MEET UWTSD’s Marlene’s Marvels. They’re entering a 13-mile race and are being mentored by Wales rugby legend Gareth Thomas as part of his new TV programme.
Louise Harris, Melanie Lawlor- Fellowes, Helen Thomas, Marlene Tobias and Mel Thomas are among runners whose progress will be tracked in the former sporting star’s new television series, ‘Gareth Thomas: Run For Your Life’.
They will join 100 runners, dubbed ‘Alfie’s Angels’, taking on the Cardiff Half Marathon on October 2. Last Saturday (Jul 16), they met with their mentors – Gareth Thomas and former Commonwealth Games athlete James Thie.
Louise Harris, Principal Administrative Officer at UWTSD’s Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, said: “It was a great session, meeting Alfie and Jamie Thie, Eloise the nutrionist and Hannah E Phillips, author of No Run Intended. We also had a small training run which was fun and inspirational, with every Angel being greeted and applauded by all the other Angels and Alfie and his team as they crossed the finish line.
“We are one week into the 12 week training course and lots of progress is already being made by everyone. I was even up at 5.20am this morning to get 3.2 miles in before work – I am a changed woman! Marlene’s Marvels are up for the challenge and we will complete the Cardiff Half Marathon on October 2. We are intending to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance.”
UWTSD’s Marlene Tobias said: “I’ve always thought about doing a half marathon, but have never done anything about it. I’ve never run a mile in my life, let alone 13 miles! I saw the advert for Alfie’s Angels and asked the girls if they fancied doing it. They were game, so I sent in a video and got through. It takes commitment to prepare for a half marathon, but we are all dedicated and motivated and are going to give it our best shot. It will also be a very personal achievement for Mel Thomas (my sister) and myself to be able to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance.
“We had a fantastic morning with Alfie and the others at the launch event last Saturday, and it was great to meet all the other Angels who will be taking part. I think the important thing to remember is that this is not a race, but just to cross the finishing line, however long it takes. I’m looking forward to it!”
Having tailor-made three separate 12-week programmes for the 100 runners who will take part in the half marathon, Gareth Thomas and James Thie were keen to speak to the group to motivate them and answer their questions.
Gareth Thomas said: “A lot of these women have very busy lifestyles, like any man or woman, and we have taken into consideration all their life commitments.”
Gareth, who was the first rugby union player to earn 100 caps for Wales, is Team Captain, inspiring, encouraging and supporting the women through training exercises and health regimes.
Alfie’s Angels have varying levels of fitness and face a number of tough goals along their journey to race day. Step one is learning how to fit training into their already busy lives, but Gareth will be on hand, mentoring them through the highs and lows, injuries and victories.
Gareth Thomas added: “Running a half marathon is not an easy thing to do and there’s going to be hard times, especially coming from the position that most of these women are, having never run this distance before. I want to help them because I know how important fitness is; this is one event that could potentially change their lives and I think to be a part of that is massively rewarding.
“I also think the outreach could be huge. There’ll be other people sitting on a chair thinking ‘I could actually be that woman, I could do what they are doing’, because they are normal people who are doing extraordinary things.
“A lot work shifts or nights, have a family, and we set their targets accordingly. We want real, everyday people to watch and think ‘if they can do it why can’t I?’ In rugby, you inspire young kids who want to be like you and that’s a good legacy to leave behind. People usually don’t think they have that power but these runners are doing exactly that by influencing people in a positive way.
“These are amazing people and they will get that sense of achievement and that makes me feel very proud.”
With almost all of the group being first-time long-distance runners, their progress will be captured for a BBC Wales documentary as part of BBC Wales’ returning Live Longer Wales season in the autumn, aimed at inspiring Wales to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown
Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.
Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.
Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.
The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.
Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.
“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.
Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.
“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”
Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion
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 email@example.com 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
The latest on plastic free Ceredigion
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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