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Wildly unique Mother’s Day gifts

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MOTHER’S DAY is the perfect time to show your mum how much she means to you, and what better way to do that than to give her a uniquely wild gift and help your local Wildlife Trust at the same time!

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have picked their top five wild gifts that any mum would love.

First up on the top five is a Wildlife Trust membership.

A spokesperson said: “ Your mum would be helping to protect local wildlife by enabling us to install nest boxes, manage local woodlands, survey red squirrels in mid Wales and carry out dolphin research, along with a mountain of other important conservation tasks. “

This is a gift that will keep on giving all year around for as little as a cup of coffee per month (or a one off payment if you prefer). By giving your mum a Wildlife Trust membership for mother’s day she could be giving a gift to wildlife throughout 2017 and even into 2018.

Second on the list of unique gifts for mother’s day are o the wildlife adoptions. The Trust have several wildlife species that are available for adoption including a badger, a puffin, a seal, a red squirrel and a hedgehog.

“Adopting one of these will help with various conservation tasks such as our work on Skomer and Skokholm Islands ensuring that the seal pup population is healthy, monitoring the red squirrels in mid Wales, promoting a Tuberculosis vaccine as a viable alternative to culling and campaigning for better legislation to protect and improve wildlife habitats throughout south and west Wales,” the Herald was told.

Your mum (if this is her first adoption) will receive an introductory letter, a personalised adoption certificate, a fact sheet and soft toy of her/your chosen wildlife species. Each year that she continues to adopt wildlife your mum will receive a report on how the species are doing in Wales (usually sent out in autumn). Adoptions are £25.

If your mum is a wildlife, nature and/ or outdoor enthusiast, the Trust have got just the place! Skomer Island is a haven for people who want to get up close and personal to Britain’s beautiful nature and take in some fresh air.

Voted Britain’s Favourite Nature Reserve of 2016 in the Landlove magazine awards , the island is home to an array of breath-taking seabirds.

The island opens in April and even though overnight stays are mostly fully booked now throughout May, June and July, you can still visit the island on a day trip to behold this natural phenomenon. You can then spend the day wondering the island and witnessing the thousands of seabirds in their colonies such as puffins, Manx shearwaters, guillemots and razorbills, spot tons of rabbits as well as marine wildlife from the cliffs.

If you were thinking more along the lines of an Island stay as a mother’s day gift don’t forget about Skomer’s sister Island; Skokholm. The beautiful mile long island is draped with red sandstone cliffs and offers a quieter experience with only approximately 17 people staying on the island at any one time.

In spring and summer , it is colonised by tens of thousands of nesting seabirds returning to their island home. By day there is frenetic activity among the puffins, razorbills, guillemots and gulls and by night there is a more vocal but equally hectic commotion from the Manx shearwaters and storm petrels. There are also often some fascinating migrants to look out for that are passing through.

And finally a stay in Oak Tree Cottage is sure to warm your mum’s heart this mother’s day! Off the beaten track, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Welsh Wildlife Centre & Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve, Pembrokeshire, you will find the newly refurbished Oak Tree Cottage or the ‘Cwtch’ as the Trust like to call it!

A brand new self-catering holiday let that’s perfect for those wanting to relax in comfort whilst surrounded by our amazing Welsh wildlife. Children will love playing in the Cherry Tree Adventure Park, discovering the Willow Maze, exploring our fantastic Nature Trails on foot or two wheels, and meeting our resident Water Buffalo. Adults can immediately unwind to the sounds of nature and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this truly unique setting.

To arrange any of the above just give The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales a ring on 01656 724100 or e-mail them – info@welshwildlife.org

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Stepping out

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Ready to go: David Maund

MONEY. How do I get some?

There’s the question for you.

You want to raise money for a good cause.

You have decided to take part in or to organise a sponsored event, so that visible actions can encourage others to donate money.

What better idea then, than to subject yourself to the torture of running up steep inclines, along narrow cliff-side paths above rocky shores, and pounding along shingle beaches until your feet are battered, bruised, and blistered; sweat blinds your eyes; and a succession of midges and mosquitos have decided that you look particularly juicy and tasty.

And yet the challenge that many have taken up this year is the one of a sponsored walk to traverse the sixty-odd miles of Ceredigion’s coast path from Cardigan in the south to Ynyslas in the north.

So far this year a number of challengers have taken on the feat and, while not all have succeeded in making the whole journey inside 24 hours, those that have completed the journey have all discovered that a short wiggly line on a flat piece of paper is considerably more than that when translated into geography.

On June 21, Claire Tregear, a midwife at Hywel Dda UHB, took on the challenge. After 60 miles on the hottest day of the year, where temperatures topped 32 Celsius, Claire made it to Ynyslas to leave Marie Curie Cancer care over £2,600 better off.

Over the next couple of weekends yet more intrepid fundraisers will be putting their best feet forward and marching north to Borth and beyond.

This weekend, July 8-9. Five workmates from First Milk in Haverfordwest will brave the coastal path’s perils and ponies to raise money for a variety of good causes.

Alexander Keattch, Sion Roberts, Ken Campion, Dean O’Keefe, and Andrew Morrillo are walking for different charities. Alex, aged 31, is taking on the hike for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide; Sion walks for LATCH, the Welsh children’s cancer charity; Dean and Ken are both tackling the route for the Motor Neuron Disease Association; Andrew is walking for paediatric physiotherapy at Withybush and RDA Pembrokeshire.

And they will not be alone on their travels along the thin thread connecting north to south along the coastline.

Five other friends, this time from Ceredigion, will also be taking on the coastal challenge.

