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Aber student fuels his future with fare splitting petrol app

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A YOUNG entrepreneur studying in Aberystwyth has designed a fare splitting app that solves the problem of dividing petrol costs between friends when one person is the ‘designated driver’.

Friendfare, the brainchild of Jack Thomson, 21, calculates the amount of petrol spent per journey based on car type and distance, making it easy for lift-sharing friends to fairly split the cost between them.

The software engineering student at Aberystwyth University came up with the idea with his cousin Tom and friend Rob after spending long journeys travelling to various mountain bike locations around Wales. Following their trips they were inevitably faced with the task of working out how much the designated driver was owed.

Applying his knowledge of software design to solving this common problem, Jack spent several months designing and perfecting Friendfare. And his efforts are now bearing fruit with the app set to launch next month on both iOS and Android platforms.

Speaking about the launch of Friendfare, Jack said: “I hope Friendfare will be a handy solution to the common conundrum of when friends are trying to work out how much they owe each other in petrol costs.

“It’s gone through several prototype stages and been heavily influenced by user feedback to ensure it’s easy and functional to use. It’s been a labour of love and I can’t wait for it to go live now!”

Despite the app not being available to the public just yet, Jack is already thinking of ways to develop the Friendfare concept further still, in order to help facilitate solutions to other problematic day-to-day finance issues, such as bill splitting at a restaurant.

And crucially Jack is also developing mobile payment functionality within the app’s range of services, so Friendfare can become a full service mobile application.

Jack continued: “I believe there are real opportunities to branch out beyond lift sharing and now I am comfortable with building and developing the app, I’m actively looking for ways to continue expanding and evolving Friendfare’s offering.”

Tony Orme, careers consultant at Aberystwyth University said: “Jack is a fantastic example of a student applying entrepreneurial thinking to their studies to start their own business. At Aberystwyth we encourage all our students to act upon their entrepreneurial flair to enhance their own experience at university and increase their employability when they graduate. We’re looking forward to seeing Jack’s app launch soon and wish him every success in the future.”

Jack created the Friendfare app with the support of Big Ideas Wales, the support service for young entrepreneurs aged 5 to 25. Big Ideas Wales, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, provides business support and mentoring for young people to enable them to kick start their business ideas.

Jack credits Big Ideas Wales with supporting his entrepreneurial ambitions, in particular his business advisor Sam Allen. Jack first heard about Big Ideas Wales through his university Entrepreneurship Society and soon after had his first meeting with Sam.

Sam was able to offer Jack advice on how to develop his business, as well as advising him about upcoming events hosted by Big Ideas Wales that could benefit him, including the annual ‘Bootcamp to Business’ event in Margam Discovery Centre.

The three-day residential workshop in November last year played host to fifty young entrepreneurs with the aim of equipping them with the essential skills they need to help get their business ready and grow their network of connections. It was here that Jack received advice from Big Ideas Wales mentors about his business plan, as well as meeting other likeminded young entrepreneurs.

Jack said: “Bootcamp was amazing. I left feeling so inspired and found myself constantly thinking of new business ideas. I’d encourage anyone with even the start of a business idea to think about attending the next Bootcamp event, as it will give you the information and tools you need to get it off the ground.”

The next Bootcamp to Business will be held at Rhyd-y-creuau, Betws y Coed, Conwy between 2nd – 4th March 2018. To apply for a place and for more information, visit www.bigideas.wales

The Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme encourages and supports young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop entrepreneurial skills and start a business. Part of the Business Wales Service, it is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, and to access support, visit – www.bigideas.wales

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Tregaron: Spider landed on driver before fatal crash

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A SPIDER landing on a woman’s hand caused a car crash which resulted in the death of her 11-year-old son, an inquest heard.

Tristan Silver was being driven to school by his mother Cloud Younger alongside his sister Branwen on May 4 2018, when the crash occurred near Tregaron.

