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‘Severely fatigued’ crew of yacht with mechanical issues sailing from Fishguard to Aberystwyth rescued by helicopter

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New Quay and Aberdyfi RNLI lifeboats were called to assist the Coastguard to search for a yacht in difficulty 10 miles west of Aberystwyth just after 9am on Saturday (8 May).

The yacht, sailing from Fishguard to Aberystwyth, was experiencing mechanical and communications problems, and had failed to berth in Aberystwyth marina due to the tide. The severely fatigued two-person crew had raised the alarm by mobile phone when they realised they were in trouble, struggling with the winds and poor visibility.

New Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat towing the yacht (Image: RNLI)

Daniel Potter, New Quay RNLI Coxswain said: “We proceeded to the position given but on arrival another position was given 10 miles further north, and then again 5 miles north east. We searched for over an hour for the vessel as they had become lost in the deteriorating weather conditions. Barmouth lifeboat was also requested to launch but stood down as we located the vessel.

“When we located them, we had to act quickly as we found her close to shore and in danger of going aground on the reef near Tywyn. I had one opportunity and we took it, we set up a tow and pulled her into deeper water.

“We then requested to launch Aberdyfi’s lifeboat to assist us with getting crew on board as we had concerns over the health and wellbeing of the stricken vessel’s crew. Two volunteer crew from Aberdyfi and one from New Quay boarded the yacht. They assessed the casualty and it was decided as a matter of urgency to evacuate one of them. We requested an immediate helicopter evacuation, and HM Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 arrived and transferred the casualty to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

“It was quite an ordeal for the yacht, but it wasn’t over as we had to get the last of the crew members and the boat to safety. Aberdyfi lifeboat then transferred another one of our crew onto the yacht when they took theirs off and returned to station, and we began the tow to Aberystwyth.

“On approach to Aberystwyth we requested assistance from Aberystwyth lifeboat who launched and met us outside the harbour to transfer the tow into the marina, and to deliver us much needed supplies, fish and chips!

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Aberystwyth RNLI towing the vessel into the the harbour (Image: RNLI)

“We then headed home and returned to New Quay by 6pm, nine hours after launching. It was a very long day in difficult conditions. However, it was a fantastic effort by everyone, and we want to say a big thank you to all lifeboats and crew involved, and the helicopter. It was an amazing team effort by all.”

A coastguard helicopter took one of the crew to hospital after health concerns.

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Operations Manager added: “We would like to give our thanks to all the lifeboat stations involved. It was a great joint endeavour by Cardigan Bay lifeboat stations. The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea and our volunteer crew are on call 24/7. Remember if you find yourself or see anyone else in trouble at sea or on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

(Lead image: RNLI)


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Charity

Pembrokeshire charity recruits community fuel champions

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Pembrokeshire FRAME has received funding to recruit a community fuel co-ordinator and five volunteer champions as they look to raise awareness about energy efficiency, whilst tackling fuel poverty across the county.

The funding from gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, will allow the charity to act as a community point of contact for those facing fuel poverty issues and will help to make a positive difference to local communities most in need.

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The employed advisor and five volunteer champions will help individuals claim benefits, provide debt management advice and make referrals through to Wales & West Utilities existing network of partnerships. They will also be able sign people up to the Priority Services Register (PSR), make referrals for specialist support with fitting Locking Cooker Valves and distribute free carbon monoxide alarms.

Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has provided the funding as part of its Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA).

Paul Hughes, Chief Officer at Pembrokeshire FRAME, said: “This funding will allow us to deliver far-reaching benefits. Not only will it allow us to get into the heart of Pembrokeshire communities to help those most in need to gain specific advice on energy efficiency and gas safety, but it will allow us to provide employment and volunteering opportunities to local people.

“We are all feeling the impacts of the rising costs of living, and this funding will allow us to run a 5 day a week hotline for fuel poverty and carbon monoxide enquiries, whilst having face to face contact across communities.

“It’s great that Wales & West Utilities is supporting our efforts by providing this funding and we are hopeful that many people will benefit.”

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Pembrokeshire FRAME is a supported employment and life changing charity that transforms hundreds of lives in Pembrokeshire each year, by providing access to learning, supported and meaningful occupation, voluntary and employment opportunities and help and support to enable individuals to reach their potential. The community fuel champion will be based at the charity’s Merlin Bridge site, however, will also work in Pembroke Dock.

Tom Robinson, Social Obligations Specialist at Wales & West Utilities, said: “We’re delighted that this funding will allow Pembrokeshire FRAME to support the most vulnerable by providing vital energy efficiency advice and safety information.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support those most in need in our communities. Working with trusted partners like Pembrokeshire FRAME means we can help more people stay safe in their own homes.”

