AN INTREPID team of oarsmen (and women) will be rowing arund the west coast of Wales over the coming fortnight, as part of a programme of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of Wales’ Millenium Centre.
Among the rowers will be 71-year-old Maggy Clarke from Porthmadog. She will be aiming to complete the first five legs of the ‘Cob to Cardiff’ challenge – a 230 mile row in a Celtic longboat from Porthmadog to Cardiff Bay.
The sea journey will form part of an array of celebrations for the Millenium Centre’s Ar Waith Ar Daith event, planned by world-renowned outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank.
The Porthmadog boat will stop over in Aberdyfi, New Quay, Fishguard, Whitesands Bay, Dale, Tenby, Mumbles, Porthcawl, and Barry before arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September, accompanied by a flotilla of Celtic longboats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast.
Setting out on 2 September, Ms Clarke, along with a 20 strong rowing team from Madoc Yacht Club Rowing Porthmadog, will attempt the club’s most ambitious challenge to date. On board their Celtic longboat, they’ll also be carrying an engraved slate plaque – as a gift to Wales Millennium Centre – brought down from Llechwedd Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog, by zip wire, mountain bike and finally the Ffestiniog railway, mirroring the journey taken by the piece of slate that formed the foundation stone for the Wales Millennium Centre, put in place by opera star Bryn Terfel. In Porthmadog the engraved plaque will be met by local MP Liz Saville Roberts, who will pass the plaque on to Maggy and the team in their Celtic longboat, ready to be rowed down to Cardiff.
Working in relays, the Porthmadog boat will be averaging around 20 – 30 miles of arduous rowing per day to complete the journey down the west coast of Wales to Cardiff Bay, facing the challenges of unfamiliar waters, unpredictable weather and high seas. As they progress on their journey, they will be joined by around 25 boats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast, arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September to take part in Wales Millennium Centre’s breath-taking 10th Anniversary outdoor spectacular, the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event.
Maggy Clarke said: “It’s going to be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s wonderful that the Celtic longboats get to play a part in the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale and it will be a beautiful sight to see so many of them rowing into Cardiff Bay together.”
Co-organiser of the Cob to Cardiff Challenge, Richard Aherne from Madoc Yaught Club rowing Porthmadog said: “We’ve crossed the Irish Sea in the Celtic Challenge, rowed a marathon up the Thames in London’s Great River Race, and we regularly race at clubs along the coast, but this will be a spectacular challenge of endurance and determination in potentially tough conditions, a marathon every day, and the club is looking forward to rising to this exciting challenge.”
“We were inspired by watching Celtic longboats racing off Aberdyfi, echoing the race to get a pilot out to sailing ships to help them navigate into port” said John Wassell, Producer for Walk the Plank and originally a boatbuilder himself. “Realising that many ports and harbours around the coast of Wales are connected by a network of rowing clubs, we contacted the Welsh Sea Rowing Association, and we were delighted when 15 clubs responded. The Porthmadog boat is making the longest voyage: 230 miles through some treacherous waters…a tough challenge in a rowing boat! “
The flotilla of Celtic longboats will form a striking part of the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event, in Cardiff Bay on 12 September. Taking place on an immense scale, with over 700 participants from across Wales, this unforgettable event will celebrate Wales’ rich cultural heritage and history with a breathtaking display of procession, dance, aerial artistry, projection, storytelling, music and pyrotechnics.
“More than 150 rowers will accompany the Riches of the Sea procession into the Roald Dahl Plas, and at the end of the event, the boats will set off back across the Bay, a flame blazing in each boat, symbolising the return of the fires of creative inspiration which nourish the Wales Millennium Centre to their communities “ added Liz Pugh, Artistic Director.
Danielle Milliner from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association commented: “When John Wassell of Walk the Plank and Wales Millennium Centre first approached the Welsh Sea Rowing Association with the idea that they wanted our Celtic longboat rowers to form part of the Wales Millennium Centre 10th Anniversary celebration event we were delighted. I am really pleased that so many of our clubs will be taking part in this event and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all in the WSRA that we are proud of ‘MYC rowing Porthmadog’ for taking on such an arduous challenge of rowing all the way to Cardiff. We are all excited and looking forward to forming part of the grand finale procession of Ar Waith Ar Daith at Cardiff Bay. This sensational sea spectacle will surely be a memorable event for all our sea rowing community and we thank you for inviting us.
Towy rowing club will be involved in the finale of the event, which will be shown live on S4C. Rowing coach Nicola Thomas told The Herald that it would be a fantastic display:
“There are two boats going up from the club – our junior rowers, who won the Welsh Championships, and our lady rowers in another boat,” she said.
“We’re meeting just outside Cardiff, for three days of rehearsals. All the boats will be rowing into the festival, coming together in a choreographed display.”
The Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event will take place in Roald Dahl Plas on Saturday 12 September at 7.30pm. Audiences are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage position to watch the show, and to dress appropriately for an outdoor show. The event is free to attend and suitable for all ages.
Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown
Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.
Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.
Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.
The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.
Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.
“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.
Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.
“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”
Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion
During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.
Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.
Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.
To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.
Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.
If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or email@example.com who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.
Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus
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.
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