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My remembrance

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Poppies_in_the_Sunset_on_Lake_GenevaFOR many , Remembrance Day is more than a commemoration of the thousands of men who gave their lives for our freedom. Men whose stories we hear but will never get to meet. For many of us, it marks a personal tribute to the men of our own families whose lives and innocence was lost and whose bravery must never be forgotten. This year marks the centenary of the First World War and the strength and courage of those men is more poignant than ever. This is my remembrance for the three generations of my family who fought in the First and Second World Wars. My Great Grandfather, George, was a Dockyard worker who spent his spare time repairing clocks. Like many of the young men he was called up with, he had no idea of what War would be like, of the conditions he would live in and the terrible things he would see. He was proud to be fighting for his country, so he left his home in Devon to become a soldier in WW1.

He was part of the machine gun co, spending most of his service in the trenches. He was also involved in the Battle of Somme in 1916 which is most likely where he sustained his injuries. He was lucky not to be one of 58,000 troops killed during the battle. I don’t remember much about Great Granddad, except that he was very quiet and watchful. He never talked about the war or its effects on him. My Granddad, Robert, was a bricklayer and keen motorcyclist from Devon. When he was enlisted, he offered his services as a bricklayer.

There wasn’t any need for builders so he began infantry training in 1942. He later became a motorcycle Dispatch Rider (military messenger), serving for 5 years in North Africa, Italy and Palestine in several antitank regiments. Granddad kept a diary, a very frank account of what he saw and felt during the War. He was badly injured when a passing shell hit a farm house on the road he was walking down. Throwing himself to the ground, he remembers being littered with debris and a sharp pain in his back. It was later found that shrapnel from the shell had gone into his back, leg and shoulder.

This was removed in an operation but years later he could still feel small pieces of shrapnel in his knee and finger. Like many soldiers, Granddad wrote home to his family during the War. We discovered these letters after he’d passed away. There was also a prayer book, with an inscription inside by my Great Grandfather. This little book came safely through World War 1… Darling Bob, hoping you will come safely back to us.

The letters are heartfelt exchanges between a worried mother and a brave son. My Great Gran talks of my Great Grandfather ‘fire watching’ and the ‘Yanks’ nearly running her over in their Jeeps. Also the terrible silence as my Great Granddad works on his clocks and she sits with nothing to do but wait and worry. My Grandfather reassures her that he is well, requesting small items of comfort and to pass on his good wishes to friends at home. On leaving the War, Granddad wrote his diary entries into a book which I typed up for him and he had printed in 2008. Sadly he passed away in 2011, but I will never forget the tall man, who talked modestly about the war, cracked jokes at his own expense and loudly banged the side of the chair in time to the band on the Festival of Remembrance.

My Dad’s Great Uncle John Harris, affectionately known as Jack, left his family in LLanfrynach, Brecon in 1914. He joined the machine gun co and was heavily involved in front line battle. He died in a POW camp in Belgium in Sep 1918 just weeks before the Armistice. My Dad’s Uncle still has the letter from the British Red Cross announcing his death. In 2010 my family travelled out to France, to find the War Grave of Jack. They talk about the rows of grave stones, looking out over the Channel and the way they are beautifully kept by the locals. I think this was a cold realisation of all the lives lost, the Sons, Brothers, Fathers and Grandfathers who will never come home.

I am proud of my family’s military history and of the men and women who continue to fight for us. November 11 is a day to remember these people and the way they suffered to give us the freedom we enjoy today. We should never lose sight of that, of what it means to be alive, to share compassion. It’s the only way we can ever truly be thankful.

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Community

Library reservations service expanded

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Library Service has extended its reservation service.

Customers can place up to two reservations for books and audiobooks, which are available and in stock at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Newport, Neyland, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Saundersfoot and Tenby.

Items are also available to reserve from the service’s Stack (store).

Library members can place reservations free of charge, in person or via the online catalogue.

To access the online catalogue, log on to https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture and select ‘Find Library Books’.

Customers can also place a request for an item not currently in stock, to be purchased as one of their two reservations.

The Library Service is not offering an Interlibrary Loan service at the present time.

For details on the library services currently offered in Pembrokeshire, please view https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture

 

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Extra police patrols at Tenby skate park after ‘men approached young girls’

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CONCERNED locals in Tenby have taken to social media to write about concerns of inappropriate behaviour – between males they think may have been asylum seekers currently housed at Penally Army Camp – and young girls in Tenby.

The police have said they are investigating the matter.

Witnesses have said that young girls have been approached by males while at the skate park in Tenby.

The Home Office has said that the camp will be used to house up to 250 male asylum seekers whilst their claims are processed due to a shortage of alternative accommodation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports circulating on Facebook have claimed to have direct knowledge that male residents of the camp have been talking and exchanging contact information with local school girls, some suggesting that they were in school uniform when talking with the men.

However, the police have not confirmed that that is the case – it remains an unproved allegation.

