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City going purple for Queen’s Jubilee

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Swansea is set to turn a royal shade of purple next week when the city lights up for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Popular landmarks including Castle Square, the Guildhall, Wind Street, Oxford Street, and the new Swansea Arena will be lit up in the official jubilee colour of purple for the four-day jamboree, commemorating Her Majesty the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

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Scores of communities across the city will also be joining in the celebrations, hanging out the bunting and closing their roads for street parties across the four-day Bank Holiday which kicks off next week.

Swansea Council has waived the fees for street closures and more than 60 streets in the city have been given the green light to close their roads for the day so they can celebrate with traditional street parties.

The Council is also hosting a special commemorative Jubilee Beacon lighting at the Guildhall on June 2, the day of the main celebrations.

A number of Jubilee garden parties at the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House are also being held during the summer so communities can get together to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

Swansea Libraries have been creating their own celebrations of the event with half-term crafts and arts sessions with a jubilee theme.

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Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “As a city, we want to wish Her Majesty the Queen a thoroughly enjoyable Platinum Jubilee. There has never been a Platinum Jubilee before, and the Jubilee weekend will mark an unprecedented achievement’

“It’s an opportunity for communities in Swansea to come together and enjoy themselves, so it’s great to see that lots of people will be doing just that with traditional street parties and other events.

“We’ve removed fees for street closures to support local street parties and our free bus rides offer will also be operating over the four-day Jubilee bank holiday until 7pm every day, so people can travel to events around Swansea a no cost’

He said: “As a Queen’s Green Canopy Champion City, we are working with community groups and schools across the county this year to plant thousands of new trees, whips and saplings helping to expand our green canopy in Swansea for future years.

“They’ll be a lasting legacy of this memorable jubilee year that will be enjoyed by future generations for many years to come.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Welsh Jubilee Birthday Honours recipients celebrated

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Wales football star Gareth Bale and singer Bonnie Tyler are among people from Wales to receive awards in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours list.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart has praised people from Wales who have received awards in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours list.

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The list recognises the work and achievements of a wide range of remarkable people across the United Kingdom from all backgrounds.

Recipients from Wales in 2022 include Wales football star Gareth Bale who is awarded an MBE for services to football and charity, singer Bonnie Tyler (Gaynor Sullivan) who is awarded an MBE for services to music, poet Dr Gwyneth Lewis who receives a MBE, weather presenter Derek Brockway who receives an BEM and singer and broadcaster Wynne Evans who also receives a BEM.

Dr Keith Reid, Director of Public Health for Swansea Bay University Health Board received an MBE for services to the NHS during Covid-19. Dr Umakant Ramchandra Dave, Consultant Physician at Swansea Bay University Health Board also received an MBE for services to the NHS.

Also receiving MBE’s were Philip Brian Newman a Senior Marine Environmental Assessment Officer at Natural Resources Wales for services to Marine Conservation.

In Swansea, Rocio Cifuentes, Chief Executive Officer of Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales (EYST) received an MBE for services to the community in Wales. Lynnette Margaret Sanders, Chief Executive of Swansea Women’s Aid received an MBE for services to Victims of Domestic Abuse in Swansea.

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An MBE was presented to Emma Jayne Lewis, Chair of The Roots Foundation Wales for voluntary services to Young People in Swansea. Founder of Burns Pet Nutrition in Kidwelly, John Burns received an MBE for services to business and for his charitable work in the community.

Others receiving awards include former S4C Chief Executive Owen Evans who has a CBE for services to broadcasting in Wales and the Welsh language, Professor Uzo Iwobi who receives a CBE for services to racial equality, Managing Director of Deeside-based Iceland foods Richard Walker who has an OBE for services to business and the environment and 80-year-old Patricia Anne Husselbee from Newport who has a BEM for her 64 years of service to the Royal British Legion.

Expressing his heartfelt thanks for the inspiring achievements of all the recipients, Mr Hart congratulated all those being recognised with an award.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “In this special Jubilee year, I am once again inspired by the stories of the many people from across Wales who have deservedly been recognised on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

“As well as honouring people who have excelled in sport and the arts, these awards celebrate individuals who selflessly give back to those around them, both through their work and personal lives. It is heart-warming to see the hugely diverse range of recipients from right across Wales recognised for their commitment to charity, education, community work and health.

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“I congratulate each person honoured and thank them for their invaluable contribution.”

Other recipients of honours from Wales include Llanelli MP Nia Griffith who receives a Damehood, Glamorgan County Cricket Club chief executive Hugh Morris with an MBE for services to cricket and Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader Andrew Morgan who receives an OBE, and ex-Wales rugby international Brynmor Williams who receives an MBE.

(Lead image: Albin Olsson / CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Royal recognition for role in planning health board’s response to pandemic

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A Swansea Bay University Health Board staff member has been thanked for her work through the pandemic by attending a Royal Garden Party

Planning for and responding to emergencies is second nature to Karen Jones. As Swansea Bay’s Head of Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) Karen is used to expecting the unexpected.

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But nothing could have prepared her for the special invitation she received in recognition of her role in the health board’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a way of thanking her for her hard work, Karen (pictured) was invited to attend one of the Royal garden parties held annually at Buckingham Palace.

It is her duty to ensure the health board is prepared for high risks and emergencies and is able to respond and recover when necessary.

Over the last two years, much of her day-to-day work has unsurprisingly been focused on the response to Covid-19.

