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Vaccinations inject new life into Swansea Valley Men’s Shed

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Members of Clydach’s Men’s Shed can’t speak highly enough of Swansea Bay University Health Board’s vaccination programme for helping them resume their weekly cuppa and chats.

Men’s sheds are places for the community to enjoy craftwork and social interaction, whilst helping to improve the health and wellbeing of its members. But, like so many other groups, they were placed on hold during the second wave of the pandemic.

Thanks to the recent easing of restrictions, fuelled by the success of the vaccination programme, the shed has now opened its doors once more to members who have received at least one Covid vaccination.

Belinda Gardiner founded the shed in 2019 after buying a derelict blacksmith’s forge in the Swansea Valley village believing it would make an ideal home for a local branch of the growing men’s shed movement.

The former teacher said the reopening had been eagerly anticipated.

She said: “Unfortunately we have been closed since December, when the second wave hit, and it has been sorely missed.

“We have used the time wisely and have done a lot of work.

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“We have a new wooden cabin that will be used for socialising, when we are allowed to meet indoors again, we have painted our storage container and put a new roof on it, and installed flower boxes around the grounds.

“We also have new gazebos and parasols for shelter, and heaters, everything to try and make people comfortable when they come here.”

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The Clydach Men’s Shed opens on  Wednesdays and Fridays, 10.30am to 1pm, when 25 to 30 people call in for a cup of tea and a chat.

Under Covid rules everyone has to be outside. Belinda said everything was sanitised and social distancing was maintained.

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“We keep a register, with names and telephone numbers, and you must have had at least your first vaccination before attending.”

Praising the vaccination programme she added: “The health board has done a great job protecting us all.

“I think it’s essential we all have the Covid vaccination. Anyone who disagrees should become better informed, it’s really important.”

Belinda said the shed, which relies upon donations, had been greatly missed but she had done her best to keep in touch with her fellow ‘shedders’.

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She said: “We formed before the pandemic and had no way of knowing how vital we would prove to be for many of our regulars.

“We kept the communication going with everyone during lockdown by email, text and phone.

“We also tried to visit as many people as we could if we felt they needed some extra support and it was safe to do so.

“Some were more vulnerable and found it harder than others. They definitely appreciated it.

“The shed has a great network. If someone needs help, we know there’s somebody we can go to, explain what the problem is, and someone will help us.”

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Clydach’s Mens Shed (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Clydach councillor Gordon Walker, himself a regular at the shed, said: “It’s marvellous seeing people having had their vaccinations and the shed open once more. It’s so nice to see everyone back and having a chat.”

Mr Walker, who as a trained carpenter supported the shed by providing and fitting new doors on the old forge, praised its founder.

He said: “Belinda is outstanding with the older people of the village. She has called them all up during the lockdown, and provides an invaluable support network.”

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Larraine Rees, who regularly attends the shed along with her husband, said it was great to be back.

“There’s a real hype about the place today. The shed provides such a nice social opportunity. It’s lovely to meet people and chat to them.

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“I enjoy helping out with whatever is going on here as much as I can.

“The lockdown has been difficult for everyone but we have managed to stay in touch as best we can, which has been a great comfort.”

Of the vaccine she said: “We have both had our vaccinations and I would advise everyone to have theirs – the effect is showing already with such a fall in the Covid rates.”

GP Dr Iestyn Davies, lead of the Cwmtawe Cluster, which fully supports the group, said: “It’s fantastic to see the men’s shed reopening as it provides a lifeline for so many in terms of friendship, socialising and support.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our vaccination teams who have been working so hard to ensure people are protected.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Lifestyle

The rise of self-trolling: new survey reveals Brits are their own biggest critics, saying more than 1,000 self-deprecating comments each year

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A study of 2,000 Brits found more than a fifth are their own biggest critic – especially when it comes to the way we look.

As a nation we struggle with our self-confidence, with the average adult saying more than 1,000 negative things about themselves each year.

From our hair to weight, new research from Tu Clothing has revealed that more than a fifth (21 per cent) of Brits are their own biggest critic, with 27 per cent admitting they wouldn’t dream of saying some of the things they say about themselves to others.

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A typical day sees the average man say or think three negative things about themselves – 1,095 times a year – while women do so four times a day, amounting to 1,460 insults a year.

Wardrobe blues

Our style is another area we’re very hard on ourselves about, with more than a fifth of adults (23 per cent) admitting they generally struggle to find clothes they feel comfortable in and the same amount again (23 per cent) admitting they care too much about what others think of them.

In terms of being bold with colour, the nation likes to play it safe with black being the most confidence-inducing colour to wear, followed closely by blue and grey. Only 21 per cent feel comfortable wearing yellow, and just 19 per cent would dare to wear orange.

Yet Brits’ outward appearance doesn’t always match their inner feelings, with a fifth (21 per cent) wishing they could channel their childhood freedom to chuck on what feels good.
Tu Clothing has teamed up with actress, TV presenter and mum of three Zoe Hardman to encourage the nation to dress for joy and embrace their inner child this summer.

Zoe Hardman said: “With summer approaching, many of us get nervous about getting body parts out that are hidden the rest of the year including stomachs, thighs and upper arms. We can also have those days when we lack confidence, especially when it comes to the clothes that we wear, which is why this summer I want everyone to tap into their inner child and adopt a carefree attitude when it comes to getting dressed. Kids love to wear what makes them feel great and don’t give a second thought to other people’s opinions.

