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Love is all around

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all aroundVALENTINE’S Day has been a tradition since the pre-Christian era, and has roots in several different legends that have found their way to us through the ages. Though there are many stories connected with its history, such as the beheading of St Valentine on February 14, perhaps the most common thing connected with Valentine’s Day is Cupid, usually depicted as a small boy with wings, who carries a bow and arrow.

Although in Greek mythology, Cupid plays a different role. The Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite was the mother of Cupid. Cupid had fallen in love with a human, whose beauty rivalled his mother’s. She did everything in her power to thwart the marriage. Cupid’s lover, Psyche was worshipped for her beauty in her homeland. This drove Aphrodite mad, so she sent a plague and let it be known that it can only be stopped by the sacrifice of Psyche.

Her father tied her up and left her to her death at the hands of a fearsome monster. Cupid saved her and married her. In addition to Aphrodite, Psyche’s sisters were equally jealous. Cupid had made sure that she never saw what he looked like and upon the sisters finding out this information, they persuaded her that Cupid must be a hideous monster. Psyche assured her sisters that they were wrong, but they had put doubt in her mind. She took a candle to Cupid while he was asleep and found he was extremely angelic and “exquisite”. While she was there, she dropped hot wax on him, to which he awoke and flew away. Aphrodite then suffered from a case of “I told you so” syndrome, though agreed to give Psyche a second chance. She set her four difficult tasks and passed the first three with flying colours, though failed the fourth. Cupid rescued her, bringing her to Olympus and was given nectar and ambrosia so she would become immortal. Aphrodite reluctantly reconciled with her pregnant daughter-in-law, who was about to give birth to a grandchild she would dote on.

Did you know?

• Teachers receive the most valentines, followed by kids, mothers, wives and sweethearts.

• Over 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday.

• The oldest surviving valentine dates from 1415. It is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

• One billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

• Hallmark produced its first valentine in 1913.

• Today, Hallmark employs an 80-person research staff to analyze the sales pattern of previous valentines. That analysis, combined with more than 100,000 annual customer interviews, focus groups and in-store observations, will help create roughly 2,000 cards in Hallmark’s core Valentine’s Day line.

• While Hallmark offers thousands of different cards for Valentine’s Day, one card was the top choice of customers in New York, Los Angeles, and virtually every other city in the country in 2006.

• In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies. Men are not off the hook, unfortunately. They are expected to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day.

• BBC reports that Shiv Sena, a nationalist political party in India, has spoken out against Valentine’s day, calling it “nothing but a Western onslaught on India’s culture to attract youth for commercial purposes.”

• The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. In 2001, the U.S. State Department reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions.

• The Catholic Church struck St. Valentine’s Day from its official calendar in 1969.

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Pembrokeshire cottage letting agency offers free holidays to NHS heroes

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED holiday letting agency St Brides Bay Cottages has teamed up with its property owners and Operation Recuperation to offer free holidays to frontline healthcare workers. The family-run firm has announced the scheme to say thank you to the healthcare heroes who are risking their lives to keep the UK safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The generous initiative will see healthcare professionals enjoy a well-deserved break in picturesque St Davids, Solva, Newgale or Porthgain, after the crisis is over. The scheme is part of Operation Recuperation, a UK-wide campaign launched to gift future stays in beautiful places to frontline healthcare providers.

Sam Sibbald, manager of St Brides Bay Cottages, based in Solva, said: “This is our way of showing our dedicated healthcare workers that we appreciate everything they’re doing in such difficult circumstances.

“I saw first-hand the pressure the NHS is under, when my dad had a stay in hospital last year. I could tell how pushed they were on a normal day-to-day basis, let alone with having COVID-19 to deal with. Now my dad is at home, needing carers every day, and I can see, more than ever, how much we rely on the people who look after us.

“We’re taking part in Operation Recuperation thanks to the generosity of our cottage owners. By gifting stays to these dedicated workers, we’ll be helping them to recover from the fight against coronavirus.”

Several cottage owners, whose properties are let by St Brides Bay Cottages, have come forward to donate stays in their holiday homes.

Among them is Sheila Morgan, who together with her husband Chris, owns The Anchorage, a two-bedroom apartment in Solva. She said: “As a retired nurse with medical staff in the family, I can fully appreciate the strains and stresses all NHS staff are going through at present. Thank you all for your sterling work. Hopefully the peace, quiet and Pembrokeshire air will aid recuperation.”

