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Stena Line suspends Fishguard to Rosslare ferry route

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Stena Line has cancelled all of its Irish Sea crossings between Fishguard and Rosslare until 12 April.

The move comes as the ferry company looks to plug gaps left by P&O between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland over goods and food supply fears in the region.

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Stena Nordica, which usually sails between Holyhead and Dublin has been sent to add additional capacity on the Northern Irish route between Cairnryan in Scotland and Larne.

Stena Europe has been sent from its usual Fishguard route to plug the gap caused by this movement.

Passengers intending on travelling to Ireland from Fishguard are being advised to book crossings with Irish Ferries from Pembroke Dock instead.

Simon Palmer from Stena Line is reported as saying that: “Due to the suspension of P&O’s services into Northern Ireland there were supply fears in the region.

“The issue is also compounded by the timing of the crisis happening during our annual dry-docking period, where our ships take turns going into the shipyard for a makeover.

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“Otherwise we would’ve had a spare ship. The Stena Horizon from our Cherbourg route is currently in dry-dock, with that route being covered by the vessel Stena Estrid, which has been moved from her normal route on Holyhead to Dublin.”

Lead image: Stena Europe (Image: Wikimedia / Richie Queally / Creative Commons)

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Grassroots sports in Wales get £1.3m investment in UK Government Levelling Up announcement

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Beneficiaries of an initial £1.3 million investment in grassroots football facilities across Wales this year are announced by the UK Government.

In the Swansea Bay Region, Mumbles, Pontarddulais and Fishguard football clubs see over £140,000 in investment.

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Seventeen projects across Wales will receive funding to create and improve pitches, changing rooms and pavilions, so that more local communities can access high-quality facilities.

Projects have been chosen for their ability to deliver improved facilities in deprived areas, support multi-sport use and increase participation among currently under-represented groups, including women, girls and disabled players.

Mumbles Rangers AFC

Mumbles Rangers AFC who play at Underhill Park (pictured above) will receive £19,332 for essential grass pitch maintenance machinery. The club say this is so the pitch can effectively service the rugby and football teams across all age groups who use it.

The pitch has been upgraded over the last two years and supports two-day male and female football festivals with teams competing from across South Wales

The club will also invest £2,148 of its own funds towards the scheme.

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Pontarddulais Town FC

Pontarddulais Town FC who play at Coed Bach Park will get £98,842 to renovate an old changing room block that is no longer fit for purpose, bringing it back into use. The club say the funding will provide female toilet facilities and allow other community groups to benefit from the increased capacity.

The club will also invest £8,000 of its own funds into the scheme, in addition to £2,000 from Funds for Wales, £1,000 from Mynydd y Gwair wind farm and £3,477 from a voluntary works labour contribution.,

Fishguard Sports AFC

Further West, Fishguard Sports AFC who play at Tregroes Park will receive £26,072 to improve the drainage of the second pitch and purchase portable floodlights, so that it can be used into the evenings. The club say the poor drainage has prevented the club from expanding its offer, especially for ladies football, cricket and the U16’s disabled team which this project will unlock.

The club will invest £1,897 of its own funds, as well as £1,000 voluntary works labour contribution towards the scheme.

Investment in community facilities

The funding, combined with contributions from clubs and other local partners, will improve the quality of community facilities, bring people together to enjoy playing sport in their local area, regenerate communities and enhance social cohesion.

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It forms part of a £25 million UK-wide investment in grassroots facilities during this financial year, out of a total of £230 million set to be invested to help to build or upgrade up to 8,000 quality pitches across the UK over the next four years. The funding will also support the construction or refurbishment of clubhouses, changing facilities and community buildings.

The Football Association of Wales is delivering the programme on behalf of the UK Government in Wales. Following the UK Government’s commitment, the Welsh Government has also opted to invest £1.3 million to improve grassroots facilities this year – the FAW is working with both governments to maximise the benefits of this combined investment for local communities.

UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We are committed to improving access to high quality sports facilities for the underprivileged and underrepresented in Wales.

“From female changing rooms at Treborth Playing Fields in Bangor to new pitches in Welshpool and Swansea, this will ensure more people can enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of sport at top class facilities in their local community.”

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Grassroots football clubs are at the heart of their communities, providing sporting opportunities but also bringing incalculable health and social benefits to local children and adults.

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“They play a hugely important role and I’m thrilled that the UK Government is making this investment in facilities the length and breadth of Wales which will help the clubs and groups receiving this funding to continue their fantastic work.”

Chief Executive Noel Mooney from the Football Association of Wales said: “The Football Association of Wales is pleased to be working closely with the UK and Welsh Governments to improve facilities across Wales and are grateful for their support.

Improving the facilities across Wales is the FAW’s number one strategic objective. This initial round of funding marks the beginning of an exciting journey, and the FAW will continue to work closely with all of its stakeholders, to create a facilities investment fund in order to deliver impactful projects across all corners of Wales as we strive to make football inclusive and accessible to all.”

Joint UK bid for Euro 2028

Today’s announcement follows a joint ‘Expression of Interest’ submitted to UEFA by the Football Associations of England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales on Wednesday (23 March).

