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Bluestone Resort provides enterprise education programme to Templeton Primary School

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Pupils at a Pembrokeshire primary school are benefiting from the skills and experience of staff from Bluestone National Park Resort.

Bluestone has joined the ‘The Bumbles of Honeywood’ skills programme and taken it to Templeton School near Narberth, close to where the resort is.

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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.

Employees from Bluestone visited Templeton School to introduce teachers and pupils to the programme, which is in line with Bluestone’s ongoing corporate responsibility programme.

These include the Bluestone Academy, which provides a gateway to a range of careers in the tourism sector for young people through work experience, training, and apprenticeship schemes.

The academy already has strong links with Pembrokeshire schools and colleges and the provision of the Bumbles of Honeywood programme will further strengthen these.

Helen John, Bluestone’s Academy manager, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with 2BEnterprising on this initiative, which we believe has real value for pupils, raising their awareness of ecological issues and nurturing skills that will enable them to become enterprising problem solvers equipped to address the challenges of the world we live in.

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“At Bluestone, we put our faith in people, and providing opportunities for young people is a cornerstone of the Bluestone way. We’re excited to be strengthening our links with local schools and making a constructive contribution to the education of the next generation.”

Kevin Phelps, head teacher of Templeton CP School added: “The staff and pupils at Templeton School are delighted to be involved in the ‘Bumbles of Honeywood’ skills programme created 2B Enterprising Ltd and very grateful to Bluestone National Park Resort for providing the programme directly to our school.

“The whole school community of Templeton is behind this initiative and are excited about its many advantages to the educational experiences of our children, in particular the biodiversity and ecological aspect, which is so important to our learners, but also the enterprising and innovation skills involved which may even support their future careers.

“We support our local community and to create a partnership with Bluestone in this way is a perfect way of developing our local business links and to work together for the benefit of all.”

Other corporate responsibility work at Bluestone has driven a strong on‐site focus on education, with the provision of play‐based learning opportunities in The Hive play centre and its NRG Labs cafe, where children can enjoy playing and learning with science‐based toys.

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Other fun educational activities on site including its nature trail and its Outdoor Detectives activities, where children join park rangers for a fun‐filled voyage of discovery through miles of woodland paths, discovering the beasts and bugs that inhabit the park.

Bluestone’s corporate responsibility activities also include innovative waste reduction initiatives, such as recycling water, donating and recycling used furniture and TVs, and ceasing to sell water in plastic bottles, instead enabling staff and visitors to refill reusable bottles from water points throughout the resort.

2BEnterprising CEO, Jayne Brewer, said: “We’re thrilled that Bluestone has chosen to become one of our valued partners by making this valuable contribution to Templeton Primary School as part of our Corporate Engagement Partner Programme.

“Bluestone’s efforts to support biodiversity, reduce waste and educate young people are truly inspirational and we’re proud to join them on this journey. By funding the provision of The Bumbles of Honeywood programme Bluestone is helping to raise awareness of some key ecological issues and helping pupils develop the skills and initiative to tackle these issues, while also preparing them for their future careers.”

A strong drive for biodiversity on site has seen the resort’s 500 acres transformed from pastureland with little ecological activity, into a thriving habitat rich in pollinators, otters, birds and other animals, including rescued hedgehogs, which are rehomed on site.

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The resort aligns its activities with those of the Pembrokeshire Nature Recovery Action Plan and the National Recovery Action Plan for Wales, holding regular meetings with the local Nature Recovery Action Plan officer to discuss innovative plans and activities.

The Bumbles of Honeywood programme aligns neatly with these efforts. As Wales’ first bilingual enterprise skills programme for schools, it has been developed by entrepreneurial business leaders and experienced educators with extensive input from teachers.

In line with the Welsh curriculum, the programme has a strong environmental message relating to the plight of the honeybee and aims to nurture enterprise skills in pupils from a young age, equipping them for success in the workplace and in business.

The programme is built around a series of beautifully illustrated books and interactive extension activities that explore the enterprising nature of honeybees and other characters to help children develop skills such as resilience, problem solving, leadership, communication, and teamwork.

Bluestone is making its contribution as part of 2BEnterprising’s Corporate Engagement Partner Programme, which has enabled 2B Enterprising to support dozens of schools, benefiting well over a thousand children to date by providing them learning and development programmes and resources which help them think about their education, training and future life choices much earlier than previously.

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The programme gives the corporate partners an impactful way by which to engage with schools in their community, in many cases supporting the children of their own employees in the process.

Lead image: left to right: Helen John, Bluestone Academy Manager, Marten Lewis, Bluestone’s Head of Community and Sustainability Development, 2B Enterprising founder Sue Poole, William McNamara, the CEO of Bluestone and Abigail Cooper, Operations Coordinator for 2B Enterprising.

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Welsh and UK Governments agree to establish Freeports in Wales

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The Welsh Government has reached agreement with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.

Welsh Ministers have agreed to support Freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to meet the Welsh Government’s demands that UK Ministers provide at least £26m of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents a parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.

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The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both Governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.

