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Prime Minister Honours Local Entrerpeneur



imgID1128544One local business woman is grabbing the attention of some of the big hitters in Westminster.
Hayley Thomas, 30, from Haverfordwest is the young entrerpeneur who was responsible for creating The Lions Den play centre on Snowdrop Lane, in Haverfordwest. She was recently rewarded for her hard work by being invited to Downing Street as a model success story of the Government scheme, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA).
The scheme was launched by the Government in 2011 and gives Jobseekers Allowance claimants, who wish to start their own business, extra financial help and business guidance. Under the scheme participants are provided with a business mentor and a weekly allowance worth over £1200 over 26 weeks. They are also able to facilitate a loan to help with start up costs.
Hayley Thomas was invited to a showcase reception at the Prime Minister’s residence. Local MP, Stephen Crabb, introduced her to David Cameron ahead of the event, whilst describing her as, ‘a great Pembrokeshire success story’. He went on to say,
“It’s fantastic to see Hayley’s business achievements being recognised by the Prime Minister in this way. She has such incredible motivation and drive and has overcome some tough personal circumstances. Hayley is providing real employment opportunities to local people and a fun environment for youngsters. I look forward to watching the business go from strength to strength”.
The Herald spoke with Hayley this week, at Lions Den, to find out a little bit more about her growing business and what gave her the inspiration to start it.
“I used to be an NVQ assessor, for nearly two years. I was on a reasonable wage, so I had committed to my own house and car, and then, without warning, got made redundant during the height of the recession. I applied for sixty to seventy jobs within six months and I didn’t get anywhere. I had to go on Jobseekers Allowance. No one wants to sign on; you want to go out and work. You can feel like that’s it but the job centre staff, however, are fantastic. I soon went over to the NEA and was assigned a mentor, an ex business man. I got on a scheme whereby you get money per week as security (whilst starting up your business).”
She went on to sing the praises of the NEA.
“The NEA funding did me good. The money they gave me was for myself and not the business. I had to have a project plan. With the NEA I could claim and trade; it was a security net.”
When asked how easy it was to initiate the business, she spoke of the investment required and the hours she put into getting it off the ground. About her meeting in London Hayley said,
“When I was at 10 Downing Street you speak to a lot of Ministers. I was talking to Levi Roots (Reggae Reggae Sauce) and the employment Minister, Mark Hoban, overheard us and asked me to be part of an article to show what you can do (using the NEA). The Prime Minister announced another seventy million was being reinvested so it’s great to be a part of that. At the time I opened the business there were some people in my boat (unemployed) and it was great I could offer them jobs. That felt good and it’s overwhelming that I am now supporting people in their jobs”.
When asked what gave Hayley the idea for business she stated that,
“I used to be a Thompson rep and wanted to bring a bit of tourism to Pembrokeshire. We chose the play equipment, all jungle themed, and I designed all the artwork, doing all the painting myself. We open the play centre from Monday to Sunday and, on Monday, dance classes for children. I feel there needs to be more on the physical side for children to do. Our nursery runs from Monday to Friday”.
In terms of how her business will grow she highlighted a key area that she feels needs addressing, locally,
“I’d like to look at more focus on children with additional needs. There’s not enough for them. If I could get the funding through grants or something, I’d open up a sensory room. It’s a need in Pembrokeshire and no one caters for it. It would be nice to have some support from our local Government”.
Whether that wish comes true or not, there is no doubt this remarkable young entrerpeneur will continue to impress with her business, succeeding during a difficult time.

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Air Link Wales now flying from Haverfordwest



AVIATION company Flitestar Private Air have launched their new Air Link Wales Programme connecting Haverfordwest, Caernarfon and Cardiff with other regional airports in the UK and Europe.

The company has opened an office in Menai Bridge on Anglesey – managed by James Blackler – and said it is particularly committed to improving air connectivity from North Wales.

The Air Link Wales network currently offers flight charter services from Caernarfon Airport to destinations such as Isle of Man, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton as well as London for connections to and from Gatwick and Heathrow.

They believe Southampton will be particularly popular for passengers connecting to cruises who wish to avoid the long road or rail trip down south.A flight to the south coast for two passengers from Caernarfon would cost £1,820 per person on a Piper PA34 Seneca plane.

Neil Baines, CEO of the Chester based company, said: “As a resident of Wales myself, I’ve often been frustrated by the lack of air connectivity and we are pleased to start to address this through our new Air Link Wales Charter programme which is ideally suited to both leisure and corporate customers.“Flying private can save hours of travel time which is of particular value to Wales-based organisations.”

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Tesco grant boost for Milford Haven children



AN ORGANISATION working with children in Milford Haven has received a £3,425 grant from a special costal voting round of Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.
The grant for Clybiau Plant Cymru will go towards delivering workshops and out-of-school childcare clubs that encourage children to play outdoors and connect with nature in coastal areas.

Alex Fudge, the Regional Manager for Clybiau Plant Cymru said the funding will help combat issues of childhood obesity in Wales, giving children the opportunity to play freely and get active away from distractions such as social media.

“We’re truly grateful to Tesco for its support and funding through the Bags of Help scheme,” she said. “We aim to promote health, wellbeing and environmental awareness through fun, outdoor activities, so every donation has a huge impact on kids’ lives.

“The clubs provide valuable play and learning opportunities outside of the school day, enabling parents to work and train, which in turn drives economic growth, tackles poverty and reduces inequalities.”

“Through the funding we are delivering 20 workshops within clubs in the Milford Haven area to children and our staff,” she added. “It will engage up to 340 individuals, as well as providing skills and knowledge which staff can apply on an ongoing basis to provide quality childcare for years to come.”
Tesco shoppers in Milford Haven cast their votes using blue tokens handed out at checkouts as part of the special voting round supporting groups in 42 coastal communities across the UK. More than 100 projects working to improve Britain’s coastline shared the combined funding pot worth £300,000.
Bags of Help, run in partnership with the charity Groundwork, sees funding awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. To date £80m has been awarded through the scheme, with more than £5m awarded to projects in Wales.

Claire de Silva, Tesco’s Head of Community, said: “Bags of Help has been a huge success since we introduced the scheme and we are glad to be able to support great projects, including this coastal scheme in Milford Haven.

“We saw a fantastic mix of projects shortlisted and I’d like to thank customers for casting their votes and supporting these important initiatives in their community.”

The scheme is ran in partnership with community charity Groundwork. Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down Britain to improve their local spaces and the places that matter to them. We’re pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to groups enjoying, protecting and improving Britain’s coastlines.”

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£14.9m investment to upgrade west Wales gas network



WALES & West Utilities is planning to invest over £14.9 million during 2020 to keep the gas flowing to heat homes and power businesses so that people are safe and warm for generations to come.

The news comes after the company invested £10.6 million in 2019, upgrading 53 kilometres of gas pipes across the West Wales area.

Rob Long, Wales & West Utilities Director of Operations, said:

“While most of the gas network is underground and out of sight, it plays a central role in the daily lives of people across West Wales.

“Whether it’s for heating your home, making the family dinner or having a hot bath, we understand how important it is for your gas supply to be safe and reliable and there when you need it.

“We’ve pledged to deliver a Net Zero ready gas network by 2035, so this work will not only keep the gas flowing safely and reliably today, it will also make sure the gas network is fit for the future and is ready to transport green gases like hydrogen and biomethane.

“We’ll be in communities right across Wales and we really appreciate the support and patience of local people while we work. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on our plans.”

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night.

The company also has a multi-million pound, 30-year gas pipe investment programme which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being upgraded to make sure homes and businesses continue to receive a safe and reliable gas supply now and in the future.

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