Swansea Building Society has donated £2,000 to local beach lifeguard clubs, Mumbles Lifeguard Club (MLC) and Langland Bay Lifeguard Club (LBLC), to provide the equipment necessary to train the current and future lifeguards that work on the busy beaches of Swansea and Gower.
The Mumbles and Langland Bay Lifeguard clubs – who have each received £1,000 from Swansea Building Society – act as the main feeder clubs providing the training for the professional RNLI lifeguards that give vital lifesaving and first aid cover at beaches across the local area.
Both clubs are run in a totally voluntary capacity; training and educating children from the age of seven, in water safety, lifesaving skills, first aid and resuscitation – equipping them with the knowledge required to enjoy the water safely and help others in trouble.
Each club has nipper (age 7-13), junior (age 13-16), senior (age 17+), and masters divisions. This means that by the time club members are young adults, and ready to work as professional lifeguards, they will already have many years’ experience behind them, having practised the skills and gained the necessary fitness required for the job.
The clubs also provide training and assessment for the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ), which is required by all professional lifeguards to work at RNLI patrolled beaches.
Both clubs are affiliated with the Surf Lifesaving Association (SLSA) and partake in lifeguard competitions throughout the year, with Stillwater competitions taking place in the pool during winter and beach carnivals taking place at the coast during the summer.
The beaches of Swansea and Gower have seen a marked increase in water users over the past couple of years, with recreational sports like open water swimming and paddleboarding seeing particular growth. The Covid restrictions on travel in place over the last two years are also thought to have accelerated the up-take of these sports and increased the number of ‘staycationers’ visiting coastal regions in the UK for holidays.
This growth in popularity has in turn put increased pressure on the lifeguard provision at all RNLI patrolled beaches, with a corresponding increase in the number of rescues and other incidents attended.
Langland Bay Lifeguard Club has also provided voluntary cover at the non-RNLI covered Llangennith beach for the past two summers and will be joined by members of Mumbles Lifeguard Club for the first time this year.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: “It’s been obvious to anyone spending time on the beach over the last couple of years that the number of water users has increased substantially. This has led to a very busy time for the lifeguards patrolling the beaches. It’s great, therefore, to be able to make this donation to two local clubs that not only train future lifeguards, but also provide much-needed water safety guidance for youngsters on how to enjoy the coast safely, help others who might be in danger, and keep themselves fit.”
Grant Nicholas, Head Coach, Mumbles Lifeguard Club, said: “We are incredibly grateful for this donation from Swansea Building Society. Both local clubs are completely volunteer-run, and most of the funding we get to keep the clubs going comes through membership subscriptions. This donation, therefore, comes as a great boost and will go towards some much-needed new equipment.
“Both clubs have had busy training schedules in the pool over the winter and have been back training on the beaches since late April. Many of our club seniors have already passed the NVBLQ and the RNLI test and started working at local beaches over Easter. We wish them all the best for the season, and hope everyone enjoys our wonderful coastline safely.”
Lead image: (L-R) Grant Nicholas, Head Coach MLC, Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, Paul Williams, Head Coach LLC
Swansea Building Society donates £10K to ‘Go Underhill’ development
Swansea Building Society has donated £10,000 to Mumbles Community Association’s Go Underhill development – a major plan to transform Underhill Park with up-to-date facilities fit for the 21st Century.
The building society, with branch offices in Swansea, Mumbles, Carmarthen and Cowbridge, has made the donation to help Mumbles Community Association (MCA) with its plan to redevelop the facilities in Underhill Park to protect and enhance the asset for the local community and visitors to the area.
The Go Underhill development is a multi-phase plan to redevelop and refurbish the much-loved green space in Mumbles. The park is regularly used by around 17,000 local residents, as well as visitors to the area, with more than 50 grass-roots sports teams regularly utilising the site for training and matches.
The park is currently home to several sports clubs, including Mumbles Rangers Football Club and Mumbles Rugby Club, and the site is also used by Swansea Cricket Club.
Registered charity Mumbles Community Association has plans to redevelop the site across several phases, with the £2 million phase-one having commenced at the start of 2022. This initial phase will include refurbishment of the pavilion with new public toilets, new changing facilities for sports teams, new facilities for the disabled, and a new community hub and café.
The £10,000 donated by Swansea Building Society will help the project to fund the completion of an additional two changing rooms, which had been omitted from the original contract let at the start of the year due to cost increases.
Once the first stage of the development is completed, MCA will take on management of the park and the new facilities under a 125-year lease and will work with existing and potential users to create more opportunities for the community. MCA is currently working to secure the funding needed to build a new all-weather pitch at the site, further expanding sports and recreational use at the park.
It is hoped that later phases will see the development of even more community facilities. These plans are dependent on future funding but are set to include a multi-purpose community hall with function room and performance area, a bar and catering facilities, a state-of-the-art gym, a new multi-use informal play area, improved car parking and access, and a spectator stand for the all-weather pitch.
