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Carmarthenshire

11 year-old boy rediscovers missing orchid on MOD land in Carmarthenshire

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The rare Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii) has been rediscovered by an 11-year-old boy at Laugharne-Pendine Burrows in Carmarthenshire.

Tristan Moss was out with other members of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) when he spotted the first Fen Orchid, which was in flower and seed, at the beginning of July. Other members of the society went on to find five further Fen Orchid plants.

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Dubbed the ‘crown jewel’ of sand dunes, the orchid hasn’t been seen on the site since 2003, despite being looked for over a number of years. 

One of the six Fen Orchids recorded at the beginning of July (Image: Richard Pryce)

The recent rediscovery follows years of conservation management efforts between multiple organisations.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) ecologists have been working with QinetiQ to implement a detailed programme of conservation management work at Pendine for almost 20 years, as part of the UK-wide MOD Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Condition Improvement Project. This project supports the management of the 82,000ha of SSSI across the Defence estate. 

Work to restore the Fen Orchid started with excavations, known as ‘scrapes’, to remove nutrient-rich material from several dune slacks back in 2005. This process helps to prevent excessive vegetation growth and maintains a high water table with periodic flooding in the dune slacks – low lying areas in the dune system which provide habitats for rare and specialist species.

In recent years, further carefully planned restoration works have been completed, including scrub clearance and the re-blocking of a large ditch to help restore the sand dunes’ hydrology. Since 2019, the Sands of LIFE (SoLIFE) project, led by Natural Resources Wales, has been responsible for renewed scrub clearance to clear re-grown invasive species and control scrub along the area’s boundary to allow the dune slacks to remain open. 

11-year-old Tristan Moss, who re-discovered the orchid, said: “I’ve been coming to BSBI meetings in Wales since I was a baby, re-finding the fen orchid made this the best year yet.”

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11-year-old Tristan Moss, who re-discovered the orchid (Image: Chris Cheffings)

Oliver Howells, Senior Ecologist, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said: “The recovery of this iconic species is the culmination of many years of work delivered by DIO and QinetiQ in partnerships with tenants, Natural Resources Wales and the Sands of LIFE project. It’s a genuine success story and a great example of the long-term commitment needed to support nature recovery at this and other important wildlife sites.”

Laura Bowen, Sands of LIFE Project and Monitoring Officer, said: “We are so pleased with the results from the scrub clearance programme that has been completed at Pendine. Scrub and rank vegetation will outcompete specialised, low-growing dune plants. Thanks to this completed work a range of plant species such as the Fen Orchid can thrive.

“SoLIFE have worked closely with site managers, QinetiQ; DIO ecologists; and Natural Resources Wales’ Ruth Harding, Senior Environment Officer for Carmarthenshire to target key areas for restoration.

“We would also like to thank our contractors AJ Butler Contracting, who work meticulously showing great care for sensitive environments, and BSBI, for undertaking essential monitoring surveys and making this fantastic find.”

Jane Mercer, Managing Director of the Long Term Partnering Agreement at QinetiQ, said: “We ensure that we work effectively with partners including DIO, Natural Resources Wales, the Environment Agency and other organisations who look after the UK’s wildlife, to protect the flora and fauna on our sites. We are delighted that the Fen Orchid has been rediscovered at Pendine, and will take steps to ensure it thrives. 

“QinetiQ is responsible for many sites with nature designations, and we take their management and long-term care very seriously, ensuring that our operational impact is minimal. We are proud to be part of the collective that is caring for and maintaining the UK’s wildlife.”

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Richard and Kath Pryce, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI), said: “Sixteen members of the BSBI were at Pendine as part of the annual Carmarthenshire recording week. It was eleven-year-old Tristan Moss who re-found the first Fen Orchid, which was in flower and seed. Following this, another five plants were found by the party, one in flower and seed and the other four, non-flowering.

“Several other rare species were recorded during the day including Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia densiflora), Dotted Sedge (Carex punctata) and Adder’s-tongue Fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum).

“Continuing management will seek to further enhance the habitat at Pendine to encourage more Fen Orchids to colonise in future years. Thanks to the staff at the Pendine Establishment for allowing access to the party.”

Lead image: The re-discovered Fen Orchid at Laugharne-Pendine Burrows (Image: Kevin McGinn)

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Carmarthenshire

Health board recruits 45 international nurses to fill staffing shortfall

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Hywel Dda University Health Board has recruited 45 international nurses and says it plans to increase this number significantly over the coming months.

Hywel Dda say they aim to recruit 100 international nurses this year through a centrally delivered programme with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, local health boards and the Welsh Government.

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The first cohort of 11 nurses arrived in May. The nurses have taken their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and are based in Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals

The second cohort of nurses arrived in June. The group of 19 nurses have also taken their OSCE and are based across Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.

The third cohort of nurses arrived in July and are currently undergoing OSCE training in preparation for their examination. The 15 nurses are spread across Glangwili, Prince Philip, Withybush and Bronglais hospitals.

