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Storms uncover ancient forest

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ancient forestA FOREST frequented by hunter gatherers up to 10,000 years ago has been uncovered during storms at Newgale in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Archaeologists from the National Park Authority have been working with colleagues from Pembrokeshire County Council to protect the remains of the forest as part of the clean-up operation.

Storms battered the Pembrokeshire Coast last week and Newgale was one of the most badly affected parts of the National Park.

The pebble bank sea defence was pushed back across the road, making it impassable, but when the stormy weather had died down, the forest remains were revealed on the beach.

The National Park Authority’s Culture and Heritage Manager Phil Bennett said: “We’ve known of the existence of this forest for many years but I, for one, have never seen it so close to the road.

“The storms and high seas have pushed the pebble bank back and scoured the sand, exposing the remains of this woodland. We have been able to identify some recognizable timbers from the Mesolithic period.

“Ten thousand years ago this woodland area would have been visited by hunter gatherer bands from time to time, looking for game and collecting edible plants, nuts and berries as these resources became available during the year.”

Pembrokeshire County Council officers have been working to clear away the debris after the storms and reopen the only road through Newgale.

National Park Archaeologist Pete Crane visited the site during the clean up to advise the council as they restored the pebble bank on top of the extremely fragile remains.

The Council are covering the most vulnerable parts of the submerged forests with pebbles to preserve them, as extended exposure to the sun will dry them out and they will be lost.

Phil added: “It’s really important that people are aware of how fragile these remains are and understand that unless we protect them they will be gone forever.”

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Council’s backing for vital work of Sandy Bear

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PEMBROKESHIRE County Council is supporting the Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity with £10,000.

The money will aid the Milford Haven-based charity through increased demand on services and loss of income resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Council will also 50% match-fund a new Assistant Clinical Lead post for two years.

The charity will use the money to expand service provision to provide anticipatory grief services to prepare children and young people who are living with a loved one with a life-limiting condition.

Up to a third of children currently referred to Sandy Bear could benefit from this service.

Tessa Hodgson, the Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Social Services, said the charity provided an essential service and worked closely with Pembrokeshire schools and Social Services.

Cllr Hodgson added: “I am delighted we have been able to help Sandy Bear at what is obviously a difficult time for the charity.

“We recognise the valuable contribution and support Sandy Bear provide to Young People and Families in Pembrokeshire.

“The injection of financial support will go some way to ensure the well- being of children and young people now and in the future”.

Sandy Bear is as an independent charity and is staffed part-time by three individuals supported by a dedicated group of volunteers.

The charity was founded by Anita Hicks and Karen Codd along with a small group of committed trustees in 2017.

Since then, the charity has received 150 referrals and supported more than 100 children and their families, with evidence-based bereavement support.

Sandy Bear is dedicated to supporting children and young people up to the age of 18 who have experienced the death of a loved one.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead of Sandy Bear said: “We’re delighted that Pembrokeshire County Council is investing in Sandy Bear and the children, young people and families we help, especially at this challenging time when demand for our service is rising.

“We look forward to working closely with the Council over the coming years and we remain committed to providing exceptional therapeutic support for children, young people and their families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.”

See more about Sandy Bear at https://www.sandybear.co.uk/

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Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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Health volunteers thanked for incredible support

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THERE’S no more fitting time than National Volunteering Week to say thank you to all of the volunteers within Hywel Dda University Health Board, management have said in a press release.

‘Volunteering for Health’ is the Hywel Dda UHB’s volunteer service and has covered the three counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire for the past 11 years.

During this period, volunteers have carried out 376,000 hours of volunteering and in 2019 carried out 56,000 hours.

At the start of the year prior to COVID, 400 registered volunteers were providing a range of services to support patients and improve their experience whilst in hospitals, these include; library trolley service, shop trolley service, pharmacy runners, meet and greet, patient befrienders, gardeners and many other roles.

Lisa Gostling, Director of Workforce and OD said: “Volunteers are an integral part of our service and it’s hard to think that only seven months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of volunteering within Hywel Dda together at Bronwydd Hall.

“It’s important at this moment in time to recognise that some of our long standing volunteers can’t be with us and we look forward to welcoming you back to the organisation soon.

“And also to recognise those volunteers who have changed what they do to support our patients during these particularly difficult times.

“So I want to just say thank you. Thank you for your commitment, your generosity and your kindness. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Take care and stay safe.”

David Fretwell. Volunteering for Health Manager, added his thanks for the overwhelming response from volunteers old and new to an unprecedented situation: “This year has been unprecedented for the volunteer service with the onset of the COVID pandemic and has dramatically affected the way we have involved volunteers.

“We had an amazing response from the community wishing to help us through volunteering with over 600 offers of support.

“To help manage the numbers of people offering to help we set up a ‘Volunteer Pool’ and are extremely mindful where we can place volunteers for their safety.

“We have now deployed volunteers to support the health board’s transport department as drivers; we also have gardeners, virtual volunteers and drivers delivering food parcels from food banks to some of our most vulnerable patients in the community.

“We appreciate the fantastic support you have provided prior to COVID and through the pandemic. Thank you for your incredible support.”

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