This has involved preparing and responding to various scenarios, the initial setting up of testing centres and creating a co-ordination centre where vital information could be shared between services.

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“My job is to try to be one step ahead to try and stop us going into an emergency situation but also being prepared to deal with them if they occur,” Karen said.

“I could see flurries of information coming through about the outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019. In January I spoke to our Executive Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid, about it as it seemed to be increasing in activity.

“After learning more, I said I think we should invoke our pandemic response plan. I dealt with the measles outbreak in 2013 and I knew this was a rising tide emergency and going the same way so we reacted early.

“I am very proud to say that we stood up our pandemic plans early in order to be prepared.

“We developed templates based on the information about what was going on in Wuhan and asked service groups to develop responses based on a number of ‘what if’ scenarios.

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“We had to set things up very quickly.”

As part of her role, delivering on training and exercising is paramount and Karen has to organise staff exercises as a way of testing the emergency plans in place, should they be needed in future.

Just months before Covid-19 emerged, she had arranged a pandemic response exercise, in conjunction with Public Health Wales, the learning of which went on to form the basis of the real-life response in Swansea Bay.

Karen said having a Covid co-ordination centre, known as Gold Command, where senior members of staff could receive situation updates and share information had been crucial in managing the response.

At the height of the pandemic, meetings were held three times a day as guidance and information was changing rapidly.

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“It was a lifesaver because in an emergency you need a central point for all information to come in so you can manage it and distribute it,” Karen said.

“It was like a tsunami coming towards us and we were trying to make sense of all of the information, especially when we were receiving several versions of guidance about the same thing within a short space of time.

“As well as the massive response within the health board, we also had to link in with multi-agencies and their equivalents to Gold Command structures.

“It was a phenomenal response.”

Karen said she was very surprised to receive the invitation to one of the Royal garden parties but she emphasised that it was a team effort thanks to the hard work from those around her, as well as wider health board staff.

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She added: “It was a complete and utter surprise and I was extremely humbled as I really wasn’t expecting it. I was honoured.

“It was a truly memorable day and the weather was beautiful. There were so many people present, all being recognised for their contributions to society, so I really did feel humbled to be part of it.

“At the beginning of the pandemic it was hard but I was in awe as I couldn’t believe how everybody pulled together. The camaraderie and teamwork – that community tight-knit feel was something I’ll never forget.

“It’s been a team effort from an accumulation of people who had to come together from all areas, led by Dr Keith Reid.

“It is an amazing job and I absolutely love it because no one day is the same. It is so varied and you can achieve so much.”

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Siân Harrop-Griffiths, Director of Strategy, said: “Karen was instrumental in establishing Swansea Bay’s response to Covid, meaning that we were in front of most health boards in our planning.

“For example, we were the first to establish a testing centre for staff.

“She has worked tirelessly through the pandemic, utilising her skills and experience on emergency planning and business continuity to enable us to respond so well as an organisation.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for her efforts to be rewarded.”

Lead image: Karen at the Royal garden party with her husband Martin (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Royal visit for Neath Port Talbot Youth Service

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Neath Port Talbot Council’s Youth Service enjoyed a royal visit (Wednesday 9 March) when HRH the Countess of Wessex visited young parents, their children and staff involved in the Young Parents Provision project.

The Provision is funded by the Welsh Government Youth Support Grant run in partnership with the Youth Service, Flying Start and Thrive.

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The Young Parents can access Youth Workers, along with support from Neath Port Talbot Council’s Flying Start programme (an early years support programme for families of children under four) and support from Thrive Group Wales.

The Young Parents group provides valuable support and advice for young parents who are at risk of isolation and it has provided a lifeline for new parents as they navigated caring for babies and toddlers in the Covid-19 pandemic. Support for the group has included a Slow Cooker Project, walk and talk sessions, a parent nurture course and one to one sessions.

The Countess of Wessex has a strong personal interest in improving opportunities and help for young people and she champions national charities such as the NSPCC.

During her visit to The Young Parents Group at Playhem Play Centre, the Countess met parents, children, the Youth Council and staff and she was also welcomed by the Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, Cllr John Warman, Neath Port Talbot Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Leanne Jones, Education, Skills and Culture Cabinet Member Cllr Peter Rees, the Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan, Mrs Louise Fleet and Neath Port Talbot’s Deputy Youth Mayor, Maddie Pritchard.

Cllr Warman said: “We were delighted to welcome HRH the Countess of Wessex to Neath Port Talbot who was keen to meet the young parents being helped by our youth service in conjunction with Flying Start and the Thrive Group at Playhem. It is a first class project for helping and supporting young parents who would otherwise be in danger of becoming isolated.”

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Neath Port Talbot Youth Mayor Bethan Nicholas-Thomas added: “It was very nice for HRH the Countess of Wessex to visit us in Neath Port Talbot and talk to the Young Parents Group and Youth Council. It is important for us as young people to have these opportunities where we can voice our opinions on matters that affect our lives. The Young Parents project is an excellent example of the Youth Service working in partnership with others to help young people who need support.”

Earlier in the day, the Countess, a patron of the Scar Free Foundation, visited the London based charity’s research centre in Swansea University – the centre, working with Health and Care Research Wales, aims to enhance facial reconstruction techniques using 3D bioprinting.

Her Royal Highness also planted a Jubilee tree at the city’s new coastal park, which is next door to the newly opened Swansea Arena.

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