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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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Ceredigion Museum’s digital storytelling celebrates LGBTQ+ history month

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February marks LGBTQ+ History month and Ceredigion Museum has been working with local organisation Aberration to unveil and record fascinating and untold stories of Aberystwyth.

These stories form part of the museum’s ‘It Happened in Aber’ project, which will allow people to listen to the untold stories that have shaped Aberystwyth.

This project was made possible thanks to the ’15-minute heritage’ funding, a partnership between The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

Carrie Canham, museum curator, said: “For too long the LGBTQ+ community has been marginalised, or even completely concealed, in history. Ceredigion Museum is keen to share the stories that have lurked in the shadows, to celebrate the diversity and rich LGBTQ+ heritage of Aberystwyth with pride.”

The LGBTQ+ stories researched and recorded with by Jane Hoy, of Aberration, include historic and modern-day characters from the town, including famous academics, poets, mariners, dancers and a spy!

“We are delighted to be working so closely with Ceredigion Museum contributing to ‘queering up’ the museum with lively local stories and events,” Jane.

Aberystwyth has certainly played its part in developing the LGBTQ+ community in West Wales and Sarah and Rosie, founders of Aberystwyth’s ‘Wrecked’ nightclub for women, have documented their fond memories of their venue in the town: “It became a fun and safe haven for lesbians who travelled there from all corners of the county”.

Ceredigion Museum staff and volunteers will be continuing to document stories linked to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as stories linked to specific locations in the town, until April.

From May onwards, The ‘It Happened in Aber’ stories will be available to enjoy in podcast format on the museum’s website as well as forming a digital walking tour of the town, allowing people to listen and enjoy the stories whilst walking around the locations in Aberystwyth.

Councillor Catherine Hughes said: “It’s fantastic that Ceredigion Museum is providing us with an opportunity to enjoy the history and the important contribution of the LGBTQ+ community in Aberystwyth. This is such an important project to document our local heritage. We look forward to listening to all the stories.”

If you can’t wait until the summer, join this years’ virtual Aberration – Between the Lines event on Friday, February 26 from 7pm, when the ladies of ‘Wrecked’ will be sharing some of their stories!

For further information or to share your untold story, contact Sarah Morton, Ceredigion Museum’s sustainability officer, at Sarah.Morton@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Aberaeron takeaway closed for ignoring coronavirus restrictions

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A Premises Closure Notice has been issued to Paradise Pizza, Regent Street, Aberaeron due to repeated non-compliance with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

The business was issued with a premises improvement notice on 15th January 2021. It was required to take reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the need to ensure that staff use personal protective equipment and face coverings. However, officers have since witnessed staff failing to wear face coverings on multiple occasions in contravention of their advice.

Monitoring inspections have shown that the majority of Ceredigion‘s retail premises are complying with the restrictions placed on them during the pandemic. Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection team will continue to take action against businesses who fail to comply with the coronavirus restrictions. Whilst non-compliant businesses will usually receive advice and guidance, serious or persistent breaches will be dealt with by means of closure powers, fixed penalty notices or prosecution.

This takeaway must remain closed for 28 days, or until Public Protection officers are satisfied that the alleged non-compliance has been addressed.

Premises improvement and closure notices are required to be published by law.

The full closure notice can be found on Ceredigion County Council’s website, under Improvement and Closure Notices: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-improvement-closure-and-direction-notices/

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Directory of services launched by Ceredigion’s Carers Unit as part of Carers Rights Day

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WHETHER you are a new carer or have been caring for someone for a while, it’s important that you understand your rights and you’re able to access the support that is available to you as soon as you need it. Wherever you are in your caring journey.

It is more important than ever that Carers look after their own health and wellbeing as well as the people they care for. This year for Carers Rights Day, Ceredigion Carers Unit and our partners wanted to ensure Carers have the information and the knowledge that they need at their fingertips, so they can feel confident asking for what they need.

Ceredigion Carers Unit and partners have brought together a Bumper Edition of the Winter Carers Magazine. It’s a ‘Carers Rights Day Directory of services’ bursting with useful information and advice on your rights, including, where to get help and support in West Wales.

There is also a free Carers programme of talks & short training sessions online (also with access by telephone). This programme runs right through until end of March 2021.

Being a carer can take its toll on your wellbeing. Following a recent Carers UK survey, 78% of Carers in Wales said that they have been unable to take any, or a sufficient, breaks from their caring role since the outbreak of COVID-19. As a result of this, surveyed Carers also reported that their health and wellbeing had been affected, with 66% reporting that their mental health had worsened due to the pandemic.

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Carers Champion for Ceredigion County Council, said: “The magazine and the programme of talks & short courses appeals to a huge variety of unpaid Carers. There is something in there for parent Carers, dementia Carers, young Carers, those caring for someone affected by mental health or substance misuse issues and everything in between. And relevant to those caring for people of all ages. If you know of anyone with caring responsibilities who would benefit from this magazine or the free advice sessions, please pass it on.”

Catherine Moyle, Carers Support and Development Officer, Ceredigion County Council, Carers Unit said: “A warm welcome is extended to all unpaid Carers in the county and those that you care for. These are challenging times. Reaching out for support when you need it is a form of self-care and it boosts your resilience. It takes a strong person to carry on caring – it takes a stronger, more resilient person to reach out to others.”

The programme of online sessions and the magazine are available on Ceredigion County Council’s website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/social-care-wellbeing/support-for-carers/carers-rights-day-2020/ and on their Facebook pages @CeredigionCC under events.

If you would prefer to request a printed copy of the magazine or would like any further information, please get in touch with the Ceredigion Carers Unit on 01970 633564 or e-mail carersunit@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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