steffan Williams, 12, a pupil from Ysgol Bro Teifi answered the RNLI’s mayday call for fundraising and decided to not just do one mile on his paddleboard but attempt 10 miles in one day. He is now encouraging more people to get involved with the appeal to raise funds.  

Steffan said, “The RNLI Mayday Mile is a great way to raise money for the charity that saves lives at sea as you can do one mile or 100 miles in any way you want. You could run it, walk it, dance it and make it fun in fancy dress. 

Steffan Williams before his challenge on Sunday May 3

“I decided to take to the sea on my paddleboard, and I am really pleased I completed my challenge of 10 miles in one day. It was really hard going as the wind picked up in the afternoon but I did not want to give up. 

“I have been really shocked at the support and want to thank everyone who has donated, I am so happy!” 

Steffan’s total so far is £1,812 and he is the RNLI’s top individual fundraiser in the UK and Ireland. To support Steffan visit https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/fundraising/steffans-paddleboarding-mayday-challenge

The RNLI’s Mayday Mile campaign will be running throughout the month of May and anyone can take part by joining up on the RNLI’s Mayday Mile website https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/.  

With more people expected to be holidaying close to home this year, the RNLI predicts a summer like no other.  

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “Steffan has done a fantastic job on raising so much money for the charity and we are very grateful indeed. He is a true hero. This summer we expect to be very busy and urge people visiting our coast to take the necessary precautions.  

“Always check the weather, the tides and if you are on the water remember to wear a buoyancy aid and take means of calling for help, a mobile phone or radio. Remember we are on call 24/7 so if you see anyone in trouble on the coast please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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Contact Hywel Dda for second vaccine appointment

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HYWEL Dda University Health Board (UHB) is asking anyone who received a first Pfizer vaccine at one of its mass vaccination centres in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire more than 21 days ago to get in touch if they have not received a second vaccine appointment.       

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Second doses are essential for longer term protection, so it’s important that everyone comes forward for their full course when called.

“Our records show that a small number of people across our three counties have not responded to our invitation to receive their second dose. We won’t leave anyone behind and there is still time for them to receive it within the required timeframe.”

Additional clinics will be put on in the next couple weeks to administer these second doses. If it has been more than 21 days since your first Pfizer vaccine please email COVIDenquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk with the subject title “Second Pfizer dose request” with your full name, date of first vaccine and a contact phone number to book your appointment. If you are unable to email you can also contact the health board by calling 0300 303 8322.

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