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West Wales responds to Notre-Dame ‘tragedy’

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Notre-Dame de Paris: The large fire partially destroyed the cathedral on Monday

THE WORLD has reacted to the major fire that partially destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral, with religious leaders of west Wales among those to have sent prayers to Paris.

The large fire on Monday (Apr 15) damaged much of the historic landmark, destroying the roof as well as the famous spire. The fire began at around 6:30pm local time (4:30pm GMT) and it took until 10am (8am GMT) on Tuesday morning for firefighters to fully extinguish the blaze. Many of the relics held in the cathedral, including the crown of thorns brought there in 1239 by St. Louis, said to be that which was placed on the head of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion, were saved by firefighters. One firefighter is said to have suffered minor injuries while tackling the fire. The cause of the fire is not yet clear, but Paris’ public prosecutor is working under the assumption that it was an accident.

Whilst the principal structure was saved, including the famed towers, the building is still seen as unstable. Prior to the fire, there was already scaffolding in place to deal with the cracks appearing in the stonework. Renovations were underway and 16 copper statues had already been removed last week.

Notre-Dame de Paris, meaning ‘Our Lady of Paris’, is one of the most widely recognised symbols of France, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site of the cathedral is thought to have been of religious significance dating back as far as Roman Gaul. The construction of the modern church began in 1163, and the cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Already hundreds of millions of euros have been donated towards the reconstruction of the site, as people across the world have reacted to the news and sent both prayers and funds to Paris.

Bishop of Menevia Tom Burns said: “For a thousand years it has stood as a beacon of prayer and hope. But what a tragedy struck Paris and the French nation on Monday evening at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. It is a beautiful creation that resides at the very heart of French life and in the hearts of French people wherever they happen to be, of whatever faith or none. It has struck chords in all people of good will who have walked through its doors into an arena of peace and calm.

“Some years ago, after wondering at the flying-buttresses that supported the thick stone walls, I had entered under that roof, never conscious of the vulnerability of its wooden structure. As I saw on television on Monday evening the fire raging through the roof, and the spire disintegrating piece by piece, I felt a lump in my throat. I shared with the people of France my sense of having once touched something quite unique. For, it had been my privilege, as Bishop of HM Forces, to preach from the Cathedral’s vast pulpit on Remembrance Sunday just over a decade ago.

“Now this was another sad occasion to remember, though thankfully without any loss of life. As York Minster was resurrected from the flames some years ago, and similarly Windsor Castle in more recent times, may the experts in restoring ancient buildings combine their God-given skills to rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris. May it rise from the ashes to fulfil its function as God’s House in this world and to re-assure us that such a building evokes belonging and inspires us to greater things. It is still greatly needed, if not even more so now.”

Fr. Liam Bradley, Parish Priest at St David and St Patrick Church in Haverfordwest, said: “We hold in our hearts and prayers those who take risks to save life and property. May God bless the skills of craftsmen and women as they undertake the task of rebuilding.

“God our Father, let the community of Paris come together in this moment of difficulty and grace, to rebuild your house and do you honour, and so provide an enduring monument of how high the human spirit can soar in the face of adversity.

“As buildings crumble, may our faith be strong; from the ashes, may new fruit be born. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Paris, may all the people of France be filled with the peace and joy of Jesus Christ, risen for us at Easter. Amen.

“St Denis – Pray for us!”

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Ben Lake MP joins push to encourage more accessible rail journeys in Ceredigion

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Ben Lake MP has joined forces with the rail industry to encourage more disabled people in Ceredigion to travel by train using the Disabled Persons Railcard, which offers a third off journeys.

Ben Lake attended a parliamentary event on accessibility and inclusion in rail, hosted by the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail. The event showcased the work the rail industry is doing to change and improve the network to make it more accessible. This includes enabling disabled people to make more discounted journeys with the Disabled Persons Railcard.

Last year 2969 journeys starting from Ceredigion were made using the Railcard, up from 2401 in 2015. This compares to a 43% increase across the country as a whole, with Disabled Persons Railcard journeys rising from 5 million in 2015 to 7 million in 2019.

The Disabled Persons Railcard offers a third off adult rail fares at any time on the National Rail network for people with a disability, plus a companion. On average, passengers with the Disabled Persons Railcard save £108 a year, even after the £20 cost of the card is factored in.

