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Entrepreneur goes hell for leather with handmade bag business

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A 23-YEAR-OLD woman is using her flair for design to establish a real leather bag and accessories business, which she makes by hand from her workshop in Machynlleth.

Elin Evans makes bags and belts from leather, taking commissions to design bespoke items for customers locally and across the UK under her business name Elin Angharad. She specialises in reusing second-hand leather products – from jackets to shoes – which often hold sentimental value for her customers, that she works into her new designs

Elin stumbled into leather work by chance during work experience in her second year Artist Design & Maker degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she had the opportunity to work for a short time with a local shoemaker in Machynlleth, Ruth Emily Davey. Here, she fell in love with working with leather and focused the rest of her university coursework around leather products.

After graduating, Elin discovered a space in Machynlleth town centre where she set up her workshop space and has made over 70 commissioned products since the start of this year. Her designs include everything from small clutch bags and wallets, to oversized tote bags, ranging from £90 to £270.

She said: “I was nervous to take the plunge and pursue my designs as a full-time business venture because I wasn’t sure if I had the clientele to make it viable, but in such a short amount of time the orders have rocketed. I rely on social media heavily to market my products and it’s a great way of chatting to potential clients about what they’d like me to create.

“Starting a business in a rural community brings with it many challenges, but it also brings many benefits, including having loyal customers and not having to compete with the ‘fast fashion’ culture. I have strong roots in the area, and I’m a member of YFC Wales, which gives me freedom to have fun out of the workshop, which can be an intense environment for a young business person.

“I would like to work further afield at some point, but Machynlleth is a great starting point for me – I feel comfortable to explore here.  It was important for me to start my business journey in an area that I know and I love making myself and the business a part of the community.”

In only a few months of trading, Elin has been approached by a stockist, Siop Mirsi in Pwllheli, and aspires to work with more stockists, both locally and further afield, in the future.

She continued: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the demand for my products which has kept me really busy during the last few months, but I’m hoping to find time soon to create stock to allow me to venture to produce fairs across Wales. I have set myself a goal to have a stall at next year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst, so by then I hope to have plenty of products to sell.”

Elin developed her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, the youth entrepreneurship service in Wales. Big Ideas Wales is part of Business Wales and is funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.  The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea.

Earlier this year, Elin joined a cohort of 50 other budding young businesspeople at the Bootcamp to Business residential event in the Urdd Centre in Bala, a free three-day workshop hosted by Big Ideas Wales. Bootcamp gives young entrepreneurs the chance to learn and hone their business skills with advice and mentoring from successful Welsh businesspeople.

Speaking of the experience Elin said: “I learned a lot at Bootcamp and it wasn’t until I was putting what I’d learnt into practice in my work that I realised just how valuable it had been. It’s a great starting point for young Welsh people with a business idea who need guidance and the assurance to get it off the ground.”

In the future Elin hopes to start using leather from more local sources. She said: “Being from an agricultural background, traceability is an important aspect of what I do. Although the traceability of leather is hard, if not impossible, to determine in some cases.

“I am aware of some tanneries in the UK that I would like to visit in future, once my business is more established. It has been a passion of mine to explore the process of turning a skin into a leather hide, and I hope to fulfil this in future.”

David Bannister, a Big Ideas Wales business advisor has been working closely with Elin offering advice to help her develop her business further. He said: “It’s no surprise to me that Elin has seen such high demand for her products as she is a very talented designer. She’s thrown herself into the responsibility of owning a business and learnt a lot quickly. I’m confident her enthusiasm and talent will make her business a great success.”

For more information visit https://www.elinangharad.cymru/ or https://www.instagram.com/elin_angharad/

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Man arrested for illegal fishing in Teifi valley

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A MAN has been arrested after environmental crime officers from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) spotted an illegal net in a mid-Wales river.

The officers were conducting a routine patrol of the River Teifi on Thursday (May 14) when they came across a net in the water.

Following an investigation carried out in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police, a man was arrested on suspicion of illegal fisheries offences in the Teifi valley.

At the scene, officers retrieved the net which contained seven dead sea trout.

David Lee, NRW’s North and Mid Wales Operations Team Leader, said:

“Thanks to the excellent work of our officers and Dyfed Powys Police we were able to prevent further damage to the Teifi sea trout population.

“We take any activity that threatens sea trout and salmon extremely seriously and this is especially true of illegal fishing.

“Nets can potentially capture large numbers of fish and given the current challenges facing stock numbers currently every sea trout or salmon taken represents another blow to our efforts to protect these iconic fish.”