Builders merchants manager Mathew Morgan, teacher William Bowen, builder Gareth Owen, solicitor Alan Lewis and care director Neil Griffiths will be raising funds for Cardigan Cancer Care, Cardigan Swimming Pool and the local branch of the RNLI.

On July 15, David Maund will be going uphill and down dale to raise money for the Breast Care Unit, Llanelli, Aberaeron Swimming Pool, Swim Narberth and Newcastle Emlyn Swimming Pool.

To all of those taking part, The Herald wishes the best of luck and that there is cold and refreshing beverage waiting at the other end.

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Castle welcomes French visitors

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Twin town: The Brioude visitors with Andrew Chapman in the castle greenhouse

CARDIGAN CASTLE welcomed a party from Cardigan’s French twin town, Brioude, last week.

The visitors, accompanied by Brioude twinning committee members, were given a tour of the grounds by gardener Andrew Chapman, who speaks fluent French.

The visitors also enjoyed a tour of Castle Green House during their visit.

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Robots invade Aberystwyth!

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Robots display at the Bandstand: Lots to see

ABERYSTWYTH PROMENADE was dominated by robots and mechanics over the weekend as the Beach Lab landed for another year.

The summer weather boded well for the free entry event which took place on Saturday (Jul 1) as visitors, families and local residents flocked to the Bandstand where they were able to observe the fantastic range of interactive entertainment robots created by members of Aberystwyth Robotics Club.

There were also robots at the Bandstand built by local schoolchildren at Aberystwyth University.

Some of the machines on display were developed at the University’s award-winning club for 12-18 year old pupils from Penglais and Penweddig schools including Joseph the 3-D Printed Robot, Laser Harp with infra-red laser beams instead of strings, Idris the car-sized all-terrain robotic platform, Lego Mindstorm Sumo platforms, Valiants teaching robots performing synchronised dance routines and Blackbot the four-wheeled drive robot which is operated by a handglove system.

A familiar feature to all there was Doris the Dalek, who patrolled the promenade throughout the day and a familiar collection of Droids inspired by characters from Star Wars which included C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8.

Additionally, Infinity from Series 1 of the BBC’s Robot Wars was also on display to keep the visitors company.

Patricia Shaw, a Computer Science lecturer at Aberystwyth University, spoke with The Herald and explained about Miro the robot that was on show: “Miro the Robot is a cross between a rabbit and a dog (or a donkey depending what you see in it) and is designed as a social companion.

“It has quite a few sensors inside and its’ behaviour is modelled on an animal. It responds to being stroked which keeps it happy, and if it is scared it will go and hide in a dark corner.

“It is there as a companion, particularly for elderly people, and it can interact with them. If anything were to happen to a person, it would be able to raise an alarm.

Miro is connected to the internet so it can actually alert people as necessary if anyone has an incident.”

The Herald asked Patricia about the response Miro the robot received at the Bandstand:

“The response has been really positive. We have had a lot of children interact with it as well as the adults who have really loved it.

“They have all had natural responses to the interaction of the robot and Miro has received a lot of attention from everybody”.

The event was organised by Stephen Fearn, of the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (IMPACS) at Aberystwyth University.

Speaking to The Herald about the event, Stephen explained more about his role at Aberystwyth University:

“My main role is teaching laboratories technician for the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer science which is to look after the technical aspect of busy undergraduate teaching laboratories”.

On what highlights he took away from the Beach Lab at the Bandstand, Stephen described to The Herald:

“The highlights were definitely the delights on people’s faces as they were engaged with the exhibits and robots that were designed and built by the children in the Aberystwyth Robotics club”.

Stephen told The Herald what goes into organising and planning an event such as the Beach Lab:

“A lot of work goes into organising an event like this, and getting support from so many willing volunteers who give their time to show the magnificent creations they have built.

“From the simple robotic quad spider to the latest research instrumentation development for the next Mars mission”.

Stephen said how he felt the event was successful for members of the public:

“Social media play a lot these days in advertising to the masses, and people came especially to see this event as it something different, yet it caters for all age groups”.

“How important do you feel it is to highlight what Aberystwyth has to offer through this type of event and the work of the Aberystwyth Robotics Club?” The Herald asked Stephen, to which he responded:

“The Aberystwyth Robotics club is very unique. There is not another weekly club that specializes in robotics as an afterschool club.

“We have been so successful that we are now the leading Welsh STEM hub and won a National award for university student ambassadors in a STEM club.

“Apart from the awards, the main aim is to introduce school children, boys and girls to robotics in a controlled environment so giving them transferable skills as they go through their school life”.

The Herald concluded the interview by asking Stephen how he feels the Beach Lab succeeds in bringing the whole community together during the summer period:

“Beachlab succeeds because it brings exciting technological development, designed and built at the University to the members of the public in a friendly and understandable way.

“What better than seeing exciting robotic platforms driving along the prom on a sunny day- did you see the Dalek trying to order an ice cream!!!!”.

Members of the public were also able to visit the Old College to see and discuss some of the pioneering research being carried out by Aberystwyth University’s postgraduate students on robotics and other subjects.

More than 20 of the postgraduate students displayed their research in a series of posters in the main hall of the Old College

Along with robotics, some of the other fields of study included the ExoMars mission, green energy, the DNA of yeast, Alzheimer’s disease and the hippy movement in rural Wales 1968-1980.

Professor Reyer Zwiggelaar, Head of the Graduate School at Aberystwyth University has said:

“This display of posters is an excellent opportunity for the public to get a glimpse of the range and depth of research being carried out in Aberystwyth, as well as put their questions directly to those carrying out this ground-breaking work”.

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