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Children’s books to be presented to Japanese community

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A COLLECTION of children’s books will be presented to the community of Yosano in Japan by students from Aberystwyth University when they visit later this week.

More than 200 books have been collected by English Literature and Drama and Theatre Studies student Carys Bevan.

Originally from north London, Carys launched her book appeal just before Christmas after learning she had been selected for the eleven-day cultural visit.

Overwhelmed by the response from student societies at Aberystwyth University, Carys has also received contributions and her home girl-guide group, the 2nd Enfield Brownies, and Barnet Hospital in North London, where she works as a Pharmacy Assistant during her holidays.

Carys is one of five students who are travelling to Yosano today (Jan 25) as part of a long standing exchange established with Aberystwyth by former prisoner of war, the late Frank Evans.

The appeal was launched by Carys after speaking to a close friend who visited Yosano in January 2017.

“We are staying with families in Yosano and this is one way of showing our appreciation for their hospitality,” said Carys.

“The response to the appeal has been fantastic and I’m really excited about handing them over when we get to Yosano. English books are really expensive in Japan, and the collection we are taking will be ideal for teaching and learning English. There is something for everyone, including an entire collection of the Peanuts / Snoopy comic series which I understand is very popular there.”

Such has been the response that Carys will also be donating some of the books collected to charities in Aberystwyth and London, and to the children’s ward at Barnet Hospital.

In advance of her visit to Yosano, Carys has also hosted a taste of Japan session with members of her girl-guide group in Enfield.

The evening forms part of a blog Carys has established where she has posted some of her experiences during the run up to her visit to Yosano and will feature updates during her time there.

Joining Carys for the Yosano visit are English Literature student Samantha Schanzer, Physics student Giselle Morris, Marged Smith who is studying Welsh and History, and Psychology student Vera Tzoanou.

Two hours north of Kyoto on Japan’s west coast and with a population of around 24,000, Yosano has well established links with Aberystwyth dating back to the 1980s, thanks to the work of former prisoner of war, the late Frank Evans.

Originally from Llanwnnen near Lampeter, Mr Evans was captured after the battle of Hong Kong in 1941 and imprisoned at Oeyama near Yosano, where he worked in a nickel mine and smelting works.

Following the publication of his memoires Roll Call of Oyeama POW Remembers, Mr Evans revisited the camp in 1984 and erected a memorial to his comrades at the site.

In subsequent years, he sought reconciliation and friendship with his former captors which led to exchange programmes between Aberystwyth and Yosano.

As ambassadors for the University and Wales, the students will participate in a wide range of activities including cultural events, visiting local schools and meeting the town council during their stay.

Previous visits have seen students learning the traditional Japanese arts of dying cloth and making noodles, visiting Kyoto, the spiritual capital of Japan, and paying their respects at the Frank Evans inspired memorial in Yosano.

Places on the trip are offered to students who were successful in an essay competition where they were asked to explain why they would make good ambassadors for Aberystwyth in Japan.

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Llanwrda bookshop in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020

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AN appointment only bookshop in Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, which offers a beautifully curated collection of books as well as cards, wrapping paper and Fair Trade gifts, has been named on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.

Books At The Dragon’s Garden says it “aims to make a visit to our shop an experience”. The shop runs a loyalty scheme for customers and offers promotions throughout the year. In addition, in its base at the market garden it uses organic compost, seeds and freshly picked vegetables and flowers. It only uses paper bags and has planted lots of pollinators in the garden to increase biodiversity.

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), whose member trade associations represent approximately 100,000 independent retailers throughout the UK between them. The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Maybe*, an engagement platform that helps make social media work for independent retailers. The winner will be announced next month.

In addition to the main award, Books At The Dragon’s Garden has also been shortlisted for a special award to be given to the independent retailer that has demonstrated specific innovation to combat the impact of COVID-19. This award is sponsored by booost, the loyalty, gifting and promotions app.

“It was impossible to make my previous shop both safe and financially viable, so I had a radical rethink and a conversion of two old stables at my market garden meant I was able to move the entire shop to a rural location,” explains owner Mandy Tomos.

In the interim I continued to promote the business on social media and sold online via the website. I received an award as a “Local Hero” for continuing to supply my local community during lockdown. As the shop is now appointment only, it is very safe for both customers and staff, numbers are low and social distancing is easy. Contactless payment is taken outside under cover. I used social media to maintain contact with my customers and wrote a chatty book suggestion column in our local free paper every month.”

“This has been a particularly challenging year for small, independent retailers and many have come through to this point through innovation, quality of product and service, a commitment to serve their local communities and a large dose of determination,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chair of the IRC.

“As more and more people have been forced to stay home and work from home, we have seen just how much we all value local independent shops and want to see them not just survive, but also thrive. These shops offer choice, diversity and genuine customer service. And, after what has been a rather dark year, that has to be worth celebrating.”

The annual competition highlights the best of Britain’s independent retail sector, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers and the central role they play in their local communities. Previous winners have included Bristol-based delicatessen Papadeli, the 2019 winner, and The Mainstreet Trading Company, a combined bookshop, café, deli & homeware shop based in St Boswells, in the rural Scottish Borders, which won in 2018.

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Safe Zone arrangements during firebreak

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Aberaeron Safe Zone

FOLLOWING the announcement by First Minister Mark Drakeford that introduced a ‘fire break’ across Wales, Ceredigion County Council will not be closing the roads daily within the safe zones between 6pm on Friday, October 23 and 11am on November 9.

Some aspects will remain where changes are in place 24/7 or temporary parking restrictions apply. Council owned public car parks will remain free during this period for residents and visitors alike.

Safe Zone – Recent amendments

Further minor amendments have come into effect this week, they are:

· In Aberaeron, on street parking will return between Cadwgan Place and Market Street junction.
· In Aberystwyth, there is controlled blue holder access to Eastgate from Portland Street as well as controlled access to Chalybeate Street from Terrace Road.
· In Cardigan, there will be controlled blue badge holder access along High Street.

Safe zones are reviewed fortnightly in line with the infection rate and available evidence. A further announcement will be made before 09 November.

More information can be seen on the safe zones Council web page: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/SafeZones

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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