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Local celebs share favourite open spaces as part of Tai Tarian competition

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Former Neath, Ospreys and Wales rugby player James Hook, sports author David Brayley, actor Jordan Bernarde and breakfast show DJ at The Wave, Leigh Jones have all named their favourite green spaces in Neath Port Talbot.

It is part of a campaign launched by Tai Tarian and running through the Summer, called #MyPlaceMySpace. The video challenge is aimed at getting the views of local young people on why the green spaces in their area matter to them.

Hook, Brayley Bernarde and Jones all have links to the Neath Port Talbot area and have themselves helped kickstart the competition by sharing videos of themselves in their particular favourite patch.

Perhaps not surprisingly, James Hook chose the Gnoll, home of Neath RFC and where it all started for him. He said:
“This is a really special place for me. It’s where I began my semi-professional rugby career. I played two seasons at the Gnoll and I made my debut for the Ospreys here, back in 2004. I was bag of nerves.”

Hook went on to urge young people to take part in the competition: “It’s a great place with great memories for me so if any of you guys have anywhere that’s special to you with memories, get the entries in and we’ll have look.”

The Gnoll, this time the cricket ground, also features in the memories of sports writer David Brayley, who named it as his favourite spot because of the memories it holds for him.

His first memory was aged 16 and winning a cricket cup final with his best friend. That friend was Tony Cottey who ended up playing for Glamorgan and Sussex.

Then at the same ground ten years later, Tony scored a hundred against an Australian touring team featuring many legends of the game, including Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.

Leigh Jones, whose airwaves double-act with breakfast show team-mate Claire Scott on The Wave reaches young people across the country every morning, told us about Aberavon seafront.

He said although he loved Margam Park, like TV Presenter Iolo Williams, and Afan Forest Park, it was Aberavon seafront he named as his favourite spot as it offered fitness for all: “I’m just out for a bit of a run right now. You could do some exercise on the green over there or you have the outdoor gym now which is worth checking out, or you could just grab a coffee and kick back and chill out on one of the benches.”

Actor Jordan Bernarde who played Garry in the Passion Play alongside Michael Sheen & Di Botcher, also gave the nod to Aberavon Beach as the first place he goes to when he returns from London.

He said: “It takes me away from this very urban environment I live in. It’s a place as a kid where I would go on bike rides with my family or have fish and chips with my grandad. It’s a place when I’m home that I go to and always bump into someone I went to school with and reconnect with them or meet someone I used to work with in Grove Park pub.

“10 years ago when I did the Passion, the dunes area is where we rehearsed so it really is a place where I can reflect, remember who I am, what I stand for and where I come from, so it’s very special.”

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Tai Tarian have launched the #MyPlaceMySpace competition for those between 16 and 24 who call Neath Port Talbot home. They can share their own video on their social media channels to be in with a chance to win a £50 meal in a local independent restaurant.

Entries can be shared on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Just tag @TaiTarian and use the hashtag #MyPlaceMySpace.

Alternatively youngsters can email media@taitarian.co.uk, closing date 20th August.

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Pets

Are cats man’s new best friend? Surge in demand throughout lockdown

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Everyone’s heard that dogs are man’s best friend, but what about cats? 

Research from pet insurance comparison experts Quotezone.co.uk, shows that over the last three years, across the pandemic, demand for pets amongst single people was on the rise, particularly cats. 

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Couples with pets have actually been in decline year-on-year, dropping from 70.5% in 2019 to 67% in 2022 for dogs, and from 65% down to 60.6% for couples with cats.

Demand for pets from single people has spiked though, with dogs up from 29% to 33% and the popularity of cats jumping by almost 5%, from 35% in 2019 to 39.4% in 2022.

The cat owners surveyed take very particular care of their pets, with 85% of the cats microchipped – even though it’s not a legal requirement yet. A majority of cat owners in the UK have also gotten their feline friends vaccinated (84%) and neutered (85%), which can help for medical reasons and can even help cat owners save money on pet insurance. 

Top 3 ways to save on cat insurance

  1. Review pets’ lifestyles, indoor versus outdoor – indoor cats are at less risk of theft and injury.
  2. If you have more than one cat, it’s normally cheaper to have a multi-pet policy.
  3. Often fully vaccinated, microchipped/tagged and neutered cats have cheaper premiums.

Greg Wilson, Founder of pet insurance comparison site, Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “It’s great to see a rise in demand for our feline friends, these clever animals are full of affection and personality, we’d just recommend that people do their homework before adopting or purchasing any pet, considering if the breed is a good fit for them and their household and working out estimated costs for care and food beforehand. 

“Bear in mind any upcoming changes in lifestyle such as returning to the office or a more hybrid work/life balance, which can all affect our furry friends.

“Vet bills have the potential to be quite sizable if the animal suffers an accident or is diagnosed with an illness, so shop around and get a good deal on pet insurance, it really is the best way to protect them, safeguard finances and it doesn’t have to be expensive.”

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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