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17 year-old Neath student Ellie rubs shoulders with world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow

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Neath College student Ellie Sanders is hoping her voice will be heard as she rubs shoulders with World leaders at the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this week.

The 17-year-old A Level student is one of nine members of the Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales who have been invited to attend.

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The group is facilitated by the organisations, ‘Size of Wales’ and the ‘Welsh Centre for International Affairs’. As part of the group’s work, they organised to attend COP26 to represent the Youth Voice from Wales.

The Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales is a youth-led group with the aim of empowering young people to be heard on climate change. Ellie will also be representing Climate Cymru at the conference.

Ellie who studies German, History and Sociology at A Level, is also a member of the College’s Gifted and Talented Excellence programme (GATE) which offers comprehensive support for students who excel academically.

Kevin Rahman-Daultrey who is the Policy and Education Manager at Size of Wales had this to say about Ellie’s involvement: “It is wonderful to have Ellie, who is one of the group’s founding members, come to COP to represent Wales at this monumental conference.”

Ellie is on a panel that includes other climate ambassadors from Wales and Scotland, as well as the Deputy Climate Change Minister for Wales, Lee Waters and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

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She will also be chairing a panel that includes another climate ambassador from Wales, the Deputy Climate Change Minister for Wales Lee Waters, Sophie Howe who is the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales and an indigenous leader from Brazil.

This panel will be talking about voices from devolved nations, how they are represented at COP and how they play a role in the approaches to climate change within their countries. Wales isn’t officially represented at COP26 and so doesn’t get a direct delegate as we come under the whole of the UK. Therefore, Ellie’s presence is hugely significant and a move towards Wales having a voice on climate change.

A live stream will be available on the COP26 YouTube channel.

When asked what she hoped to get out of the experience and what she hoped the conference will achieve Ellie said: “I’m hoping to meet new people and to learn and expand my knowledge. As a member of Youth Climate Ambassadors, I would like to see solidarity, I’m fed up with having this blame game between counties, we are all in this mess we’ve all got to work together to get out of it.

“The policies that have emerged from COP26 so far sound okay and I hope that these will be translated into actual action because it’s all well and good people pledging but whether that actually happens, I think is another battle.”

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Ellie got involved in Climate change discussions in secondary school when she was asked to attend a model UN conference. She went as part of her school’s delegation; from this, she got accepted into Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales. She has gone on to join other organisations like Climate Cymru as well as Wellbeing Economy Alliance Cymru Wales Hub.

Ellie thinks young people now have no excuse not to have their voices heard in Wales as the voting age has been lowered to 16 to allow young people to influence democracy and voice their thoughts, and if they want action on climate change, they can vote for a party that pledges to take climate action.

Ellie believes that people are put off from making individual actions to help climate change because they don’t think it’s going to matter because it’s a small, individual act. But anything that you can do to help save the planet like using a reusable water bottle or face covering, really will have an impact. Individual actions do come together to form collective actions and that’s when change happens.

(Lead image: NPTC Group of Colleges)

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Business

The Secret Hospitality Group provides enterprise education programme to three Swansea schools

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The Secret Hospitality Group is thanking the local community for its support during COVID by providing the Bumbles of Honeywood enterprise education programme to three local primary schools – The Grange Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw and Brynmill Primary School.

Created by Swansea-based 2B Enterprising Ltd, The Bumbles of Honeywood is a suite of bilingual resources mapped to the national curriculum to help primary schools embed enterprise skills into their day-to-day learning. It’s delivered in schools via the 2B Enterprising Corporate Engagement Partner programme, which pairs businesses with local schools.

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As Corporate Engagement Partners, members of The Secret Hospitality Group have been visiting The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools to introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme and talk to pupils about what it’s like to run a business.

Cultivating entrepreneurship and enterprise skills from a young age has been shown to be of huge value in equipping pupils for their future lives and careers – and it’s now required as part of the national curriculum in Wales.

The Secret Hospitality Group is an example of entrepreneurship in action. It started life in 2017 with one venue, The Optimist in Uplands. In 2019 the company won the tender to run The Secret on Swansea seafront, and since then it has also taken on The Green Room next to Swansea Arena and the iconic Castellamare restaurant at Bracelet Bay.

