THAT’S the question that Wildlife Trust Red Squirrel Officer, Becky Hulme is asking; and reports of sightings are coming in – many from the Llanfair Clydogau and Llanddwei Brefi areas.
Becky remarked: “People love seeing red squirrels in Wales; this native mammal really does make an impact with its striking russet coat and graceful movements. Many of the older generation remember seeing reds in on a regular basis; but that was back in the 1950s and early 60s before grey squirrels had really got a hold in mid Wales.”
Since the grey squirrel colonised, red squirrels have largely vanished from Wales. Until the late 1950s, the red squirrel was a common sight in mid Wales and an integral part of the Welsh landscape.
In 1958, a schoolteacher from Rhandirmwyn stated that a child had come into school with a report of a grey squirrel, one of the first in the area!
From then onwards it was downhill for the red squirrel, as the larger and more robust grey squirrel quickly moved into local woodlands, eating much of the available food and spreading squirrelpox virus, which the greys are immune to, but which is fatal to red squirrels.
A law was passed in 1938 banning further importation of grey squirrels, but the damage had been done; inadvertently heralding the demise of the red squirrel in Britain.
We now have only a little over a thousand red squirrels hanging on in Wales, in Anglesey, in the north east of the country, and here in mid Wales.
Anglesey is the real success-story in Wales; as part of a restoration project, they have cleared greys from the island and boosted the population of reds, thought to be as low as 40 individuals less than 20 years ago; Anglesey is now home to as many as 700 red squirrels.
The Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project (MWRSP) is a much younger project than its northern counterpart, but with the help of funding, originally through Environment Wales, a former Welsh Government funded initiative, work is getting underway to save the population of reds in mid Wales too.
“We know that we have a much reduced population of reds in mid Wales, but we’re keen to get a better idea of where and when red squirrels are active, so that we can help to protect them, and that’s where local people come in.” Becky explained, “It is locals, both working and living in the mid Wales red squirrel focal site that are most likely to spot red squirrels, usually as they a cross a road or open ground.”
The area centred round Llyn Brianne reservoir, bordered by Pontrhydfendigaid, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llandovery and Llanwrtyd Wells, was approved as a focal site for red squirrel conservation in 2009. Welsh Ministers agreed that urgent strategic action needed to be taken in order to conserve the population of reds in this area.
“As one of only three significant populations of red squirrels in Wales, our reds in mid Wales really do deserve some attention.” Becky explained, “we hope to restore the population by reducing the population of grey squirrels and by working with Natural Resources Wales and private forest managers to encourage appropriate forest management.”
The red squirrel project on Anglesey is an extremely successful conservation project and is direct evidence that removing grey squirrels leads to red squirrel population recovery.
However, Becky points out that this ambition can only be achieved with the support of local people: “Over the past year we’ve had over 80 people volunteer their time to help in the fight to save the red squirrel in mid Wales. Activities have ranged from help with publicity at shows and events to grey squirrel control to monitoring local red squirrel populations.”
A series of delightful photos from a trail camera located above Llanddewi Brefi show reds visiting a feeding station: “These photos really do illustrate the playful nature of these iconic mammals. It would be a real shame if we allowed our red squirrels become yet another extinction story.”
Meat Loaf dead: Bat Out of Hell singer dies aged 74
SINGING legend Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 after a stellar career spanning six decades.
Born Marvin Lee Aday in Texas, but known as Michael Lee Aday thoughout his life, he shot to fame with his powerful, wide-ranging voice.
The rock veteran sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.
He was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony in 2016, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to “bring love back into this world”.
In a heartbreaking tribute posted on the star’s official Facebook page, it was revealed the star passed away on Thursday night with wife Deborah by his side, The Sun reported
The statement reads: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.
“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World. Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.
“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
Meat Loaf’s cause of death has not yet been revealed.
His colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows – including the 1997 film Spice World.
Written and produced by Jim Steinman, singles from Bat Out of Hell, Two of Three Ain’t Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light, were both certified platinum in 2018.
He sold more 100 million albums worldwide.
The rock star was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s.
In 2016, he was forced to deny he had dead or almost dead as he had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he had died after collapsing on stage in June that year.