The Governments of the UK, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have confirmed their support for the EOI submission and, given the Northern Ireland Executive is currently not meeting formally, officials there continue to observe the process closely.

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Formal discussions on the technical specifications for the tournament are expected to take place with European football’s governing body over the coming weeks, before a final decision is made on submitting a formal bid.

On the prospects of hosting UEFA EURO 2028, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: “This is welcome news from the FAs, and the Government remains committed to working closely with them and our partners in the Government of Ireland and the Devolved Administrations to bring UEFA’s flagship festival of international football to the UK and Ireland.

“Our unprecedented partnership creates the potential for the best EUROs ever, and we are passionate about bringing another world-leading sporting event here, creating a real celebration of football for people across the UK and Ireland.

“The government continues to demonstrate its commitment to sport and recreation, recently announcing that it is also investing £30 million to refurbish more than 4,500 tennis courts across the UK.”

(Lead image: Go Underhill)

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Back of the net! Wales becomes first UK nation to rollout fishing gear recycling scheme

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Wales is taking action against marine litter as it becomes the first UK nation to introduce a recycling scheme for fishing gear.

The first collection, which took place today on Global Recycling Day (March 18), has proved a huge success, with some three tonnes of fishing gear collected for recycling from seven harbours around Wales.

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The new scheme will help to bolster Wales’ recycling credentials –Wales has the best household waste recycling record in the UK and the third best in the world.

Recycling bins for used fishing gear have been placed at Swansea, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Cardigan, Conwy, Anglesey and Holyhead harbours. They were filled to the brim with fishing nets, ropes and buoys, which could otherwise have ended up in the sea or in landfill.

They will instead be shredded and turned into pellets, before being re-used in kayaks, bodyboards or in street furniture.

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “Schemes like this show that through collaboration, innovation and action, we can come up with practical solutions that will ensure we leave our seas in a better state for our future generations.

“Sadly, reports show that if we carry on as we are, we may have more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050.

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“We will not shy away from the challenges ahead. Since devolution, we have worked incredibly hard to turn around our recycling record, from being one of the world’s worst to one of the best.

“With a Team Wales effort we can create a real circular economy where we recycle and reuse, strengthening our supply chains and protecting the planet. World events show us just how urgent this is.”

The Welsh Government is working with Odyssey Innovation Ltd, creators of the Net Regeneration Scheme and collectors of the marine refuse, as well as partners in the fishing industry, Surfers against Sewage and Keep Wales Tidy to create the scheme.

Fishing gear is estimated to make up to 20% of all litter found in our seas. In Wales, fishing lines and ropes were the third most commonly found item in last year’s Great British Beach Clean survey. Fishing gear accounted for 14% of litter found on Wales’ beaches.

Abandoned and littered fishing gear can harm marine life and increase the risk of micro plastics ending up in our food chain.

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The UN has predicted the amount of plastic in our oceans will treble in the next 20 years, in large part due to a lack of recycling infrastructure. Offering solutions for end-of-life fishing gear will reduce the risk of littering and reduce the potential for damage to the marine environment.

Rob Thompson, managing director at Odyssey Innovation says: “The Net Regeneration Scheme has only been made possible through collaboration, primarily between the fishing sector and conservation groups, supported by universities and the government.

“This collaborative project between us, the Welsh Government and fishing communities will showcase best practice in a sector where it is immensely needed and the quality of our seas and the aquatic flora and fauna within it will also benefit tremendously.’’

Marion Warlow of the Welsh Fisherman’s Association – Cymdeithas Pysgotwyr Cymru (WFA-CPC), added: “We have supported this project from the outset.

“Together with Odyssey Innovation, port authorities, local authorities and community groups, fishermen and women have engaged with the pilot project team to recycle and regenerate end of life fishing gear and hard plastics.

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“We very much hope that the experience learned during this pilot will ensure a long-term sustainable expansion of the service to all ports and harbours in Wales significantly reducing our collective reliance on landfill in the future.”

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Fishguard

Pembrokeshire resident Ivy Skeate celebrates 107th birthday

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A woman who was born just months after the outbreak of World War One has celebrated her 107th birthday.

Ivy Skeate has been a resident of Hillside Residential Home in Goodwick since 2013 and celebrated her birthday on 1st November.

Mrs Skeate enjoyed cake and balloons at what were low key but enjoyable celebrations due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions

Mrs Skeate was born in Southwark, south London, and as an infant her policeman grandfather patrolled the streets of south London giving residents the all-clear following zeppelin raids with shrill blasts of his whistle.

Having married James Skeate in 1938, she subsequently moved out to Surrey after the onset of the Second World War, later having two daughters.

She and her husband settled in Newport, Pembrokeshire in 1966 where they ran West End Stores for many years. Mrs Skeate was widowed in 1988.

Mrs Skeate is Hillside’s oldest resident and understood to be one of the oldest people in Wales.

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Annett Narbett, Registered Home Manager at Hillside, said: ‘It was lovely to celebrate Ivy’s 107th birthday at Hillside on Monday.

“Ivy is a remarkable lady and it is amazing to think of everything she has experienced in her 107 years.”

(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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