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Funding for watersports announced for Llanelli beauty spot

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The recent announcement of the development of the Swiss Valley reservoirs in Carmarthenshire has been given a boost with the confirmation of an ‘Access to Water’ grant of £121,000 from Welsh Government that will enable visitor access to the Lower Lleidi reservoir for paddle sports and angling.

The funding will realise plans to bring back a range of paddlesports to the reservoir, including stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.  It will also enable bank angling through the creation of recreational zones.  A range of improvements to the surrounding infrastructure are also planned to include a boat wash for biosecurity and the creation of paths and a pontoon that allows easy access to water for people of all abilities, and the refurbishment of toilet facilities.

Developing the Swiss Valley Reservoirs is expected to attract 90k+ visitors a year to the site, in line with Covid19 regulations. The ‘Access to Water’ funding is an important milestone in achieving shared ambitions for the site, and to support the funding application, a survey of local canoe clubs, outdoor activity providers and anglers was conducted which found a strong demand for access to the water for their activities. The feedback was that this is likely to generate a huge amount of interest from clubs and providers given it’s ideal geographical location. The community adoption scheme means that local people are offering to invest their own time to help look after this jewel of a community asset, and care for it into the future.

The project is well placed to support the delivery of The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015, which requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. Whilst Welsh Water is not a public body, it is committed to working in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, Natural Resources Wales and Canoe Wales in the spirit of the legislation.

Lesley Griffiths MS

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This is an excellent example of a scheme which increases opportunities for outdoor recreation and provides safe access to water for people of all abilities. 

“The development of these reservoirs will enable local people and visitors to gain more enjoyment from this beauty spot in line with covid19 guidelines and help to support a green recovery in Wales. 

“I hope the success of this project will encourage development of many more similar opportunities over the coming years.”

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Swiss Valley Resevoir (Image: Nigel Davies / Geograph)

Welsh Water Chief Executive Peter Perry said, “Access to blue space is proven to be positively associated with health and wellbeing. Swiss Valley is an important asset for the local community and visitors alike.

“This funding is a major milestone in our efforts to bring this cherished community asset back to its former glory and make it more accessible, for the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Jen Browning, Chief Executive of Canoe Wales, the national governing body for paddlesport in Wales, added, “Over the past eight months, we have seen an unprecedented amount of demand for canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, but the limited number of venues in Wales suitable for new paddlers has always been a major obstacle.

“This funding will ensure that Swiss Valley can play an enormously important role in making it possible for people of all abilities to enjoy the water, and for many to discover a passion for paddlesport and develop a deep connection with the outdoors.”

Dave MacCallum, Specialist Advisor for Water Access & Recreation at Natural Resources Wales and Chairman of NAFW Access to Water Sub-Group said: “We are delighted to have been a part of this important collaboration which will open up these new waters for responsible, inclusive recreation in South West Wales.

“NRW is committed to doing all we can to enable more people to enjoy Wales’ countryside more easily and responsibly – to take advantage of the many health and wellbeing benefits that getting outside can bring.

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“Benefitting from bespoke disabled paddle-sport access facilities and a Biosecurity station promoting and enabling the Check Clean Dry initiative, the Swiss Valley reservoir project paves the way for future access to Welsh still waters so that current and future generations can continue to enjoy their visits to some of Wales’ most spectacular landscapes”

Llanelli Rural Council Leader, Cllr Tegwen Devichand said “the funding is marvellous news for the community and will enable the council to develop its plans for the reservoir in earnest.

“Much of the preliminary work associated with the first phase of infrastructure improvements can now get underway, in fact some work has commenced already. The physical adaptations to refurbish the toilet block, visitor car park and access to the water to facilitate paddle sports and the angling fraternity is scheduled to be completed by March 2021, but work won’t stop there.

“Moreover, the community response to our plans for the reservoir has been overwhelming; the council has received a great deal of local and regional support and a number of interest groups and individuals have come forward to help us deliver our plans as well as to offer their services. This is greatly appreciated and bodes well for the future.”


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Carmarthen

Fire Service in search for new Carmarthenshire firefighters

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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has launched a hunt for new firefighters to join its Carmarthenshire fire stations.

It’s looking for people who live within 10 minutes of fire stations in Carmarthen, Llandysul and Newcastle Emlyn to become On-Call firefighters.

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On-Call firefighters get paid to respond to emergencies. They do not staff the fire stations 24 hours a day, like full-time firefighters, but get notified of an emergency call via a personal pager, which they carry with them when they are on duty.

Most On-Call Firefighters have other jobs with an agreement from their employers to leave to attend an emergency call if required. Others are available outside typical working hours like evenings, weekends, or between school runs.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service say they’re looking for people wh consider themselves to be reasonably fit and healthy, who want to be of service to your local community.

They say applicants should be someone who can always be relied on to be somewhere on time, committed to maintaining your physical fitness, maintaining and developing your skills.

You should be someone who has the sensitivity to deal with members of the public when they are distressed, confused, or being obstructive, can get on with people from different backgrounds and cultures and work as part of a close-knit team.