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“I want to help encourage the nation to embrace their own unique style, care less about what others think and have fun putting outfits together. Summer is a great time to embrace bold colours and patterns which increase both positivity and confidence.”

Bold is beautiful

Tu has also teamed up with Sarah Powell, self-celebration expert and motivational speaker, to encourage the nation to embrace their inner child and dress in brighter, bolder colours this summer.

Sarah Powell said: “I love that kids wear whatever they want, whenever they want. A tulle skirt over wellies? Sure. Jelly shoes with green socks in November? Perfect. Kids don’t get bogged down with ‘what should I wear?’ or ‘what’s the weather doing?’ or all of those things which keep us dressing for practical, sensible reasons rather than dressing for joy.

“Lots of us have a playful side, and it means different things to different people. Your inner child is there and they are wearing something wonderful, so spend a little time and think ‘what would I wear if I didn’t care? What would I wear if it was just about making me feel good?’ That’s the attitude I want us all to have this summer.”

Emma Benjafield, Director of Product at Tu Clothing, said: “I’ve been really looking forward to making the most of this summer and there’s no better time to embrace your body and wear colours, prints and patterns. We want to encourage people of all ages to simply have fun with dressing up, to not be afraid to wear what they want, not to worry what others think.

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“The survey results show people think they’re ‘too old’ for certain clothing items but we want to change this myth – everyone should wear what they want, how they want and when they want. Fashion, after all, should be fun and make you feel good!”

Lead image: Tu Summer Clothing launch with Zoe Haardman and her family. (Image: Tu Clothing)

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Business

Aldi retains title of ‘UK’s cheapest supermarket’

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As Brits continue to look for ways to cut household costs, consumer group Which? has yet again named Aldi as the cheapest UK supermarket.

With savings of £12.62 compared to the average Big Four basket, Aldi says its shoppers can be confident they’re getting the best deal.

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Which? conducted its monthly Cheapest Supermarket price comparison and looked at the cost of a basket of 47 items, including groceries and household essentials, with Aldi coming in cheapest at just £74.23.

The same shopping cost a whopping £16.91 more at Morrisons and £12.54 more at Tesco.

The independent consumer group’s research also found Aldi to be a massive £25.23 cheaper than the most expensive supermarket, Waitrose, for an equivalent basket of items.

The full results of the research are as follows:

RankRetailerAverage £
1Aldi74.23
2Lidl75.61
3Asda83.22
4Sainsbury’s86.27
5Tesco86.77
6Morrisons91.14
7Ocado95.33
8Waitrose99.46

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said: “We know that across the nation many families are finding things tough due to the cost of living crisis. At Aldi, we’re determined to help by keeping costs low and quality high for our customers. We’re thrilled to yet again be named the UK’s cheapest supermarket.”

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(Lead image: Aldi)

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Carmarthenshire

Rare ‘Handkerchief Tree’ planted at Aberglasney to celebrate Platinum Jubilee

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To celebrate HRH The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Aberglasney Gardens has planted a rare Handkerchief Tree to commemorate the occasion.  

The Handkerchief (Davidia involucrata) tree is the first of its kind in the Gardens. It is a rare but highly sought-after tree, native to China. Also called the dove tree, it’s named after its beautiful white, flower-like bracts, which appear to flutter, like doves or handkerchiefs, in the slightest breeze. 

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According to Chinese legend, the handkerchief tree is the most romantic tree in China. It was introduced to the UK in the late 19th Century, by the famous plant collector named Ernest Wilson. He brought seeds back to the UK and his first tree flowered in 1906. 

Aberglasney’s Platinum Jubilee commemorative tree will be added to the Queen’s Green Canopy map, which is a digital record of the Jubilee tree planting projects across the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty and The Prince of Wales planted the first Jubilee tree in the grounds of Windsor Castle in March to mark the launch of the Queen’s Green Canopy.

With a focus on planting sustainably, the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative encourages the planting of trees to create a legacy in honour of The Queen’s leadership of the Nation, which will benefit future generations.  

Jim Stribling, Aberglasney’s Director of Operations, said, “The ethos of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative is perfectly in line with our views on planting here at Aberglasney. We choose additions to these established areas carefully. We feel the unique beauty of the handkerchief tree marks the special occasion that is the Platinum Jubilee as well as offering visitors to the Gardens an opportunity to see a rare species when they visit.” 

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Aberglasney’s Board of Trustees retiring Chairman, Peter Burgess, and newly elected Chairman, Phil Ratcliffe, helped the team of gardeners plant the tree. Helen Scutt, member of the Board of Trustees, as well as a well-known local garden designer and landscaper, chose the tree. 

Aberglasney’s woodlands were probably planted in the early 1800s, when improving landowners replenished the timber stocks of the estate.

The Jubilee Woodland Garden’s bog-like conditions mean ferns, gunneras, hostas and large-leaved bog plants thrive. The Pigeon House Wood is enclosed with ancient hedge banks and is carpeted in spring with bluebells, orchids, ramsons and wood anemones.  

(Lead image: Aberglasney Gardens)

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