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Gower farmers take part in trial of new biosecurity app to help lower farm disease risk

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Trials have started on a system to help farmers in Wales identify and resolve weak spots in their biosecurity, and so reduce the need for antibiotics.

Featuring the piloting of a Biosecurity App, the trials are part of Arwain DGC – a project designed to help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and the environment in Wales.

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Developed by Cefn Gwlad Solutions Ltd in consultation with vets, the app’s trials are being organised by Arwain DGC veterinary delivery partner Iechyd Da. 

Working with farmers, vets will carry out a simple risk-based analysis of a farm’s biosecurity. The easy-to-use Biosecurity App will help identify the major weak spots in the farm’s biosecurity measures and enable the vet to give practical advice on improvements. Any changes made will then be reviewed with the farmer during a follow-up visit later in the year.

Gower vet Ifan Lloyd, one of the vets involved in developing the tool, said, “We’re looking forward to trialling the use of the biosecurity risk assessment App. We have designed a series of questions that will enable the farmer and vet to make an objective assessment by applying a score to each of the risks. 

“This will generate an overall risk score while also permitting the farmer and vet to measure improvements in biosecurity as a result of implementing any agreed actions that must be practical, achievable and cost-effective.” 

Robert Smith of Iechyd Da said, “By leading on this innovative trial, Iechyd Da hopes to develop a simple and practical means of assessing a farm’s biosecurity risk using handheld technology. The app works by highlighting to the farmer where their biggest biosecurity risks are. 

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“By using the scoring system, vets can then advise the farmer about the best measures to reduce infectious disease transmission onto their livestock unit.  In reducing disease spread between farms, the stock will be healthier, more productive and fewer antibiotics will need to be used.”

Seven veterinary practices are set to pilot the Biosecurity App on 20 Welsh dairy, beef, and sheep farms.

Gower sheep farmer Dan Pritchard, who farms at Weobley Castle Farm in Llanrhidian, is among the first to take part in the trial, and is working with his vet Ifan Lloyd.

He said, “Being able to identify, and then rectify, biosecurity weak spots are something we are very keen to do as it will help lower the risk of infectious diseases being brought on and off the farm. 

“We have just started using the Biosecurity App with our vet, and it has been a quick and easy process. I look forward to seeing the results and working with our vet to reduce the need to use antibiotics.”

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Also, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will be discussed by vets at next week’s Vets Cymru conference in Aberystwyth (June 17th & 18th).

Charity

Action for Children and Swansea Council unveil new caravans for supported families

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Action for Children and Swansea Council have unveiled three brand new caravans for supported families at Llanrhidian Holiday Park, Gower on Thursday 23rd June.

Swansea Council has provided the funding for the caravans for Action for Children to help support families with children with disabilities who use their short breaks service in the Swansea area. 

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The caravans were officially opened by Cllr Louise Gibbard, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Care services.  She said: “Everyone loves a short break on Gower with its opportunities to enjoy brilliant scenery and fresh air.

“Now disabled young children and their families will be able to get a wonderful change of scene together rather than having to go on holiday separately, which has often been the case in the past.

“Working together with Action for Children, we’ve purchased the caravans near each other on a holiday site in Llanrhidian. They are fully kitted-out to make sure the children and their families get the best possible short break experience.

“Action for Children, who already do a lot of great work supporting children with disabilities and their families, will operate the caravans and assist the families while they’re there.

“It’s a really good, new initiative and it’s great to see this kind of partnership between the council and Action for Children delivering the best for our community’s disabled children and their families.”

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Cllr Gibbard (top right) with the Action for Children and Swansea Council teams who made it happen (Image: Action for Children)
Shaun and Natalie with their son, Leo at the caravan launch (Image: Action for Children)

Caroline Lewis, Action for Children’s short breaks practice manager, said: “Our families face very difficult challenges every day and we are delighted Swansea Council has worked with us to provide these wonderful facilities.  The caravans will provide a much-needed break in beautiful surroundings with fully accessible amenities for children with disabilities. 

Caroline added: “The value of a break from your everyday routine is priceless and I’m sure our families will relish all the Gower has to offer and make lovely new memories.  We are very grateful to Swansea Council for their incredible support and generosity in making this happen.”

(Lead image: Action for Children)

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Cycling

Council awarded over £8m for new cycle and walking routes in Swansea

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Walking and cycling routes in Swansea are set to be expanded after Swansea Council secured millions in Welsh Government funding.

The Council has received confirmation from the WG of more than £8 million of transport funding which will be invested in the city’s growing walking and cycle network.

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Part of the funding will also be used to improve main routes in the city for public transport, in a bid to improve bus services and speed up journeys for passengers.

In total, £8.325 million has been awarded to the Council after it submitted bids earlier in 2022.

A report to Cabinet will seek to approve a list of transport schemes that will help boost sustainable transport and encourage more people to walk and cycle.