Despite the current Coronavirus lockdown, NRW officers are continuing to patrol Welsh rivers and people are encouraged to check that fish they buy locally – particularly through social media – are from a legitimate source.

If you see any suspicious or illegal activity on our rivers please report it to the NRW incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.

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Mother-daughter foot patrol brings 30 year career to a poignant end for Chief Inspector

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AS Chief Inspector Nicky Carter ended a 30 year career in policing, there was no better way to do it than going out on patrol with her daughter.

And for PCSO Charlotte, taking to the streets of Lampeter with her mum was a fitting way to mark her first six months at Dyfed-Powys Police.

Patrolling together in uniform was something the mother-daughter pair had long imagined, with PCSO Carter wanting to join the police from a young age.

The 19-year-old said: “I joined in September 2019, and have wanted to be a part of Dyfed-Powys Police since I can remember. I was inspired by my mum working in the force, and thought it would be a great career.

“I’m really glad I joined before she retired, as it gave us the opportunity to go out on foot patrol in the town where mum had been the local Inspector. It was really lovely.”

Embarking on a career she’d planned since childhood, PCSO Carter took the chance to gain valuable advice from her mum – whose experiences on the frontline inspired her to join.

“Mum has told me to always treat people as I would wish to be treated,” she said. “That’s something I’ll take forward with me.”

“I’m six months in now, and I enjoy dealing with the public and offering reassurance to people in the communities of Lampeter town and surrounding areas.”

For former CI Carter, the foot patrol drew a 30-year career – starting at North Wales Police – to a poignant close.

She ended her time at Dyfed-Powys Police in her home division of Ceredigion, transferring to Aberystwyth in 2006 to take up an inspector post.

Despite admitting there will be concerns for her only child as policing inevitably comes with risks, it was a career she encouraged.

She said: “I was very proud of Charlotte wishing to join Dyfed-Powys. As I retire I still consider that policing offers tremendous job satisfaction and I know that the organisation looks after and cares for its staff.

“I encouraged her to find out about the PCSO role before she applied, and also encouraged her to attend an open evening in Ceredigion to speak to staff. I wanted her to make an informed decision to join the organisation.

“As a parent and a former officer, it is natural to be concerned about what may occur when Charlotte is at work. However, the training, mentoring and support from staff and supervisors is second to none, so that offers me reassurance.”

Looking back at 30 years in policing, CI Carter has achieved plenty to inspire her daughter – and other women thinking of joining. From being a founding member of female networks in two forces, and a committee member of the British Association of Women in Policing, she has also proudly contributed to local and national work to ensure all staff reach their full potential.

She was humbled to receive a leadership award from Chwarae Teg in 2017, and represented chief officers at the International Association of Women Police awards in Alaska in 2019, where two Ceredigion officers were rewarded for their bravery.

When it comes to passing on her wealth of experience to her daughter, the former CI urged her to always consider her own wellbeing as well as that of the community.

“The most important advice I have given Charlotte is to look after herself and her wellbeing as whilst policing is a very rewarding role, it is one that can be both challenging and stressful at times,” she said.

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Ben Lake MP “disappointed” after Agriculture Bill amendment on the standard of food and agricultural imports is rejected by House of Commons

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The UK’s new Agriculture Bill was put before MPs on Wednesday (13 May) for the final time as it reached the Report Stage and Third Reading.

Alongside farming unions and campaign groups, Ben Lake MP has lobbied for the Bill to include a number of important amendments. One of the amendments sought to introduce a legal requirement that agricultural or food products imported into the UK under future trade agreements would need to be produced or processed according to equivalent animal health, welfare and environmental standards as those required of UK prodcuers.

This amendment, in the form of New Clause 2, and which was tabled by the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish MP, was rejected by the Commons. All Plaid Cymru MPs supported the amendment and Ben Lake MP said he was “disappointed” that the house did not vote in favour of an amendment to prevent the importation of products produced to lower animal health and environmental standards, and which in turn would have supported the high standards of Welsh produce.

Ben Lake MP said:

“Without this amendment there remains no legal requirement for future UK trade agreements to ensure that any agricultural or food imports are produced to the same standards as those required of domestic producers.

“Farmers in Wales strive to produce quality food in a sustainable manner, but the failure to include this amendment to the Agriculture Bill risks undermining these efforts by keeping the door open to imports produced to lower environmental and animal welfare standards.

“I have always argued that in order to protect our own high standards it is crucial that a level playing-field is maintained in relation to imports, and that farmers in Wales are not put at a disadvantage by having to compete with imports that are produced to lower standards. I sincerely hope that this amendment will be adopted by the House of Lords, so that the House of Commons has another opportunity to support it.”

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