TUESDAY (Dec 11) saw the launch of a new partnership between learning technology solution specialists Aspire2Be and six Ceredigion rugby clubs as part of the Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years strategy. The initiative, courtesy of Scarlets, invites Ceredigion rugby clubs and schools to participate in a pilot project providing free analysis equipment, software and training worth over £20k.
The initial pilot project will work with Aberystwyth Rugby Football Club and Ysgol Penweddig, with a funding application written for remaining clubs once the pilot is completed. ‘Analyse That’ training with Ysgol Penweddig will take place at Penweddig Comprehensive School the afternoon of Tuesday 11 December, with Aberystwyth RFC having their training in the evening on their home ground too.
The ‘Analyse That’ training programme which is run and designed by Aspire 2Be, and the pilot has been sponsored by the WRW Construction Group, one of Scarlets’ long standing sponsors sponsors, and forms part of Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years strategy, where the club is supporting local rugby teams and young talent across Ceredigion.
The campaign was kick started this summer where the Scarlets are making a difference across three participating regions; Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, county by county. Ceredigion will take Year One’s focus with emphasis on strengthening partnerships across local clubs and businesses to make a difference in the region’s wider communities. In addition to local partnerships across Ceredigion, the Scarlets have dedicated their 2018-19 away kit colour scheme to the region featuring its coat of arms, sandy beaches and vivid blue seas.
Part of the Aspire 2Be Team is former Scarlets coach and now leading media pundit, Sean Holley. Sean said on the overall training programme experience: “The modern rugby person now has an increasing awareness of analysis and is more digitally aware.
“The innovative ‘Analyse That’ initiative in collaboration with Aspire2Be now makes it easier and more affordable for community clubs to access what can be an expensive aspect of the game. The Scarlets should be applauded for entering into this partnership and I can’t wait to work with the Ceredigion clubs and schools to help upskill and improve their rugby experience in this initial pilot.”
Digital skill development is very much at the forefront of Scarlets’ Three Counties, Three Years campaign. Rural counties like Ceredigion often suffer from digital exclusion. The Scarlets hope this programme with the Swansea based firm Aspire2Be will help locals acquire digital skills in an engaging way.
Speaking on the benefits this training programme will bring to the community, Dai Rudge of Aberystwyth RFC said: “We are very fortunate that our club can be involved with such an innovative training initiative and partnership with Aspire2Be and the Scarlets.
“It’s great news that the Scarlets recognise a digital skill need in Wales and have partnered up with a Welsh tech company to provide digital opportunities for our rugby community. We’re also grateful to the WRW Construction Group for supporting the funding of the pilot.”
Nia Lloyd, Scarlets Community Manager said of the training. “We want all our community teams at every level, to strive to improve performance but in the absence of detailed analysis and feedback protocols being available at each club, a major aid to that improvement is missing.
“Our research leaves us in no doubt how useful these resources would be but few clubs can afford the hardware, the software or the training necessary to provide it. With our Three Counties programme we are hoping that the partnerships that the Scarlets have established between Aspire2Be and WRW Construction Group pave the way for more clubs and schools in the region to experience the exciting and useful analysis equipment and software.”
Those clubs who did not win the £20K prize will be offered the opportunity to send selected members on an exclusive training course free of charge under the guidance of Sean Holley and Aspire2Be. Participants will learn how to obtain additional training and equipment budget to participate in Ceredigion’s growing digital performance analysis community.
Appeal to get Pilgrim sculpture back on its feet nearing target
A FUNDRAISING appeal to raise £7,500 to re-erect a sculpture of a pilgrim on the hilltop above the ruins of the famous Strata Florida Abbey in the Cambrian Mountains is within £700 of hitting its target.
The Pilgrim, or Y Pererin in the Welsh language, was created by artist Glenn Morris and erected on Penlan, the hill overlooking Strata Florida Abbey, near Pontrhydfendigaid, in 2012.
Sadly, the sculpture collapsed in high winds in 2019 and now lays forlorn on the hilltop, located between Devil’s Bridge and Tregaron.
This sculpture, created as part of a temporary exhibition, has become a popular and iconic part of the Welsh landscape, with strong connections to Welsh culture, language and identity.
Following its collapse, the sculpture is now missing from the skyline of Strata Florida and the fundraising appeal aims to rebuild a new stronger, permanent Pilgrim to stand the tests of time.
Planning permission for the new sculpture has already been secured and Glenn Morris is eager to begin the project.
The World Monuments Fund has offered to provide match funding if the community raises £7,500 by February 3. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fundraising target can donate online at https://localgiving.org/appeal/pilgrim/ .