Between April 2021 to March 2026, Wales & West Utilities has £7m to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and keep people safe from the ‘silent killer’.

Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident & Emergency for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

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Funding is made from the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

(Lead image: Wales & West Utilities)

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RNLI

RNLI lifeguards return to their posts on Pembrokeshire beaches

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RNLI lifeguards are set to return to their posts this Saturday (18 June) on selected beaches on a number of Pembrokeshire’s busiest beaches as the charity’s lifeguards provide their annual safety service over the summer season.

From Saturday (18 June) RNLI lifeguards will be back offering their daily safety service between 10am-6pm for the summer season on the Pembrokeshire coast.

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RNLI lifeguards will be offering daily safety patrols until Sunday 4 September as the charity looks to ensure the safety of the public during the busy summer months. The RNLI lifeguards will be in daily attendance and welcome and encourage any questions you may have about water safety.

From 10am this Saturday, RNLI lifeguards will return to the following beaches: Saundersfoot, Tenby North, Tenby Castle, Fresh West, Broad Haven, Newgale South, Newgale Central, Newgale North, Newport Sands and Poppit.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor for Pembrokeshire, Peter Rooney reminds families of the importance of staying calm and to float if they get into difficulties on the coast: “If you get into trouble in the water, try not to panick and remember to Float to Live: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.

“RNLI lifeguards play a vital role in keeping beach visitors safe, but they can’t be everywhere. This is why we’re asking people to come prepared before you head to the beach; before the start of your day, take a few minutes to check local information such as tide times and the weather.”

Peter continues: “If possible, visit a lifeguarded beach and if entering the water always stay between the red and yellow flags – this is the area that’s carefully monitored by the RNLI lifeguards throughout the day. If you see someone else in trouble, as hard as it may be, never attempt the rescue yourself – alert a lifeguard or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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(Lead image: RNLI / Eleri Roberts)

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Technology

UK’s first live ‘self-powering’ mobile phone mast switched on in Pembrokeshire

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Vodafone has switched on the UK’s first live wind- and solar-powered mobile phone mast in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

The mast will provide 4G coverage to the community of Eglwyswrw.

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The specially designed mast, which potentially removes the need for a connection to the national electricity grid, could provide connectivity to ‘not-spots’ in the UK’s most remote and inaccessible locations – helping the industry achieve 95% of UK landmass coverage by 2025.

Vodafone say it will also help it reduce carbon emissions and support its target of reaching net zero UK operations by 2027.

The ‘self-powering’ mast incorporates a unique Crossflow Energy wind turbine that can generate power even in light winds. The mast can be installed without the need to dig trenches and lay electricity cables, making it faster and easier to install and reducing the impact on the local environment.

The self-powered mobile phone mast (Image: Vodafone)

It is also extremely quiet, making it viable for sensitive sites such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It can also be ‘filtered out’ as a solid object by radar, birds and bats, so it is easily avoided, making it less harmful to wildlife.

The trial, in partnership with wind turbine technology specialists Crossflow Energy and mobile infrastructure partner Cornerstone, is at Home Farm in the village of Eglwyswrw. It will run for two years and data gathered will help Vodafone optimise the technology and determine which sites are most suitable for ‘self-powering’ masts.

Bringing mobile and internet services to rural communities helps boost the local economy, tackle isolation and close the rural digital divide. To date, building masts in coverage ‘not spots’ without an existing electricity connection has been a significant financial and logistical challenge.

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Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer and Development Director, Vodafone, said: “Connectivity is vital to everyone, no matter where you live. This self-powering mobile phone mast, with on-site battery storage, could help us connect places that were previously impossible to reach. It will also help us reduce carbon emissions and minimise our impact on local environments.

“If this trial is a success, we would like to roll out more ‘self-powering’ masts, with a focus on areas with poor or no coverage.”

Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “Improving mobile coverage and digital connectivity across Wales is a priority for the UK Government and is hugely important for our economy.

“As we look to create more sustainable growth and jobs, it is fantastic to see green innovation being trialled in our rural communities.”

Martin Barnes, CEO, Crossflow Energy, said: “We are incredibly excited to be partnering with Vodafone on this UK first. Until now, the use of ‘small wind’ turbines in the race to net zero has been limited due to issues of performance, reliability, and planning concerns, such as noise, vibration, and damage to ecology.

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“The unique design of our wind turbine addresses all these challenges head on. We believe that one day its use could be as widespread and commonplace as solar panels.”

Rhys Phillip, Chief Executive Officer, Cornerstone, said: “As the UK’s leading tower company, we are proud to be involved in this landmark project, driving innovation to create scalable, sustainable connectivity solutions. We look forward to our continued collaboration on our journey towards environmentally friendly site designs.”

(Lead image: Alexander Viner / Vodafone)

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