The rise in accessible journeys reflects the work rail companies are doing to make services more accessible. The industry recently launched a new interactive ‘Access Map’ to make it easier for passengers to find out at a glance how accessible their local station is. The industry is also working together to improve passenger assistance bookings, with new technology currently being rolled out for staff and a customer app launching next summer to make bookings easier.

Since 2006, the rail industry has delivered £500million of improvements at stations including making them more accessible, with £300 million of additional funding from government to make 73 more stations accessible by 2024.

Ben Lake MP said: “Everyone in Ceredigion should have the opportunity to travel by train and today’s event shows the rail industry is working hard to improve accessibility across the country and make the railway easier for everyone to use. I’m pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made.”

Jac Starr, chief operating officer at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said:

“We’re working hard to improve the railway, making more stations step-free and adding thousands of new and refurbished carriages which are more accessible. While record numbers of people are saving money with the Disabled Persons Railcard, we want everyone to benefit from the improvements we’re making which is why we’re encouraging eligible disabled people to sign up for a card and save on their journeys.”

Transport Accessibility Minster Nusrat Ghani said: “We are absolutely committed to improving the experience of disabled passengers across our network.

“Working alongside the Rail Delivery Group and Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, we are currently reviewing the eligibility criteria of the Disabled Persons Railcard, looking at how we can improve provisions for carers or companions.

“We also recently announced the 73 stations receiving a share of £300m of Access for All funding, as we work towards an entirely accessible transport network by 2030 with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.”

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Ceredigion County Council commits to be a net zero carbon council by 2030

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CEREDIGION councillors have supported a motion to make Ceredigion County Council a net zero carbon local authority by 2030. The councillors supported the motion in a meeting on 20 June 2019.

The agreed motion was based on Councillor Mark Strong’s initial motion which raised concerns about a Climate Crisis. An amendment was made to commit the council to an ambitious and specific target. Councillors also agreed that a clear plan should be developed within 12 months to achieve the net zero carbon status.

Councillors also called on Welsh and UK Governments to provide the support needed to achieve effective carbon reductions.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Mark Strong. He said, “Faced with a Climate Crisis, I am pleased that my fellow councillors have agreed that we need to take drastic action to reduce our emissions. The council has already reduced carbon emissions a great deal, but we must go much further.”

Earlier in the month, the council’s Cabinet approved its third Carbon Management Plan. The ambitious new plan is targeting a 15% reduction in emissions by 2023. The previous plans have achieved a 45% reduction of CO2 since 2007/8, a reduction of over 7,000 tons of CO2.

The new Carbon Management Plan includes a number of projects to achieve the emissions reduction target. They include investing in a new more energy efficient fleet of council vehicles and improving heating systems in Ceredigion schools.

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Cered organises a Thai food cooking evening

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Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion officers organised several nights of activities with the ‘Ffynnon’ youth club in Llandysul to provide new opportunities through the medium of Welsh for the older members in the club.

The nature of the collaboration was holding a training evening to cook Thai food and then the following week, use their newly found skills by hosting a Thai food evening for the community. The older youth members of ‘Ffynnon’ were given the opportunity to entertain local people through the medium of welsh and encourage those who were learners of the language to socialise in Welsh.

Llinos, Cered Development Officer, said, “This work was a great opportunity for Cered to work with ‘Ffynnon’, the young people in the club and the community. They learned all sorts of new skills such as cooking Thai food, planning every element of the evening from the food preparation, the decorating of the room, serving food and so on. It was lovely to see the young people eagerly engaged in the tasks and raising confidence in practical work and all this through the medium of Welsh.”

The evening was a sheer success, and the money raised will go towards humanitarian projects which will include a possible trip abroad to Zambia to volunteer in a children’s orphanage.

Steffan from ‘Ffynnon’ said, “In Y Ffynnon, we are eager to give opportunities not only to hear the love of God, but also to show that through serving the local community in Llandysul. The Thai night was a great experience and hopefully a start on what we hope will be a great year.”

Both nights were run by Sian Davies and Noi Francis. Siân Davies said, “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to work with Cered and Ffynnon to teach new skills to the young people, whilst also supporting them to raise money for their future plans. It was a pleasure to work with everyone, and they worked really hard to make the evening very successful.”

For more information about Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion events and activities, visit their website, cered.cymru or their Facebook page, @ceredmenteriaith. Or, get in touch by calling 01545 572 358.

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