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3,000 new apprenticeships created in Swansea Bay City Region



UK Government Minister for Wales David TC Davies has met young people set to benefit from a new £30m initiative to provide training and development opportunities.

Following the UK Government and Welsh Government approval of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Skills and Talent programme, Minister Davies met students at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Gower College Swansea to hear how it will benefit young people across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, County of Swansea, and Neath Port Talbot.

The programme will provide opportunities for thousands of people and business across the Swansea Bay Region to access skills and training, focussing on industries with high demand for workers. Working in partnership with training providers such as local authorities, schools, colleges, universities and businesses, the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership will lead the delivery of the programme to identify skill, find training solutions and develop education and training projects to meet these demands.

Carmarthenshire County Council is the lead Local Authority responsible for the programme that will benefit the whole of the Swansea Bay City Region. The programme will create at least 3,000 new apprenticeships and deliver an additional 2,200 development opportunities as well as creating centres of excellence within sectors including digital, energy, construction, and wellbeing.

During the visit to Gower College Swansea, Minister Davies met apprentices who are working with EV Wales learning to install electric car charge points. He also spent time learning about the work of Elite Aerial Services and talking to their apprentices about working with robots in fibre infrastructure and communications.

At the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Minister Davies also met students from Ysgol Bro Myrddin and Ysgol Maes Y Gwendraeth Comprehensive Schools who are already benefitting from a pilot project, which will be rolled out more widely in the future.  The students, who are currently undertaking BTEC Level 2 and 3 in Engineering, were able to demonstrate their skills using the facilities at the university. The pilot scheme was set up to encourage the exchange of expertise and resources across training providers in the region.

UK Government Minister for Wales David TC Davies said: “I am thrilled to meet the young people set to benefit from the £30 million Skills and Talent programme and hear their exciting plans for the future. The UK Government is committed to providing excellent development opportunities for people in Wales and helping firms to retain local talent. I look forward to seeing people across south west Wales take these opportunities to develop their skills and move into well-paid jobs in growing sectors such as engineering, renewable energy and digital innovation.”

Barry Liles OBE, Senior Responsible Owner for the Skills and Talent programme and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Skills & Lifelong Learning) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David said: “The success of securing the funding for the skills & talent initiative will be transformational for the region and will leave a significant legacy of high-level skills occupations and clearly defined career pathways for young people. The RLSP is a mature and proven collaboration of providers who will support the needs of the city deal projects whilst also signposting individuals into sustainable employment.”


Dr Llinos Jones, Head Teacher at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, and Wyn Evans, Head Teacher at Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth whose pupils took part in an apprenticeship pilot scheme added We, as two schools in the region, are delighted to be part of the Swansea Bay City Deal Skills and Talent Programme. The programme aims to provide a regional solution to identify and deliver the skills and training required for City Deal projects. This investment will allow schools like ours to develop courses that will ultimately support projects and people across the region. Through the program we have developed a Welsh Medium learning pathway in Engineering and IT for over 120 pupils in year one.”

Cllr Emlyn Dole, leader of Carmarthenshire County Council said “We are delighted to welcome the Minster to the region and look forward to rolling out the Skills and Talent programme following the success of our pilot scheme. This approval is very important to us so that we can provide education and training solutions for young people to learn and gain employment locally.

“This programme, along with the other parts of City Deal portfolio will help raise the entire regions profile by attracting inward investment, and coupled with creating highly skilled individuals, it will ensure that South West Wales is the perfect place to live and work for generations to come.” 

Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, added, “Minister Davies’ visit will help further raise the profile of the City Deal’s Skills and Talent programme. This programme is key to the overall City Deal investment portfolio as it will equip thousands of local people with the skills they’ll need to access well-paid jobs being created by the other City Deal projects in coming years.

“Many of the other City Deal projects are already in delivery, with the investment set to play a key role in accelerating our regional economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The Swansea Bay City Deal, with eight of its nine programmes and projects now approved, is in a very strong position to further benefit as many regional residents and businesses as possible in the near future.”


Mark Jones, Principal of Gower College Swansea said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister Davies and the City Deal officers to the College today. Over a number of years we have been preparing for the City Deal by investing in the development of innovative curriculum to meet key City Deal requirements. In partnership with industry we have developed new programmes in digital, green energy, advanced manufacturing and health and social care, which has led to a 25% increase in apprentices we support in these areas. In 2021-22 we plan to support over 3,500 apprentices including 2,200 apprentices developing skills in key City Deal sectors.”

(All images: UWTSD)

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Mother gifts toys to children’s wards in memory of lifesaving son




The family of a patient who passed away in Morriston Hospital has donated a collection of toys to the children’s wards to help keep his memory alive.

But the presents are nothing compared to the gift of life that has resulted from the deceased being an organ donor.

Marc Leach passed away on 5th May, of this year, in Morriston Hospital, following a period in critical care.

The 25-year-old, who worked as a chef in a Carmarthen restaurant, leaves behind a 5-year-old son, Lincoln.

On what would have been his 26th birthday, his family and friends met up at Marc’s place of work where the idea of keeping his memory alive for his son was hatched.

Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis, said: “On his birthday this year, on 18 November, we all got together and decided to do a toy drive for the children’s ward in Morriston, to give them new toys.

“Marc has an amazing little boy called Lincoln, who is the spitting image of his daddy. I wanted to keep my son’s memory alive so that his own son would never forget him.