Now the group has sold The Optimist to focus on landmark locations, creating venues that are as memorable as the views. As the company’s strapline says, “the view is just a bonus.”

The company was founded by brother and sister Lucy and Ryan Hole, who have since been joined by their siblings Amy and Tom. During the COVID lockdowns the team ran a coffee kiosk on the seafront in Swansea and the experience made them feel even more connected with the local community. Now they want to give something back by supporting three local schools.

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“Opening the kiosk was a turning point for us during the pandemic,” says Lucy. “We had such a great response from the community, and they rallied round when the kiosk was vandalised. The kiosk became a real hub and the beach just became alive. Now we want to give back to the community as a thank you for what they did for us during that hard time.”

Lucy and her siblings have chosen to support The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools because they are local to them and they have family links with two of them.

All the Hole siblings attended Brynmill Primary School, as did their father Greg Hole, who has run local news agents including Uplands News for decades. His father and grandfather, who ran the businesses before him, also attended Brynmill Primary School.

“We grew up in Uplands and used to walk through Brynmill Park to get to the school,” says Lucy. “We have really fond memories of the school, and all the teachers knew who we were because generations of the family had been there. It was a lovely school.”

Amy’s children attend The Grange Primary School and the family decided to also support Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw to help bring The Bumbles of Honeywood to a local Welsh medium school too.

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The Hole siblings have gone into each school to meet with the children, talk about their businesses and introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme. They have also welcomed children to their businesses so they can learn more about how restaurants are run.

“The children were great,” says Lucy. “They wanted to learn and asked a lot of good questions. They were eager to learn the skills taught by the Bumbles of Honeywood programme: to be confident, brave, kind and strong.”

She and Ryan also enjoyed being able to demonstrate that there are many different paths to forging a successful career: it doesn’t have to include going to university.

“We didn’t excel at school, but I think making pupils aware of the different routes they can take is really important,” says Lucy.

2B Enterprising founder Sue Poole, welcomes their contribution.

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“It’s really important for the children to meet and talk to homegrown talent,” she says. “Lucy and her sister and brothers are local entrepreneurs who show the children what you can achieve if you work hard and support each other.

“It’s about the support you have from your family, your community, with everybody working together, businesses will succeed.

“The Secret Hospitality Group is a young company that started off with one small restaurant in the Uplands and is now opening iconic venues right across Swansea Bay.

“It’s exciting from that perspective, and because of the history of the family, who have been entrepreneurial for probably over 100 years, I think they’re really great role models for young people.”

Lead image: Children from The Grange Primary School visit Castellamare with (L-R) Lucy Hole, The Secret Hospitality Group, Abigail Cooper, Operations Co-ordinator, 2B Enterprising, Mrs Tucker, Teaching Assistant, Ms Suff, Teacher, Mrs Minty, Year 1 & Year 2 Teacher and Mrs Griffiths, Year 1 & Year 2 Teaching Assistant.

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Charity

Swansea student in triathlon challenge for Heart Research

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A student at University of Wales Trinity St David is taking on UWTSD Swansea Triathlon on 28-29th May to raise vital funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and put a positive spin on what’s been a tough time for her family.

Sophie Taylor, originally from Cardiff, who is studying a BA in Product and Furniture Design at the university’s Swansea campus, decided to raise money for the BHF because her sister Hollie’s partner has a heart condition and is grateful for the medical research and treatment which has enabled him to live a happy life.

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Alex Martin, who now lives in Abergavenny and is originally from Hereford, found out he had congenital heart disease just before his 24th birthday during a medical examination when he was in the process of joining the army.

Alex was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, and the discovery meant he couldn’t sign up. But thanks to progress in science, surgeons were able to replace his heart valve, giving Alex a future with his partner, Hollie.

Alex says, “From a very young age I’ve always wanted to join the army, however, this was turned on its head at the age of 23. After undergoing an army medical check, it was discovered that I had heart valve disease and I had to have open heart surgery to replace the valve. Through the diagnosis and surgery my girlfriend Hollie has been my rock. We’ve been together since we were eighteen and our relationship has never been stronger.