In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

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The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”

In addition, Welsh and UK Ministers have agreed that the UK Government will provide tax incentives for Freeports in Wales in parity with Freeports in other parts of the United Kingdom for the reserved taxes that have been designated to advance the policy aims. The Welsh Government will design tax reliefs from local and devolved taxes (Non-Domestic Rates and Land Transaction Tax) to support the policy aims.

Both Governments say they will remain open to the possibility of a multi-site Freeport in Wales. In recognition of Wales’ unique economic geography and the Welsh Government’s aspirations for economic development in Wales, the UK Government is willing to relax the 45 km boundary limit for a multi-site Freeport solution, should there be a sufficiently compelling case for doing so.

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Both Governments will also remain open to the possibility of allowing more than one Freeport in Wales, should they be presented with a sufficiently compelling business case.

As with English Freeports, a fair and open competitive process will be used to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales. Both Governments will work together to co-design the process for Freeport site selection, and both will have an equal say in all decisions throughout the implementation process. This includes the final decision on site selection.

Both Governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.

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Swansea digital agency iCreate enters the metaverse with bespoke digital environments

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Swansea-based creative agency iCreate is entering the metaverse by creating 3D visual environments for Dubai-based NFT boutique Jumi – a new outlet for curated digital art.

The metaverse hit the headlines last year when Facebook’s parent company rebranded to Meta, reflecting the growing potential of the internet to offer an interactive virtual world through AI and 3D digital animation.

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The metaverse offers social connection through technology, interaction with brands and businesses, and online recreation.

It encompasses everything from online video games to virtual shops where you can digitally try on items before you buy them, and bespoke venues for online events of all kinds.

It’s expected to expand into an online world where people will have their own virtual avatars which they take from one virtual environment to another, purchasing virtual products for them and housing them in virtual homes.

This is where iCreate – which specialises in creating digital environments – comes in. The company provides CGIs, 3D flythrough animations, VR tours and marketing brochures to the off-plan property sector.

From interactive, customisable home interiors that enable buyers to plan every detail of their dream home, through to large-scale digital animations of new housing developments, iCreate is adept at creating virtual environments that look and feel like the real thing.

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Now it’s teaming up with Jumi and other partners to create digital environments that will never be built in the real world, but will exist in the metaverse, where people’s avatars can explore and socialise in them.

A key aspect of the metaverse is non-fungible tokens (NFTs): digital assets that can be bought and traded. These are increasingly hitting the headlines as everyone from independent artists to big brands creates and sells digital-only products, music, artwork and more.

Dawn Lyle (right) and the team at iCreate

Jumy, which completed a $1.2M seed funding round last year, is the ultimate NFT boutique marketplace for exclusive digital art. All artworks are curated from the world’s most creative digital artists, to guarantee outstanding quality.

The platform is the world’s first to offer a fully integrated digital art experience where visitors will be able to purchase pieces with payment cards, trade their NFTs, order NFT frames (digital frames for NFT art) and flex their NFTs on metaverse – all in one place.

By collaborating with Jumi, iCreate will make beautiful, exclusive digital environments for displaying NFTs in the metaverse. From here, it’s expected that a new market in bespoke virtual homes and offices will develop over the coming years, as more aspects of all our lives are lived in the metaverse.

Dawn Lyle, iCreate’s co-founder, said: “We’re delighted to have formed this new partnership with Jumi and to be taking our bespoke digital environments into the metaverse.

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“The metaverse offers such a wealth of possibilities, and over the coming years it will become increasingly common to play, meet and do business with people all over the world in virtual settings.

“We’re excited to be creating stunning digital environments in which these activities can take place; in the metaverse, there are no limitations and it’s possible to bring dreams to life, creating astonishing virtual places that delight and surprise. It gives us the opportunity to put all our creative skills to use in exciting new ways and we can’t wait to get started.”

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River Island launches its brand new Swansea concept store this weekend

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Fashion chain River Island is revealing its brand new concept store at Morfa Retail Park in Swansea on Saturday (7 May).

Located at the former New Look store at Unit 6 on the Brunel Way shopping centre, the new store is just a few doors down from its previous outlet, although promises to be an even bigger and better boutique shopping experience.

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Located across two floors, the 8,253 square foot store has been specially curated to the tastes of Swansea shoppers according to the fashion chain.

Set across one level, womenswear will occupy just over half the space, with the remainder split between menswear and kidswear, stocking kids, mini and baby.

To celebrate the new opening, River Island will be hosting a launch event weekend in-store on the 7th and 8th of May, where shoppers can expect to hear celebratory sounds with in-store DJ sets, whilst the first lucky 100 customers through the doors will receive a £10 gift card which can be redeemed in-store or online.

Frances Baker, River Island Property Director said: “River Island is thrilled to be relocating and open ing a new boutique store in Swansea, Morfa as part of our segmentation programme.

“We are excited to introduce our concept store to our existing loyal customers, with exciting opportunities to acquire new customers with our new look-and-feel store.”

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River Island say the store upgrade strengthens its 300 strong estate and solidifies its message of “standing by the high street”, a campaign set up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to show solidarity with other high street brands negatively hit by the effects of the pandemic.

The fashion chain say that by investing in finding ways to encourage and entice customers to return to in-person shopping it hopes to “enhance and improve the shopping journey for its customers”.

(Lead image: River Island)

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