Debbie and Patrick Bowie-Moore, the owners of five-bedroom holiday home Mount Pleasant, in Solva, said: “The healthcare workers have offered their all, and it’s our privilege to give a family – who may have been kept apart – the opportunity to stay in Mount Pleasant as a massive thank you.”

Simon Baker, who owns Cefn y Mor, a four-bedroom property in Solva, said: “We are backing the Operation Recuperation project because we have family members on the frontline of the NHS, and know what risks they are taking, and what effort they are putting into saving lives. Our only effort is to stay at home and avoid infection. A small price to pay.”

Jim and Maureen Dale, whose three-bedroom holiday home, May Cottage, is situated on a grade II-listed farm, near St Davids, said: “Rarely do we get an opportunity to say thank you to the staff at the NHS – we tend to take the service so much for granted. Now the chips are down and there they all are, on the frontline looking after us all. Thank you all at the NHS.”

David and Judith James, who are offering a free stay at their converted watermill, Melin Llanrhian, near Porthgain, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Operation Recuperation as a very small thank you to everyone in the NHS who has worked so hard in such challenging circumstances.”

Operation Recuperation is collecting donations – in room nights and cash – to give free stays to frontline healthcare staff, once the virus restrictions have been lifted.

Rachel Sherwood, who launched Operation Recuperation, said: “A huge thank you to St Brides Bay Cottages for proudly supporting Operation Recuperation and to the cottage owners who have donated stays in this stunning part of Wales, despite very challenging times.

“Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a number of our frontline healthcare staff will be enjoying long clifftop walks, fresh seafood, lazy days on the beach and cosy evenings in sea-view cottages.”

To find out more about St Brides Bay Cottages and Operation Recuperation, visit: https://www.stbridesbaycottages.com/, email enquiries@stbridesbaycottages.com or call 01437 720027.

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Council pays out £2.5m in business grants to date

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed that since Wednesday, 1st April, it has already paid out £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

The Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said Council staff had been working hard to make the Covid-19 business grants payable as soon as possible

Explained Councillor Miller: “Payments started on Wednesday this week for those who qualify for grants linked to the National Non-Domestic Ratings (NNDR) system. We have already paid out around £2.5 million in grants to local businesses.

“Daily payment runs are being made in order that these can get into business bank accounts as soon as possible.

“We cannot unfortunately acknowledge receipt of applications but, once authorised, businesses will be emailed and the grant will be paid within two to three working days.”

Councillor Miller added: “If there are any issues with a grant application, or information is missing, a Council officer will be in touch to discuss the matter. A dedicated team has been set up to do this.”

For further business advice refer to the Council’s Business pages which can be accessed via the following link: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

This will enable access to the application form for the above grants, provide answers to frequently asked questions and links to further sources of advice through HMRC, Welsh Government, Department of Work and Pensions, Public Health Wales and other organisations.

For further enquiries not answered through the business pages, email: covid19@pembrokeshire.gov.uk and an officer will respond. Please view the business pages first.

For those who don’t qualify for the grants, Welsh Government will soon be making details available of how business can access other funding through an Economic Resilience Fund.

Details will be available on the Council’s business pages as soon as they are released by Welsh Government.

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Man issued with two COVID-19 fines in 24 hours as police thank those following new legislation

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A man has been issued with two fines in 24 hours for flouting Coronavirus legislation, as police thank those who are following the new rules.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers in Carmarthenshire stopped the 22-year-old from Llanelli twice for being out of the house without a reasonable excuse.

A report was made on April 1 that three men were breaching the COVID-19 legislation by gathering in Llanstephan. A woman who had attempted to film the men reported that they had stolen her phone and driven away.

Officers quickly linked the car to a suspect and traced it driving towards Carmarthen and then Llanelli, and a roads policing unit was directed to the area.

The car was stopped, and the two occupants – a 22-year-old from Llanelli, and a 18-year-old from Carmarthen – were arrested on suspicion of theft. They were also both issued with tickets for COVID-19 offences.

T/Chief Inspector Tom Sharville said: “We are taking the new legislation seriously, and would like to thank the majority of people who are staying home to keep others safe.

“The measures are difficult to adapt to, but it is important that we stay at home to save lives.

“However, there is a minority out there who are under the impression the legislation does not apply to them, and are flouting the law.

“This was the second fine one of these men was issued with in 24 hours, after he showed a clear disregard for all guidelines.”

The men were arrested on suspicion of theft of a mobile phone, and were released under investigation pending further enquiries.

For information about the COVID-19 legislation, and answers to many frequently asked questions, visit https://bit.ly/DPPCovid19

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