“When Sophie approached me about doing a triathlon last year, I was super excited for her. Like everything, it was postponed, and here we are less than 2 weeks away from Sophie attempting her first multi-sport event. It was made even more special when she told me, that she wanted to do it for me! When I say, ‘me’, I mean on behalf of me for the BHF. I thought, ‘what a lovely idea,’ and was more than happy to help in any way possible. Be it training advice or letting her use my kit for the big day. I could not be prouder of her and cannot wait to see all the hard work pay off on race day.

“Without people like Sophie doing events like this and raising money for the BHF who knows where I would be. So, thank you Sophie – Now let’s go and smash race day!”

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Sophie and Alex

Sophie says she’s taking on the challenge to turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one, “Life so far for my family hasn’t been easy and my mental health has suffered. When we found out about Alex’s condition it was a big strain on my sister and I saw how much it affected her. Myself and Hollie are very close and have always been rather active, but this is one of the biggest things I have ever done in my life. I can’t say it’s been easy juggling my second year at university and training as I have had to balance my time well; but it’s the smile on my sister’s and Alex’s face that will make this all worth it as this is just the beginning of what I want to do for the British Heart Foundation.

“I think Alex is the main reason I am doing this as he’s always been inspiring for me when it comes to sport as he’s always encouraged me to explore in different activities, and since his operation he has been limited to the activities he can do. So this is me doing it for him and showing myself also what I am capable of.

“I just want to give something to those who are battling every day, because if we all did the same the world would be a different place.”

She adds, “Since it was established the BHF has helped halve the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK each year, but sadly every day hundreds of people still lose their lives to these conditions. It’s only thanks to support from people like us that BHF-funded researchers can help create new treatments. £24 could pay for two hours of research by an early career scientist, but every pound helps so I wanted to take on this challenge to do as much as I can for people living with heart conditions.”

Alex’s partner, Sophie’s sister Hollie says, “I could not be prouder of my sister for getting out there and doing something she has never done before. More than anything I would like her to be proud of herself and realise how far she has come. Like many students, Soph has been struggling with her mental health since starting her degree during the height of covid. It really took its toll on her. However, she has used this triathlon as a challenge to help her overcome her struggles.

“When Sophie mentioned she would like to do the Triathlon for the British Heart Foundation, Alex and I were choked by the gesture, as the charity has been of huge support to us and our families over the last few years.

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“In November 2019, Alex was sat in an army medical room unaware that he was waiting to be told that his life was not going to turn out how he planned it to be. The medical uncovered the signs of a congenital heart condition known as a bicuspid aortic valve which caused the dilation of his ascending aorta. Through many consultations and appointments, it was clear that Alex required urgent treatment.

“In October 2020, with a number of setbacks due to the coronavirus global pandemic, Alex finally underwent open heart surgery at the age of 24. Since, his surgery, Alex has made a speedy recovery, and although the dream of an army career has been halted, he is able to live his life as close to normal as possible and looks to join Sophie in her next Triathlon Event, whenever that maybe.

“Both our families have recognised that without the support, research and aid offered from the British Heart Foundation and the cardiac specialist, the outcome of Alex’s story would be very different.”

Jayne Lewis BHF Fundraising Manager said: “We are so grateful to Sophie for supporting the BHF’s research. For more than 60 years the public’s generosity has funded BHF research that has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into treatments that save lives every day. But millions of people are still waiting for the next breakthrough.

“Today in Wales around 340,000 people are living with the daily burden of heart and circulatory diseases. We urgently need the public’s support to keep our lifesaving research going, and to discover the treatments and cures of the future. It is only with donations from the public that the BHF can keep its lifesaving research going, helping us turn science fiction into reality.”

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To support Sophie, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sophie-taylor91

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Education

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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Every child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education the Welsh Government have announced as part of plans for a national music service.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

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The Government say the plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs.

Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.

It also includes a ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.

A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative forms part of the plan, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries

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The will also be a new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.

The Welsh Government say these programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

Plans mean the National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)
First Minister Mark Drakeford and Education Minister Jeremy Miles visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea for the launch of the National Music Service (Image: Mike Hall)

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

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The Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument.

“I remember how important it was to me to be able to have music tuition when I was in school and to learn the baritone and to play in brass ensembles. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition – the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills is too often limited by cost and affordability nowadays, so we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people, so that they can learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said: “We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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(Lead image: Mike Hall)

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