An extra fundraising event for the Pilgrim appeal is being held on February 18. A 3.5 mile walk along a mixture of logging roads, farmlands and through ancient forest to reach the 12th century Cistercian abbey ruins of Strata Florida will be followed by a guided exhibition tour and Welsh tea.
This pilgrimage will be led by Guided Pilgrimage, a not-for-profit company providing a range of Celtic pilgrimage experiences in West Wales.
Strata Florida was a thriving community 900 years ago. Today, the conserved ruins of the old abbey church and part of the cloisters are in the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s heritage agency, and can be visited by the public from Easter to late autumn.
The remains are only a small fraction of what was once a much larger abbey, stretching over an area of 126 acres where the rest survives below ground as a well-preserved archaeology.
Denial of Wales-specific Covid inquiry ‘no longer tenable’ say Welsh Conservatives
THE WELSH CONSERVATIVES have reiterated their call for an inquiry that focuses exclusively on the actions of the Welsh Government in tackling coronavirus in a letter to the First Minister.
It was prompted after it was revealed that the Welsh Government have been aware that NHS Wales was not prepared for an airborne virus as far back as 2004, following the SARS outbreak. Despite committing to an audit and allocation to rectify the lack of isolation facilities, this did not materialise.
The letter from Andrew RT Davies MS, which states “decision made in Wales should be scrutinised in Wales” follows a weekend when Mark Drakeford was keen to highlight that his government had “always taken a different approach in Wales [compared to the British Government], one that does things step-by-step”.
In the letter, the Welsh Conservatives leader questions why, despite him stressing divergences in the approach to coronavirus, the First Minister still feels it “inappropriate to separate” from the British Government “when the time comes for accountability”.
The Labour Government policy is for its actions to be included in the UK-wide inquiry that will chiefly investigate the actions of the Conservative Government. There will be a Scotland-specific inquiry after Nicola Sturgeon commissioned one.
Joining the Welsh Conservatives in their calls for a Wales-specific inquiry are the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Group, the British Lung Foundation, Medics 4 Mask Up Wales, the Institute for Welsh Affairs, and Plaid Cymru.
Commenting on the letter, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “The position of exercising wide-ranging emergency powers that curtailed the liberty and closed the economy of the Welsh people but avoiding accountability through an inquiry that focusses on how those decisions were made is no longer tenable.
“Under Mark Drakeford, Wales has experienced the highest Covid death-rate of UK nations, seen its children lose more time for learning than anywhere else in the country, and imposed economically cruel and clinically unnecessary restrictions in an overzealous attempt to tackle the Omicron variant.
“We, along with bereaved families and medical groups, believe that the decisions that led to these outcomes need to be put under the spotlight, not hidden in the shadow of an inquiry that will inevitably focus on the British Government.
“Indeed, if Mark Drakeford is so confident in the actions of his government, then why is he against having them examined in a Wales-specific inquiry? That is what people will be asking when British and Scottish leaders have ordered investigations into their own handling of the pandemic.
“As I say to the First Minister in my letter, it is not too late for him to change his mind and take this opportunity to do the right thing and order that inquiry.”
Ceredigion MP supports calls on UK government to address energy crisis
BEN LAKE MP, Co-chair of the APPG on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, has signed a cross-party letter to the UK Government calling for a range of financial support measures to address the current energy crisis.
Following a record increase in October 2021 to the price cap, energy bills are set to increase again significantly in April across the UK, and could reach as high as £2000 for the average household, an increase of £700 compared to today’s prices. Experts have also said that these prices are likely to be sustained for two or more years.
Polling conducted by YouGov has shown that 6 out of 10 British households say they would reduce their heating use by a fair amount/great deal if the cost of heating doubles.
Ben Lake MP said: “The hike will be a disaster for those who were already struggling to pay their bills and could leave over 6 million households in fuel poverty across the UK. These price increases will impact all households. But for those who were already struggling to pay their bills, it will be catastrophic. Without any additional support, millions will sink further into debt, and many will turn off the heating, leaving them at acute risk of serious ill-health and putting further strain on our stretched health services.”
The cross-party letter calls on the UK Government to ensure that any support package to address the crisis works in the best interests of fuel poor households, for example, by increasing the support available through existing schemes such as such as the winter fuel support scheme in Wales or an additional targeted rebate which could be delivered this winter.
The letter also adds “that any effort to reduce energy bills should not include the removal of green levies.”
Ben Lake MP added: “While there are arguments about whether green levies should remain on energy bills or be added instead to income tax, there is no justification for removing them completely. To do so would be to compound the gas crisis which we face by exacerbating fuel poverty and further delaying the transition away from fossil fuels.
“I will continue to work alongside colleagues to ensure the most vulnerable households are protected as far as possible from the current threat of significantly increased domestic energy bills.”
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