Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Community

Street Cat Bob’s quick read crusade

Published

on

BESTSELLING author James Bowen and his famous furry friend Street Cat Bob are on a mission to get the nation reading. “He’s a life-changing little man,

Quick reads: One man, one moggie, one mission !

Quick reads: One man, one moggie, one mission !

that’s for sure. “Worldwide bestselling author James Bowen can barely contain his gratitude and love for Bob, the small bundle of ginger fluff who completely reversed his fates. When the pair met while Bowen was a homeless addict, Bob gave his new owner a sense of responsibility and the pair became a regular fixture on London’s busking circuit – shortly before Bowen was given the chance to tell his (and Bob’s) story in a series of successful books.

Now the pair are hoping to encourage others to take up reading, via the Galaxy Quick Reads campaigns, which offers people an accessible route into the world of books. All the Quick Reads are written by big name authors, but are shorter and easier to tackle: Perfect for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. For Bowen – a prolific reader, who says he has books all over his flat – reading has had a profoundly positive impact on his personal wellbeing: “Reading, or in fact anything that can help you focus your mind, is absolutely an essential part of the plan in helping someone with a mental illness or any emotional problems,” he explains.

“Especially if someone is wanting to escape depression; reading is uplifting. However, some people find it hard to read when depressed though, maybe due to a lack of concentration. I’m really proud to have my book turned into a Galaxy Quick Reads – because they are bite size they are great for people who want to read but might struggle with bigger books. I think reading can help heal the mind, giving the reader something to connect and relate to.”

As both a reader and an author, Bowen offers some insight into just what makes books such magical things: “Reading is such a great way to switch off from the outside world and relax. But it can also open your mind to new ideas, people and places. It’s a great form of escape, if you are sitting on a train or a bus or something, books are a great thing to have because the time will fly past!” he laughs – and as a man who has completed many book tours over the last few years Bowen knows a thing or two about keeping occupied whilst travelling.

But in his opinion, books definitely offer something more than just an enjoyable distraction. “If you are reading a good book, and it really sinks in to you, then you can really experience something else,” he says. “Somebody wrote a comment on Amazon that my book was the twentyfirst century version of ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ by George Orwell, and while I could never accept that kind of honour, I do believe that books like mine – especially autobiographies – give people a whole new perspective on a kind of life that they might not know about.”

For Bowen, Dostoyevsky’s classic ‘Crime and Punishment’ was a total game-changer: “It’s such a brilliant book – quite a difficult read though, I wouldn’t recommend it for an early Quick Reader – but having been a drug addict, I can understand the story of having to make money and having to take responsibility for the consequences.” Before he had a place of his own, Bowen would sometimes take a break from the streets to spend time in a bookshop or library: “It is a shame that bookshops aren’t as prominent as they used to be. I have a real soft spot for comics and graphic novels, I’m a bit of a geek like that, so I would always hit the graphic novel section first. I love bookshops and libraries because you could be looking for one thing and stumble across something totally different. They suck you in like that!” he smiles. Thankfully, Bowen’s homeless days are long behind him now, mainly thanks to Bob, who still keeps him company, wherever the author’s work takes him: “He is always by my side,” he smiles. “Even if I have got my nose stuck in a book – which is a lot of the time – he’s not on my lap but he is always nearby, on the arm rest or by my side on the sofa. He’s wonderful, such a calming chap.” Galaxy Quick Reads are bite-sized books written by best-selling authors which cost only £1. They are available from bookshops, supermarkets and online or can be borrowed from libraries across the country. For more information visit www.quickreads. org.uk.

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Community

Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire

Published

on

MILFORD HAVEN’S Torch Theatre is launching ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’, an exciting new community project that aims to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit.

We all love a good story, but they are especially good if they throw light on the place that we are from. The Pembrokeshire Story is trying to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.

The inspiration behind the project originated from the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran, who, whilst caring for his father who was suffering with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020, encouraged his father to elaborate on stories which previously he had only touched on in passing.

Peter said: “My father told us of his time as an evacuee, having been sent from his home in Liverpool to the Welsh speaking village of Llamberis in North Wales. It was a fascinating tale and one that we might never have heard about had it not been for Covid-19. We’re all so busy, I feel we just don’t spend enough time with each other to allow these wonderful moments to happen, we’re all so busy it would seem.”

Peter’s father has thankfully gone on to make a full recovery from Covid-19 and is continuing to tell many more stories.