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You should also be someone who works well under pressure, think on your feet and solve problems.

In return, if you become an On-Call Firefighter, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service say they will provide all the training and support required to respond to emergency incidents such as property fires, road traffic collisions, and incidents involving flooding, rescues from height, and many other specialist emergency calls. You will also receive training to deliver Community Safety advice that will help keep people safe in their homes and communities.

In addition to having an exciting career, you will earn a salary-based pay and, from your induction day as an On-Call Firefighter, you will be able to contribute to the Firefighters Pension Scheme

The fire service say they work with local employers to release their staff to respond to emergency incidents.

To apply or for more information visit Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s website.

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(Lead image: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

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Business

Fashion students design sustainable leggings for Commonwealth Games thanks to Llanelli manufacturer

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Two Fashion Design students at the University of South Wales (USW) have designed leggings for Team Wales athletes – made from sustainable materials – to wear at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Bethan Jones and Olivia Soady, both in their final year, won a design competition set by Commonwealth Games Wales in partnership with USW.

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The students worked closely with Onesta, an award-winning sustainable clothing brand based in Llanelli, to bring their designs to life, and in total, Onesta manufactured 360 pairs of leggings for Team Wales.

They were officially revealed last week (Friday 1 July) when the Queen’s Baton Relay passed through Llanelli and stopped at the Onesta studio, where the baton-bearer, Wales Women’s rugby international Jasmine Joyce, modelled the Team Wales kit.

Onesta has only been trading since June 2020 but is already kitting out the likes of Rosie Eccles, Anwen Butten and Alys Thomas as they represented Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The collaborative project was developed with funding from the USW Exchange Partnership and Engagement Programme, which enables organisations to directly benefit from scoping and feasibility support, as well as access to USW’s academic expertise.

Following a brief from Team Wales, Bethan and Olivia’s designs focused heavily on sustainability, ensuring the leggings are practical, long-lasting and have a clear Welsh identity.

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Olivia said: “From the offset it was made very clear in the brief that these leggings were meant to be worn and to last, which is something that Bethan and I took into consideration throughout the design process. I’d read an article on all these amazing things which had originated in Wales, which gave me the idea of our country being small but mighty.”

Bethan and Olivia’s legging design
(Image: University of South Wales)

Bethan added: “Olivia and I both had a very similar concept. Mine was all about Welsh power symbols, and being proud to be Welsh, alongside the importance of sustainable production. So we merged those ideas together and got something very contemporary, which we’re really proud of. Being able to work on this project with Team Wales is such an exciting opportunity for me, and something which really aligns with my values as a person and as a designer.”

Owner and founder of Onesta, Gabriella Diana, said: “We are proud to have been selected as the manufacturer of casual leggings for Team Wales, designed in collaboration with USW students.

“Manufacturing in Wales not only lowers the carbon footprint of our clothing, but also puts money back into our local economy, strengthening industry here in the UK, and providing skilled jobs to local people and graduates. Plus, we know all our garments are made by happy hands.

“Working on this project with Team Wales has been really exciting, and we have loved being involved in developing sustainable sportswear for the Commonwealth Games.”

Stacey Grant-Canham, lecturer in Fashion Design at USW who worked with Bethan and Olivia on this project, said: “The designers are fully immersed in the industry from day one on the Fashion Design course here at USW; both taking advantage of our option of a year out in industry, they have the commercial awareness and creativity underpinned with a strong knowledge of circularity for fashion. It’s a real winning combination. The fact that they opted to collaborate is testament to the holistic way they see their place in this global industry too.”

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Bethan and Olivia’s legging design
(Image: University of South Wales)

Cathy Williams, Head of Engagement at Commonwealth Games Wales, added: “’The partnership between Commonwealth Games Wales and USW has become stronger and stronger over the past few years, and it’s great that once again we can bring in young and talented individuals like Bethan and Olivia to create something special for the team.

“We first ran this competition with USW for the Gold Coast 2018 Games, and we’ve built on that success, and we love seeing the athletes wearing the finished design.”

Chris Jenkins, CEO of Commonwealth Games Wales, said: ‘’Working alongside USW on such projects is really important for the organisation; not only does it provide a platform for young designers and university students to get a feel for the industry in the ‘real’ world, but for us, it opens up our support network to people who wouldn’t necessarily be drawn into sport.

“The Commonwealth Games is more than a sporting event – it’s an opportunity to bring in communities across the country and support Wales on a global platform. Congratulations to both designers, and I’d like to thank USW and Onesta for all their hard work.”

Since it commenced trading, over two years ago, Carmarthenshire County Council has supported Onesta, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to realise the company’s long-term ambitions. In June 2021, Onesta was awarded an Economic Resilience Fund grant of £2,500 by Carmarthenshire County Council as support to cover the business bills during the COVID-19 restrictions of May and June 2021. They were also awarded a £2000 Non-Domestic Rates Grant during the COVID-19 support schemes in February 2022.

