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New care boss pledges to fight for fair funding

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THE NEW boss of the body that represents care homes and homecare providers in Pembrokeshire has pledged to fight for a fair funding.

According to Mary Wimbury, the new chief executive of Care Forum Wales, which champions the interests of over 450 members, there’s never been a better time for care providers to speak with one voice to ensure the people of Wales can get the care they need.

She said: “Care Forum Wales is strongly making the case that social care is chronically underfunded and desperately needs extra money putting into it.

“The sector is struggling to provide the care that is needed with care homes closing in Pembrokeshire and local authorities are trying to get people to deliver home care packages which they are just unable to do.

“People are now living longer demand for social care is increasing all the time and the needs of those going into care are becoming greater.

“We all want to see care sector staff being properly rewarded but the increases we’ve seen in the minimum wage over the past few years haven’t been reflected in the fees paid by local authorities and health boards to the providers of care homes and domiciliary care.”

Care Forum Wales works closely with the Welsh Government, commissioners and regulators to shape policies that focus on making sure people receive the highest quality care.

It also works to raise the profile of the social care workforce and every year organises the prestigious Wales Care Awards, a celebration of the hard work and dedication of the social care workforce.

The influential not-for-profit organisation also runs training events, professional groups and conferences to promote best practice and share knowledge amongst its members.

Taking the helm as its first ever chief executive is 48-year-old Mary Wimbury who steps into the top job after six years as the forum’s senior policy advisor.

Ms Wimbury, who lives with her husband and three children in Rhos-on-Sea in Conwy County, said: “I’m looking forward to the new challenge, especially as it comes at a key time when our members in the social care sector are under a lot of pressure due to funding constraints and new regulations coming in from the Welsh Government.

“We already have Social Services and Wellbeing Act, which came into force last year and refocuses the way we deliver care in Wales.

“We also have Regulation and Inspection Act with regulations due to take effect from next April requiring every care home and domiciliary care agency in Wales to re-register with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate. Following on from that we will see all care workers required to be individually registered over the next four years.

“These are both significant challenges facing our members and Care Forum Wales is supporting them through it as much as possible.

“This means there’s never been a better time for care providers to be represented by an organisation such as ours which provides a high level of support and enables them to speak with one voice.”

Ms Wimbury grew up in Kent although her family originally hails from Manchester where both her parents were councillors, and her father, Harry Wimbury, chaired the Welfare Services committee, dealing with care provision.

She went to schools in Snodland near Maidstone, Rainham near Gillingham and Chatham and on to Oxford University where she obtained a degree in mathematics.

An early responsibility was as President of the Student Union in Oxford and as a member of the national executive of the National Union of Students.

After university she began her career as a parliamentary liaison officer with the Association of Metropolitan Authorities – now part of the Local Government Association – dealing with legislation involving local government.

Later she joined the BBC, first working in parliamentary liaison then becoming head of public relations in its news department and later a senior communications advisor working on the corporation’s high profile annual report.

She then became head of communications for the Local Government Information Unit and gained a master’s degree in public policy at University College London.

Before joining Care Forum Wales in 2011, she spent five years as director of the UK Mathematics Trust, a charity which runs maths enrichment projects for secondary school pupils across Britain.

Looking at other challenges she faces in her new role with the forum, Ms Wimbury added: “Apart from implementing two pieces of Welsh Government legislation, I’d say that the biggest issue for social care providers is funding, which is a particularly controversial topic at the moment across the UK.

“If we can secure adequate funding for the sector and get that right everything else should follow.

“In the forum we also need to work on newer methods of communications with our members, continue to build our membership and also look at other organisations we can work with as partners.

“Social care providers need to be members of an organisation in order to influence decisions being taken that affect them at a local, regional and national level and I hope that organisation can be Care Forum Wales.”

Care Forum Wales chairman Mario Kreft MBE said: “We were delighted to appoint somebody of Mary undoubted calibre as the new chief executive at such a crucial time in the social care sector.

“Mary has shown during her time as senior policy officer and more recently as the interim chief executive that she has a firm grasp of all the issues and a real determination to campaign for fairness for the providers to ensure we provide the best possible care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities across Wales.”

