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Christian Bookshop to shut its doors



Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 09.55.23ANOTHER familiar Haverfordwest landmark will be lost following the announcement that the much loved Emmanuel Christian Bookshop is set to open for the last time at Easter.

The Bookshop, which is currently situated in the Riverside Market, has a long and illustrious history, as Pastor John Welsby’s wife Cherrie explained in an interview with Pastor Rob James for The Herald: “When John and I came to work with Rev and Mrs Norman Ellison in Emmanuel Missions, Pembrokeshire in 1979 we had the weekly job of helping Mrs Ellison with her Christian bookstall in the old Haverfordwest Market. It was a busy, happy day sharing with the entertaining butcher giving out tasters of his hams and crowds doing their Saturday shopping.”

Mrs Ellison started her book room in their house at 71 Pembroke Road, Merlins Bridge in the 60’s and many teachers with their Sunday School classes from all over the county would come to visit Cherrie said: “They would come to choose annual prizes and enjoy one of Mr Ellison’s Fact and Faith films, games and a good supper.”

In 1982 the Riverside Market was built, and as existing table holders in the old Market, the book room was offered the choice to have a unit there.

Cherrie said: “It was a daunting adventure to agree to open the shop 6 days a week! But together with some other friends who valued Bibles, Christian literature, and quality children’s books, we bit the bullet and set up shop in 23 Market Courtyard.”

34 years on and Cherrie thanks God for their successes: “as we look back down the years we see how God has increased our small beginnings from one unit to the present day four, blessed a very willing, happy stream of volunteers working in the Emmanuel Christian Bookshop”.

Other the years the volunteers have been under the leadership of three manageresses: Mrs Ellison (1982– 1985), Mrs Carol Smith (1985-2007) and the present day Manageress, Mrs Jane Jones.

Mrs Welsby said: “It has been the joy of all who worked there to see customers appreciate the feel and smell of a good leather Bible and hear the rustle of gilt-edged pages as they examine the print size and consider their purchase”

She also explained of the book shops’ un-surprising influence was helped by Pembrokeshire’s popularity as a holiday destination: “Holiday– makers and school teachers from all over the UK have stocked up on resources for Assemblies and RE classes.”

Since the beginning of the Emmanual Christian Bookshop’s venture many churches throughout Pembrokeshire have had bookstalls on loan from the shop and benefited from their discount policy for account holders.

Cherrie continued: “It has been a special delight to see children in the county’s Sunday Schools receiving Bibles and Bible story books, biographies and autobiographies of Christians who left stories of God’s goodness for future generations”.

“Haverfordwest is a much changed and changing county town” she added: “And we have become aware of the shifting shopping habits of the local population and have had to seriously consider our usefulness in the town. No longer is Saturday the busy weekend shopping trip to town! I have noticed over these last couple of years as I work in the bookshop on Wednesdays, that I have much more time to “have my nose in a book” between customers”.

The decision to close has not been taken lightly by anybody involved with the shop but those responsible for it have come to the conclusion that it is time to move on to something new: “It has been a very difficult decision on the part of our Trustees and shop staff, but we are all of the same opinion that the Bible verses in Ecclesiastes 3v1 and 11 sum up our situation, Mrs Welsby said: “To everything there is a time and a season and a purpose under Heaven.”

The Bookshop has also been a big part of the work of Emmanuel Christian Centre at 87 Pembroke Road, Merlins Bridge, Haverfordwest. Before the shop started, Emmanuel has had Sunshine Centre on Saundersfoot beach every year in July and August with teams of young people, students and families sharing Bible lessons, games, drama and music.

She concluded: “This year is our 60th anniversary and there are plans afoot for a special weekend of events in Saundersfoot on August 6.

“While the shop has been in business and the Beach Mission rolls along, Emmanuel Church which was planted in 1983 has grown and developed in Merlin’s Bridge As a church family, we feel the loss of the Bookshop very sorely and at the moment we feel a big space in our usefulness. However, there is a fresh wind of new ideas blowing round and while these settle and become reality, perhaps it is time to re-read a few good old books that have been sitting too long on our bookshelves!”

Voicing his sympathy for the trustees and staff Baptist Pastor Rob James of Pembroke added: “We are truly grateful to all who have made this wonderful bookshop such an enduring blessing over the years. It will be strange for it not to be there. It has been an important part of the Christian landscape ever since I came to Pembrokeshire and I have valued its ministry very, very highly. But I know that while they are feeling sad they are also looking to the future because the cause they serve is unstoppable. Lots of Christian bookshops have closed in recent years but changing times always bring fresh opportunities”.

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Delight as foundation phase learners return to class



PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update



PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”


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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father



THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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