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Academic stars shine bright

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Molly Manning: Wants to study political journalism with the support of Seren

Molly Manning: Wants to study political journalism with the support of Seren

A FARMER’s daughter, an aspiring Kate Adie and a star gazer, join bright Pembrokeshire students reaching for top universities on the Seren Network.

Three inspiring Pembrokeshire teens are among a selection of youngsters in the county who have been chosen to take their places on an exciting new university network.

Jess Gibby, Molly Manning and Maximilan Thomas join the first 16 and 17-year-olds in Wales to be a part of the Welsh Government-funded Seren Network, after they received impressive results in their GCSE exams in the summer.

Now all three plan to use the support provided by Seren to apply for a place at their chosen universities.

The Seren Network was set up with the aim of assisting Wales’ brightest students to fulfil their potential academically and apply to the UK’s leading universities.

Launched by the Welsh Government last year, it follows a report by Oxbridge Ambassador, Paul Murphy, former MP for Torfaen and now Lord Murphy, who was appointed by the Welsh Government to examine the decline in Welsh applications and admissions to Oxford and Cambridge.

His report recommended that a national network of partnership hubs be set up to allow schools and colleges to share expertise and work directly with the UK’s leading universities.

More than 300 pupils attended the launch of the latest Seren ‘hub’, covering Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli this week to learn more about the benefits of the network.

Pembroke School pupil Jess, 17, usually spends her time helping her family run their farm and caravan park in Pembroke.

“My dad’s a farmer and we have around 60 cows,” she said. “I’ll help them move the cows, or help with the silage, or I can be cleaning the shower blocks. It’s very busy but everybody mucks in. Nobody in my family has been to university and I was nervous about applying.”

Jess, who achieved two A*s and seven A grades, says starting on the Seren scheme has boosted her confidence and she now plans to apply to university despite having been apprehensive about the idea of leaving home.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, or whether I wanted to go to university at all, but I know now through Seren that I can make friends easily and the people I’ve met so far have been so lovely. Mr Jones, the head of sixth form, has talked me through everything and I’ve now applied to summer school and am looking forward to applying somewhere like Bristol or Bath.”

Fellow Pembroke School pupil Molly, 17, achieved two A*s, three As, two Bs and Cs in her GCSEs and plans to study political journalism at Bristol University.

“I’d love to follow in the footsteps of someone like Kate Adie and travel to Syria and Afghanistan and help refugees through telling their stories,” she said.

Molly, who lives in Pembroke, added: “It’s just me and my mum at home and she’s really proud that I have a place on the Seren Network. I’m dyslexic so it’s been hard at times but she’s really supportive and pushes me to go for what I want. I’m aiming high and am excited about the future, and about my Seren place giving me opportunities and opening doors to university and my future career.”

Pembrokeshire College pupil Maximilan, 17, lives ‘in a bungalow in the middle of nowhere’ in Castlemartin and plans to study physics at Cambridge.

“I watched a documentary on astrophysics with Brian Cox and I remember being enthralled,” he said. “I was given a telescope for my 14th birthday – I love the idea that we’re so small in the scheme of things.”

Maximilian was born in London and moved to Wales in 2012, when he said he was able to see the stars in the sky for the very first time.

“Where I lived in London there was a lot of light pollution so I remember staring up at the sky in the Welsh countryside and being amazed by it,” he said. “I could actually see the constellation of Orion – it was the first time I’d really seen the stars.”

Former Castle School pupil Maximilian, who achieved four A*s, two As and six Bs in his GCSEs, said he’s already been inspired by the Seren Network’s talks and workshops.

“We had an Oxbridge admissions talk that was really helpful and we’ve got to listen to brilliant speakers and I’m really enjoying meeting other students who have a passion for the same subjects that I do,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be on the Seren Network.”

Seren activities are designed to stretch and challenge the students beyond the A Level curriculum, giving them the chance to enhance their subject knowledge alongside a peer group of like-minded students.

Students will also have access to reading lists, and staff from leading UK universities including Oxford and Cambridge, while receiving subject support from teachers and information and advice about university applications.

Jon Jones, chair of the Seren Network Executive Group for the Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire hub, said: “The Seren Network is about inspiring students, helping them confirm previously-held ambitions, or question their futures by introducing them to new and exciting possibilities in higher education and beyond.

“We’re hoping the launch event will be a real catalyst to inspire further success from an already remarkable group of young men and women drawn from all 18 of the post 16 institutions across both counties of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

“The Seren hub has worked hard to establish productive links with sector-leading university departments and we’re supported by an outstanding team of Heads of Sixth Form and FE leaders, all of whom are eager to see their own students realise and exceed their potential and achieve their ambition of university study at the highest level.”

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COVID-19 tests being encouraged for wider range of symptoms

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PEOPLE living in Pembrokeshire are being encouraged to have a free COVID-19 test if they have a wider range of symptoms.

Previously, only those with either a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell, were advised to seek a test. The health board is now also encouraging people to have a test if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Generally feeling unwell and a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case
  • Any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test

The change aims to find hidden COVID-19 cases in our communities and drive down the numbers of onward transmissions.

Identifying infections, which could otherwise go undetected, is particularly important as new variants of the virus emerge. The more tests carried out, the easier it will be to spot early clusters of cases and possible virus mutations. This will help with easing restrictions in the future.

The new testing regime will initially run for at least 28 days and will then be reviewed. Swansea Bay University Health Board is also expanding its offer of testing in this way.

Alison Shakeshaft, Director of Therapies and Health Science at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Overall, we are seeing a positive picture across the three counties and there has been a steady fall in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Also, the demand for tests has come down considerably since the end of 2020, so we have capacity to expand the offer of testing to those with a wider range of symptoms.

“We know the wider group of symptoms do occur in COVID-19 but are not reported as often as the ‘classic three’ symptoms. With the very low rates of flu circulating at the moment, it is more likely that wider flu-like symptoms are due to COVID-19.

“Our aim is to find as many COVID-19 cases as possible so we can prevent the virus being passed on to others. We want to do everything we can to help bring the pandemic to a close as fast as possible and help restrictions to be lifted.”

If you have any of the symptoms outlined above, please stay at home and get a test by booking online via the UK portal https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or ringing 119.

As these are national contacts, you may automatically be asked about the ‘classic three’ symptoms. However, to book your test simply choose either one of these options: “You have been asked to take a test by your local council” or “You are part of a government pilot project”.

Once you have had your test, you must continue to self-isolate until you receive your result, which will usually be within 24 hours of the test. If your result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the date your symptoms started. You will also be contacted by the local Tracing Team.

If your result is negative, you can end your self-isolation, when you feel well enough to do so.

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Dale Morgan charged with murder of Judith Rhead, police confirm

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DYFED POWYS POLICE have charged a man in connection with the alleged murder of 68 year old Judith Rhead who was found dead in her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock on Saturday (Feb 20).

Dale Morgan, 43, will appear at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today by video link.

Dale Morgan, in court today

A spokesman for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police can confirm that Dale Morgan, aged 43, has been charged with the murder of Judith Rhead, aged 68, who was found in a property in Market Street, Pembroke Dock.

“He is due to appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, 25 February).”

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Judith Rhead murder investigation – Detectives given more time to question suspect

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POLICE have been given more time to question a 43-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.

The man has been in police custody since Saturday night, after being arrested over the death 68-year-old Judith Rhead.

She was found in a residential property in Market Street.

The police now have until Thursday afternoon (Feb 25) to question the suspect.

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