The Pembrokeshire Story is being led by Tenby based creative James Williams, who has assembled a team of freelance artists to capture extraordinary stories in different mediums from across the county. These stories are only part of the project and the Torch Theatre requires your help to capture your stories told across the generations.

James added: “Local artists have already been working to gather stories from over the county, and now we’d like to ask you to join in. We are putting out a call for videos made by young people where they interview their grandparents or older relatives about their experiences and stories of Pembrokeshire. These videos will be added to an online Living Archive which will be available for anyone to access.”

All the stories submitted will be added to the Living Archive on the Pembrokeshire Story website which will be launched in April. Videos can be made on a phone or recorded from a digital platform call (ideally filmed in landscape), they can be in English or in Welsh but must be no longer than 5 minutes.

If you would prefer not to film your submission, we would be happy to receive your story as an audio recording (mp3 format) or in writing, with an accompanying photograph.

For more information visit https://www.torchtheatre.co.uk/the-pembrokeshire-story/

If you would like to submit a story, please contact James Williams via this email address marketing@torchtheatre.co.uk

Continue Reading

Community

NHS worker from Pembroke Dock raises over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge

Published

on

An NHS worker from Pembroke Dock has raised over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge with her husband Edd, having been inspired by the support their young niece received as a baby at Glangwili Hospital Special Care Baby Unit.

Donna Reed works in the Communications Team at Hywel Dda University Health Board and wanted to do her bit to say thanks to everyone who nursed Layla and supported the family for several weeks when she arrived very early in 2012.

Donna says, “Born at just 3lbs, Layla is now a beautiful, bubbly and full of beans eight-year-old. As a family we’d like to give something back to the staff who cared for Layla when she was so tiny.”

Donna and Edd raised over £1,000 on a JustGiving page and a donation of £500 was made by Edd’s employer, Valero Energy Ltd, where he works as a Process Operator.

Karen Jones, a Senior Nurse thanked the couple for their efforts. She said, “We really appreciate what Donna and Edd have done to support us. Donations like this are used to purchase items for parents and babies in order for their stay to be more comfortable and to help make the stay less stressful – items such as parent pamper packs, items for the parent’s sitting room and overnight room baby’s journal, items to support breast feeding and items to support premature babies development. They are also used to support specialist neonatal training for staff and purchase specialist neonatal equipment.”

Donna and Edd are planning a series of physical challenges through the year. Donna adds, “A year on since I started fundraising for Glangwili Hospital’s SCBU, and after all but one of my events last year were postponed, I decided to take on a very unique challenge to raise another £100 to get to my target.

“I ran the Narberth Nobbler’s 4 x 4 x 48 challenge between March 5-7. The event involved me and Edd running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, a total of 48 miles over the weekend. This is an incredibly tough endurance event that will test our stamina, perseverance and mettle.”
Layla’s mother Rebeca said, “As Layla was born prematurely it was a very worrying time, however we knew she was in the best hands in SBCU as they built her up to a healthy weight and did everything they could to reassure us as parents.

“We are so grateful for the care and support that staff gave to Layla and to our family, and to my sister and Edd for raising money for the unit.”
Donna also plans to take part in Broad Haven Triathlon, Cardiff Half Marathon and Snowdon Marathon Eryri, providing they go ahead.
Donna would like to thank everyone who’s supported her fundraising so far and is encouraging people to donate if they can, “Any amount, no matter how small, will help make a difference and 100% of funds raised will go towards helping babies like Layla and their families,” she says.

Continue Reading

Community

Great Western Railway and the Fishguard Ocean Port – How WWI dashed ambitious plans for Fishguard

Published

on

by Doug Evans

ALTHOUGH Fishguard Port is best known now for its easy route to Ireland, it was once part of an ambitious plan to take trans-Atlantic passengers away from the likes of Plymouth and Southampton.

In 1889, the Great Western Railway rook over the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway, and in preparation of turning Fishguard into a purpose-built ocean liner port, the GWR opened its first station, Fishguard & Goodwick railway station, in 1899 while work on the new port began with the construction of Fishguard Harbour’s East breakwater.

The overlooking village of Harbour Village was built to accommodate workers and the necessary 27 acres site and 900 metre breakwater were provided by blasting 1.6 million tonnes of rock from the cliff face.

A new line would connect the proposed liner terminal on the East Breakwater to the West Wales line. The new 2 mile route, which would have bypassed the steeper gradients and curves on this part of the original line, would have included a deep cutting, embankments and two tunnels.

