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Swansea Bay City Deal funded ‘Smart Garment’ technology showcased in minister visit

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UK Government Minister David TC Davies has visited the £132 million Swansea Bay City Deal Campuses project to see how the technology for Smart Garments has been developed and was used by athletes, including medal winners, in last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The wearable technology was designed by Swansea University experts who invented a flexible heater using carbon-based stretchable graphene ink that can be directly attached to fabric. This keeps muscle temperature at a constant level which can improve an athlete’s performance.

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He also learned about a ground-breaking partnership between Swansea University academics, the local Health Boards and industry that studies the demands of elite, professional cyclists with Type 1 Diabetes in order to gain a better understanding of glucose management and develop recommendations for others with the condition.

The Swansea Bay City Deal Campuses project is supported by funding from the UK and Welsh Governments as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal. The investment will be used to promote innovation and business growth in the expanding Medical and Sports Technology sectors and lead to more products, like Smart Garments, being developed

The project is planned to generate over 1,000 jobs in the Swansea area and is predicted to be worth over £150 million to the regional economy by 2033.

It is led by Swansea University, in partnership with Swansea Council, Swansea Bay University Health Board, Hywel Dda University Health Board, a Regional Collaboration for Health (ARCH) Partnership and key private sector partners. Delivered in two phases, the project is located in Singleton and Morriston.

Phase one, which will utilise City Deal funding over the next three years, will deliver 2000m2 of dedicated research and innovation space within the Sketty Lane Sports Park at the Swansea University Singleton Campus. This will establish an environment which supports the development, testing and evaluation of medical, health, well-being and sports technologies, as well as commercial partnerships. In addition, phase one will also include the refurbishment of an existing building at Morriston Hospital. This site will create a 700m2 Institute of Life Sciences space for commercial and academic collaboration alongside clinical research and development.

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Once the first phase is complete, it will unlock the development potential of major expansion at both sites over the next 12 years. This will further establish the area at the forefront of health, sports, and science, whilst driving economic development and adding value to the region. This is expected to include a 55-acre Innovation Park with space for SMEs and large companies in the booming Sports Technology and Medical Technology sector.

At the Singleton Campus the second phase will allow for the creation of a centre of excellence within sport with world-class facilities for elite teams and community sports, along with sports technology and research.

Councillor Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister David T C Davies to Swansea University with the approval of the Campuses Business Case. Led by Swansea University, this project will build on regional expertise in life science, well-being, and clinical innovation which will help prevent ill-health, develop better treatments and improve quality of life. It will also create over 1,000 well-paid jobs, boost the economy and help attract significant additional investment.”

“The Campuses project is the final one in the Swansea Bay City Deals’ portfolio to be approved, and we are very proud to achieve this significant milestone. We are now focusing on delivering the entire portfolio in order to build a more prosperous region for our residents as well as accelerating our economic recovery from the pandemic.”

UK Government Minister in Wales, David TC Davies added: “I very much enjoyed seeing the work that is already underway on this project. Everyone involved has huge ambition and drive, as well as some truly innovative ideas and it was a pleasure to meet all those working so hard to make it a success.

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“The UK Government is delighted to be funding this ambitious project, which will build on everything that I’ve seen, and will make Swansea University, along with their partners, leaders in 21st century Medical and Sports Technology.

“As well as a huge boost to jobs and the local economy, the technology that will be developed will improve the health and wellbeing of people both in Swansea and beyond.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University said: “Swansea University is delighted that this major regional initiative, in collaboration with Swansea Council, our local health boards and key private sector partners has now been approved.

“Harnessing the thriving health and life science ecosystem in the Swansea Bay City Region, this project will establish an international centre for innovation in healthcare and medicine within the Sketty Lane Sports Park on our historic Singleton Campus, generating positive impact for population health and supporting the development of an innovative Sports Tech industry here in Wales. It will support our university in realising our regional ambitions for sport, enabling us to champion well-being and preventative health, and support public participation in sport across the lifespan.