One local claimed on Facebook: “So tonight a few of us concerned local parents decided to go to Tenby skate park.

“As we got there two young girls where sat on a bench waiting for someone.

“Some kids told us they were the ones talking to the men yesterday exchanging Snap Chat details and stuff.

“Then the men from the day before turned up… saw us and scurried off down the beach.

“The two girls then quickly wandered off.

“These girls were about 14.”

One resident had stated that they had reported the incidents he had seen and heard to the local police station, he claimed that an officer told him they were in talks with Greenhill School about the incidents.

Pembrokeshire County Council said that they are unable to comment on the alleged incidents, however a spokesman told The Herald in a statement: “All I would say is that our schools regularly advise pupils not to engage with strangers.”

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed they are investigating two alleged incidents at the skate park, and have been in contact with the local schools.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We have received two reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour at the skate park in Tenby and are looking to speak to the people who contacted us.

“In the meantime the skate park is now part of our patrol plans and we have linked in with local schools to reinforce the School Beat Stay SMART online messaging.”

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Off-duty lifesavers were lost but ready to react

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man whose life was saved by multiple twists of fate has praised those who stepped in during his hour of need.

Keen amateur triathlete Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, was out on a post-lockdown bike ride when he suffered a cardiac arrest that was to set off the incredible chain of events.

Steven said: “We were about 40km into an 80km ride when it happened.

“It was strange and lucky as only two weeks earlier I was running alone in Paris, and the night before I swam 2km alone in the sea, and during lockdown had done lots of exercise on my own.

“But that day, I had met my brother-in-law, Chris, and some friends.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I would have been alone.”

Meanwhile, just a mile or so away was off-duty Welsh Ambulance Service Community First Responder Angharad Hodgson, from Martletwy, and her firefighter partner Steve Bradfield, from Narbeth.

Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

“We were heading to meet friends at Barfundle Beach. We hadn’t been there for a few years so were following the sat-nav in the car,” said Angharad.

“We were running late and had taken a wrong turn as the sat-nav must have frozen or lost signal.

“We decided to turn back on ourselves, and that’s when we saw Steven on the floor being worked on by Chris.”

Always travelling with their defibrillator and kit, Angharad and Steve, who is also a trained medical responder, were able to pull over swiftly and step in with their life-saving defibrillator.

Angharad, 23, said: “We put the pad on his chest and after about 30 manual chest compressions, Steven had stopped breathing and the defibrillator told us we could shock him twice.

“We did it and he came back to us, but his breathing was very sticky so we continued CPR until the air and land ambulances arrived to take over.”

Steven was taken by road to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to fit a stent into a lower left artery of his heart, which had flooded with blood and caused the cardiac arrest.

Steven is making a good recovery at home and is taking the first steps back to work in his role as a European Managing Director for Babcock Aviation, an aerial emergency services business.

He said: “I’m working with the National Cardiac Referral Scheme and also a personal trainer and am feeling well and getting strength back every day.

“With my work, I have seen emergency care provision across Europe and Canada and the care I received at every step of the way here in Wales has been world-class.

“I can’t thank Chris, Angharad, Steve, the air ambulance crew and the paramedics enough, along with the doctors and surgeons at Morriston, they were all amazing.

“I realise everything went my way that day, and for those few hours I was the luckiest man alive, but having these trained people in our communities to support emergency medical services is absolutely vital.

“Community First Responders like Angharad, CPR training and Public Access Defibrillators really do save lives and are to be respected.”

Glyn Thomas, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Community First Responder Officer in Mid and West Wales, said: “The prompt actions of Angharad and Steve were no doubt a major factor in the patient’s survival.

“Even off-duty as they were, they demonstrated control and organisation – they are both a credit to their communities and organisations.

“We wish Steven a smooth recovery and all the best for the future.”

Today is Restart a Heart Day, a national initiative run by the Resuscitation Council UK, British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the ambulance services across the UK to promote education around Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

In the absence of physical events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to watch a video by Resuscitation Council UK and keep an eye on social media from partners like Save a Life Cymru who are promoting key messages such as early recognition of cardiac arrest, early CPR and early defibrillation.

Restart a Heart Day runs parallel to the Trust’s month-long Shoctober campaign which aims to educate primary school children on the benefits of getting confident with CPR – even making this brilliant animated video.

Angharad, who also works for the local authority’s social services team in Pembrokeshire, has been a Community First Responder since April 2019 and was inspired to make that brave step by another incident back in 2018.

She said: “I was driving home from shopping along the A40 in Carmarthen when I came across a terrible car accident on the opposite carriageway.

“I pulled my car over and crossed the road to try and assist without any thought process really.

“Seeing the work of the paramedics on scene really spurred me on to become a Community First Responder.

“I’d like to thank Tony Wall who is my CFR Co-ordinator for being so supportive and giving so much of his time to fundraise for life saving equipment such as defibrillators in local communities.”

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