The inquest in Aberystwyth on Wednesday (Jun 19) heard that the blue Subaru Legacy estate car drifted on to the wrong side of the A485 and hit a black Mitsubishi Shogun towing a trailer.

Farmer David Glyndwr Jones had loaded 60 lambs into the trailer before setting off for a market in Builth Wells with his wife. Around 8.45am Mr and Mrs Jones saw the Subaru driving towards them, and having seen that the vehicle was not slowing down, Mr Jones decided to pull his car into the verge and brace for impact.

When the cars met head-on, Mr and Mrs Jones, Mrs Younger and her daughter were left with minor injuries, but Tristan suffered serious head injuries. He was airlifted to hospital in Cardiff where he was pronounced dead.

After an interview with the police in June 2018, where Mrs Younger answered ‘no comment’ to each question, a prepared statement to police later explained that a spider had landed on her left hand as she was driving. This caused eight-year-old Branwen to start screaming, and Mrs Younger then tried to calm her daughter down, whilst continuing to drive.

The statement said that the Subaru had recently passed its MOT and all three people in the car were wearing seat belts. The inquest heard that the speed of the vehicle at the point of impact could not be ascertained, but Mr Jones said that his car was nearly at a standstill at the time of the crash.

Ceredigion Coroner Peter Brunton recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

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Plaid Cymru Cardigan hold event to support local initiatives

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MP Ben Lake led the evening

THE CARDIGAN plaid Cymru branch held a successful evening at the Fisherman’s Rest, Cardigan on Friday June 14 2019 to help share information and the experiences of local community benefit groups, as well as grant opportunities available to support such initiatives.

The evening was led by County Councillor Clive Davies and Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, Ben Lake. During the evening a presentation was given on far-reaching grant opportunities available for such community groups – drawing from examples of societies and community enterprises created in Cardigan over the last 5 years – and how they got started, grew from strength to strength, and received funding to achieve and support their objectives.

Following the meeting, Cllr Clive Davies said: “The success of local initiatives and groups have played a key role in Cardigan’s success as a vibrant market town over recent years. I welcomed the opportunity to further raise awareness of the opportunities and avenues of support available to such groups and enterprises to help them to continue to make an invaluable contribution to the town and local area.”

Ben Lake MP added: “Cardigan boasts a successful array of lively community projects and small businesses that have brought an added vigour to both the town and Ceredigion as a whole. It was useful to have the opportunity to discuss the challenges these groups face, as well as share information regarding the wide array of support and funding available to support and maintain their important work”.

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Ben Lake MP pledges support for advancing MS research

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BEN LAKE MP for Ceredigion has shown his support for investment in MS research, after visiting an exhibition by the MS Society in Parliament this week.

The exhibition, ‘Multiple Sclerosis – The Research Story’, gave parliamentarians the opportunity to hear from people living with MS and leading MS researchers around the UK. It featured personal objects from the MS community, representing what it’s like to live with the condition, alongside the latest developments in cutting-edge research.

Ben Lake, MP said: “I am delighted to have attended the MS Society’s parliamentary exhibit and see first-hand how close we are to stopping MS”

“MS is an unpredictable and challenging condition, which can be painful and exhausting. I want to see investment in this area of research continue to rise so everyone living with MS in Ceredigion and across the UK has access to effective treatments.”

Over the past 20 years MS research has led to major advances, including more than a dozen licensed treatments for people with the relapsing form of MS. But more investment is needed to find more, and better, treatments for everyone – including ones that can slow or stop MS from progressing.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at the MS Society, said: “We’re really grateful Ben Lake MP has pledged their support for our work. More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK and many are still left without treatment options that slow or stop progression. But we are at a turning point in MS research and the UK is at the forefront of this. We are closer than ever before to having treatments for everyone with MS, and stopping MS for good.”

The MS Society is the UK’s leading not-for-profit funder of MS research and is currently supporting over 70 active projects worth more than £20 million. To find out more about the MS Society and the vital research it is funding visit www.mssociety.org.uk

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