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West Wales restaurateur Simon Wright appointed UWTSD Professor of Practice

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Simon Wright, restaurateur, broadcaster, food writer, and consultant has been appointed to the role of Professor of Practice by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The title of Professor of Practice is awarded to acknowledge an individual’s academic and/or professional distinction in a field which is aligned to the University’s mission and strategic direction. Professor Simon Wright’s expertise will be pivotal in assisting the University to develop initiatives which aim to deliver economic, social and cultural growth linked to local food and hospitality, sustainability, agriculture and rural entrepreneurship.

Professor Wright is a renowned champion of Welsh food and drink produce, sustainable agriculture and the hospitality industry.  He has managed restaurants in Carmarthenshire for over 30 years and has developed a career as a broadcaster participating in a range of TV and radio programmes, including for the BBC and Channel 4.  He was the restaurant consultant for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in the UK and Europe for 10 years, as well as a restaurant inspector for the AA’s Restaurant Guide.  In 2010 he was named the Local Food Ambassador for Wales and was awarded the Wales True Taste Champion Award in the Welsh Government’s annual awards for his “dedication and devotion to Welsh food and drink”.

Simon has served on the Welsh Government Food and Farming Sector Panel and has been active for many years in contributing to food policy at all levels of government including the Food Strategy for Wales and the Food Tourism Action Plan. Most recently he has been working with Coleg Sir Gâr on designing further education courses based on sustainable and local food production and with Carmarthenshire County Council in radical efforts aimed at putting local food on the public plate.

He recently co-founded the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective as a response to the challenges facing the sector from Covid-19. The collective now has more than 300 supporting businesses across Wales and is actively engaged with Welsh Government on strategies for the survival and recovery of the sector.

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Simon Wright, who also has a background in Town and Country Planning, said on his appointment: “I’m pleased to have this opportunity to play a role in supporting the University’s ambitions for sustainable regeneration in West Wales based around the rural economy and particularly the food and hospitality industries. There has never been a more crucial and acute time for these issues to be addressed. My passion is local food and all that comes with it – community, landscape, agriculture – and I’m delighted to have this opportunity and to be able to play a part in shaping the future of food and farming in West Wales and further afield”.

Professor Wright will be part of the team delivering Canolfan Tir Glas, a major development for the University’s Lampeter Campus. Its aim is to promote the local food industry, local sustainability, resilience, and enterprise within a rural context. Working closely with Ceredigion County Council and a range of local organisations, the initiative will strengthen the economic infrastructure of Lampeter and the surrounding area. 

A core part of the scheme is the collaboration with food retailer Aldi to develop a food village on part of the University’s Pontfaen fields, as well as a food and hospitality training centre within the town. The development also includes the creation of a Rural Enterprise Hub and a University of Gastronomy on the University’s campus itself. Professor Wright will assist in the development of the Lampeter training restaurant as a commercial outlet for local and regional food and drink producers, assisting in the development of local food supply chains and primary and secondary food manufacturing in the region.

In addition, he will support research and enterprise, as well as curriculum development at all levels across the UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion as constituent colleges.

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Barry Liles, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Skills and Lifelong Learning and Head of the Wales Institute for Science and Arts said: “I’m pleased to welcome Simon Wright as a Professor of Practice to the University. The University will benefit from his expertise and experience in the food and hospitality industries, and in particular, the needs and demands for these industries in the rural communities of West Wales. We are developing an exciting curriculum, as well as research and enterprise initiatives to ensure that this crucial sector is supported by a highly skilled workforce as well as having access to the University’s expertise, technology and innovation, particularly post COVID”.

Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Provost of the Lampeter Campus who is leading on the development of Canolfan Tir Glas said: “I’m delighted that Simon Wright will be lending his expertise to the development of Canolfan Tir Glas. This initiative is underpinned by economic regeneration, with the aim of creating new jobs, attracting many more visitors to the town and increasing the number of further and higher education students studying in Lampeter.  His insight and leadership on aspects of the project will be invaluable.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor added: “Simon Wright’s appointment as a Professor of Practice is central to the University’s strategy for developing provision in Lampeter that is linked to regional needs and government sector priority areas. The development of such provision aims to support the recovery and resilience of our communities, post pandemic, through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled, digitally literate students and graduates, in partnership with employers.  The food, farming and hospitality industries are the mainstays of those communities in West Wales and Professor Wright’s experience in advising government policy and working in these areas over the past 30 years makes him a great asset to the University.  I’m pleased to welcome him to the UWTSD community”.

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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Art

Carmarthenshire Museum reopens for National Gallery painting exhibition

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It will be the first time the museum has been open to the public since 2020 when it closed for phase one of improvement, funded by Carmarthenshire County Council.

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People will be able to visit from Saturday to see Jean-Siméon Chardin’s ‘The House of Cards’, a painting from the National Gallery’s masterpiece collection, which was painted by the 18th century French artist in around 1740–1.

Carmarthenshire Museum was chosen by the National Gallery as one of only three museums in the UK to exhibit part of its collection.

The museum, in Abergwili, re-opens following completion of the first phase of restoration by Carmarthenshire County Council which has invested significantly to create a better environment for museum collections.  

The expansive programme of phased works includes roof repairs, two new galleries, re-building of the chimneys and decorative stonework.

