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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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Stereophonics to play Swansea gig

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ONE of Britain’s best live bands Stereophonics has announced a special performance at Singleton Park, Swansea on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

The stadium rockers will perform in their south Wales heartland to celebrate 20 years since the career milestone show in Swansea at Morfa Stadium to 55,000 people and the release of ‘Performance and Cocktails’.

It will be the band’s first time back in south west Wales since their Morfa Stadium show in 1999. This now iconic album, which was the band’s second studio release, gave Stereophonics three straight top five singles in the British charts with ‘The Bartender and the Thief’ reaching No.3, and both ‘Just Looking’ and ‘Pick a Part That’s New’ reaching No.4.

Over the past two decades, Stereophonics have played at some of the biggest venues to fans all across the globe, amassing over 10 million album sales in that time.

More recently in 2018, the band performed to sell-out crowds across the globe, including a huge 15-date arena tour, summer homecoming gigs in Wrexham and Cardiff plus headline shows at Kendal Calling, Y Not Festival and Victorious Festival.

Speaking about the latest announcement, Kelly Jones said: “Performance and Cocktails put us on the world map, and also on the TV and the Radio, which meant a lot of people went back to discover Word Gets Around and made our first album platinum! Morfa Stadium was where we set Performance and Cocktails alight, and it was a one off day that can never be beaten. It was perfect. I’m not a man that likes to go backwards, this event is merely a birthday party, so come along and help us blow out the candles.”

Stereophonics are Kelly Jones (vocals/guitar), Richard Jones (bass), Adam Zindani (guitar) and Jamie Morrison (drums).

Tickets go on sale on Friday (Dec 14) at 10am via www.myticket.co.uk.

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Heroin could be linked to Aberysytwyth supply

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A LIVERPOOL man has admitted possessing heroin that could be linked to drugs supplied in Aberystwyth.

Jack English, aged 20, pleaded guilty to possessing a quantity of heroin with intent to supply when he appeared at Swansea Crown ccourt for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Keith Thomas.

The court heard the drugs could also be linked to English’s father, who had been a heroin user who had ‘gone to Aberystwyth on many occasions’ and who had died since his son’s arrest in October 2017.

Judge Thomas said he would sentence English on January 11.

English, of Storrington Road, was granted bail meanwhile but warned that a jail sentence was the most likely outcome.

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Mark Drakeford named next First Minister

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THE NEXT First Minister of Wales will be Mark Drakeford, it has been announced this afternoon (Dec 6).

Mr Drakeford, a Cardiff West AM, was named as the winner of the Welsh Labour leadership contest at the Principality Stadium.

The contest was triggered when Carwyn Jones, the current First Minister, announced he was stepping down.

Mr Jones will officially step down on Tuesday (Dec 10).

Mr Drakeford will then be officially confirmed as the new First Minister of Wales by the National Assembly next week.

In the first round of voting, the results were:

Mark Drakeford – 46.9%
Vaughan Gething – 30.8%
Eluned Morgan – 22.3%

Eluned Morgan’s votes were then redistributed on voters’ second preferences, with the following results:

Mark Drakeford – 53.9%
Vaughan Gethin – 46.1%

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