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Haverfordwest: Minister joins ‘topping-out’ ceremony for new school

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A WELSH GOVERNMENT Minister has taken part in an ancient ceremony to mark the development of the new Welsh-medium school for three to 16-year-olds currently under construction in Haverfordwest.

Eluned Morgan AM, the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, performed a ‘topping-out’ event on the site of the £28 million development at Withybush.

The school – which is yet to be formally named – represents the first ever investment in Welsh language secondary education in that particular part of Pembrokeshire.

The only other Welsh medium secondary provision in Pembrokeshire is based in Crymych, with travel times from the mid and south of the county in excess of 45 minutes.

It is one of several schools which have been built, or are being built, under the 21st Century Schools and Education programme – a £120 million initiative between Pembrokeshire County Council and the Welsh Government to build state-of-the-art schools.

The development will provide a:

• 45-place nursery
• 315-place primary provision
• 600-place secondary school
• 24-place playgroup (Cylch Meithrin)

Also included is an all-weather sports pitch and associated facilities.

The ‘topping-out’ event marked the structural completion of the highest point of the building by contractors Willmott Dixon.

The ceremony is said to ward off evil spirits and bestow good fortune on a property. It involved pouring wine, oil, corn and salt on a small yew tree.

In ancient times a yew tree branch was placed in the uppermost part of a new construction as a symbol of completion.

Wine symbolised fertility and wisdom and oil promised liberty and prosperity. Corn would ripen and grow prosperity into abundance and the salt equated to purity and hospitality.

A pupil from each of the four feeder primary schools – Gelli Aur; Hafan y Mor, Narberth and Glan Cleddau – took part in the ceremony.

Welcoming guests, Willmott Dixon’s Operations Director, Ian Jones, said the company were delighted to continue its relationship with the County Council in building the school.

He added: “Our prime focus has been to engage with the local supply chain and to continue our involvement in support of the local community and schools, so as to ensure we provide a lasting legacy within the region.”

The Minister said: “It is pleasure to mark such an important occasion in the construction of this new school, the first investment in Welsh medium secondary education in this part of Pembrokeshire.

“I am delighted the Welsh Government has been able to support the development with funding of nearly £12.5 million from the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme.

“It is an excellent example of what the Welsh Government is achieving by working in partnership with local government and schools.

“It is testament to the hard work of many who have been fighting for Welsh medium education in the area and this school in particular for some time that this topping out ceremony is taking place today. Schools like this are crucial to our aim of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. “

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, David Lloyd, told guests it was an important moment in the historic campaign to promote the Welsh Language.

Councillor Lloyd went on: “This campaign was inspired by such visionary figures as Saunders Lewis, Gwynfor Evans, the poet Waldo Williams – born nearby at Prendergast school house – and Dilys Parry who lived and taught here at Haverfordwest and fought all her life for Welsh medium education.

“Were they with us today, I am certain that their delight in the establishment of a new Welsh-medium three to 16 years school would only be matched by their astonishment that it should happen in ‘Little England beyond Wales’.

“That is the scale of this achievement.”

Under the scheme, the County Council has already opened four new schools and are in the process of building five others around Pembrokeshire.

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Health

Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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News

Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it is this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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News

Warrant without bail issued for Milford Haven man who failed to attend court

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A WARRANT without bail has been issued for a Milford Haven man who failed to appear in court yesterday.

Gareth James Mann, 45, of Bunkers Hill was stopped in his VW Golf on October 31, 2020 in Milford Haven.

Mann is accused of driving without a licence, insurance, under the influence of cocaine and whilst in possession of an ounce of cannabis.

Police are now instructed to find Mann, arrest him and bring him before the courts.

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