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Research trip to Patagonia to support new exhibition

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FROM 11-26 February 2019, Andrea DeRome, Collections Access Officer at Ceredigion Museum journeyed to Patagonia, Argentina to research pioneering voyages for a temporary exhibition at Ceredigion Museum. The ‘Because it’s There’ exhibition is on display now until 12 October. The journey was made by support from the ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant Scheme 2018-19.

Ceredigion is a coastal county, bordered by sixty miles of the sea along Cardigan Bay to the west. Ceredigion Museum has an excellent seafaring collection that salutes the history when carts struggled along muddy trails and the iron steam dragon on tracks was still the stuff of imagination; all commerce, journeys and intrepid escapes were made west by boat.

Andrea explains her fascination with the ocean: “Lured by tales about maritime wanderers I imagined voyages at sea, praying to survive a maelstrom, waiting for calmer winds and clearer skies. I became curious about the tools of celestial navigation and exploration, and in awe of those who went to sea.”

One such pioneering voyage began on May 28, 1865, when the anchor was raised on the sailing ship ‘Mimosa’ as it left for Patagonia in Argentina. It took 60 days for the ship to arrive at its destination, at the mercy of the wind and waves, with four deaths, two childbirths and one wedding along the way. On board were about 153 resolute Welsh-speaking families seeking to create a Welsh-speaking utopia. They had grown concerned that amongst the many changes of the Industrial Revolution in their homeland, their language and values were being eroded and lost.

When they finally land there is nothing, they have arrived on this continent in winter. It is not the fertile land they were passionately promised; they shape their first dwelling in a cave and survive through the kindness and forgiveness of the indigenous people.

Andrea recalls the difference of her 21st century journey to Patagonia: “I board a plane at London Gatwick. At this point, I have travelled for eight hours from Aberystwyth to London. Fourteen hours later, flying among the stars for 6,910 miles, I land in Argentina. When I arrive at my destination, I encounter the infrastructure the pioneers forged the 430 miles from Puerto Madryn to Trevelin, an enormous land of beautiful, varied terrain. I set foot inside The First House, in the town of Gaiman, built from stone and mud in 1874. I meet spirited, proud people who respect Welsh culture and language, who consider the pioneers ‘to be the wheels of Patagonia, they got this area moving’, and I discover communities, chapels and schools working together to keep it all alive. I appreciate the continuing impact of our county’s history on the world.”

Carrie Canham, Curator at Ceredigion Museum explains: “Support from the ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant Scheme 2018-19 has given us, a rural Welsh museum, an international perspective that will benefit both staff and visitors. Aberystwyth lies at the end of the rail network, a seemingly dead end, but we are now better able to interpret our locality as the launch site to far-flung destinations for intrepid emigrants undeterred by the unknown.”

The exhibition ‘Because it’s there’ examines human exploration: the desire to go beyond the horizon, climb the mountain, venture out across the ocean, fly among the stars, to discover something because it’s there, or rumoured to be there. The exhibition features the tools and machinery that made things possible and uncover the stories of the brave people who took bold risks in their pursuit of new discoveries.

‘Because it’s There’ launched on Saturday 20, July and will run until 12, October 2019. It is curated by Andrea DeRome.

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A level results still high in Ceredigion

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THE ‘A’ level examination results published today by the WJEC (15 August) show that high standards are being achieved in Ceredigion schools once again. 97.9% of entries for WJEC examinations were graded A* to E, with 27.9% of the entries achieving the top ’A’ grades.

Ceredigion pupils continue to outperform the Welsh average. More pupils in Ceredigion achieve the top ’A’ grades and A* to E grades. The below table shows a comparison with average Welsh figures. These don’t include Welsh Baccalaureate results and those from examination bodies other than WJEC.

