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Armed Forces

Bus operator First Cymru announces free Remembrance Sunday travel for armed forces personnel, cadets and veterans

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Bus operator First Cymru is offering free travel across its entire network in Wales including Park & Ride and Metro bus services on Remembrance Sunday, 14th November, to serving Armed Forces personnel, cadets and veterans so they can attend commemorative events.

To claim free travel, all current and former military personnel need to wear their uniform or medals, or show their military ID card.

Jane Reakes-Davies, Managing Director of First Cymru Buses Ltd., said: “Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday are important occasions for many people who want to remember family, friends and others who have been lost in wars, both servicemen and women and civilians.

“Commemorative events were cancelled due to Covid-19 last year but this year, we will once again we will be showing our respect on Remembrance Sunday by letting veterans in uniform or with ID, along with serving personnel, travel free on our buses.

“With this offer we want to make it as easy as possible for current and former serving personnel to attend special events taking place across South and West Wales on Remembrance Sunday, 14th November.

“Many of our employees, from drivers to engineers and office staff, have served in the military or have friends and family members who are former or active members of the Armed Forces, so this time of year is particularly poignant across our sites. Our drivers may also pull over to honour the two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Day on 11th November.”

First Cymru holds its own commemorative service on Remembrance Day at several of its depots in Wales, remembering those who put themselves in harm’s way during their daily work, including those who have died of Covid-19.

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Armed Forces

Cawdor Barracks extension welcomed

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Pembrokeshire County Council Leader Cllr David Simpson has welcomed the announcement that the planned closure of Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy, will be delayed until 2028.

The Barracks, home to 14 Signal Regiment, had originally been due to close in 2024.

The extension announcement was made by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Thursday, November 25.

Cllr Simpson said: “Pembrokeshire and Pembrokeshire County Council is rightly proud of its long and close working relationship with the Armed Forces and especially proud to be home to 14 Signal Regiment at Cawdor Barracks.

“The soldiers of 14 Signal Regiment are very much part of the local community – many soldiers’ families have made Pembrokeshire their home – and the Barracks has an important role in the local economy.

“It is good news that Cawdor Barracks will remain open until at least 2028 and we remain hopeful that the Barracks could still continue beyond that date, further extending the close ties between 14 Signal Regiment, Pembrokeshire and this Authority.”

The news was also welcomed by local MP, Stephen Crabb who said the extension provided clarity for the soldiers and their families based in Pembrokeshire, as well as being good news for the local community.

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Mr Crabb said: “There is no question that Cawdor Barracks is an important strategic asset for the MOD and to the Pembrokeshire economy.

“A deep bond of affection and respect has developed between our community and the 14 Signal Regiment during the time they have been based at Brawdy.

“Local people will welcome the fact that the soldiers and their families will continue to be a valued part of Pembrokeshire life for some years to come.

“Following my parliamentary debate on the future of Cawdor Barracks in February 2020, I was pleased to welcome the Defence Minister, Jeremey Quinn MP, to Pembrokeshire to see the base for himself and to meet with local soldiers.

“This is very positive news today, but I will continue to make the case for the Barracks to remain in Pembrokeshire permanently and will be seeking longer-term clarity from the MOD about its future.”

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(Lead image: MOD)

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Armed Forces

Little Troopers at School: Swansea military children take part in charity workshop 

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Military children from four primary schools in and around Swansea took part in a free virtual workshop run by the charity Little Troopers.

The children, who all have parents currently serving in the British Armed Forces, logged in to the Little Troopers at School workshop with 260 other children from across Wales. 

Using storytelling, imaginative play, drawing, movement and drama, the children got to explore some of the unique challenges that forces life can bring, such as having a parent deployed overseas and regularly having to move home and school.

The schools that took part from Swansea included Ysgol Tan Y Lan, YGG Gellionnen, Penllergaer Primary School and Rhydyfro Primary School. 

The workshop was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust and delivered as part of Supporting Service Children in Education (SSCE) Cymru, which is run by the Welsh Local Government Association and aims to provide the best possible educational support for Service children in Wales. There are estimated to be more than 2,500 military children in schools across the country. 

Kevin Davies, a teacher from YGG Gellionnen said: “The children thoroughly enjoyed the activities and were beaming at the end of the session.” 

Louise Fetigan, founder and operations manager at Little Troopers, comments: “We were delighted to be asked by the Welsh Government Association to deliver some of our Little Troopers at School resources to children in Wales through this virtual workshop. Our charity is committed to ensuring that all schools have a good understanding of the unique challenges that military life can bring and that all military children can access support at school if they need it. We hope that the children have had lots of fun today and enjoyed coming together to celebrate what it really means to be a ‘Little Trooper’.” 

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The workshop is part of a wider nationwide partnership between Little Troopers and SSCE Cymru which has also seen 400 primary schools in Wales receive bilingual versions of Little Troopers storybooks for their school libraries and 100 schools given bilingual copies of the Little Troopers Primary Wellbeing Course template; a six-week course focusing on the themes of belonging, identity, mindfulness, managing change and coping with separation. 

Millie Taylor, SSCE Cymru Programme Manager, adds: “It’s really important that all schools have a welcoming Armed Forces friendly environment and that service children feel acknowledged and supported. Our partnership with Little Troopers has really helped us to achieve this by providing fundamental resources, that are specifically catered towards supporting service children, to all schools in Wales. This week’s workshop has been a real celebration of service children and their experiences and we hope to build on the success of SSCE Cymru in 2022; continuing to provide all service children in Wales with the support they deserve.” 

For more information visit www.littletroopers.net and www.SSCECymru.co.uk

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Swansea

Fund established to support city’s veterans

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Swansea armed forces veterans are being urged to take advantage of a Veterans’ Fund set up by the Council.

The £25,000 fund was agreed by the Council as part of its budget for 2021/22 and armed forces veterans can apply to the fund for help.

The fund is among a range of support available to veterans or serving members of the armed forces under the council’s Armed Forces Community Covenant.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “On Remembrance Day we should never forget that support for the armed forces is a year-round duty for us all.

“The veterans’ budget aims to provide a little bit of extra support to veterans or serving members of the armed forces.

He said: “The fund will support initiatives which address veterans issues, and the veterans themselves.  The fund welcomes new initiatives/innovations and will seed fund new ideas.

“Charitable or voluntary organisations, those with charitable objectives and not-for-private-profit organisations, are eligible apply. If the grant is to support an individual the grant will be paid via the applicant organisation, individuals cannot apply for Grant funding directly.”

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Wendy Lewis, the council’s armed forces champion, said: “I meet with veterans and veterans’ groups frequently and I know just how important it is to them that the community around them are supportive.

“I’m confident this new fund will also make a difference to those who need it.”

Cllr Lewis said: “Communities in Swansea have a proud heritage of service in the armed forces. Our support for past and current members of the armed forces is unstinting and year-round.

“As a council we’ve also made a commitment to adopt our city’s community war memorials and cenotaphs to ensure they are looked after for future generations. It’s been a job the veterans have done for many years.

“But we want to reassure them that their communities are playing their part too for the future.”

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The application page for grants will be going on the Council’s Armed Forces web page in the coming days.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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