Just over £7 million of the funding will be spent on developing new walking and cycling routes.

Included in the plans is a new route across Clyne Common, linking up the village of Bishopston with a recently completed walking and cycling route on Mayals Road.

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New routes will also be developed in the north of the city, including a new route between Grovesend and Pontarddulais and a new link between Penllergaer and Gorseinon.

Funding will also be used to fill gaps in the walking and cycling network along the Tawe corridor in and around the Morriston area.

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Environment & Infrastructure, said: “Once again, Swansea has been successful in securing important funding that we want to invest in our transport network in the city.

“We have been working extremely hard for a number of years, creating new walking and cycling routes that give residents and visitors alternative ways to get around without needing to use a car.

“Our aim is to make walking and cycling a serious option for people, even more so with fuel prices continuing to rise across the country.

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“Swansea is a vast city with many communities and we are continuing to plan and develop routes that link up these communities. Residents have already taken part in city-wide consultations on new routes so that we can plan ahead and we will continue to work with residents, cycle groups and other representative bodies to ensure new routes help achieve our aims.”

Some of the funding (£1.2 million) will also be used to improve main routes in the city – specifically targeting routes used by public transport services.

Cllr Stevens added: “We need to ensure busy routes used by public transport services are improved and can assist in making bus services more reliable and more attractive for potential passengers.

“The latest funding will assist us in improving bus priority as well as upgrading bus stops.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Film & TV

Documentary project unites University and community to put spotlight on Gower

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A unique film project which brought together Swansea University students, staff and the community to showcase the beauty of Gower will be officially launched next month.

The Gŵyr documentary series is a collection of films which each capture elements of local history, culture, ecosystems and natural resources.

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They have been created by a not-for-profit community-driven project which saw residents sharing their experiences while working with students and filmmakers.

The project has been led by media and communication lecturer Georgios Dimitropoulos and the films will all be available for free on YouTube following a special premiere at Taliesin Arts Centre on June 10.

The event will mark the end of a five-year-collaboration between 25 students and more than 40 contributors ranging from Gower residents, farmers, environmentalists, and scientists to academics, historians, and research scholars.

Georgios said: “It has allowed us to not only offer innovative teaching and practical learning experiences to students but also gave us a chance to engage with the community and private sector, collaborate with the third sector and forge partnerships with creative industries.

“Our films aim to present the harmonious blend and integration of Welsh culture over time. Our mission is to capture and document Gower’s natural beauty and cultural, historical, and environmental characteristics.”

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For the project, the team collaborated with award-winning actor and producer Vincent De Paul who took part in the films and represented them at film festivals around the world as well as private screenings with Hollywood executives. So far, the Gŵyr series has picked up 17 awards for Best Documentary, Best Film, and Best Cinematography.

Now Georgios is eager the films receive as wide an audience as possible.  He said: “The series has been five years in the making, and it has been a long and wonderful journey. We want our work to be available for everyone to see. But this is just the start, we plan to carry the project on and produce another season of films.”

Filming the Gŵyr documentary (Image: Swansea University)

Associate Professor Richard Thomas, head of the Department of Media and Communication, said: “Georgios’s work is a great example of how our students are integrated into professional projects – the work experience they get is invaluable for them. A key element of our department’s success is that our teaching is always relevant for the sorts of jobs that our graduates might be moving into after their degrees.”

One of the students who took part said being involved had been very exciting: “It exposed us to professional standards.

Another said: “The University’s Film Hub has amazing facilities and the shoot was an opportunity for us to really get to know the business better,” while another described the experience as an adventure and a challenge. “I would definitely do it again,” she added.

Head of the School of Culture & Communication Professor Sian Rees added: “This is a great example of the way that staff and students within the School are connecting with our local environment and culture, positioning ourselves at the heart of our local and wider community in Wales.  It has also provided our students with an invaluable opportunity to understand and experience professional creative media production in practice.”

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Guests at the Taliesin premiere will include project collaborators, representatives of the Gower Society as well as Welsh Finance Minister Rebecca Evans, who represents Gower in the Senedd, and Swansea Lord Mayor Mike Day who will both take part in the panel discussion.

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to The DPJ Foundation, a mental health charity which supports the agricultural community across Wales and was chosen by the film-makers after they  spent time with Gower’s farming community.

Georgios added: “We often think farmers are tough due to their physically demanding jobs but because of those tough conditions, hard-working farmers need support and recognition for their efforts and contribution to society.

“I believe that documentary films offer different perspectives, share knowledge and experiences, promote specific themes, regions, history, and nature, and raise awareness of emerging problems and possible solutions. Farming is one of the areas that we document, and present in our documentary films as we explore how important it is for a sustainable future.”

Tickets are available in advance or at the venue at the premiere.

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(Lead image: Swansea University)

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