“Next year we are going to do a donor drive and raise money for mental health services.”

Marc Leach (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

When it became apparent that Marc would not survive his mother spoke to members of the organ donation team.

Michelle said: “Marc had told us he wanted to be a donor. Because his uncle had benefitted from receiving a kidney in the past, he wanted to give back.

“I’m also a registered donor, I was supposed to give one of my kidneys to my brother but a donor came up instead.”

Although the recipients of donated organs remain confidential Michelle has been told that her son’s decision has already helped save lives.

She said: “His kidneys have gone to two people, his liver has gone to another. I believe he has saved three or four people.”


It is a bittersweet thought for Michelle.

“I’m chuffed to bits that he has saved lives but I wish he was still here as he would have only been 26 this year.”

Calling on everyone to at least have a conversation on the subject of donations, she said: “We don’t need our organs when we die but there are people out there who do need them. They are just going to waste.”

Michelle thanked those who looked after her son in his final days.

“The nurses and doctors in intensive care laughed with us and they cried with us. They were absolutely amazing.


“They were part of the family in the end. They knew a lot about Marc from listening us talking about what he was like and what he got up to.”

Kathryn Gooding (pictured top with Marc’s mother, Michelle Francis), Swansea Bay UHB specialist nurse organ donation, said: “Organ donation really does save and improve the lives of others.

“Thanks to Marc’s donation and the bravery of his family to support the decision other lives were saved.”

Of the presentation of toys to the hospital she said: “This initiative is a lovely way of remembering Marc and his generous gift of life and hopefully to bring a smile to the children who will benefit from the toy drive.”

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Extra free parking days for Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen during the festive season




Carmarthenshire shoppers are being encouraged to use free parking days and support local businesses in the run up to Christmas.

Carmarthenshire County Council has approved requests from Llanelli, Llandeilo and Carmarthen town councils to allocate free parking days throughout December for events.

Towns across Carmarthenshire are offered five free parking days to use as they wish from January to November every year, but the council’s Cabinet has agreed to requests from some towns to extend these into December.

In Llanelli the free parking days are December 4, 11 and 18; in Carmarthen they are Dec 5, 12 and 19 and in Llandeilo they are Dec 4, 11, 18.

These are in addition to the usual free parking periods in our short stay car parks already running throughout the year in Carmarthenshire towns.

The free parking days coincides with the launch of the first ever Christmas pop up shops as part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.

The free pop up shops are located at the former Debenhams in Carmarthen and number 1 Stepney Street (next door to Andrew Price Hairdresser) and are open up until Christmas.


Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “We know how difficult the past year has been for our local businesses and that is why we have agreed to allow the three main towns to use their annual free parking day allocations during December if they wanted to as this month is usually excluded. We hope as many people as possible will take advantage of these extra days and support the pop up shops and our local town centre businesses during the festive season.”

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Scrub removal at Pembrey will improve dunes for biodiversity say environment body




Scrub provides a splash of greenery in our sandy spaces, but too much scrub smothers the sand dunes and has a devastating effect on the specialist plants and invertebrates which live there according to Natural Resources Wales

This winter the Welsh environment body will be removing non-native, invasive plant species from areas of dune at Pembrey to help wildlife thrive.

The coast around Pembrey is home to 20% of all the plants in Wales and features a large sand dune system. Sand dunes are listed as the habitat type most at risk of biodiversity loss in Europe.

The Dynamic Dunescapes project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in Wales by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is working at Pembrey with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service to improve the condition of these dunes for wildlife.

Some non-native plant species, like the dense scrub plant sea buckthorn, are invasive and they are growing quickly in this dune system – spreading further across large areas of dune each year. Many of the dunes’ rare and specialist wildlife needs bare sand or low grassland habitat to survive and gets lost under or outcompeted by scrub. If scrub growth is not controlled, it will cause species like lizards, orchids and dune pansies to suffer and disappear from our sand dunes.

Scrub removal in specifically chosen locations will help to restore the habitat types that these species need, and this work will play a part in ensuring the dunes at Pembrey have a healthy, biodiverse future. Improving the ecological condition here will increase this coastal landscape’s resilience to other threats, such as extreme weather events and changing conditions brought on by climate change in the future.

The first phase of this work is to take place in Pembrey Country Park around Car Park 8 and the second will take place on the foredunes in front of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by NRW. It is scheduled to begin in the last week of November and will last for two weeks. There will be a temporary closure of Factory Road outside the Country Park for one week – reopening on 5th December.


Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer at Natural Resources Wales, said: “Sea Buckthorn control is important to improve the dune grassland habitats at Pembrey. Carmarthenshire County Council and Natural Resources Wales have carried out this type of habitat management over a number of years which has resulted in restoring the area to a dune grassland rich with different species of plants. You can best enjoy this during the summer months within the Pembrey Burrows and Saltings Local Nature Reserve. As part of Dynamic Dunescapes, we are now continuing this work, which will result in an overall increase in dune grassland habitat.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “Whilst scrub is a valuable habitat it does need management to maintain it in good condition for wildlife. Cutting back the scrub will ensure it does not spread into areas where is not wanted and or where it can destroy other habitat.”

Dynamic Dunescapes is not the only project working to restore Pembrey’s important sand dunes. The EU LIFE-funded Sands of LIFE project, managed by (NRW), has also been undertaking sand dune management to improve conditions for wildlife in recent years. The two projects work closely to build on and support each other’s work.

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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