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A digital future for Ceredigion

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STARTING from today (Dec 15), we are excited to announce that The Ceredigion Herald will be a digital only publication.

Our website and social media pages have always been an important outlet for delivering news to Ceredigion, and with the re-launch of Herald Radio this year, and the launch of our news channel Herald News 24 next year, the methods in which we deliver news to Ceredigion is only going from strength to strength.

Put simply, what this means for our readers is more content, delivered quicker, and with all the benefits that only an online platform can provide – such as picture galleries and video content.

Since the first edition, The Ceredigion Herald has gained a reputation for tackling the tough stories which others ignored, reporting on local news and events, and being a voice for the communities across Ceredigion.

This is not changing.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out new additions to the website, launching our online news channel, and much more.

We hope you look forward to the evolution as much as we are, and if you have any comments, feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear them.

A note from the Editor

There’s a headline that means exactly what it says on the tin.

This is the last print edition of The Ceredigion Herald.

And there’s another bald statement to follow the first.

We have been reviewing how we offer news to our readers for several months and have decided to use Ceredigion as a test bed for a new and exciting way of delivering news to Ceredigion.

It is a new way of doing things.

The smart language says it is ‘hyperlocal media’ – it’s the buzz phrase alighted upon by media know-alls who think local news is solely commercial and not a service. What ‘hyperlocal’ means is local news, locally focused, provided locally; or at least it should … as we will see below.

The Herald family of newspapers have always pushed the news agenda in each of our publication areas and we want to find out if we can also expand the way in which local news is presented online. In order to do that, we made the difficult decision to end print publication in Ceredigion and to test the market for digital news in a way which is more than the usual one man band ranting away on Facebook or on a website.

We have been paying close attention to the workings of the Welsh Assembly Committee on Culture, Welsh Language, and Media and also been following the way in which the Welsh Assembly itself is considering reshaping the way it communicates with the public under the guidance of advisers such as former Cabinet member Leighton Andrews.

Local print media in Wales is dominated by newspaper groups – Newsquest and Trinity Mirror – who, particularly in the case of the latter, have abandoned their local news offer in favour of directing people looking for local news to clickbait sourced and provided in Cardiff. Their reward for that indolence and neglect is having public money thrown at them via the licence fee to persuade them to cover news they sacrificed in order to tell the public the top ten cat names in New Tredegar.

The Cambrian News, a Tindle publication, is one of the few local newspapers in Wales that both reports on local news and subjects the local authority to some scrutiny. Apart from The Herald group and a few other independent local news outlets, you will need to search long and hard for other newspapers who do what local newspapers should do and always used to do: hold power to account, report on the local courts, and reflect the communities they serve with humour and rigour.

At The Herald, our focus has been on three strands of news: local, regional, Welsh national. We have done that because we believe that the way local councils and regional bodies exercise their power over us all is inextricably linked to what the Welsh Government does and – beyond that – how UK policies affect Wales, west Wales, and our edition areas. Treating our readers as though they want more than hatches, matches, dispatches combined with a little jam and Jerusalem is the Herald way of doing things.

We do not always get things right – sometimes we get things wrong – but we believe that there is more to news than just the superficial. We believe that good newspapers are properly sceptical reporters and commentators on events that impact their local communities. It is also right to be sceptical and subject news stories to as much rigorous analysis as can be fitted into seven days of writing.

That is not going to change.

Like all media outlets, you will get a share of press releases – that happens everywhere. However, with those press releases you will still get original news reporting, shaped for an online audience, and supported and complemented by other unique local media provided by Herald outlets.

Herald Radio has been broadcasting for some time online. Unlike other ‘local’ radio, this is properly local. Local presenters talking about local events. It appeals to a fresh and young audience. The Herald Group is now going to also provide local video news reporting online. From our studios, we will cover local news – Ceredigion news, west Wales news, Welsh national news – and provide those reports online via our online outlets. Those will all feed into The Ceredigion Herald’s future online offer to our readers. It is a new way of approaching local news by a local newspaper group: a fresh way, and a new challenge.

And we will do so in Welsh and in English.

We say it’s a challenge, and it is also a test. We will be finding out what works, what doesn’t work, and what opportunities there are for improvement as we develop and shape our service to you.

We are proud of what we have managed to bring to Ceredigion in the time we have printed and published The Ceredigion Herald. Local news needs to be plural to stop one voice and one viewpoint drowning out all others.

We are going to continue to provide a different voice and different viewpoint. We will just be doing it in a different way.

For The Ceredigion Herald, it’s not the end.

It’s the future.

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Health

Give someone “the best gift” this Christmas by giving blood in West Wales

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A MOTHER who needed in-the-womb blood transfusions during her pregnancy and a man who depends on regular, lifesaving blood donations are encouraging communities across Wales to give “the best gift” this Christmas by donating blood.

The Welsh Blood Service is preparing to face Winter pressures on its services and is hoping their new Christmas campaign, “the best gift” will raise awareness about the importance of donating blood and the lifesaving difference it makes.

Last December over 900 donations of blood and blood products were needed across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire to provide care to patients at Prince Philip, Withybush, Bronglais and Glangwili hospital. 

These donations play a vital role by supporting a range of treatments from helping recovering accident victims and patients with blood cancers to supporting mothers and new-born babies during childbirth.

Blood donations were needed during both pregnancies for mother of two, Shelley Parry. After her own life was saved during her first pregnancy, Shelley received several more blood transfusions directly into her womb to keep her youngest daughter alive.

Shelley explains: “Receiving blood is truly the best gift we have ever received. We’re forever indebted as a family to those who have taken the time to donate. Without the generosity of blood donors, quite simply, we wouldn’t be parents. Thanks to their selfless act, we can look forward to Christmas together as a family.

