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Over £100m spending on Pembrokeshire school building projects agreed

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Councillors in Pembrokeshire have agreed a significant investment in schools in the county

Proposals backed include a £62.4m investment in the community of Milford Haven with the creation of new-build primary and secondary schools in the town through the use of the Welsh Government Mutual Investment Model (MIM).

Councillors also agreed the teaching and learning environments for children who attend Portfield School in Haverfordwest and the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre (PLC) in Neyland need to be significantly improved, with a £38.5m investment into the two sites. This work will be funded under Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme.

A total of £20.3m will be invested at Portfield School, which provides education for pupils with statements of special educational needs aged between 3-19 years.

Meanwhile £18.2m will be spent on improving the Neyland site of the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre, which provides education for pupils aged between 11 and 16 with complex needs.

Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “While there are further stages as part of both the Band B 21st Century Schools funding and separate MIM proposal that we now need to successfully complete in partnership with Welsh Government, today represents a significant positive step forward in achieving Cabinet’s commitment to delivering all 21st Century School capital projects and significant investment in Milford Haven, Portfield School and the PLC.

“My thanks go to all those who have worked very hard to get us to where we are today, and I look forward to continuing to work with all those now involved in successfully delivering these exciting school capital projects that will provide the best educational facilities for learners.”

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Charity

Swansea student joins BBC Children in Need challenge

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A Swansea student is joining a group of five young people selected to take part in a new fundraising challenge for BBC Children in Need.

The Surprise Squad is made up of inspirational young people who have been supported by BBC Children in Need and want to give back and lend a helping hand to benefit others.

Joined by The One Show presenters Alex Jones, Ronan Keating and Jermaine Jenas, the Surprise Squad will head to locations around the country where they will complete surprise challenges for BBC Children in Need funded projects that are in need of a little help with something – which could be anything from creating a secret garden for a children’s hospice, or organising a much needed community fundraising event to give a local project a boost.

The team of young people will deliver their surprises and complete them within a day. The One Show viewers will be able to watch how the surprises unfold each evening, whilst learning the young people’s inspiring stories, during BBC Children in Need Appeal Week.

Among the Surprise Squad is Gower College Swansea A Level student Nathan Pollard-Jones, who is 17.

Nathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was 13 years old in 2018. He was an active teenager but was feeling fatigued so he went to the doctor and was eventually diagnosed with cancer. Nathan spent three years in treatment with a lot of time spent in hospital, which he found tough as he had to spend a lot of time away from school and his friends.

In addition, some of his treatment was delivered during Covid-19 which made things even harder as he had to isolate from family and friends to minimise his risk of catching it. Nathan has recently finished treatment and attends College, where he is studying A Levels.

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He has been supported by Teenage Cancer Trust, who receive funding from BBC Children in Need to deliver the Find Your Sense of Tumour weekend which helps young people rebuild their lives after cancer. They bring young people with cancer together to hear from experts, to get advice and most importantly, to be themselves and have fun.

Nathan said: “Having recently finished my cancer treatment, I feel so proud that I’m able to be a part of the Surprise Squad. I hope that the surprises we create make a huge difference to others who are facing challenges.”

The One Show’s Alex Jones will be joining the team during one of the surprises and said: “I’m excited to be back on the green sofa, and to be joining the Surprise Squad as they deliver these really special challenges for BBC Children in Need funded projects across the country. I can’t wait for the audience to see what the Squad get up to and I hope that they’re inspired by their incredible stories.”

Ronan Keating will also be joining the team for one of the surprises. He said: “We’re so excited to be delivering these surprises for worthy organisations across the country. We hope that these surprises will make a huge difference to those receiving them and we can’t wait to bring the audience along to see what the Surprise Squad get up to!”

Jermaine Jenas added: “I’m looking forward to seeing some of the amazing things that the Surprise Squad get up to, and how what they do will benefit communities across the country, and I hope that our audience love watching it all too!”

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The other members of the Surprise Squad are:

Ore, 19 from Barry, Wales.

Ore is a young carer who helps look after her younger sister Ire who is 14 and has Sickle Cell Disorder. Ore was the main carer for her mother, who passed away two years ago in October 2019 following many years of illness. Ore lives with her father and her sister. Ore is a passionate advocate for families who live with Sickle Cell Disorder – she wants to breakdown the stigma that can sometimes affect people with Sickle Cell Disorder. She also wants to highlight just how serious the impact of Sickle Cell Disorder can be on people’s lives and give people from all walks of life a better understanding of the condition. Ore has been supported by Friends of Cymru Sickle Cell and Thalassemia through their youth project and their home support service.