Judith Avan from Nigeria, who works at Bronglais Hospital said: “Living in Wales has been lovely, people are so welcoming, and the weather has been so lovely. I look forward to developing in my career and specialise in respiratory therapy.”

Nabitha Kabeer from India, who works in Glangwili Hospital said: “I’m excited about working with NHS Wales. I look forward to enjoying the beauty of Wales and developing in my career. I want to specialise in Infection control or operating theatre nursing or forensic nursing.”

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Oyebola Opemipo Tikolo from Nigeria, who works in Glangwilli Hospital said: “It has been a nice experience on and off the ward, the people are friendly and helpful. I am looking forward to developing in my career by taking more courses, I also look forward to bringing my family over and settling down here. I intend to specialise in midwifery as I have experience in midwifery from my country.”

Hywel Dda say that international nurses have been part of the NHS since its inception in 1948 and continue to play a vital role.

Director of Workforce and OD Lisa Gostling said: “We continuously work together to be the best we can be as we strive to develop and deliver excellent services, putting people at the heart of everything we do. We want to attract a diverse workforce and are delighted to welcome the newly recruited nurses to the Hywel Dda family.”

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Carmarthenshire

Residents encouraged to have say on Teifi Valley flooding schemes

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Consultation on flood prevention schemes by Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion councils in the Teifi Valley has been extended to August 31 to give more residents an opportunity to have their say.

Face-to-face events in Llandysul and Llynybydder have been added to the previous online only consultation.

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Residents can visit the powerhouse in Llandysul on Wednesday 24 August between 10am and 1pm, or between 3pm and 6pm. There’s also an event at Llanybydder RFC on Thursday 25 August between 10am and 1pm, and also between 3pm and 6pm.

Officers from Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils and Natural Resources Wales will be in attendance to answer any queries along with a representative from the consultants appointed by both authorities.

The council’s say that all partners involved want to understand the impact that flooding has on communities, how the flooding happens and to assess different flood measures that will reduce the impact during increasingly stormy weather in the future.

People will be able to submit feedback in person by writing their comments down and putting them in the box located at the venues. This will be in addition to the comments and suggestions submitted during the online consultation process.

The councils say that feedback from the consultation and these events will feed into the next stage of work and form part of any decision making that Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government will undertake to design and implement any flood risk reduction scheme.

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Carmarthenshire County Council’s  Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services Cllr Edward Thomas said: “We want as much feedback as possible from residents so that together we can look further into the options available to us to manage flood risk in these communities. The drop-in events will provide an opportunity for residents to speak to officers about the different options available and the next steps.”

Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management Keith Henson said: “We encourage the residents of Llandysul, Pont-Tyweli and Llanybydder to have their say in this consultation, either by attending the in-person events at the said locations or by visiting the online link on the council’s website. The responses from this consultation will enable us and our partners to explore what options we have to manage flood risk in the Teifi Valley.”

Lead image: Humphrey Bolton / Geograph)

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Ammanford

Jenkins family set to grow Capel Hendre business as the UK’s leading manufacturer of chimney cowls and flue systems

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Midtec, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of chimney cowls and flue systems has completed the construction of 2500 square feet of additional manufacturing space at Capel Hendre Industrial Estate near Ammanford, using a £220,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

Formed in 2003 by Managing Director, Trefor Jenkins, Midtec first benefitted from investment from the Development Bank in 2005.

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They have since had several rounds of funding from the Development Bank to support growth plans and the next generation is looking to the future with the new additional space being used to house a state of the art ENSIS laser cutting machine, supplied by Amada.

Trefor said: “The ongoing support of the Development Bank means that we’ve been able to grow the business, drive efficiencies and invest in new market opportunities. We’ve also introduced new products including the MidCat, an innovative solution for reducing the pollution created by wood burning stoves and the only one of its kind in the UK.”

“Our latest investment in our technology means that we can now offer a laser cutting service that will help to improve our quality and production processes and save time on the turnaround of customer orders. We hope that this will play an important part in our future growth. Indeed, our turnover is on target to exceed £2 million this year and I’m delighted that my son Thomas and daughter Hannah are already playing a vital role in the business as we focus on our long-term sustainability.”

Midtec make chimney cowls and flue systems at their Capel Hendre manufacturing base
Midtec make chimney cowls and flue systems at their Capel Hendre manufacturing base

Richard Easton, a Portfolio Executive with the Development Bank, said: “Midtec is a family run and owned business that is known for its high quality and excellent customer service. With our continued support, Trefor, Thomas, Hannah and the team have created a modern manufacturing facility that has a really exciting future ahead.”

The loan came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government. Loans, mezzanine finance, and equity investments are available for deals between £50,000 and £2 million with terms ranging from one to seven years for small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales.

Construction company TRJ of Ammanford carried out the building work, while Jamie Reynolds of Cennen Solutions has also been providing strategic support.

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