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First Minister visits Eisteddfod birthplace

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First Minister Carwyn Jones: Enjoying the day’s performances

First Minister Carwyn Jones: Enjoying the day’s performances

CARDIGAN CASTLE, birthplace of the Eisteddfod – Wales’ iconic cultural festival – once again saw its mighty walls filled with the sounds of traditional music and literature, as the Castle played host to a celebratory concert l on Thursday (Jun 25) .

The first concert to be staged on the lawns of the recently opened Castle, Beirdd a Chantorion brought together west Wales’ finest poets and musicians, marking the completion of the 900 year-old site’s new dedicated Eisteddfod exhibition.

Earlier in the day, the Castle’s funders were joined by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, for their first tour of the site since the £12m restoration project ended in April.

The Castle’s restoration was made possible thanks to a £6.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £4.3m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through Welsh Government.

Further funding was received through a Communities Asset Transfer grant of nearly £800,000, with support from Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, Big Lottery Fund, The UK Association of Preservation Trusts, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Ceredigion County Council, Cardigan Town Council and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Cris Tomos, Castle Director, said: “2015 is truly a year of celebration for Cardigan Castle, and Beirdd a Chantorion was the perfect way to mark the completion of the world’s first dedicated Eisteddfod exhibition and commemorate the rebirth of this amazing sit e.”

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: “Cardigan Castle is one of Wales’s most iconic castles due to its history, setting and importance to the local community and more widely to Wales. I am delighted that the Welsh Government, through Cadw, has provided support and funding to the Cadwgan Trust on its rewarding journey in restoring and conserving the castle. It is also pleasing that EU funds of over £4 million have helped towards the development of a sustainable heritage attraction and multi-functional cultural, community and learning resource which will attract visitors, create jobs and bring wider economic benefit to the town and surrounding area. I wish Cardigan Castle and all those associated with it every success for the future.”

Ted Sangster, Interim Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for Wales, said: “We’re thrilled to finally see this historic Welsh building opening its doors to the public once again, marking a new chapter in its colourful history.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we have supported this project as part of our ongoing investment in heritage based tourism for the benefit of local people and Wales’ economy. This project really demonstrates the value of investing in heritage and provides an opportunity for us all to find out more about our Welsh heritage, creates new opportunities for people to volunteer and learn new skills and at the same time, brings investment into the local economy. We are thrilled to see years of hard work come to fruition.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), added: “We are delighted that Cardigan Castle is finally opening its doors to the public following a successful restoration that has been more than 15 years in the mak ing.

“This has been one of Wales’ most important heritage regeneration projects and we feel very privileged that we played a part in helping it to bring it to fruition.

“PRT has worked with Ceredigion County Council and the Cadwgan Building Preservation Trust on the project since 2004. We contributed very significant support which has helped deliver their vision of the Castle becoming a major visitor destination that could transform the town’s economy.

“The Castle opened in April, and we are thrilled that this ambition is well on its way to becoming a reality.”

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Ben Lake MP stands up for Ceredigion’s hospitality sector in Parliament

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A WESTMINSTER Hall debate, brought about by an online petition signed over 200,000 times, saw MPs on both sides come together to shine a light on the challenges currently faced by restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and supply chain businesses across the UK.

During his contribution to the debate, Ben Lake MP emphasised the importance of the hospitality industry to Ceredigion’s local economy. Ceredigion is home to nearly 400 food and accommodation businesses, including 75 pubs, and together hospitality businesses employ 4,500 people in the county. This equates to over 16% of all employees, without accounting for the many supply chain jobs that are dependent on the sector, such as those found in breweries, food wholesale, and catering equipment hire businesses.

Figures published by UK Hospitality have shown that approximately 41% of hospitality businesses suggested that they would fail by mid-2021 and only one in five sector businesses have enough cash flow to survive beyond February.

Ben Lake MP said: “The vaccination programme of course offers some hope that we will see the level of Covid disruption reduce significantly this year, but hospitality businesses across Ceredigion tell me that they are deeply concerned about their immediate prospects for survival.

“I support calls for the Treasury to provide additional funds so that businesses can be supported to bounce back once restrictions have been eased, and to pause employer national insurance contributions for furloughed employees as a way of alleviating the burden on businesses that are still, in many instances, required by law to close. I also urged the Treasury to consider extending the business rates holiday for the forthcoming financial year, as well as extending the hospitality VAT reduction scheme into 2022.

“Not only would these support measures give businesses the support they require to see out this pandemic, it would also avoid the terrible situation whereby businesses that have previously received Government support are forced to close for good – leaving their employees without a job and previous Government support in vain.”

While there will be no direct action as a consequence of this Westminster Hall debate, it is hoped the result will put increased pressure on the UK Government to consider the proposal more seriously.

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Lifeboat Operations Manager in New Year’s Honours list

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Richard Llewelyn Griffiths the Lifeboat Operations Manager of Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station has been recognised for services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Wales.

He has been awarded a BEM.

Having served as a RNLI volunteer for an impressive 47 years, it is his role in the last 21 years as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) which has earned him the most respect.

His local knowledge has provided reassurance to casualties and crews alike when launching in difficult conditions.

His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

He has contributed greatly towards Aberystwyth being recognised as a ‘benchmark’ Inshore Lifeboat Station, serving as an example to the whole institution of how a station could and should be run.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the lifeboats is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth – and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Nationally, a total of six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year’s Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save every one. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

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Temporary closure of Minor Injuries Unit in Cardigan confirmed

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AS PART of its response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hywel Dda University Health Board says it has temporarily closed the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Cardigan in order to redeploy clinical staff to support the COVID 19 response within Ceredigion.

The MIU, which is based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and normally operates from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, will temporarily close with immediate effect. The situation will be under constant review and normal service will be resumed when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the meantime, minor injuries help and advice is available as follows:

– visit the 111 symptom checker (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/)
– visit your local pharmacy
– call 111
– please do NOT self-present to the GP reception in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre as they do not deal with minor injuries.
– for emergency care the A+E departments are as follows:
· Glangwili Hospital A+E Carmarthen SA32 2AF
· Bronglais Hospital A+E Aberystwyth SY23 1ER
· Withybush Hospital A+E Haverfordwest SA61 2PZ

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