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Something about Jackie Morris

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Jackie Morris’ ‘Something about a Bear’: Published by Francis Lincoln in October 2014

Jackie Morris’ ‘Something about a Bear’: Published by Francis Lincoln in October 2014

JACKIE MORRIS is a world-renowned children’s author and artist, who lives just outside of St. David’s. Jackie exhibits her painting nationwide and has worked with authors such as Ted Hughes and Robin Hobb. In October 2014, Jackie had her latest book, ‘Something about a Bear’, published, and she is currently working to a tight deadline on ‘The Wild Swans’. We at The Herald recently spoke with Jackie about living and working as an artist in Pembrokeshire.

Jackie told us that most of her inspiration comes from her walks; living just outside St. David’s, Jackie is always surrounded with picturesque landscapes and scenery. Jackie told us that ‘The Ice Bear’, which was published in July 2014, is set on top of the world. Although the book is heavily concentrated with Inuit culture, Jackie dreamt up the setting for ‘The Ice Bear’ while on top of a cliff in Pembrokeshire, watching the ravens fly around her. God’s house, in one of the books she illustrated for Ted Hughes, is modelled on her neighbour’s house, she said.

Jackie moved to Pembrokeshire twenty-three years ago from Bath, so I asked her if she thought her artistry had changed since moving to our coastal county. She explained that she had definitely seen a change happen. While living in Bath, her paintings were often tall houses and archways modelled on Bath’s architecture. Since living in Pembrokeshire, most of her art is based on a peninsular landscape and a lot of space has crept into her work. Her new house immediately inspired her work in the form of a pair of hobnail boots that the estate agent had told her not to move. There are superstitions that leaving the shoe of a child who has moved away, or even died, in the attic will draw their souls back. ‘There are so many stories tangled in that,’ Jackie said. Inspired by the boots, she wrote a story about a mother who had put the boot of her son, who had gone to war, in the attic. Many had believed the story to be true. The boot is still in the attic, and Jackie will not even take it out of the house to take a picture of it outside.

Jackie takes a lot of inspiration from inside her house, and her attic studio is filled with stuffed animals. ‘It’s actually getting kind of creepy,’ Jackie commented. She fills her workroom with things to inspire her when writing and illustrating her next book. While out shopping a few weeks ago, Jackie noticed a beautiful wedding dress, which she immediately bought for her studio. She is currently taken inspiration from the garment for her next book.

When I asked Jackie if she had a favourite painting or book, she laughed and stated: “I hate them all.” Jackie struggles as nothing ever comes out the way she wants it to. She is completely obsessed with writing and illustrating the book and it takes a lot of time, but she struggles with confidence when she has finished it. She starts with a lot of enthusiasm, but by the end she is worried that the book is not as good as the last. Jackie was often in tears over her work, but she is starting to get over that now. She gained a lot of confidence talking to other artists she admired who also suffered with the same problems. Jackie is very busy churning out book after book and she talked about the fact that she only gets a minute to appreciate the finished piece before moving on to the next. Jackie has a real compulsion to paint, though, and loves becoming immersed in the world of a book, so she is very grateful that she gets to read books, write books and paint for a living. Jackie had always wanted to be an artist since the age of six, but a lot of people said that she could not paint for a career. She is aware that she is very lucky to have proved those comments to be wrong.

Recently, Jackie has found a new passion in stone sculpting. ‘The first cut released a wonderful smell of sulphur’, she commented, talking about how wonderful her experience working with stone was. Used to very twiddly, fine painting, Jackie wanted to find something a little more physical. “My paintings, on paper, will be gone in three or four hundred years,” stated Jackie, “but stone lasts forever.” Jackie loves the stories that rocks tell, their smell, and their beauty. It is also very good for working out frustration, apparently.

Jackie currently has an exhibition on in the Druidstone Hotel, which is mostly artwork from ‘Song of the Golden Hare’, and she also has work in Narberth’s Golden Sheaf and Porthgain’s Shed. She has just had a show in the National Botanical Gardens of Wales and has work in galleries all over the UK.

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Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire

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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

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

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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.

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Community

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

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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.

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