“The Campuses project exemplifies what can be achieved through effective cross-sector collaboration, and we are proud to partner with business and government for the wider benefit of our region.”

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Mark Hackett, Chief Executive Officer. Swansea Bay University Health Board said: “The value of research and development to the health economy in the Swansea Bay region cannot be underestimated. Not only does this attract high quality jobs and investment to the area, but it paves the way for exciting opportunities for staff and patients to be involved at the forefront of exciting developments and innovative treatment.

“This Swansea Bay City Deal Campuses project is just the start, and as our reputation as a high quality research and development grows, it will also help us attract even more high calibre staff. As a health board we are delighted to be able to accommodate a key part of this project on our Morriston Hospital site, bringing this cutting edge research into the heart of healthcare.”

Welsh Government Economy Minister Vaughan Gething added: “The Welsh Government has a clear focus on creating a stronger, fairer, greener economic future. We want Wales to be a country that’s at the forefront of innovating new technologies that will benefit people in their day-to-day lives. The significant investment we’re making as part of the Swansea Bay City Deal will further enhance Wales’ leading role in advanced medical technologies and science. It will support businesses to exploit links with academia, bringing world-leading research out of the labs and industry and into society, for the benefit of our people and economy.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay City Deal)

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Dance

Doctors prescribe dance classes to keep patients on their feet

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet.

Five of the health board’s clusters – groups of GP surgeries working together within a geographical area – are backing the scheme as the exercise to music is proven to aid falls prevention.

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Each class is led by a trained dance teacher with participants encouraged to follow a range of routines, designed to develop their strength and balance, with the option of using a chair for support if their mobility is limited.

The Dance for Health programme is a collaboration between the health board, clusters, local authorities, and Aesop, an arts focused charity.

Alyson Pugh, Programme Manager at Aesop, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the health sector to improve the health and wellbeing of people aged over 65 through the medium of dance.

“During each class participants will move to a variety of music from all around the world. The classes are fun and vibrant, increasing fitness, mobility and strength.

“Afterwards, participants will have a good chance to get to know one another over a cup of tea or coffee. No previous experience is needed, everybody is welcome.”

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So far classes are held in Pontardawe, Morriston, Seven Sisters, Cwmavon and Briton Ferry, Upper Killay, Reynoldston, Mumbles and the Waterfront Museum.

Alyson said: “The health board asked for 12 classes across Swansea Bay and funded the management side while the GP clusters are funding the delivery of the classes. They wanted it to be grass roots up.

“Anyone can walk in but they wanted the main referrals to come from the virtual wards and local area coordinators and social prescribers, a whole community approach.”

Lizzie MacMillan (Image: Swansea Bay HNS)

Dance artist Lizzie MacMillan (left), a development officer for Dance for Health, said: “It’s for older people and people who are struggling a little bit with perhaps balance issues, mobility issues as well, so we are not expecting them to foxtrot along the floor on the first class or anything like that. It builds up over the weeks.

“We start off quite gently, just seeing where everyone is in the class – I like to gauge the class first of all to see if people are having problems with balance or perhaps giddiness or joint problems. I like to get to know each person in the class so that I can look after them and know their capacity for movement.

“We use the chairs quite a lot if someone is unsteady on their feet. They can still do a variation using the chair for support. We also do a standing variation if people are a little fitter or a little bit more able to push themselves further in the class.”

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Mike Garner, Cwmtawe Cluster lead, said: “We are delighted to be participating in this programme as it fits in perfectly with our goal of improving well-being and helping people remain fit and healthy.”

One participant, Pauline Anderson, said: “I’ve been to four or five classes. I thought I would try it to see what it’s like and it’s been very good.

“As you get older you become more immobile. I’ve been struggling with my knees and joints, so I have found it helpful.

“I would advise anyone thinking about it to just come along.”

Another participant, Betty Didcock, said: “I try to keep active as much as I can. I used to enjoy dancing when I was younger. I’ve made friends here. If you’re a bit shy, it’s a wonderful place to come to get used to talking to people. I’m a quiet one. I don’t always do it right but I have a go.”