Ore said: “I’m so looking forward to being a part of the Surprise Squad and doing something that will make a huge difference to other children and young people across the country.”

Joseph, 19 from Liverpool.

Joseph has cerebral palsy and has been attending the BBC Children in Need funded project Stick ‘n’ Step since he was two years old. He says the project has changed his life in many ways, not least by teaching him how to walk. Joseph underwent a major operation in 2016 in which he had to learn to walk again, he has since recovered and now describes himself as someone with a hidden disability, as following his operation his disability is less prominent.  This can be difficult for him to explain though sometimes, as he stills finds certain moves or work that he doesn’t have strength for, hard to accomplish.

Joseph said: “Being part of the Surprise Squad this year is something that I’m really looking forward to. I want to share my story and hope that I can help raise money for other children and young people like me.”

Roisin, 16 from Derry/Londonderry, NI.

When Roisin was 14, she had a stroke which caused her life changing disabilities. She spent three months in hospital and had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat.  Up until then she had been a healthy teenager who loved singing and performing. Since having the stroke, things can be quite difficult for Roisin as she isn’t able to do all of the things that she used to but her confidence is being rebuilt and she’s looking forward to being a part of the Surprise Squad. Roisin has been supported by Brain Injury Matters who deliver a youth empowerment project with funding from BBC Children in Need.

Roisin said: “Being part of the Surprise Squad is a huge achievement for me. I’m really looking forward to helping make a difference that will benefit others. I hope that those who can do, donate.”

Dylan, 18 from Glasgow.

Dylan has autism. He developed a rare condition called MDP Syndrome when he was 18 months old, finally receiving a diagnosis aged 10. MDP only affects him and 15 other people in the world and it causes deafness, fat loss under the skin, joint stiffness and eye problems. Dylan is really passionate about raising awareness of his condition, throughout his school life he has delivered speeches to his classmates about MDP and also uses his skills in photography to do this, as he is a passionate and talented photographer. He has been supported by Indepen-dance for many years, which delivers dance sessions for disabled young people.

Dylan said: “I have spent my life raising awareness for my condition with school friends and my wider community.  I’m really looking forward to being able to share my story with The One Show viewers. I hope I can help to raise money that will go on to support other young people like me.”

Rob Unsworth, Head of The One Show said: “This year we really want to give a helping hand to some of the projects that have been funded by BBC Children in Need. The Surprise Squad will help provide a little bit of magic to projects across the country, whilst sharing their inspiring stories too.”

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Tommy Nagra, Director of Content at BBC Children in Need said: “It’s fantastic The One Show are back with a brand new challenge this year. The amazing stories of the young people overcoming their own challenges to thank, surprise and delight  others in need  is truly inspiring .  We hope viewers at home are equally inspired by their efforts. Please tune in to The One Show to see the amazing things this remarkable team of young people achieve!” 

For details on how to donate and support The Surprise Squad for BBC Children in Need visit www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey 

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Environment

Swansea animal movement expert awarded prestigious medal for scientific contribution

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Professor Emily Shepard, an expert in the movement ecology of wild animals, has been awarded the prestigious Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Scientific Medal, in recognition of her outstanding research.

The ZSL Scientific Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions by an early career researcher, with up to three awarded annually.

Professor Shepard’s work focuses on how bird flight is affected by airflows, using biologging technologies in the field, experimental work in wind tunnels, and theoretical models of airflows and flight mechanics.

This novel research has combined bird tracking data with the use of computational fluid dynamics to model airflows at local scale. She has looked at how airflows affect where birds fly, the ability to land, and where seabirds nest.

In addition, Professor Shepard’s use of high-frequency tagging data has provided fascinating insights into the flight strategies of condors. This involved using high-frequency sensors to quantify the amount of time spent flapping, and when and where birds extract energy from the air by circling in thermal updrafts or soaring along windward slopes.

Professor Shepard said: “It’s a huge honour to receive the ZSL Scientific Medal. It has also been a delight to team up with collaborators in biology, meteorology and engineering, which has been fundamental to much of this work.”

