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Aber students recall Afghan kayaking adventure

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Aberystwyth alumni: Kayaking along the Panjshir river in Afghanistan (pic. Kristof Stursa)

TWO former students return to Aberystwyth today (Mar 8) to relive their kayaking adventures in a country better known as a war zone than a white water destination.

Alumni James Smith and Joe Rea-Dickins spent ten days paddling down the Panjshir river in northern Afghanistan with fellow kayakers Callum Scott and Kristof Stursa.

The group of four are now taking tales of their travels on tour around the UK and Ireland, with a special event in the Seddon Room of Aberystwyth University’s Old College at 7pm tonight.

James Smith, who studied Marketing & German in Aberystwyth from 2008-2012, said a return visit to the University was a must.

“I had an excellent time at Aber and have very many fond memories of my time here. One of the main reasons I chose the university was because it had one of the best canoe clubs in the UK. The course was smashing of course but the club became a big part of university life for me and it’s great to see it’s still going strong,” said James, who was President of the AU Canoe Club 2009-10.

“Our trip to Afghanistan came about as a result of another trip we made while still at university to Pakistan. It made us realise that you can still visit these places and have a good time. We had escorts with us the entire trip and didn’t feel in danger at any time. In fact, we were made to feel incredibly welcome. We’re now planning to set up a kayaking expedition business in India so my marketing degree will come in handy.”

On their journey down the length of the Panjshir river through the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the four friends also set up a kayaking workshop to teach interested locals.

They filmed their journey and are using the footage to illustrate the stories of their Afghan adventure to audiences across the UK and Ireland.

Louise Jagger, Director of Development & Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, said: “Aberystwyth students are known for their spirt of adventure. In the 1960s, for example, the Exploration Society travelled to Afghanistan, they crossed the Sahara Dessert and they drove through the Trucial States in the Middle East. It’s great to see that this tradition is alive and well today.

“As a University, we are always keen to hear about the different paths our students have followed since graduating so we’re very pleased that James and Joe are bringing their roadshow to Old College – the perfect seafront location for an event celebrating the achievements of past members of Aberystwyth’s Canoe Club.”

Tickets for the Aberystwyth event are available from any Aberystwyth University Canoe Club Committee members or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/GGLLHG.

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Man sentenced following Tregaron assault

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FOLLOWING a report of an assault in Tregaron on Tuesday, April 3, Dyfed-Powys Police has arrested and charged Saul Rownan Henvey, aged 42, of Chapel Street, Tregaron, with common assault.

He was arrested following the incident, for which the victim required hospital treatment.

Henvey appeared before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, April 6.

He received a three month sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also given a 12 month supervisory order and ordered to undergo 30 days of rehabilitation requirements.

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Motorbike safety campaign launched across Wales

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A CAMPAIGN aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads is underway across Wales.

As the weather improves police see more bikers on the roads, taking advantage of the beautiful routes across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police is urging motorcyclists to ride safely and warns that until October there will be an increased focus as part of the campaign, named Op Darwen.

Superintendent Huw Meredith, Head of Specialist Operations, said: “Motorcyclists have long been identified as particularly vulnerable road users and reducing the number of road deaths and casualties on the roads of Dyfed-Powys is a priority for our Roads Policing Units.

“We have always welcomed motorcyclists from outside our borders to enjoy the magnificent landscape, but they must be aware that Dyfed-Powys Police is doing all it can to ensure our roads are used safely by all, with our Roads Policing Units taking robust action to prevent fatal or serious road traffic collisions on our roads.

“Everyone must take responsibility for their own and others safety on our roads and be aware of their riding and driving manner. Action will be taken against anyone choosing to ride or drive anti-socially, recklessly or illegally on our roads.

“Our officers see far too many tragedies, many preventable. Roads Policing officers will be out in numbers throughout Dyfed-Powys using a combination of education, engagement and enforcement to prevent further tragedies.”

Officers will also be encouraging riders to improve their biking skills by taking part in BikeSafe workshops, which
offer an insight into what can be achieved with further advanced training. The workshops, run by police forces around the UK, use a mix of discussions, on-road observed rides and information videos. They are designed to enhance the skills of all riders who have already passed their tests and are suitable for all abilities, from the most seasoned rider to those returning to biking after a period of absence.

Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates praised the campaign: “Our roads continue to be amongst the safest in the world.

“However, the number of motorcyclists being killed or seriously injured is still too high.

“Campaigns like this are a key part of a wider range of measures aimed at making our roads safer and preventing future motorcycling casualties. This holistic approach includes ensuring motorcyclists are prioritised in our road safety funding, supporting Go Safe’s operation of speed cameras and funding local authorities to deliver Bikesafe and other motorcyclist training.”

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‘Race hate’ case will be heard at Crown Court

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A BRYNAMMAN man who allegedly called for all Muslims to be ‘forcibly sterilised and banned from preaching their ‘evil creed’ in a social media post will have his case heard at Crown Court.

It s alleged that 34-year-old Jonathan Jennings posted nine offensive or threatening comments between March and April last year.

These are said to include threatening to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, hailing a man jailed for kicking a pregnant Muslim woman in the stomach as ‘a National Hero’ and suggesting that bombing mosques and ‘putting Muslim on top of bonfires’ were ‘great ideas’.

It is alleged that he said Hitler was born 100 years too soon, and called for Gina Miller to be ‘hunted down and executed’ over her stance on Brexit.

Appearing at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court wearing a blue military greatcoat, purple shirt, and yellow striped tie, Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, spoke only to give the court his name, age and address.

Jennings’ solicitor said that he would not be entering a plea at this stage.

The District Judge declined jurisdiction, and Jennings was released on bail until May 18 at Swansea Crown Court, on condition that he does not post or repost anything on social media, or create any new accounts.

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