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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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Armed Forces

Health board honours veterans with vaccine-vial wreaths

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The wreaths were made using the tops of COVID vaccine vials.

The health board explained that support officer Douglas Mottram came up with the idea to recycle and repurpose the tops of vaccine vials to create a poppy after spending time working in vaccination centres.

The VC Gallery, who support veterans and members of the armed forces community particularly through the promotion of arts and crafts created five wreaths, made from the tops of vaccine vials recycled from vaccination centres.

Anna Bird, Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships, Diversity and Inclusion, said: “The armed forces have played a huge role in supporting the Covid-19 response in Hywel Dda, working in our vaccination centres earlier in the year as part of their national deployment.

“The creation of these wreaths seemed a fitting way to acknowledge their contribution and to honour and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “It is wonderful how Anna, Doug and the rest of the Strategic Partnership teams have brought together this innovative idea with the help of the VC Gallery.

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“These wreaths give us just a small glimpse of how many lives the Covid-19 vaccine has saved.

“They symbolise the heroic response, self-sacrifice and absolute commitment of our staff and our veterans in the war against the pandemic, and remembering those who have lost their lives, their loved ones and our staff who died and who cared for the sick and dying.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Armed Forces

Swansea civic dignitaries send poppies to Paddington

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Swansea’s Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff and the council leader were among dignitaries to gather at High Street station earlier this morning for a special Great Western train to take Poppies to Paddington.

To mark Remembrance Day, Great Western Railway organised a Poppies to Paddington operation that saw wreaths sent from towns and cities across its network to be laid at the war memorial on Platform 1 at Paddington Station.

A special Remembrance ceremony took place on the station concourse (Image: Swansea Council)

A special Remembrance ceremony took place on the station concourse to mark the occasion, before wreaths were hand-delivered to train staff for the safe journey to London.

It is the second year that the tribute has taken place.

Lord Mayor of Swansea, Cllr Mary Jones and High Sheriff of West Glamorgan Joanna Jenkins carrying wreaths along Platform 2 in Swansea train station (Image: Swansea Council)

More than 100 wreaths were taken by train to the capital from towns and cities altogether, as GWR again joined forces with The Veterans Charity to coordinate the Poppies to Paddington operation.

Lord Mayor of Swansea, Cllr Mary Jones said: “I would like to thank Great Western Railway for working with our Armed Forces on arranging this tribute and for inviting Swansea and other communities across the UK to take part.”

Leader of Swansea Council, Cllr Rob Stewart and the council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Wendy Lewis carry wreaths to be placed on the London-bound train (Image: Swansea Council)

Danny Greeno, CEO of The Veterans Charity, said: “Working with GWR last year was brilliant and really helped make it special, so this year there were many more operators, expanding it even further.

“The pandemic hasn’t gone away yet, so this was for the veterans, who can see that Remembrance is happening in a very unique way. Plus it celebrates the deep links between the railways and the military.”

Wreaths from Swansea placed on the London-bound train (Image: Swansea Council)

Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of those people who put others before themselves. During the national remembrance period Great Western Railway is once again commemorating the services and sacrifice of members of the Armed Forces along their routes who, by their very duty, put others before themselves.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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