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Love is in the air at Aber

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Eurig Salisbury and Rhiannon Parry: On their wedding day in 2013,
they returned to the lecture room where they’d met as undergraduates

ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY recently set a mission for alumni to get in touch and share their romantic stories to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day.

Couples who met and came together during their time at Aberystwyth University now have the chance, until St Valentine’s Day, to share their stories and photos on social media by using the #loveaber hashtag.

This is a unique and wonderful task created by Aberystwyth University, which has the aim of forming a visual record of the shared stories and memories from over the years.

Of course, there are no limits to the stories, which can include anything from walks along the promenade or even meeting by chance in one of the many lecture halls.

UMCA President Rhun Dafydd said in a recent statement: “Aberystwyth University attracts students from all over the world and not everyone is familiar with Welsh traditions.

“The legend of Dwynwen is ingrained in our folklore so today’s another great opportunity to celebrate our culture and share this special love story with our wider student community.”

Louise Jagger, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, said: “Aberystwyth is an exceptional place to learn and live. Students not only have access to an excellent, research-led education, they also live in a very special place and are part of a very special community.

“It’s not surprising, therefore, that so many long-term partnerships are forged between our students.

“We have alumni all over the world who met here and who look back with very fond memories at their Aber days.

“We look forward now to hearing more stories about how they met and to see some of their memorable photos either from their time as students or their wedding day.”

St Dwynwen’s Day, also known as Dydd Santes Dwynwen, bases itself on the fifth century folk story of the Welsh maiden Dwynwen, one of the 24 daughters of Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog.

Her life was seen to be a very tragic one as she fell in love with a man named Maelon Dafodrill at the same time her father planned for her to marry someone else she did not love.

As a result, Dwynwen was forbidden to see Maelon.

Because of this, she decided to turn to God in her hour of need and prayed for help to forget about Maelon. Then, an angel visited her in her sleep and gave her a potion to erase her feelings for Maelon and to turn him into a block of ice.

From then on, Dwynwen devoted her life to God and she was granted three wishes, which she used to ask for Maelon to be thawed, for God to meet the needs of all lovers and for her to never marry.

Dwynwen set up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn, off the Anglesey coast. The remains of the church can still be seen on the island, along with her well which is believed to be the home to sacred fish who can predict whether couple’s relationships will succeed.

A sign of a faithful husband is shown if the fish are seen to be active when visiting the well and has since become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers since Dwynwen’s death in the fifth century.

Eurig and Rhiannon Salisbury also met at Aberystwyth and recently celebrated the first birthday of their son, Llew. On their wedding day in 2013, they made sure their wedding photos also included the lecture room where they were first introduced.

Talking to The Herald, Eurig told us about his time at Aberystwyth University: “I came to Aber to study Welsh and Film and Television Studies, and stayed on at the Department of Welsh for an MPhil degree.

“After a brief spell as a translator for the Welsh Assembly, I spent nine years as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and I’m now back in the university working as a lecturer in the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies.”

Describing how they met, Eurig said: “Rhiannon and I met at the Old College when we were both students in the Department of Welsh. I remember arriving late to a lecture more than once and having to ask someone for paper and a pen, and it was Rhiannon (who’s much more conscientious than me) more often than not who helped me out!

“Rhiannon and I aren’t unique in this sense – I know of many, many other couples who first met in Aber, not only during their time at university, but both before and after.

“My younger brother included, who’ll be marrying later this year after meeting his wife-to-be, Alwen, when they were both students here!

“There’s something about Aber – maybe its apparent remoteness, coupled with the stunning views on the front – that’s uniquely romantic.”

“In your opinion, how important do you feel it is to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and to promote it to others?” we asked Eurig, to which he responded: “St Dwynwen’s Day can be, like all other ‘days’ for this and that, a bit gimmicky, but its unique Welshness is something to celebrate, I think. As well as the fact it’s always worth celebrating anything that’s to do with love!”

The Herald also interviewed James January-McCann, who met his wife during their student days at Aberystwyth University.

James said: “I’m currently in my second year working as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Welsh at the uni, responsible for Welsh for Beginners and Modern Irish, following the completion of my PhD in the department.”

On his time studying at Aberystwyth University, James said: “I loved pretty much everything about studying in Aber: the friendliness of the town, the fact that the Welsh department has always felt like an extended family, the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Welsh language, and the fact that the unusually high number of Irish speakers means that you can actually spend a surprising amount of time speaking Irish in the area.”

