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Carmarthenshire

Wildflowers for wellbeing? Green-fingered citizen scientists sought for UK study

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A bunch of amateur gardeners from across the UK is needed for a new research project, involving Swansea University, which looks at the benefits of growing plants, volunteering and online communities – and NHS hospitals will end up blooming from it too.

In the biggest study of its kind ever undertaken, the National Botanic Garden of Wales will send free seeds to 2,000 volunteers to nurture and grow wildflowers this summer.

Once the plants have blossomed, the citizen scientists will be asked to turn ‘gatherers’ and collect all their seeds. These will then be planted at NHS hospitals and clinics next summer for patients, staff and visitors to enjoy.

Participants will be invited to join a Growing Together online community, offering growing and wellbeing tips, and advice on how to convert their outdoor spaces into wildlife havens.

Researchers from Swansea University will look at how the hat-trick of gardening, volunteering and being part of a ‘community’, over a full growing season, benefits mental health. This is the first time all three have been studied together on such a large scale.

landscape photography of flower garden
A wildflower meadow (Image: Mina-Marie Michell / Pexels.com)

No horticultural expertise or large garden is required – each grow-at-home kit will come with full instructions, and a window box, patio container or tiny flower patch, is all you need to get started.

The Growing Together kit also includes paid-for envelopes for participants to post their harvested seeds back to the Botanic Garden, so it won’t cost anything to take part.

Volunteers will be asked to complete three 10-minute questionnaires over the duration of the project.

More information on how to take part

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Botanic Garden project officer, Kathryn Thomas says: “Our ‘Growing Together’ project is going to be a great way for people to contribute to an important research study, whilst growing some beautiful wildflowers. We are looking for people from all walks of life to take part – you don’t even need a garden!

And we’ve selected the plants for colour, of varying height and flowering times for maximum interest, including poppies, cornflowers and corncockles, which were common in the countryside but are now a rare sight.”

Swansea University’s Dr Luke Jefferies, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology & Mental Health, says: “As a psychologist I am very interested in exploring ways of enhancing the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment. What is exciting is this study is focused on wellbeing in its broadest sense and for everyone. It combines gardening, volunteering and the role of online communities, and that mix is very special. We’ll also be able to measure wellbeing over an entire growing season.”

More information on how to take part in the Growing Together project.

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Participants must be mainland UK residents and aged 18+, no other exclusions apply for this research. Please register your interest by 11 April 2021. If you’d like to register via post, please contact the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, SA32 8HG.

Last year, during the first Covid lockdown over 1,600 National Botanic Garden of Wales volunteers grew meadow wildflowers for Swansea Bay NHS to lift their own spirits and bring cheer to the community.


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Carmarthenshire

Health board recruits 45 international nurses to fill staffing shortfall

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Hywel Dda University Health Board has recruited 45 international nurses and says it plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

Hywel Dda say they aim to recruit 100 international nurses this year through a centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

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The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

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Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwilli Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

Hywel Dda say that international nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Carmarthenshire

Residents encouraged to have say on Teifi Valley flooding schemes

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Consultation on flood prevention schemes by Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion councils in the Teifi Valley has been extended to August 31 to give more residents an opportunity to have their say.

Face-to-face events in Llandysul and Llynybydder have been added to the previous online only consultation.

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Residents can visit the powerhouse in Llandysul on Wednesday 24 August between 10am and 1pm, or between 3pm and 6pm. There’s also an event at Llanybydder RFC on Thursday 25 August between 10am and 1pm, and also between 3pm and 6pm.

Officers from Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils and Natural Resources Wales will be in attendance to answer any queries along with a representative from the consultants appointed by both authorities.

The council’s say that all partners involved want to understand the impact that flooding has on communities, how the flooding happens and to assess different flood measures that will reduce the impact during increasingly stormy weather in the future.

People will be able to submit feedback in person by writing their comments down and putting them in the box located at the venues. This will be in addition to the comments and suggestions submitted during the online consultation process.

The councils say that feedback from the consultation and these events will feed into the next stage of work and form part of any decision making that Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government will undertake to design and implement any flood risk reduction scheme.

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Carmarthenshire County Council’s  Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services Cllr Edward Thomas said: “We want as much feedback as possible from residents so that together we can look further into the options available to us to manage flood risk in these communities. The drop-in events will provide an opportunity for residents to speak to officers about the different options available and the next steps.”

Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management Keith Henson said: “We encourage the residents of Llandysul, Pont-Tyweli and Llanybydder to have their say in this consultation, either by attending the in-person events at the said locations or by visiting the online link on the council’s website. The responses from this consultation will enable us and our partners to explore what options we have to manage flood risk in the Teifi Valley.”

Lead image: Humphrey Bolton / Geograph)

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Ammanford

Jenkins family set to grow Capel Hendre business as the UK’s leading manufacturer of chimney cowls and flue systems

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Midtec, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of chimney cowls and flue systems has completed the construction of 2500 square feet of additional manufacturing space at Capel Hendre Industrial Estate near Ammanford, using a £220,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

Formed in 2003 by Managing Director, Trefor Jenkins, Midtec first benefitted from investment from the Development Bank in 2005.

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They have since had several rounds of funding from the Development Bank to support growth plans and the next generation is looking to the future with the new additional space being used to house a state of the art ENSIS laser cutting machine, supplied by Amada.

Trefor said: “The ongoing support of the Development Bank means that we’ve been able to grow the business, drive efficiencies and invest in new market opportunities. We’ve also introduced new products including the MidCat, an innovative solution for reducing the pollution created by wood burning stoves and the only one of its kind in the UK.”

“Our latest investment in our technology means that we can now offer a laser cutting service that will help to improve our quality and production processes and save time on the turnaround of customer orders. We hope that this will play an important part in our future growth. Indeed, our turnover is on target to exceed £2 million this year and I’m delighted that my son Thomas and daughter Hannah are already playing a vital role in the business as we focus on our long-term sustainability.”

Midtec make chimney cowls and flue systems at their Capel Hendre manufacturing base
Midtec make chimney cowls and flue systems at their Capel Hendre manufacturing base

Richard Easton, a Portfolio Executive with the Development Bank, said: “Midtec is a family run and owned business that is known for its high quality and excellent customer service. With our continued support, Trefor, Thomas, Hannah and the team have created a modern manufacturing facility that has a really exciting future ahead.”

The loan came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government. Loans, mezzanine finance, and equity investments are available for deals between £50,000 and £2 million with terms ranging from one to seven years for small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales.

Construction company TRJ of Ammanford carried out the building work, while Jamie Reynolds of Cennen Solutions has also been providing strategic support.

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