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Margam Country Park welcomes new arrivals to the Farm Trail

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Margam Country Park’s Farm Trail has had a very special delivery, just in time for the summer holidays.

Two baby alpacas, also known as ‘cria’, will be the first of their kind to enter the historic grounds of Margam Country Park. An ‘Alpaca Enclosure’ has been prepared on the Farm Trail and the Park’s Estates Team has received full training in preparation for the arrival.

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The Alpacas have come from Penrhallt Farm on the North coast of Gower. The family run farm has agreed to loan the alpaca mothers and also an auntie for a few months, in order to allow for a smooth and caring transition for the babies. The three adult alpacas will later return to Penrhallt Farm towards the end of the year, once the young have settled into their new home. During this time a third baby alpaca will join the herd.

Alpacas are quiet and calming animals, with a gentle nature and kind personality. They have a strong herding instinct, so it’s essential they live with at least two other Alpacas. Their fleece is hypo-allergenic and much softer than sheep wool.

Visitors to the Green Flag awarded park will also be able to see welsh pigs, peacocks, pygmy goats, Glamorgan Cattle, donkeys, a Shetland pony plus much more on the Farm Trail.
Set in 850 acres of parkland, Margam Country Park offers natural beauty, history, wildlife and a wide range of fun activities, facilities and events, making it one of the most popular visitor destinations in Wales.

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Energy

MP visits Margam renewable energy power station

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Stephen Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon, has visited the Margam Energy Power Station, which is located three miles south-east of Port Talbot.

The 40MW power station entered commercial operation in 2019 and uses waste wood to generate renewable electricity for homes and businesses via the National Grid. 

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It was the first power station of its type to be built in Wales and is owned by funds managed by Greencoat Capital, one of Europe’s largest fund managers that focuses exclusively on investment in clean energy infrastructure.

During his visit, Mr Kinnock met with power station workers and was briefed by Greencoat Capital about the environmental benefits of the plant and its support to the local area, via a £350,000 Community Benefit Fund. The Community Benefit Fund, which is administered by Neath Port Talbot Council, provides money to community organisations and projects in the council ward area of Margam & Taibach. 

Hugh Unwin, co-head of Bio-Energy at Greencoat Capital said: “We were pleased to show Stephen around our Margam plant and explain to him how it generates renewable electricity, supports the local community and supports the regional economy through its supply chain and the electricity it generates.  Margam is a long-term investment in Welsh energy infrastructure and is helping Wales achieve its net zero emissions target. Biomass represents a key strategic market for Greencoat and its investors in the UK.”

Stephen Kinnock MP said: “Renewable energy projects, such as the Margam Green Energy Plant in my constituency, are helping Wales to get to net zero and at the same time are modernising the country’s energy infrastructure. It was great to learn more about how waste wood is being used to generate electricity and to see how the Margam plant is working with Neath Port Talbot Council to bring additional benefits to the local community.”

25 people are directly employed at Margam Green Energy.

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Margam

Margam grandmother of 10 walks 19 miles a day in -25° Mongolian terrain to get the perfect shot

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A 71-year-old grandmother of 10 from Margam, has travelled the world to find the perfect shot as part of the Welsh Photographic Federation, and has now brought a prestigious, UK-wide photography exhibition to the Quadrant Shopping Centre, Swansea.

Jenny Hibbert, who was given her first camera at age 11 has since travelled to far corners of the earth to find striking shots, from Japan to Mongolia.

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Her shots of nature have featured in BBC Country File calendars and have seen her become a judge of international photography competitions.

Speaking of her experience, Jenny Hibbert, said: “I’ve always had a love for photography, since a young age. But as life began to unfold, I began to lose touch with my hobby, until I found myself going through a difficult divorce at 62 years old. I had two choices, to really let the difficulty of my divorce, to affect me and my happiness, or to re-discover something I loved all those years ago.

“I decided on the latter and I haven’t looked back since.

“Throwing myself into photography has allowed me to do things I would never imagine.

“I have travelled to Japan, Finland, the Arctic and Mongolia and many other wonderful places. My Mongolian trip was gruelling but so worth it. I was selected to be part of the trip. I had to prove that I could understand and get along with other cultures, and withstand the cold.

