TWO police officers who put their own lives at risk to save a vulnerable woman from being washed out to sea have been commended for their bravery.
Dyfed-Powys Police Sergeant Katy Evans and PC Ian Chattun were completely submerged by waves after selflessly rushing into the water in full uniform to save the woman during the early hours of the morning.
The officers had been called to Aberystwyth beach on August 18, 2019 following several reports of concerns for the safety of a woman near the water.
Sgt Evans said: “We tried to reason with her to come out, but she wouldn’t. The waves were so choppy, we were worried that if she went in she would get pulled under.
“All of a sudden she just went in, and we had no time to think about what we were doing. By the time I took my equipment belt off, she had already been taken a considerable distance out. I just had to act quickly.”
It was 2am, pitch black, and it was clear that the woman’s life was in immediate danger. Both officers rushed into the water, not stopping to remove kit that could have weighed them down.
Once in the water, it was so rough that the officers could not stay afloat. As she tried to update colleagues on the situation over her radio, Sgt Evans was completely submerged. But she somehow managed to push her emergency alarm, calling further units and activating a light that alerted them to her location.
“It’s funny how things don’t hit you until later,” she said. “At the time, you don’t think about anything other than the situation in front of you. We could see someone drifting away, and there was no way she was going to survive. I didn’t think anything other than ‘we need to help’.
“We just had to dive in. We didn’t realise until we were in the water how cold it was, and how choppy it was. I still had my body armour and boots on because I didn’t have time to take them off, and it was quite frightening in there.
“It went deep quickly, and it was so dangerous. It only hit me afterwards what had happened, and how different the outcome could have been. I think we were in a state of shock.”
PC Chattun swam to the aid of the woman, and together with Sgt Evans, pulled her to safety. Paramedics then arrived and took her to hospital, while the officers tried to process what had just happened.
“Luckily, she was fine and we were fine, but the day after I thought ‘that could have gone horribly wrong’,” Sgt Evans said. “I have a little boy at home, and if the outcome had been different … it doesn’t bear thinking about.
“I have asked myself what I would do faced with that situation again every day since. Being completely honest, despite the risks and what could have happened, yes I would do the same. If I saw someone in danger or in trouble, yes I would go in again and do all I could to help.”
PC Chattun and Sgt Evans were awarded for their bravery and commitment to helping the public at the Dyfed-Powys Police commendations ceremony on Tuesday, January 28.
The latest on plastic free Ceredigion
At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.
Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.
The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.
Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.
In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.
Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”
This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.
WASPI women help MP take pensions case to House of Commons
WASPI women have helped Ben Lake, Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, to take the case for 1950s women’s pension injustice to Parliament at a packed out Drop-In information session at Westminster on Wednesday 4th March.
“It was a pleasure to co-host this important event, bringing WASPI representatives from across the UK to Westminster to meet MPs of all parties face-to-face,” said Mr Lake. “It gave the WASPI women a chance to share their personal experiences and to show how these unfair pension changes have impacted upon the lives of 1950s women.
Unfortunately, despite being invited, Stephen Crabb MP (also Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee) and Simon Hart MP (also Secretary of State for Wales), failed to attend. Across their Constituencies there are over 10,000 1950s women affected and many were left disappointed that their MPs did not support them at this event.
After the Drop In Session, Ben Lake took the WASPI women around the Houses of Parliament. He was a very knowledgeable guide and told the ladies some interesting stories. They saw some of Prime Minister’s Questions and a House of Lords debate. It really was a day to remember!”
Pembrokeshire WASPI along with multiple 1950s campaign groups from across the UK will travel to London on 21st July for a mass rally to support the appeal for pension justice, at the Supreme Court. For the first time in this 9 year campaign, a coach will depart from Haverfordwest.
A local spokesperson for Pembrokeshire WASPI said “Whilst our WASPI aim is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements and compensation for all 1950s women who have been affected by the 1995 and 2011 Acts, we support the Backto60s with their appeal. Over 10,000 women are affected across the two Pembrokeshire constituencies and they want this issue resolved. To date there has been too many words and not enough action. Successive governments have failed to address the injustice done to the 1950s women. At least 82,000 women between the age of 60 and 65 have died since the fight for justice started including members of Pembrokeshire WASPI. Others have been plunged into poverty or are having to work longer in physically demanding jobs which is having an impact on their health. The appeal will see the collective voice of 1950s women groups pulling together for the first time ever to support the Backto60s and to let the Conservative Government know that we are NOT going away. Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will be in the favour of the 3.8 million women affected”.
Cabinet decision on former care home still stands
The Council’s Cabinet met on Tuesday 17 March to discuss the recommendation put forward by the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday 16 March, regarding the future of the former care home, Penparcau.
Following the discussion at Cabinet, it was decided not to support the recommendation put forward by the Committee. The Cabinet’s original decision made on 25 February will now be implemented.
The Committee recommended that Cabinet postpone progressing the sale of the former care home for 6 months, given the current situation regarding coronavirus, and following that period, both the Corporate Resources and Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committees reconsider the matter of future EMI Nursing in Ceredigion. The recommendation was made after councillors used the Councils’ call in process to review the Cabinet’s decision on 25 February 2020.
Councillor Rhodri Evans is the Cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration. He said, “The Council has actively sought the appropriate re-use of the former care home over a lengthy period of time. The Council initially undertook a procurement exercise to identify a provider between 2015 and 2017 and since 2018 sought to sell the property for a preferred use since. Both approaches have been unsuccessful. After careful consideration, it’s now time to consider alternative options for disposing of this asset and attract investment in the property. The money raised from the sale can then be used towards supporting service providing care elsewhere in the County.
The Council will continue to discuss options with Hywel Dda University Health Board for providing improved EMI provision in the County.”
The Council will liaise with Registered Social Landlords in the hope that a purchase can be agreed within 3 months. This is due to the continued need for affordable housing in the County. If this cannot be achieved, the land will be sold on the open market without identifying any preferred uses.
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