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St Clears train station reopening a step closer after UK Government funding boost

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The UK Government has announced £32 million of funding to deliver three new stations in England and Wales. Edginswell in Torquay, Thanet Parkway in Kent and St Clears in Carmarthenshire.

Additional funding is being invested to develop a further two stations in Haxby and Deeside.

It comes as part of the ‘Reconnecting the railways’ plan to funding the restoration of rail links lost under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

More than 50 years since the railways were radically reshaped, including thousands of lines and stations closed during the infamous Beeching cuts of the 1960s, this latest investment will kick-start work on schemes that reconnect previously cut-off communities, with the potential to reinvigorate local economies and level up opportunity across the country.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “For towns and villages left isolated and forgotten by Beeching cuts, restoring a rail line or a station has the potential to revitalise a community. It breathes new life into our high streets, drives investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.

“By building back with a real focus on better connections and supporting left-behind communities, we’re delivering our promise to level up this country.”

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The Beeching cuts saw tracks ripped up or grassed over, iconic viaducts and bridges left without a purpose and communities set adrift. Initially proposed by British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching in 1963, passenger services were ended on around a third of the rail network, with more than 2,300 stations closed and up to 5,000 miles of track axed across the UK.

Class 175 train (Image: Transport for Wales)

Over the summer, proposals from MPs and local authorities for the second round of the ‘Ideas Fund’ were considered by an expert panel, including Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Network Rail Chair Sir Peter Hendy, after 51 bids were received earlier this year.

A further 28 bids will receive further guidance to help develop and refine their ideas for assessment in future funding rounds.

(Lead image: St Clears station – Humphrey Bolton / Geograph)


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Carmarthen

Mother gifts toys to children’s wards in memory of lifesaving son

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The family of a patient who passed away in Morriston Hospital has donated a collection of toys to the children’s wards to help keep his memory alive.

But the presents are nothing compared to the gift of life that has resulted from the deceased being an organ donor.

Marc Leach passed away on 5th May, of this year, in Morriston Hospital, following a period in critical care.

The 25-year-old, who worked as a chef in a Carmarthen restaurant, leaves behind a 5-year-old son, Lincoln.

On what would have been his 26th birthday, his family and friends met up at Marc’s place of work where the idea of keeping his memory alive for his son was hatched.

Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis, said: “On his birthday this year, on 18 November, we all got together and decided to do a toy drive for the children’s ward in Morriston, to give them new toys.

“Marc has an amazing little boy called Lincoln, who is the spitting image of his daddy. I wanted to keep my son’s memory alive so that his own son would never forget him.

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“Next year we are going to do a donor drive and raise money for mental health services.”

Marc Leach (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

When it became apparent that Marc would not survive his mother spoke to members of the organ donation team.

Michelle said: “Marc had told us he wanted to be a donor. Because his uncle had benefitted from receiving a kidney in the past, he wanted to give back.

“I’m also a registered donor, I was supposed to give one of my kidneys to my brother but a donor came up instead.”

Although the recipients of donated organs remain confidential Michelle has been told that her son’s decision has already helped save lives.

She said: “His kidneys have gone to two people, his liver has gone to another. I believe he has saved three or four people.”

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It is a bittersweet thought for Michelle.

“I’m chuffed to bits that he has saved lives but I wish he was still here as he would have only been 26 this year.”

Calling on everyone to at least have a conversation on the subject of donations, she said: “We don’t need our organs when we die but there are people out there who do need them. They are just going to waste.”

Michelle thanked those who looked after her son in his final days.

“The nurses and doctors in intensive care laughed with us and they cried with us. They were absolutely amazing.

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“They were part of the family in the end. They knew a lot about Marc from listening us talking about what he was like and what he got up to.”

Kathryn Gooding (pictured top with Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis), Swansea Bay UHB specialist nurse organ donation, said: “Organ donation really does save and improve the lives of others.

“Thanks to Marc’s donation and the bravery of his family to support the decision other lives were saved.”

Of the presentation of toys to the hospital she said: “This initiative is a lovely way of remembering Marc and his generous gift of life and hopefully to bring a smile to the children who will benefit from the toy drive.”

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Extra free parking days for Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen during the festive season

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Carmarthenshire shoppers are being encouraged to use free parking days and support local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has approved requests from Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen town councils to allocate free parking days throughout December for events.

Towns across Carmarthenshire are offered five free parking days to use as they wish from January to November every year, but the council’s Cabinet has agreed to requests from some towns to extend these into December.

In Llanelli the free parking days are December 4, 11 and 18; in Carmarthen they are Dec 5, 12 and 19 and in Llandeilo they are Dec 4, 11, 18.

These are in addition to the usual free parking periods in our short stay car parks already running throughout the year in Carmarthenshire towns.

The free parking days coincides with the launch of the first ever Christmas pop up shops as part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.

The free pop up shops are located at the former Debenhams in Carmarthen and number 1 Stepney Street (next door to Andrew Price Hairdresser) and are open up until Christmas.

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Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “We know how difficult the past year has been for our local businesses and that is why we have agreed to allow the three main towns to use their annual free parking day allocations during December if they wanted to as this month is usually excluded. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of these extra days and support the pop up shops and our local town centre businesses during the festive season.”

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Major new TV drama latest to choose Carmarthenshire as its setting

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Carmarthenshire County Council has been working with location scouts and the production team to support the filming of a new thriller, which is using the county as its backdrop.

Y Golau/The Light In The Hall, produced by Triongl Cyf and Duchess Street Productions, is being filmed in Welsh and English and is set to air on S4C and Channel 4 in the UK, and Sundance Now in the US.

Cast and crew have been working in and around Llandovery, Carmarthen, Llangadog and Llandeilo over the past few weeks.

Actors including Joanna Scanlan, currently starring as Ma Larkin in the hit ITV family drama The Larkins, and Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones, are amongst those featuring in the thriller.

The council has been working to ensure the local area benefits financially from the production with location fees, accommodation and associated spending on food and retail in the Llandovery, Carmarthen, and surrounding areas set to bring a substantial boost to the local economy.

Council officers have also ensured minimal disruption to communities for the duration of the filming, with traffic management and access to local businesses unaffected.

This is the latest major production to be located in Carmarthenshire, on the back of the hugely successful Keeping Faith drama based in Laugharne and Carmarthen, and Save The Cinema, a film due to be released on Sky in the New Year.

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Although Llandovery and Carmarthen will see the most activity, other locations across the county are also hosting film crews for a range of other productions at the moment.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Yet again Carmarthenshire has been chosen as the location for a major production, which proves that what we have got to offer is enough to attract the best companies in the world.

“Our officers have been supporting the crew to scout locations, contact local landowners and liaise with partners – all part of our efforts to support the growth of the local economy. When we are able to attract productions of this scale, we are able to bring new money into the area – a cast and crew of around 60 people are staying and spending locally, and that means money in the tills of local businesses and in the pockets of local people.”

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, added: “We are very fortunate to have such a range of locations suitable for filming in Carmarthenshire, from large beaches that stretch for miles, to rural and urban landscapes, rolling countryside and historic buildings. We have worked hard to grow our reputation as a location for filming and that is paying off with more enquiries being made to us all the time. It will be fantastic to see Carmarthenshire featured on the screen once again.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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