In April 2022, Onesta was awarded a Business Growth & Recovery Grant of £10,000 to assist with the purchase of manufacturing equipment and workshop and office furniture. The grant money will fund a cutting table, overlockers, cutting machine, industrial iron, industrial sewing machine and lockstitch, which would assist in the manufacturing of the clothing for the Wales Commonwealth Team for the 2022 Games.

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The company’s founder, Gabriella Diana, was nominated by the Council for the Wales Start Up Awards in 2021 in which she went on to win the Rising Star category.

Since then, Onesta has also won the Marie Claire Sustainability Award for Best Sustainable Small Brand 2021, UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award, and was a finalist in the Cardiff Life Awards 2021 and the GBEA Awards 2021.  

Onesta was highly commended in the Heroes of Net Zero competition at a special awards ceremony, hosted by Intuit, at the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow. More than 160 businesses entered the competition, making a commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s own climate commitment. They were highly commended in the micro business category for demonstrating a range of measures taken on their journey to net zero, including sourcing eco-friendly materials locally, removing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and re-purposing fabric scraps to make sustainable products for Surfers Against Sewage.

Gabriella Diana, Founder and Owner of Onesta added: “I’m very grateful to Carmarthenshire County Council for the financial support we have received to, not only survive the COVID-19 restrictions but also to build the business and strive.”

Since launching the Business Growth & Start-Up Grant scheme in early 2022, Carmarthenshire County Council has approved 61 business grants to Carmarthenshire businesses. Of which 44 approvals were Business Growth & Recovery Grants, totalling £299,225.17 and 17 approvals were Business Start Up Grants, totalling £117,924.31.

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Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism said: “As a local authority, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Gabriella and her company to enable her to grow the business. We are also very proud to have provided financial support to Onesta, and other companies based in Carmarthenshire, to weather the difficult COVID-19 restrictions of the past two and a half years.

“We have all enjoyed watching Wales’ athletes compete at the recent Commonwealth Games and the fact that they are wearing a kit that is made in Carmarthenshire has been a source of much pride for Carmarthenshire County Council.”

(Lead image: University of South Wales)

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Cadw

Mysterious Discovery Digs arrive at three Welsh Castles

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The last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, (also known as Llywelyn the Last) is a national hero – but his life and times are shrouded with a 740-year-old mystery… The location of his long-lost crown jewels.

Could they be hidden at a historical site in Wales?

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Cadw is inviting visitors to dig into the history of Llywelyn the Last this August – as a series of archaeology-inspired events arrive at the Castles of RhuddlanLaugharne and Beaumaris.

Visitors to Cadw’s series of three and four day ‘Discovery Dig’ events will be invited to uncover ‘artefacts’ — from coins to crown fragments and shield splinters — as Cadw launches a search for families to find the long-lost crown of Wales.

Visitors are being encouraged to uncover ‘artefacts’ — from coins to crown fragments and shield splinters

Llywelyn the Last is well known for his conflict with the English crown — but it’s his final battle against King Edward I which  is the backdrop for Cadw’s series of events.

At the start of his final defence against King Edward I in 1282, Llywelyn left his coronet — the Welsh crown, with the monks at Cymer Abbey in Dolgellau, for safe keeping.

Yet, following his death in battle, the coronet is said to have been captured from the ruins of the Principality of Gwynedd and taken to London as a token of the Principality’s defeat.

Centuries later, it’s widely believed that under the orders of Oliver Cromwell,  the coronet was destroyed alongside many of the English crown jewels… But others believe the monks had stepped in long before this could happen, and the crown is still hidden somewhere in Wales.

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Junior archaeologists will get an official Discovery Digs’ certificate for their finds

Suitable for children of all ages, visitors to Cadw’s Discovery Dig events will rediscover long-lost stories from Welsh history, all while learning about real-life archaeology in staged dig-sites.

Junior archaeologists that hand in their findings will return home with an official ‘Discovery Digs’ certificate — but it’s hoped that they’ll also leave with a newfound love and awareness of Welsh history.

In support of this, selected events will feature bilingual performances from theatre company, Mewn Cymeriad — bringing the story of the last native Prince of Wales and his grandfather, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (also known as Llywelyn Fawr), to life.

It’s all part of Cadw’s Rediscover History campaign, which aims to tell the stories of Wales in a new way, while igniting an interest in archaeology — which links the 21st century to centuries upon centuries of history.

Laugharne Castle in Carmarthenshire is one of the locations hosting Cadw’s Discovery Digs

Head of Marketing and Tourism Development, Gwydion Griffiths, said: “Archaeology has played — and continues to play — an integral part in our understanding of historical Wales, so it’s wonderful to be simulating the activity with budding, young archaeologists across the country.

“Interactive and sensory events such as the Discovery Digs introduce a new way for children to get involved and interested in learning more about the culture, heritage, and the rich history of Wales. I hope this event series inspires people of all ages to learn about Llywelyn the Last and encourages a life-long love of heritage among future generations.”

To learn more about the Discovery Dig events and other activities happening at Cadw sites across Wales this summer, visit: https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/whats-on.

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Lead image: Laugharne Castle (Image: Cadw)

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