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“The days would be -25℃ and the evenings reached -35℃. Water would freeze solid overnight. I walked 19 miles a day, photographing Kazakhs as they migrated livestock from their winter home to spring home. Herds of goats, cows, sheep, yaks and camels were part of the journey, and it was a privilege to experience it at first hand.

“Trips to the Arctic are almost otherworldly but it’s getting increasingly difficult to photograph polar bears with the effects of global warming. More and more bears are breaking away on platforms of ice and it’s a truly difficult and tragic sight to witness. You realise just how much the world is changing, and rapidly.

“That’s what I love about photography, it’s being able to capture a moment in time. I have a photograph of mine features in the exhibition at the Quadrant which shows a really memorable moment during a trip to Finland. It’s of a brown bear guarding its kill, a large, grand moose. It was bitterly cold and I could see every breath of the bear in the cold Finnish air. That moment is clearly and eerily captured in the shot.

“I’m proud to be able to bring such an impressive photography exhibition to the centre of Swansea, giving shoppers and locals the opportunity to experience incredible photographs and moments captured from across the world.”

The Wales Federation Exhibition at the Quadrant features 150 photographs, which have been selected from a collection of 1,300 images from photographers across the UK. These photographs feature 50 nature, 50 colour, and 50 mono pieces. This marks the first leg of a UK-wide tour of the exhibition.

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Quadrant Shopping Centre manager, Lisa Hartley, said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to host this exhibition at the Quadrant. We want to give customers new reasons to visit and this exhibition alone has attracted so many additional customers to the centre. Shoppers have loved being able to see some of the best photography pieces from across the UK and we are proud to house them for the full month of July as part of our Pop Up Wales project.”

The exhibition is located opposite JD Sports and near Vision Express in the Quadrant Shopping Centre until July 30.

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Environment

Margam Park Cherry Trees to celebrate blossoming relationship with Japan

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Six cherry trees gifted from Japan have been planted in Margam Country Park to celebrate enduring friendship between the UK and Japan.

The six Japanese cherry trees – or Sakura in Japanese – are some of more than 6,000 of the trees gifted to the UK as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree friendship project paid for by a variety of Japanese businesses.

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At Margam Country Park on Tuesday (March 22nd, 2022) when the trees were planted were the Honorary Consul for Japan, Mr Keith Dunn OBE, the Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, Cllr John Warman, Neath Port Talbot Council Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, Cllr Peter Rees and Park Manager Mike Wynne.

The Sakura Cherry Tree Project is a legacy from the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2021 which showcased Japan’s multifaceted attractions in the UK. The season provided the opportunity to learn more about Japan, its culture and people through hundreds of events ranging from arts, sports, cuisine and performance. 

The cherry tree being planted by Mayor Cllr John Warman and dignitaries (Image: NPT Council)

The Sakura Cherry Trees will be distributed to more than 200 sites in all four countries of the UK from St Ives to Aberdeen to Londonderry, Cardiff and several of London’s biggest parks. Around 1,000 of the cherry trees will be planted in Wales.

The project was formally launched with a planting ceremony at Regent’s Park attended by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, the then Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine and Joint Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project Keisaku Sandy Sano.

Members of the public in Wales and the rest of the UK will start to witness the thousands of cherry trees blossom in spring 2022 and beyond. 

All of the varieties of cherry trees to be planted as part of this project are of Japanese origin.  The vast majority will be of three varieties, ‘Beni-yutaka’, ‘Taihaku’, and ‘Somei-yoshino’, which have been chosen for their variation in colour, timing, and historical significance. For example, ‘Taihaku’ is a large, single white blossom variety, which became extinct in Japan but was reintroduced to its homeland by Britain’s Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram in 1932.

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Neath Port Talbot Mayor Cllr John Warman said: “What a fantastic way to commemorate friendship between countries. The planting of these trees will be something that both present and future generations can enjoy. I would like to congratulate all of those involved to make possible such a worthwhile project.”

(Lead image: NPT Council)

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