Alun Williams, Chief Executive of Swansea Building Society, said: “We’re delighted to be able to make this donation of £10,000 to the Go Underhill project. The plans Mumbles Community Association has for the park are ambitious, but much needed, and will ensure that the site can be utilised to its full potential for generations to come.
“Sites like Underhill Park are vital for the health and wellbeing of the local community and make a huge difference to the experience of those visiting the area. They also provide important opportunities for people of all ages to take part in outdoor activities close to their homes. Swansea Building Society has a branch in Mumbles, just down the road from the park, and we are very much looking forward to seeing how the project develops, across its phases, over the coming months and years.”
Simon Tse, Chair of Mumbles Community Association, said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to Swansea Building Society for this fantastic donation to Go Underhill, which will make a real difference to what we are able to deliver.
“Underhill Park is an important and valued resource for local people and the funding from the Society will help us ensure that the new facilities are in place to enable more people to enjoy this fantastic asset.”
Lead image: Alun Williams Chief Executive of the Swansea Building Society (centre) presents a cheque for £10,000 to Simon Tse Chair of the Mumbles Community Association (left) and Martin Rodwell Mumbles Community Association trustee and head of fundraising at Underhill Park, Mumbles where a new community facility and changing rooms are being built.
Breakfast club dishes up dose of wellness to socially isolated
A new breakfast club is dishing up the opportunity for people in Swansea to connect with each other.
The well-being project is partly funded by the Bay Health Cluster, which is made up of eight GP practices spread across the Sketty, Uplands, Mumbles and Gower areas, as it aims to tackle social isolation among adults.
Based at Linden Church in West Cross, the weekly drop-ins are run by Red Community Project, an organisation which aims to bring people together and help build good relationships.
Each person is offered a cooked breakfast and is encouraged to get to know those around them.
Rachel Matthews, from Red Community Project, said: “We are hoping to make Linden Church a well-being hub in the area.
“Every Wednesday we have a free breakfast club with a cooked breakfast and our target group is people who are lonely.
“It is one of the target issues in West Cross as it’s an area with no Men’s Shed or anything for men, in particular, with mental health issues.
“We have had a mixture of people come so far. We’ve even had the police attend, as well as the local postman, so it’s definitely got a community feel to it.
“We are hoping to build up a safe place for people to come and we hope it is going to grow.”
Anyone living in the nearby area is welcome to attend the weekly drop-ins, whether they feel lonely or not.
One person who has enjoyed going along is Vance Horn.
He said: “I think it’s a great project because it gives me a break from my flat and gives me time to be with other people.
“I have been coming along since the start.
“The food here is really nice and the staff are brilliant. They are very generous in giving up their free time.”
While Jeremy Breem added: “I come here for breakfast every Wednesday and I’ve met some nice people through it.
“It helps to get you out of the house and seeing people, which I think is great.”
John Bennett is just one of the multiple volunteers who give up their time to cook, chat and clean up at the weekly meet-up.
Red Community Project also oversees the local food bank in Mumbles, with many of those volunteers lending a hand at the breakfast club too.
“It’s nice to be able to give something back to people,” Mr Bennett said.
“Some of the people here may not see anybody again or talk to anybody again for the rest of the day.
“At least here they can come and have something to eat or have a chat and hopefully it makes them feel a bit better.
“They must feel like it’s something nice to come to as we have offers of help from them to do the dishes afterwards, so it’s nice they want to give something back to us as well.
“You definitely get something out of helping other people.”
Bay Health Cluster lead, Dr Nicola Jones, said: “We are delighted to be able to help support the West Cross Well-being Project.
“It is providing a much-needed space to allow the local population to re-establish those vital connections to each other which we all missed out on during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which are vital for maintaining a healthy, thriving community.”
Lead image: Dan Evans, Barbara Matthews and Rachel Matthews of Red Community Project (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)
History volunteers host event to attract new castle colleagues
Volunteers who help look after one of Wales’ finest castles and proudly showcase it to visitors are looking to add to their ranks.
An open day is being held on Thursday, June 16, when anyone interested in joining the Friends of Oystermouth Castle can meet existing volunteers. They can find out more about becoming involved, what roles there are and how they might be able to help.
Marie Hughes, from the Friends Group, said: “Whether someone is newly retired, a student looking for work experience or someone who has a few hours to spare – there are many volunteering opportunities for people to get involved.
“Becoming a Friend is good fun and rewarding. It gives people the opportunity to learn about the history of the castle and meet visitors who come from all around the world, as well as taking part in regular social activities if they wish.
“Since the castle was last open to the public a number of older volunteers have retired and some of younger ones are now working and can no longer spare the time – so we’d really welcome some new recruits.”
There’ll be two drop-in sessions during the open day – from 10am-noon and 3-4pm.
Swansea Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies, said: “The Friends of Oystermouth Castle do a fabulous job with the day-to-day running of the castle, welcoming and informing visitors. We’re very grateful to them.
“It’s a rewarding experience so if you enjoy meeting new people and can spare the time then they’d be delighted to hear from you.”
For those who can’t make the open day, information and contact details are available on the council’s website at swansea.gov.uk/volunteeringatoystermouth
(Lead image: Swansea Council)
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