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17 year old Carmarthen health care apprentice scoops national Teen Hero award

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Will Jones, aged 17 from Carmarthen, was recently presented with a national #TeenHero award by BBC Radio 1’s Greg James in recognition of his work and the positive impact he has had on people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to BBC Radio 1’s national call out for Inspirational Teenager Award nominations, Will, a Trainee Physiotherapy Technician at Glangwili Hospital, was nominated by his girlfriend, Tayla, and received the surprise news live on BBC Radio 1’s breakfast show on Thursday 17th December.

Will joined the Apprenticeship Academy scheme run by Hywel Dda University Health Board over a year ago. When the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, he stepped up to help as a frontline worker.

Popular BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James asked Will about his experience of working in health care during the pandemic and he replied: “It’s so rewarding to be part of our patients’ journeys and getting them back to some normality. The team really pull together and we support each other through it.”  

Will was also rewarded on the programme with personal messages from Scarlets and Wales hooker Ken Owens and sports presenter Eddie Butler, thanking him for his optimism, focus, selflessness, and inspirational hard work.

WATCH: BBC Radio 1 presenter speaks to 17 year old Carmarthen health care apprentice Will Jones (Video: Hywel Dda University Health Board / BBC / Facebook)

Physiotherapist Tom Miles, who worked with Will, said: “Will has been with us as a physiotherapy technician through last year and has worked tirelessly on our medical and stroke wards. He is always there for any team or ward who needs him.

“He has shown great resilience and integrity during these uncertain times and he has helped numerous patients through rehabilitation and discharge so they can get home safely.”

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Lisa Gostling, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development also praised Will’s efforts commenting: “This is such a proud moment for Will and his family, and also for his colleagues in the physiotherapy service and the health board as a whole.

“Will is a great role model for other young people and has inspired others during these challenging times. We applaud this well-deserved recognition and hope it encourages others to think about the opportunities being a health care apprentice could bring for them.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board will launch its next Apprenticeship Academy programme in January. For more information, go to: Apprenticeship Academy – Hywel Dda University Health Board (nhs.wales)

(Lead image: Hywel Dda University Health Board)


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Books & Literature

Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves

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Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.

His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.

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The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.

The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.

“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.

“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”

The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.

He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.

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“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”

He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.

“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.

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Carmarthen

Carmarthen’s Richmond Park School celebrates becoming a School of Sanctuary

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Richmond Park School in Carmarthen is the first school in Carmarthenshire to achieve School of Sanctuary status.

The school has been recognised for all its good work in creating a culture of welcome and safety for people seeking sanctuary, including asylum seeking and refugee families.

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It joins a national network of over 300 primary and secondary schools all committed to

to supporting the thousands of young people seeking sanctuary in the UK, raising awareness of the issues facing people in asylum, challenging misconceptions and building social cohesion.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language Cllr Glynog Davies and Director of Education and Children’s Services Gareth Morgans visited the school during Refugee Week 2022 to celebrate the achievement.

Cllr Davies said: “People have been responding to the ongoing refugee crisis in towns and villages across Wales, setting up schemes which offer support and welcome. Over the past few years, we have welcomed new arrivals from Syria, Afghanistan and now the Ukraine underlining the importance of initiatives such as School of Sanctuary.

“Schools play a crucial role in helping young people to make sense of the world, to become responsible citizens and to create positive change in their communities.

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“Richmond Park have done a wonderful job in achieving this award and have set the bar high. We hope many other schools in Carmarthenshire will also begin their journeys towards this prestigious award.”

The awarding panel was impressed with how brilliantly and articulately the children from Richmond Park spoke about their school, their experiences of being new arrivals and all the wonderful things they do to welcome and include everyone.

The school’s Cymuned Croeso student council is made up of students who have transitioned to the school who help to shape the school’s policy around welcoming newcomers; and Richmond Park’s sanctuary barn – known as Noddfa Iaith – offers a designated area of sanctuary, a place for quiet reflection filled with messages of positivity.

The panel were also impressed by how the school is promoting multilingualism through the use of Giglets/Flash Academy, Online FlipGrid creating a multilingual exchange space throughout Carmarthenshire, multilingual staff, and students trained as interpreters.

Schools of Sanctuary co-ordinator Megan Greenwood said: “As the first school in Carmarthenshire to go through the process, we have been particularly impressed with how self-driven the school has been and its efforts and activities are all the more impressive and innovative.

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“We feel that the school has taken opportunities to properly engage with the whole school community and has evidenced various novel efforts and activities that reflect best practice in building sanctuary in school.”

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen

Carmarthen illegal angler must pay £3k after court no-show

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After failing to attend two court hearings, a Carmarthenshire man has been found guilty of fishing offences at Llanelli Magistrates Court and has been ordered to pay almost £3,000 in fines and costs.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) prosecuted Gavin Davies of 4 Heol Spurrell, Carmarthen after he was witnessed by an NRW Enforcement Officer and a Dyfed Powys Police (DPP) Wildlife Crime Police Officer catching an adult salmon on the Wenallt fishing beat of the River Tywi, by deliberately using an illegal barbed fishing hook.

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The incident took place on 17 September 2021.

It is a legal requirement in Wales, that any salmon caught are released alive back into the river and that anglers who target migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout (sewin) must use de-barbed or barbless fishing hooks.

Mr Davies, who had caught the salmon by the time he was approached by the officers, was attempting to put the fish back into the river. He showed a very poor catch and release practice, which would have contributed to the death of the fish if it had not already died due to the damage caused by the illegal barbed hook.

The fish was seen floating down the river immediately after being released by Mr Davies.

The damage to the gills of the salmon caused by Davies’ illegal barbed hook (Image: NRW)

After the dead salmon was recovered from the river, officers witnessed fatal gill damage injuries to the salmon that were caused by the barbed hook used by Mr Davies. The NRW Officer instructed Mr Davies to de-barb and flatten the barb on his fishing hook, which he duly did.

Mr Davies made no attempt to attend his first summons to Llanelli Magistrates Court hearing and also made no effort to attend the second hearing which was re-arranged for him on 22 April 2022.

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The case was made against Mr Davies in his absence, and he was found guilty by the court Magistrates.

The court fined him the maximum amount available to them for the charge and awarded NRW the full costs of the investigation.

The fine, costs and victim surcharge totalled to £2,917.91.

Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “This incident is a case study in how not to fish for migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout. Mr Davies was experienced and well versed in the angling byelaws, but still knowingly used an illegal method to catch the salmon. Mr Davies displayed shockingly poor technique in trying to release the salmon and showed no respect for fish welfare.

“He represents a very small portion of the angling community on the Tywi catchment, and I urge anyone who isn’t sure of the angling rules, or of the best practice catch & release techniques to visit our website.

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“Every single salmon that reaches its spawning beds is highly important to the river Tywi catchment and to the passionate angling communities who visit.

“The female ‘hen’ salmon that died because of Mr Davies’ actions may have contributed nearly 5000 eggs if it had spawned in the higher reaches of the Tywi catchment. These lost salmon eggs represent an important loss for a river catchment which is already not meeting its spawning targets for successful future fish stocks.

“I would like to thank our Dyfed Powys Police Wildlife Crime Officer for his continued help within our fisheries enforcement teams and also in prosecuting this case.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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