Phase one involved making the historic landmark building watertight, installing a new roof, restoring stonework on the front of the building, repairing over 100 windows, restoring the iconic lantern window over the museum’s central hall and the distinctive carved stone porch – both legacies of the building’s past as the palace of the Bishops of St Davids.

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The museum also has a new shop to showcase gifts inspired by the museum collections and regional crafts and will open next week.

The museum entrance has also been adapted and is fully accessible with a gentle ramp and a power assisted outer door. Other sensitive modernisations have also been carried out.

Phase two of the ongoing restoration works is well underway and involves upgrading two galleries on the ground floor.  

This work, funded by Welsh Government, is expected to be completed by Easter.

The final phase will focus on smaller projects throughout the museum and the park and will get underway later this year.

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During the museum’s closure, the surrounding Bishop’s Park has also undergone a transformation under the management of the Tywi Gateway Trust, featuring accessible pathways, landscaping, interpretation, and planting after the council granted £300,000 towards the cost of developing disused outbuildings into a vibrant visitor centre and café within the museum grounds. 

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said: “A huge amount of restoration work has been already done and is continuing at Carmarthenshire Museum, and we are working towards a completion date later this year.

“We are pleased that we have been able to complete phase one of these works just in time to host this magnificent painting as part of the National Gallery’s Masterpiece Tour.

“We wanted to be able to welcome visitors back as soon as was possible so we kindly ask our visitors to bear with us as we complete the rest of the phased restoration works that are underway at the museum. Investing in our museums and engaging in cultural activity has a demonstrable positive impact on starting well, living well and ageing well.

“Our museums are the family photobook of the history of our county, documenting where we’ve come from and helping to shape the unique cultural identity of our future generations.”

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(Lead. image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen

New special care baby unit opens at Carmarthen’s Glangwili Hospital

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A new specialist unit to care for some of the most vulnerable newborn babies has officially opened at Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen.

The new Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) is part of a £25.2m Welsh Government investment into a new development scheme to obstetric and neonatal facilities at the hospital and will serve families across mid and west Wales.

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The state-of-the-art unit has been purpose built with the focus being on the baby and their family, and the neonatal team.

The new family friendly unit will continue to provide high dependency and special care level of care to premature and unwell newborn babies with improved facilities and modern technology.

The clinical space meets national guidance which respects family privacy and dignity. There are four en suite overnight rooms for parents and a family sitting room.

The clinical area and the staff facilities will improve the working environment for the neonatal team and will be beneficial to their wellbeing. The new facilities include an appropriate area for teaching and multi-disciplinary working.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, said: ”The new facilities will support families during a time when they need it most. I’m pleased that Welsh Government funding has been used to create the new centre and will provide state of the art facilities for the community and for the neonatal team to provide vital care.”

Steve Moore, Chief Executive, Hywel Dda University Health Board thanked all involved in the project: “It’s wonderful to see the new unit open for babies and their families.

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“The improved facilities are part of our continued investment in women and children’s services and will provide a much enhanced environment for special care babies across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

“I wish to personally thank everyone involved in this project for their dedication and hard work over recent years. I also extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to equipment for the unit through incredible fundraising efforts and generous donations. Thank you all.”

Lisa Humphrey, Interim General Manager for Women and Children’s Services, Hywel Dda University Health Board commented: “As project director I would like to thank all of the parents, staff and the contractors for their contribution to the delivery of this scheme.

“Having an up-to-date unit enhances the delivery of high quality care that the team already provide in an environment that improves well-being for babies, their families and staff.”

Karen Jones, Senior Nurse, Special Care Baby Unit added: “We would like to thank families who have kindly donated money to enable us to purchase medical equipment such as oxygen monitors and a monitor to assist with monitoring brain activity. We have also purchased items for the family and staff sitting rooms and furnishings for the quiet room.

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“The neonatal team are looking forward to moving into the new unit, which is spacious and light with excellent facilities for staff and parents. The environment is much improved from the previous SCBU with lovely facilities for parents to be close to their babies.”

The next stage in the project, which will see the opening of the new Maternity Ward, is expected to be completed in spring 2022.

(All images: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Carmarthenshire

Halfway point reached in Tyisha estate demolition say council

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Work to demolish the Four Tys housing block in Tyisha to make room for a modern, mixed-use housing development is well underway Carmarthenshire County Council have said.

Empty spaces can already be seen where the former run-down Ty Meriel and Ty Liz buildings stood with further demolition of Ty Howard and Ty Cydwel continuing over the coming weeks.

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The work, which forms part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s exciting plans to transform the area, will enable the build of much needed homes as well as upgrading existing ones, creating community facilities and green space.

Cllr Linda Davies Evans, chair of the Transforming Tyisha steering group and cabinet member for housing says regenerating the Tyisha ward and the wider Llanelli town centre area which is undergoing massive investment is vital to serve the needs of the community.

“Work is going at a steady pace and seems to be well received by local who are engaging with our contractors. We have 24hr security in place and noise monitoring is carried out periodically. Once these buildings are completely down we can then start looking at redeveloping the site and breathing new life into this area,” she said.

In November last year the council invited expressions of interest from potential partners to work with them to develop new housing a create a vibrant community. These applications are now being considered.

The demolition of the ‘Four Tys’ forms part of the council’s Transforming Tyisha project which looks to regenerate the area through increasing community safety, developing housing and community facilities and improving the environment.

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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