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

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On presenting the award to Professor Shepard, the ZSL said: “Emily is recognised as a global leader in this research area, and her contributions to the scientific literature simply cannot be missed. Many of her papers are already seen as classics, and bound to become timeless achievements in the realm of zoological scientific discoveries”.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Research

£1.73m additional funding to expand project in semiconductor technology and applications

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The Welsh Government has announced additional funding of £1.73 million for a project, which involves Swansea University and partners, developing world-leading semiconductor process technologies.

Applications include autonomous vehicles, novel devices for clean energy, future mobility, artificial intelligence, advanced packaging, and biosensors and wearable sensors.

ASSET (Application Specific Semiconductor Etching Technology) is an industrially driven, collaborative project with partners across south Wales, including: SPTS Technologies (a KLA company), IQE, The Compound Semiconductor Centre (CSC), Biovici, BioMEMS, Swansea and Cardiff universities and Integrated Compound Semiconductors Ltd (Manchester).

ASSET is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), under the Welsh Government’s SMART Expertise programme.

The ASSET industrial partners provide advanced technologies for almost all the world’s smartphones. By developing a host of new semiconductor process technologies using compound semiconductors and next generation materials, ASSET will service new and emerging applications in automotive sensing, 6G, photonics and healthcare.

The expanded ASSET project involves additional industry partners from the South Wales Compound Semiconductor Cluster including: CSconnected, smart sensors and networks producers UtterBerry, photonics company Wave Photonics, and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) which is the UK’s national metrology institute.

Professor Owen Guy, head of chemistry at Swansea University and lead for the ASSET project, said: “The expanded ASSET project is a timely boost to the UK semiconductor industry, with exciting developments planned with several of our regional industry partners, and the opening of our £90m Centre for Integrative Semiconductor Materials (CISM) – a new state-of-the-art semiconductor facility at Swansea University – in 2022.”

Vaughan Gething, Welsh Government Economy Minister, said: “We are immensely proud of the world-leading compound semiconductor ecosystem we helped foster here in Wales. It is a high potential network translating state-of-the-art research and innovation capabilities into world-class Welsh manufacturing for new and emerging global technology markets. This “next generation” technology shapes our lives today and will improve our experiences of tomorrow – from electric vehicles, to face recognition in smart phones, and space applications.

“The sector is of huge significance to Wales, providing high value employment and a real magnet for foreign direct investment. It also underpins development in so many other industries, and we believe it can deliver against our Programme for Government by driving a stronger, greener economy, and contributing to the net-zero, decarbonisation challenge.

“I’m very proud of the Welsh Government’s track record on supporting businesses to innovate and introduce new products and services, to trade with the UK and the rest of the world, to improve our skills base and to ensure that Wales remains competitive in the fourth industrial age.”

Dr Matt Elwin, Operations Director for CISM / Dr. Mike Jennings, Associate Professor in Electronic Engineering at Swansea, said: “The ASSET expansion links with our new ‘Driving the Electric Revolution (DER)’ Industrialisation Centres (IC) initiative to create a new sovereign supply chain for the UK in next generation power electronics components for transport electrification. This funding, plus the £4.82 million from the DER Industrialisation Centres programme, will help us deliver common goals for increased economic growth, developing clean and resilient supply chains in power electronics, machines and drives.”

Paul Rich, Executive Vice President of Product Engineering and Technology at SPTS Technologies, said: “The ASSET project gives the consortium the ability to work with the extensive fabrication supply chain in the region to further expand our capabilities and capitalise on new and exciting market opportunities.”

Wyn Meredith from the Compound Semiconductor Centre said: “The South Wales semiconductor industry employs over 1,400 highly skilled people in the region and is set to expand rapidly over the next five years with the growth of 5G, AI and other mega-trend markets. ASSET will support these markets by developing a range of advanced semiconductor processes and expertise to overcome technical and industry challenges.”

Heba Bevan from UtterBerry said: “UtterBerry is proud to be working with Professor Owen Guy and his team at Swansea University on the project, to revolutionise chip manufacturing and to become one of the most advanced centres in the UK. We also look forward to the broader positive changes the team at UtterBerry will make to the area, including job creation, a more efficient transportation network, enhanced connectivity and automation in the clean energy sector.”

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