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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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New firefighters to take on epic Charity hose run in Swansea

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The latest class of firefighters, that will soon graduate and be deployed to serve communities across mid and west Wales, are due to take on an Everest of a task in order to raise money for the 2Wish charity and The Fire Fighters Charity.

This Friday, 3rd December 2021, a class of 30 new firefighters, recruited and trained by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, will attempt to run lengths of hose, a common yet physical exercise within the fire and rescue service, from the pier head of Mumbles to Tesco car park in Swansea Marina, Oystermouth Road – a distance that equates to the height of mount Everest.

The new recruits are fundraising for 2wish and The Fire Fighters Charity

Group Manager Geraint Thomas, Head of Training Delivery for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said “Our newest recruits have trained hard over the last three months, at our training facility in Earlswood and at the Fire Service Colleague in Moreton-in-Marsh, and they certainly have not chosen an easy challenge to cap off their entry training into the Fire and Rescue Service.

They are raising money towards two excellent causes, so I would urge anyone who can spare a few pounds to support their cause. Good luck to them!”

To donate, visit the Recruits 2Wish Just Giving Page or Recruits Fire Fighters Charity Just Giving Page.

(Lead image: Martin Ellard / Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

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Children’s charity fundraiser promises ‘best night out’ in Swansea

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Action for Children is bringing its award-winning Never Mind the Business music quiz and live music event back to Swansea for a fourth year. 

The unmissable night of live music and chaos will take place on the 18th March at Brangwyn Hall in Swansea with leading law firm Douglas Jones Mercer being the main sponsor for the fourth consecutive year. 

The strictly t-shirts and jeans event gives businesses across Swansea and South Wales the chance to put their pop music knowledge to the test and enjoy live music sets while raising money for disadvantaged children and young people supported by Action for Children. 

Paul Thorburn, former Welsh rugby international, Douglas Jones Mercer representative and chairman of the Never Mind the Business Swansea committee, said: ‘I’m thrilled we’re bringing Never Mind the Business back to Swansea again in the Spring.  We’ve loved being part of this from the start as it’s a brilliant night out that has raised over £100,000 for Action for Children so far and made a huge difference to the lives of children and young people.

‘The pandemic has meant we’ve waited a long time to bring it back but with a date sorted for March, we’re raring to go.  Swansea people always love a night out and they’ve been fantastic in the way they’ve supported this event, so get ready – Never Mind the Business is back!’

Nina Rice, Regional Fundraising Manager for Action for Children in Wales, added: ‘We’re very proud Never Mind the Business Swansea has raised so much money for those who need it most in our communities.  Our brilliant main sponsor, Douglas Jones Mercer have, once again, done a great job in attracting Swansea businesses to the event that has seen so many people respond and embrace this huge party at the iconic Brangwyn Hall.    

‘Covid put the brakes on us for two years, but I’m delighted to say tables are available to book now, so we recommend companies book early to avoid disappointment. The event went down a storm last time around with friends and colleagues putting their music knowledge to the ultimate test as well as dancing the night away.  It’s a wonderful way to raise money for the children and young people we proudly serve in Swansea and across the UK and after such a long break, the night is going to go with a massive swing – don’t miss out.’

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To reserve a table or for more information please contact Nina Rice on 07889 887053 or nina.rice@actionforchildren.org.uk  

Lead image: Paul Thorburn second left with NMTB committee

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A quarter of Welsh people expect to experience poor physical or mental health this Christmas

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christmas ornaments on christmas tree

Around one quarter of Welsh people expect to experience poor physical and/or mental health this Christmas, according to a survey of 2,000 people carried out by Censuswide for charity The Big Give.

The survey also found that nearly half of Wales residents (45%) may need to take on debt to cover the costs of Christmas this year.

That’s more than the UK national average, where 37% say they are concerned about incurring debt this Christmas.

Nearly two-thirds of Cardiff residents (60%) said they are worried about the cost of Christmas this year.

A campaign organised by the Big Give and backed by celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench, Russell Brand and others is aiming to help. The Big Give Christmas Challenge, the UK’s biggest Christmas coordinated fundraising appeal, is supporting over 900 charities to raise funds with the unique offer of matching any donations made during the week of 30th November – 7th December.

Derek Spinks, marketing and communication manager at Carmarthen-based national charity Cerebra, which helps children with brain conditions and their families discover a better life together said: “We are delighted to, once again, be a part of The Big Give Christmas Challenge. It’s a great opportunity for us to double our donations, and essentially deliver twice the impact!”

Vanessa Waddon, Founder and Transformational Manager at Hope Rescue in Llanharan said: ‘The Big Give is a brilliant festive opportunity to connect with our supporters to raise funds for projects that will improve the lives of the dogs, that through no fault of their own, find themselves in our care. This year we are aiming to raise vital funds that will keep our Home from Home Kennels running in early 2022. The reconfiguration work on our Home from Home Kennels to make additional room for those dogs with extra needs has been on our list for some time and we were thrilled to be able to get started on this in 2021.

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“The funds raised from the #ChristmasChallenge2021 will help us to kit out the kennels with all essentials to support those dogs, with the greatest need. Over the last 18 months we have seen more and more dogs entering our care with medical and behavioural needs, often both. Our Home from Home Kennels provide dogs with these needs the space they need to rehabilitate, relax, recover and learn to trust again before going on to the life that they deserve.

“We know we can’t change their past, but we can change their future. Christmas really is an extraordinary time of giving and we look forward to spreading the magic in this year’s campaign.”

Alex Day, Director of The Big Give said: “Our study shows that, sadly, people across Wales and the UK in general, are facing an imperfect storm; High fuel prices, chronic mental health problems, rising debt, loneliness and fears about Covid-19 will mean that, for many, this festive period will be a far cry from picture perfect scenes portrayed on Christmas cards.

“Some will rely on charities which will be further and further stretched as demand grows.

“That is why, for those who can, supporting charities is more important than ever. Through The Christmas Challenge campaign, we are offering to match any donation made to hundreds of amazing charities through h theBigGive.org.uk. That means whatever you can give will go twice as far.”

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