“It only takes one hour of your time to donate, if you can, please consider donating.”

Giggs and his daughter

Also supporting the campaign is blood recipient Giggs Kanias. Since birth, Giggs has received over 1,000 blood transfusions as part of his treatment for beta thalassaemia major, a severe blood disorder. Thanks to blood donors, Giggs is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family.

Giggs said: “I am so thankful to the incredible people who give blood. When I’m in hospital, I stare at the bags of blood being transfused into me and always wonder, who is the person that has helped me?

“I know the difference these people have made to my life and I’m so grateful to each and every one of them. Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be here today, I wouldn’t be a dad, or have had the opportunity to see my daughter grow up. Receiving blood is truly the best gift anyone could ever receive.”

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “For patients like Giggs, receiving blood will be the best gift they receive this Christmas. It truly is the best gift you can give.

“Blood products have a short shelf life and is needed by hospitals 365 days a year, including Christmas day, to help support patients in need, which is why we can’t stop collecting.”

The Welsh Blood Service provides lifesaving blood products to 20 hospitals across Wales and four Wales Air Ambulance aircraft for use in emergencies.

Alan continues: “It is critical the service prepares. We need to build up blood stocks ahead of a potentially challenging winter, where seasonal illnesses and Covid-19 may exacerbate the usual winter pressures faced by the NHS.

“We are reaching out to communities across Wales to ask them to make a lifesaving blood donation and give “the best gift” this festive season.”

Do something amazing this Christmas. Give someone the best gift. Give blood. If you are aged 17 or over, book to give blood at: www.wbs.wales/Xmas21 or call 0800 252 266 today.

Appointments are available in Pembrokeshire on 7 December and January 6 and 20 in Tenby, 16 December and 27 January in Crymych, 20 December and 17 January in Haverfordwest, 10 January in Letterston Village Hall and 21 January in Milford Haven. 

Appointments are available in Carmarthenshire on 10 December in Pontyberum, 29 December and 13 January in Carmarthen, 28 January in Kidwelly Community Hall, 23 and 24 December and 4, 12 and 25 January in Parc Y Scarlets and 31 January in Llandeilo.

Appointments are available in Ceredigion on 14 December in Newcastle Emlyn, 14 January in Aberaeron and 18 January in Lampeter.

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News

The west Wales family on standby to save lives at sea this Christmas

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VOLUNTEERING with the RNLI is a real family affair for the Barbers from Cardigan, with all four family members prepared to swap turkey and tinsel for turbulent seas this Christmas.  The RNLI is calling on the public to support them and the thousands of other volunteer crew on call by giving to the charity’s Christmas appeal.

For mum Amanda and daughter Madeleine, 18, it will be their very first Christmas on call. Both have followed in the footsteps of proud dad Tony who has volunteered on the crew of Cardigan RNLI for the past 12 years and son Leo, 20, who joined the RNLI following his 17th Birthday. The family will be spending their Christmas Day at nearby ‘New Life Church’, ensuring those who are in need of a meal on 25 December have food and company. However, they will have the perfect excuse to leave the washing up should they all have to leave in a hurry to respond to an emergency at sea.

Later in the afternoon, they plan to get together and enjoy a Christmas meal at home, but with a watchful eye on their pagers.

Madeleine says: ‘I realise our Christmas may not be a traditional one and to my friends it seems strange that we may all have to dash down to the station whatever time of day or night the call may come. I don’t really give it a second thought; I’m actually looking forward to being on call for the first time this Christmas and being able to help someone in need.

‘Previously when the pager goes off, dad, Leo and I have left mum at home. She’s so proud of us all but obviously is filled with apprehension as to when we may be back. We’re thrilled she’s decided to join us too and volunteer as part of the shore crew.

‘Being part of the RNLI is something Leo and I have always wanted to do as soon as we turned 17. Hearing dad talk about successful shouts has really motivated us all to want to get involved. We’re so thankful for all the support we have from the community and it is humbling to think people give so generously to enable us to do what we do.’

I would like to thank everyone in advance who gives towards our Christmas appeal this year.

‘This year, I hope people can do what they can to support the Christmas campaign and help the RNLI to save every one.’

The family run a boat trip business not too far away from the station, which means they are all ideally placed to be close by should the pagers sound. In the winter months, Madeleine works opposite the station at a local café, Crwst, who are very supportive allowing her to leave and attend shouts whilst at work.

Amanda says: ‘With the rest of the family on the crew, I know how vital, challenging, yet rewarding volunteering with the RNLI is. After many years of watching Tony run from the house at a moment’s notice and in the years that followed Leo, then Madeleine; I no longer had a reason not to join them. Now, rather than waiting and wondering what the outcome of a shout is, I can be on hand at the station supporting them and the rest of the team together, serving the mission of saving lives at sea. This Christmas if the pagers go off at least I won’t be left home alone holding the turkey!’

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

With thousands of volunteers around the UK and Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

Matt Crofts, RNLI Lifesaving Manager for Wales says: ‘With the increase in staycations and more people than ever heading to the coast, it has been an exceptionally busy year for our crews.

‘Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather’s at its worst and lives are on the line.

‘We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’

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Health

Council makes available wellbeing and mental health support for social care providers

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The programme will run until March 2022

IN RECOGNITION of the important work of the social care sector and impact of the Covid pandemic on social care providers and their staff, Ceredigion County Council has made available a programme of wellbeing and mental health support sessions.

The programme consists of Wellbeing and Mental health Awareness, Mental Health First Aid (Adults and Youth) and also offers facilitated support sessions.

The programme of events will run from December through to March 2022.

Any social care provider, carer or personal assistant can request more information or book a place on these sessions by emailing Dysgu@ceredigion.gov.uk

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