Wales 2019             Ceredigion 2019

Grade A* – A           27.92%                    27.0%

Grade A* – B           56.0%                      n/a

Grade A* – C          77.5%                        n/a

Grade A* – E          97.9%                       97.6%

Councillor Catrin Miles is the Cabinet member responsible for Learning Services. She said, “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations once again to Ceredigion’s sixth form students for their successes in this year’s A Level and AS examinations.

These results are the culmination of a long journey through school life which has seen them nurture and develop the academic and interpersonal skills that will enable them to move confidently into higher education, training or employment in fields of their choice. I wish them good luck for the future and would like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to their school journey in any way.”

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MP Ben Lake calls for reform of police funding

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HAVING recently shadowed Dyfed Powys Police officers in Aberystwyth, the Ceredigion MP has again urged the UK Government to review the police funding formula for rural areas.

Mr Lake visited Aberystwyth police station as part of the #GiveADayToPolicing campaign, a scheme for Members of Parliament to better understand the challenges currently facing police forces across the UK.

During his visit Mr Lake had the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of local policing – from spending time with the neighbourhood policing team, meeting officers from different departments, and discussing policing challenges with front-line police officers.

Mr Lake has challenged the UK Government on several occasions to reform the formula for police funding – highlighting the need for the funding formula to take into consideration the seasonal pressures on forces, particularly the significant increase to the population of coastal areas during the summer months.

Mr Lake said: “I am very grateful to the officers of Aberystwyth police station for their welcome, and for taking the time to speak with me. I now have a better understanding of the challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration of their work and commitment to public safety.

“As I have previously stated, we cannot expect a one size fits all approach to work effectively across the whole of the UK, and as such, it is imperative that the criteria used to allocate the Home Office police grant are revised so that they reflect the increased demands and unique challenges facing rural forces in areas such as Ceredigion, especially during summer months.”

Mr Lake added: “It is widely acknowledged that Welsh police forces have suffered under the present funding formula, and so it is high time that the UK Government either amends the formula accordingly, or devolves the responsibility for policing to the Welsh Government so that they may do so themselves.”

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New waste trial launched in Aberystwyth

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A NEW trial has been launched in Aberystwyth as part of the Caru Aber campaign, to help keep the town centre clean on waste collection days.

Heavy duty sacks will be placed on Aberystwyth streets on Monday afternoons before the black bag collection on Tuesdays in the following streets; Portland Street, Portland Road, Queen Street, Corporation Street, Eastgate Street, New Street and Cambrian Place.

Black bags should be put in the sacks by 8am on Tuesday mornings for collection. The intention is that the sacks contain the waste until it is collected. The sacks will be retrieved after the waste has been collected to avoid clutter and obstruction on the streets.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member responsible for Highways and Environmental Services together with Housing. He said: “We see this trial as a practical and relatively cost effective way of responding to long standing issues relating to domestic waste presentation in Aberystwyth town centre. The sacks will also provide a visible reminder to residents in the town centre on what days to present their black bags.

“The trial forms part of the Caru Aber campaign, and the wider Caru Ceredigion campaign, where the council looks to work with local communities to address issues which are of concern or are important to them.

“This innovative approach is another example of positive proactive action the council is taking. We hope that the residents of the town centre will play their part by making good use of the sacks as this will be the critical factor in measuring the success of the scheme.”

Clean recycling and food waste should continue to be presented on a weekly basis in the containers that the council already provides through clear bags and food caddies.

Ensuring that the right waste is presented in the right way and on the right day will help to make sure that the town’s streets are kept clean and that the waste is contained, managed and treated in the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way as possible.

The sacks were first used in readiness for waste collections on Tuesday 6 August 2019. The initial feedback is positive as they have worked to contain the waste on the streets, which were noticeably cleaner.

This latest initiative is developing on feedback and experience from two other trials undertaken. The success of the trial will be monitored on an ongoing basis and reviewed to reflect the experience which will include looking at ways of engaging all residents.

For more information about the new scheme, please contact the Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 or by e-mail on clic@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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