AN appointment only bookshop in Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, which offers a beautifully curated collection of books as well as cards, wrapping paper and Fair Trade gifts, has been named on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.
Books At The Dragon’s Garden says it “aims to make a visit to our shop an experience”. The shop runs a loyalty scheme for customers and offers promotions throughout the year. In addition, in its base at the market garden it uses organic compost, seeds and freshly picked vegetables and flowers. It only uses paper bags and has planted lots of pollinators in the garden to increase biodiversity.
The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), whose member trade associations represent approximately 100,000 independent retailers throughout the UK between them. The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Maybe*, an engagement platform that helps make social media work for independent retailers. The winner will be announced next month.
In addition to the main award, Books At The Dragon’s Garden has also been shortlisted for a special award to be given to the independent retailer that has demonstrated specific innovation to combat the impact of COVID-19. This award is sponsored by booost, the loyalty, gifting and promotions app.
“It was impossible to make my previous shop both safe and financially viable, so I had a radical rethink and a conversion of two old stables at my market garden meant I was able to move the entire shop to a rural location,” explains owner Mandy Tomos.
In the interim I continued to promote the business on social media and sold online via the website. I received an award as a “Local Hero” for continuing to supply my local community during lockdown. As the shop is now appointment only, it is very safe for both customers and staff, numbers are low and social distancing is easy. Contactless payment is taken outside under cover. I used social media to maintain contact with my customers and wrote a chatty book suggestion column in our local free paper every month.”
“This has been a particularly challenging year for small, independent retailers and many have come through to this point through innovation, quality of product and service, a commitment to serve their local communities and a large dose of determination,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chair of the IRC.
“As more and more people have been forced to stay home and work from home, we have seen just how much we all value local independent shops and want to see them not just survive, but also thrive. These shops offer choice, diversity and genuine customer service. And, after what has been a rather dark year, that has to be worth celebrating.”
The annual competition highlights the best of Britain’s independent retail sector, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers and the central role they play in their local communities. Previous winners have included Bristol-based delicatessen Papadeli, the 2019 winner, and The Mainstreet Trading Company, a combined bookshop, café, deli & homeware shop based in St Boswells, in the rural Scottish Borders, which won in 2018.
Two men jailed for ‘terrifying’ creeper burglaries in West Wales
TWO men have been sentenced to four years in prison for three creeper burglaries, including two at the homes of elderly female clients of a care agency where one of them worked.
Allyn Freeman, aged 33, of Bryn Wyre, Aberystwyth, and Daniel Bloomer, aged 23, of Heol Elynnydd, Devils Bridge, were sentenced after pleading guilty to all charges at Swansea Crown Court on Wednesday, December 2.
Following a protracted investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police, which involved extensive crime scene investigation work, as well as ANPR and digital enquiries such as mobile phone detection and CCTV, they admitted their parts in a series of dwelling creeper burglaries in the Aberystwyth area during 2018.
Police Sergeant Steven Jones said the burglaries had been terrifying for their victims.
“These creeper burglaries happened as the victims, all elderly women, slept,” he said. “Two disturbed Freeman and Bloomer, which must have been a terrifying ordeal.
“We’re pleased that our case was strong enough to make Freeman and Bloomer admit what they had done so justice could be handed down to them.”
During the early hours of Saturday, 10th February 2018, they entered the home of an elderly lady as she slept in the Cwmrheidol area of Aberystwyth.
She woke to find items were out of place in her home and found her bank cards and £70 in cash were missing from her purse and her mobile phone had been stolen.
Then 12 days later, on Thursday, 22nd February 2018, Freeman and Bloomer entered the home of another elderly lady in the Llanfarian area of Aberystwyth. The victim, who received support from the care agency where Bloomer worked, had been on a list of planned visits for him.
At approximately 5.30am, the victim was in bed when she saw a light flashing in her room and a person walking in wearing a black coat with a hood covering their face.
During the burglary, the victim’s handbag, which contained a number of items, including £100 to £200 in cash, a small gold-coloured cross pin and two cheque books, was stolen.
The following day, Friday, 23rd February 2018, another elderly woman, who had received support from the same agency, was burgled in the Penglais Hill area of Aberystwyth.
She was asleep when she was woken by a noise downstairs at approximately 4.30am.
She got out of bed and moved towards the bedroom door when she saw a torch light shine up the stairs and she believes that somebody took hold of her walking stick, which she was holding in front of her.
A male voice then asked her “where’s your handbag” before running away. It is not thought that anything was taken in this incident.
All victims were offered the help of burglary support officers at the force.
Freeman and Bloomer also admitted a burglary at Ysgol Mynach, Devils Bridge, on Saturday, 10th February 2018.
For conspiracy to commit dwelling burglary they were both sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, with a further year, to run concurrently, for conspiracy to commit commercial burglary, and a further month imprisonment, to run concurrently for conspiracy to steal.
Bloomer was also sentenced to serve an additional 6 months imprisonment, to run consecutively, for conspiring to pervert the course of justice after trying to persuade Freeman to provide an account to police that would exonerate Bloomer for the offences, and offered him financial reward to do so.
Ysgol Gynradd Dihewyd to close until 17 December 2020
YSGOL Gynradd Dihewyd will be closed until 17 December 2020. A Contact Group is already self-isolating for 14 days due to a positive COVID-19 case and due to lack of staffing, the whole school will close.
Pupils in the affected Contact Group have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days due to being close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case at the school. These pupils and staff must remain at home for 14 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community.
All parents have been contacted by the School to inform them that the school will be closed until 17 December 2020.
The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the symptoms, which are:
· a high temperature
· a new continuous cough
· a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.
Parents should also be aware of other symptoms early on, such as headaches, tiredness and general aches and pains usually associated with the flu.
You can apply for a test online https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.
No further details will be provided regarding this matter.
Vaccine plan unveiled for Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire
HYWEL DDA University Health Board is making final preparations to deliver its mass vaccination programme following Wednesday’s announcement that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been granted temporary authorisation for use.
There will only be small quantities of a vaccine at first due to the storage requirements of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
A Hywel Dda spokesperson said: “Priority groups for the initial supplies of this vaccine include front line health and social care staff with direct patient and client contact across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. We are continually reviewing our plans based on receipt of further supplies.
“We are ready to deploy the vaccine in phases when the vaccine arrives. Eligible front line health and social care staff will receive details of how they will receive the vaccination as soon as possible.
“Members of the public are asked to not contact their GP practice or community pharmacies to enquire about the vaccine at this time.”
Ros Jervis, director of public health for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Vaccination saves lives and Wednesday’s announcement is a truly significant moment.
“I’d like to personally thank everyone from organisations from across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire who, for the past few months, have worked tirelessly together to ensure we are ready to deliver this vaccine to protect our frontline staff and the clinically vulnerable in our community.
“Please do not contact your GP or pharmacist to apply for or ask for the vaccination. As soon as the vaccine is available for your eligible group, you will be informed and asked to make an appointment.”
In readiness, Hywel Dda UHB has established two vaccination centres for delivery of early supplies, one in Carmarthenshire and one in Ceredigion. Attendance at these centres is strictly prohibited without an appointment.
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