While Amber Davies said: “I thought I’d come along to see what it was like. It’s important to keep busy and remain active. It’s also a good way of meeting new people.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea

Swansea’s popular land train is back – and you can even take your dog for a ride!

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Taking your family for a day out along Swansea prom? Now your four-legged friend can join in the fun too by hitching a ride on the land train!

Officially known as the Swansea Bay Rider, the 72-seater land train runs along Swansea’s prom from Blackpill Lido to Southend Gardens in Mumbles giving passengers an incredible view of Swansea Bay as they travel along.

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Run by Swansea Council, the land train has been a feature of summer holiday trips for many years – whether it’s to soak up the sights in style, or hop on for a relaxing journey after a day of fun in the sun.

But did you know that dogs are allowed on board too?

The council has highlighted the little known fact that four-legged friends are welcome to ride the land train with their owners, as long as they are wearing a lead and are under control.

With more people than ever taking their dog on holiday or on days out, the land train is another fun activity that all the family can enjoy.

The Swansea Bay Rider is also fully accessible to wheelchair users.

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The land train runs every weekend from 23 April to 4 September, and daily during the school holidays between 30 May and 3 June, and again between Friday 15 July and Sunday 4 September.

The 30 minute ride from Blackpill to Southend runs 7 times a day at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm from Blackpill.

Return journeys from Southend are at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm and 5.30pm.

Can’t get enough of riding the land-train? How about becoming its driver!

Swansea Council are recruiting a land train driver on a zero hours contract for £19,264 per annum (pro-rata). Applications are open until 24 May on the council’s website.

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Books & Literature

Author uncovers the lost tale of Swansea fairground legend

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From Swansea Bliz survivor to fairground strongman – an author discovers his grandfather’s fascinating story as The Welsh Hercules.

In the early half of the 20th Century, Jack Lemm was a household name in Wales. As the Strongman star of fairgrounds and Music Hall, he was famed for his feats of strength, wrestling and his dangerous headlining act, The Whirl of Death.

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Times and entertainment trends change, however, and now the once-famous showman is almost forgotten.

For one man, however, the story of the strongman had special meaning. Glaswegian Steven Blockley had always thought that his Great Grandfather deserved to be better known.

“I never actually met Jack,” he says. “I grew up listening to my uncles and aunts telling fascinating stories about all his incredible achievements around the Swansea area and I always knew I wanted to write a book to bring them to a wider audience. As I dug further into his past, however, even I was surprised by what I found.”

Looking into the background of Jack, Steven and co-author David J Thacker uncovered a rich life story and the perfect antidote to our troubled times.

Steven continues, “Jack lived through some harsh years – he was on HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland in World War 1 and was a survivor of the Swansea Blitz in the Second World War – but his focus was always to put family first and to provide for everyone at home, even if doing so took him away from them.”

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David takes up the story. “Jack came from a Greek family and his given surname was actually Lamnea, but his exploits on stage and at fairs all over the UK, including at Neath, were not always popular, especially with his authoritarian father.

“A lot of the tension in our book comes from that relationship, of a son trying to live up to the ideals of his father.”

The resulting book, The Welsh Hercules, took over a year to research and write but in doing it Steven found a kind of resolution.

“While we were writing the book, I turned 60. At that age, Jack was still doing 40 shows a day at the fairgrounds and even after he retired, he was helping roadworkers outside his house to fix the roads!

“Age really was just a number for him and I think that’s a great attitude to have.”

The Welsh Hercules tells the story of Jack, from his humble beginnings on Swansea Docks through to becoming a renowned boxing coach and fairground star. It takes him through two World Wars, as a survivor of the Battle of Jutland and the Swansea Blitz, and introduces a whole new world of showmen, acrobats and colourful characters.

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But at its heart, Jack’s story is one of family – of the challenges met, the hearts won and the enduring romance of a Showman and his wife.

The Welsh Hercules is available in paperback on Amazon priced at £11.99

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