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Children’s books to be presented to Japanese community

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A COLLECTION of children’s books will be presented to the community of Yosano in Japan by students from Aberystwyth University when they visit later this week.

More than 200 books have been collected by English Literature and Drama and Theatre Studies student Carys Bevan.

Originally from north London, Carys launched her book appeal just before Christmas after learning she had been selected for the eleven-day cultural visit.

Overwhelmed by the response from student societies at Aberystwyth University, Carys has also received contributions and her home girl-guide group, the 2nd Enfield Brownies, and Barnet Hospital in North London, where she works as a Pharmacy Assistant during her holidays.

Carys is one of five students who are travelling to Yosano today (Jan 25) as part of a long standing exchange established with Aberystwyth by former prisoner of war, the late Frank Evans.

The appeal was launched by Carys after speaking to a close friend who visited Yosano in January 2017.

“We are staying with families in Yosano and this is one way of showing our appreciation for their hospitality,” said Carys.

“The response to the appeal has been fantastic and I’m really excited about handing them over when we get to Yosano. English books are really expensive in Japan, and the collection we are taking will be ideal for teaching and learning English. There is something for everyone, including an entire collection of the Peanuts / Snoopy comic series which I understand is very popular there.”

Such has been the response that Carys will also be donating some of the books collected to charities in Aberystwyth and London, and to the children’s ward at Barnet Hospital.

In advance of her visit to Yosano, Carys has also hosted a taste of Japan session with members of her girl-guide group in Enfield.

The evening forms part of a blog Carys has established where she has posted some of her experiences during the run up to her visit to Yosano and will feature updates during her time there.

Joining Carys for the Yosano visit are English Literature student Samantha Schanzer, Physics student Giselle Morris, Marged Smith who is studying Welsh and History, and Psychology student Vera Tzoanou.

Two hours north of Kyoto on Japan’s west coast and with a population of around 24,000, Yosano has well established links with Aberystwyth dating back to the 1980s, thanks to the work of former prisoner of war, the late Frank Evans.

Originally from Llanwnnen near Lampeter, Mr Evans was captured after the battle of Hong Kong in 1941 and imprisoned at Oeyama near Yosano, where he worked in a nickel mine and smelting works.

Following the publication of his memoires Roll Call of Oyeama POW Remembers, Mr Evans revisited the camp in 1984 and erected a memorial to his comrades at the site.

In subsequent years, he sought reconciliation and friendship with his former captors which led to exchange programmes between Aberystwyth and Yosano.

As ambassadors for the University and Wales, the students will participate in a wide range of activities including cultural events, visiting local schools and meeting the town council during their stay.

Previous visits have seen students learning the traditional Japanese arts of dying cloth and making noodles, visiting Kyoto, the spiritual capital of Japan, and paying their respects at the Frank Evans inspired memorial in Yosano.

Places on the trip are offered to students who were successful in an essay competition where they were asked to explain why they would make good ambassadors for Aberystwyth in Japan.

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Community

Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion

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A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.

Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”

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