A cause of death will not be released.
Half a million boost to Aberystwyth University’s new nursing education facilities
A £500,000 grant from the Welsh Government will fund new facilities at Aberystwyth University for its nursing courses which will start in September this year.
The announcement comes six months after the University’s plans to offer nursing qualifications for the first time were given the go-ahead by Health Education and Improvement Wales.
The money will be used to invest in facilities at the University’s new Healthcare Education Centre, located opposite Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.
The plans include capital works and the purchase of equipment to create a suite of high quality clinical practice rooms, as part of a £1.7 million University investment at the site.
The new centre will include a Clinical Skills Unit with high fidelity simulation areas that reflect the patient’s journey from home and community services through to assessment, planned and acute care.
Work on the facilities is due to be completed in March this year, in time for the first nursing students to begin their studies in September.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan MS said:
“The people who work in the NHS are its lifeblood. Investing in training and the future workforce is a priority for us. I’m delighted our funding is helping to support a new phase for Aberystwyth University in providing nursing training.
“The new facility provides students with invaluable training in a rural setting and builds on the work of CARER (Community and Rural Education Route) programme, giving them experience of working closely with clinicians and patients in community settings.
“Over the past five years training places for nurses have increased by 72% in Wales and we are pleased that we have retained the NHS bursary for student nurses to support people into a career in nursing.
“I look forward to visiting the new centre when it opens in the spring and meeting those starting out on the journey to be becoming a nurse”.
Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure added:
“During the pandemic, the work of our nurses, and that of other NHS and care workers, has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is a great honour that we will be educating nurses here in Aberystwyth for the first time this September.
“We are very grateful to the Welsh Government for this important investment to support the development. The funding will help ensure that the new students have access to the best resources and a high quality education when they start in September.
“The Healthcare Education Centre will benefit the local recruitment and retention of nurses in mid-Wales, and offer wider benefits to the area. It also has the potential to inspire new models of healthcare delivery. Supporting community needs, in close co-operation with our partners, is central to our civic mission; and establishing nursing education here is an important part of that. Our plans will also make an important contribution to enhancing mental health and Welsh-medium provision locally and beyond.
“A big thanks goes to everyone who has been a part of developing our plans to provide nursing education here – including the Welsh Government, the local health boards and Ceredigion County Council – without whom these exciting developments would not be possible.”
The proposals to establish nursing education were developed by Aberystwyth University in co-operation with a number of partners including the Hywel Dda, Betsi Cadwaladr and Powys local health boards as well as service users and carers.
The new degree courses will also offer students the opportunity to study up to half of their course through the medium of Welsh.
26 January this year is the closing date to apply to study as part of the first cohort of nursing students at Aberystwyth University.
More information is available by going to www.aber.ac.uk/en/hec
Financial support for businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions
FINANCIAL support is available for retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism, freelancers in the creative sector and supply chain businesses in Ceredigion who have been impacted by the latest coronavirus restrictions.
The Emergency Financial Support has opened today (January 20 2022) and is available under a new Welsh Government support package following the move to Alert Level 2 in December 2021.
Businesses in Ceredigion are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply online: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/
The following business grants are available:
· Non-Domestic Rate Grant
Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains who are registered for Non-Domestic Rates and meet the qualifying criteria may be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.
· Emergency Business Fund
This grant will provide support to businesses in the retail, leisure and tourism businesses, freelancers in the creative sector and related supply chain businesses who do not have a property or are not eligible to apply for the Non Domestic Rates Grant (NDR). Businesses who do not employ anyone apart from the owner (Sole traders, taxi drivers and freelancers) will be entitled to a payment of £1000. Businesses who employ staff through PAYE (in addition to the owner) will be entitled to a payment of £2,000.
· Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund
The third element is a reopening of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF). On top of NDR based grants, this fund will see grants of up to £25,000 made available for severely impacted hospitality and leisure business – and their supply chains. As with previous ERF rounds, this will support businesses who have seen a reduction in their turnover of more than 60%.
More information and an application form for businesses is available on Ceredigion County Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/
The Non-Domestic Rate Grant and Emergency Business Fund will close on 14 February 2022.
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