James then described to us how he met Kate: “The story of how I met Kate is actually somewhat unromantic. It was during the first term of my first year, and I’d been to a lecture by Jordi Pujol, ex-president of Catalonia, run by the politics department, and was so tired that I’d actually fallen asleep in the lecture and started snoring loudly!

“I just wanted to go home afterwards and go to bed, but my friends Rick and John insisted that I go to Pier Pressure for the birthday party of one Rick’s girlfriend’s housemates.

“I refused, so they ended up physically carrying me into the club. I’m still not sure why the bouncers let us in. We met up with the girls and, as luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to the prettiest one, Kate.

“We got talking, and after a while she asked me to dance. I politely refused, explaining that I wasn’t drunk enough yet. Unfortunately, whilst what I meant was that, being a middle-class white man, I am completely unable to dance whilst even remotely sober, what she took from this was that I thought she was too ugly to dance with sober.

“Kate, understandably, flounced off, and as I watched her go, I thought to myself ‘what are you doing? She’s gorgeous’, downed my pint and ran out onto the dance floor after her.

“The rest, as they say, is history. We went back to her room in Pantycelyn and only noticed that we’d spent the whole night talking when the sun came up.

“After three weeks of impeccably teenage ‘oh my god do you think s/he really likes me?’, whilst our friends tore their hair out and shouted ‘of course s/ he does, you idiot – it’s obvious’, we got together and have been ever since.

“We got married in Aber four years ago and have a three-year-old son called Osian.”

On Aberystwyth University’s aim to create a visual record of the romantic stories of Aberystwyth couples, James said: “I like the idea of the university’s pictorial record of couples who met whilst studying here.

“I’m just somewhat jealous of couples who did it romantically, like my colleague, Eurig Salisbury, and his wife, who had their wedding photos in the lecture hall in which they met.

“Understandably, Kate and I didn’t want to have our wedding photos taken in the pier…”

Concluding the interview, The Herald asked James how important he felt it is to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day and to promote it to others, to which he answered: “St Dwynwen’s Day is very important to us, because neither of us can stand St Valentine’s Day as it’s far too commercialised and ridiculous.

“We’ve celebrated St Dwynwen’s Day in the same way every year that we’ve been together, with a packet of Tregroes Waffles. One of the dinnerladies in Pantycelyn gave Kate a packet for us when they found out that we’d just got together, and we’ve kept up the tradition ever since.

“I think that we, as a society, should do more to promote St Dwynwen’s Day as something intrinsically Welsh, and considerably less rubbish than St Valentine’s Day.”

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Community

Lampeter to have its say on £10,000 funding for community groups

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Community groups in Lampeter will soon have the chance to apply for funds from a pot of £10,000
committed by Dyfed-Powys Police Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.
The commissioner has called on groups to take advantage of funding for projects that aim to
improve safety in the area.

Mr Llywelyn has committed £140,000 for Neighbourhood Policing Teams to spend within the
communities they serve. Each team will receive £10,000, with communities themselves voting on
how the money is allocated.

Lampeter is next on the list of events – and the NPT is calling on partner organisations and people
who live or work in the town to join forces and form a community planning group to make key
decisions.

Mr Llywelyn said: “I have committed to fund this new and innovative approach to community
funding as I think it’s vital that local residents have a say in how money is spent in their local area.
“They are best placed to work with the police, and indeed other partner agencies, to identify where
the money is needed and what would most benefit the local communities.
“Communities should be influencing the decisions.

“I urge the various community groups in Lampeter to consider the funding that I have made
available, and to contact the Lampeter NPT to discuss ideas, so the whole community can work
together to improve community safety.”

The planning group will attend several meetings – either socially distanced or online – over the next
few months to agree on key decisions and planning. Details will then be released on how groups can
apply for the funding, and an event will take place, giving people a chance to vote on which projects
should benefit.

Superintendent Ifan Charles, force lead on participatory budgeting, said: “Participatory budgeting is
a way of giving communities a greater say in how their community evolves.

“Problem solving to find long term solutions to solve the issues that cause communities the greatest
harm, is at the core of our new neighbourhood policing model.

“Through informed community engagement and problem solving, the new neighbourhood structure
should reduce the long-term harm for our communities and with that, demand on our response
officers, but this will only work if our communities and partners are equally engaged.
“Participatory budgeting has worked really well elsewhere and I’m really excited to lead the
introduction of this innovative approach here.”

If you live, work or play in Lampeter and would like to be involved, or if you have any questions,
please register an interest at LampeterPB@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk
Follow the NPT on Twitter at @LampeterPolice for further updates. #LampeterPB

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Community

Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown

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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
venue.

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
lifesaving donation.”

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
welshblood.org.uk website.”

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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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