However, the project to build a breakwater and an ocean-going terminal was abandoned after it became clear silting (which could not be prevented by dredging) would stop large ocean-going ships from using the port.

Local legend has it that the engineer responsible for this mistake committed suicide after realising the port was not suitable for its intended purpose. Another local myth suggests that the breakwater was deliberately built this way as locals didn’t want the harbour to become too large.

The East Breakwater was left unfinished. Two short sections of the planned railway to the new port terminal were completed before the project was ended.

In 1906, Fishguard and West Wales was visited by the largest ship in the world at the time the RMS Mauretania.

Fishguard Harbour, from above

An archived pamphlet for the Fishguard Port from 1913 provides a fascinating insight into the journey from America to London at the time.

It reads: “Fishguard is situated on the south-west coast of Wales, and is the nearest British port to New York used by Atlantic liners. It affords the quickest means of reaching London, and is also a convenient port for the Continent.

“In addition, many parts of England and Wales are within easy access of Fishguard; the Metropolis is 262 miles away and this distance is covered in under five hours.

“Tickets for seats in the special train from Fishguard to London will be furnished to Saloon passengers holding railway coupons. Passengers who do not hold coupons can purchase same at Purser’s Office before leaving the steamer.

“Single tickets and outward halves of return tickets between Fishguard and London are available for three months if purchased in America, or if issued in exchange for vouchers obtained in America. In other circumstances they are available for ten days.

“The baggage of London-bound passengers is ready labeled, “London, via Fishguard,” the lettering being white on a purple ground, the bold lettering and the distinctive coloring precluding the possibility of confusion.

“The route from Fishguard to London, passing through the industrial centres in South Wales and the charming scenes of the Thames valley, is full of interest.

“The speed at which the run is covered is the most potent tribute to the excellence of the Great Western’s iron road and their rolling stock.  Only one stop is made, and this of a very short duration, at Cardiff.

“Between the Fishguard of today and that of even a decade ago there is a great difference. A bay which boasted but of a departing or rather departed fishing industry, and was visited by only a few coastwise traders and fishing craft seeking shelter, has been converted into a splendid harbour, a harbour in which great natural advantages have been ably supplemented by the works which the Great Western Railway Company have constructed.

“At the quay by the railway station the splendid fleet of turbine steamers running between Fishguard and Rosslare (Ireland) are berthed, and here are the most modern appliances for the speedy transfer from ship to train, or vice versa, of goods and baggage.”

Although the ambitious plans for Fishguard were not to be, the Port continues to this day, providing crossings to Rosslare with the Superferry Stena Europe providing two daily crossings all year round.

Transport for Wales operate from Fishguard Harbour and have special trains to connect with the arrival and departures of the Stena Line Superferry Stena Europe that operates to/from Rosslare.

Continue Reading
News14 hours ago

Tenby left ‘strewn with rubbish and smelling of urine’ after hundreds party

TENBY was left with empty cans, broken bottles and fast food wrappers strewn everywhere, after over two hundred young people...

News1 day ago

Protest against ‘draconian’ Police and Crime Bill takes place in Haverfordwest

A SECOND Kill the Bill protest took place in Haverfordwest on Saturday (Apr 17). One of the organisers told  The...

News3 days ago

Approval recommended for dockyard plans

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to develop part of Pembroke Dock’s Royal Dockyard comes before the County Council’s Planning Committee next week. Despite many...

News3 days ago

Primary school teacher would ‘moan’ as he touched female pupils, court hears

A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher would “moan” while he touched his female pupils in a sexual way, a witness said...

News4 days ago

Golden goodbye report likely to be critical

A REPORT by Audit Wales into the departure of former CEO Ian Westley is very likely to contain criticism of...

News4 days ago

Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week. Derek...

News5 days ago

Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the...

Entertainment6 days ago

BAFTA winner Sir Anthony Hopkins visits St. Davids

CELEBRATING his BAFTA win, Sir Anthony Hopkins has been vaccinated and returned to his native country of Wales where he...

News6 days ago

Trial of Haverfordwest primary school teacher starts at Swansea Crown Court

A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher who is accused of sexually abusing eleven children thinks he is a victim of a...

News7 days ago

Kill the Bill protest to take place in Haverfordwest on Saturday

INDIVIDUALS and activists from local groups, including Extinction Rebellion Pembrokeshire, Stand Up to Racism West Wales, Pembrokeshire People’s Assembly and...

Popular This Week