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Injured seal is 50th rescued this year by RSPCA

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A SEAL with a severe eye injury is the 50th rescued by the RSPCA in the south west and west Wales region this season.

RSPCA Cymru was alerted after the lethargic seal was spotted struggling to move on Aberystwyth beach on Saturday (Dec 8).

The seal was stranded on a busy area of the beach, and was safely moved by experienced seal handlers before being collected by the RSPCA.

Fortunately, the seal is responding well to treatment and is currently being cared for at RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton.

The seal’s eye is not missing as first thought – but the eyeball has sunken very far back into the eye socket. Her body condition is thin, and she has a severe mouth infection.

She has been nicknamed Platypus – after a drive at the centre to name all incoming seals after non-native species of mammals.

Ellie West, RSPCA animal collection officer, said: “This poor, sweet-natured seal was in a bad way, with a nasty, damaged eye. Fortunately, she is now in our care and we hope will be safely returned to the wild in the future.

“It is unusual to deal with wildlife where we are able to remove an eye and then release them to the wild – but this is possible; and we do have evidence that seals can do well even when this is the case.

“Our team in Taunton will work hard to rehabilitate Platypus and hopefully secure another happy ending for the RSPCA and wild animals in need.”

Platypus’ rescue is the latest in another “very busy seal season” for the RSPCA in south west and west Wales.

ACO West added: “Platypus marks the fiftieth seal to be rescued by us in the South West and West of Wales this season.

“Last season, Ophelia and Brian storms meant we had to rescue more than 100 – and though the number is likely to be a little lower this time around; it has still been another very busy seal season and a huge test for our officers in this part of the UK.

“RSPCA Cymru is here to help, and we always remind anyone who sees a pup whose mother hasn’t returned within 24 hours, is on a public beach, or seems sick or injured, to contact our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999. An unhealthy seal pup looks thin – but not bony – with a visible neck, like a dog.

“It’s important the public never approach seals and keep any dogs well away and on a lead, as wild animals can have a nasty bite.”

Should you wish to help RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as these, you can donate online.

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Capestone supplying 160,000 turkeys this Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE-BASED M&S supplier, Capestone, has been working around the clock to supply more than 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns to M&S stores across the nation this Christmas.

Run by fifth-generation farmer Justin Scale, Capestone has been supplying M&S for 20 years and its business growth is intrinsically linked to this relationship.

It is also the only farm in the area that offers free range and organic products, which are growing in demand. All of the farm’s 160,000 birds this year will be the Pembrokeshire Bronze – both organic and free range.

The 2,000-acre farm started out as a small-scale farm delivering just a couple of birds at a time to M&S Carmarthen. It now supplies M&S stores across the UK and, as such, has grown to a team of 230 – rising to 430 over the peak Christmas period.

The free range Pembrokeshire bronze turkeys are especially sought after, growing over a longer period of time, meaning they are naturally fatter and more succulent.

As free-range birds, they are fed on wild herbs, clover and flowers, as well as benefiting from being able to range on the grasses in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The birds are housed in open sheds and are free to access the fields to range whenever they choose. While Christmas is a busy time for the production side of the business, January and February will see the farm busy calculating the number of new birds needed from the hatchery for 2019. June onwards is peak season for the agricultural team as they rear the turkeys ready for Christmas.

Justin said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating twenty years working with M&S. Our relationship has grown from supplying just a couple of birds at a time to providing 160,000 turkeys and turkey crowns this Christmas. It makes us really proud to know that hundreds of thousands of M&S customers will be sitting down to enjoy one of our turkeys this Christmas day.”

Lucy Herbert, Poultry Developer at M&S, said: “The quality of Justin’s produce is testament to the relationships he has built up over the years; with M&S, our customers and the next generation of farmers. Allowed to roam free in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Justin’s turkeys are a prime example of quality, responsibly sourced Welsh produce that is enjoyed nationwide.

“At M&S this Christmas we’re championing our festive favourites and there’s no doubt that, for many, the Pembrokeshire bronze turkey will be the absolute centrepiece of Christmas dining. Here’s to the next twenty years of partnering with Justin and his family!”

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Popular inn sold to local businessman

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THE SALE of The Nag’s Head Inn, the riverside pub situated in North Pembrokeshire, to a local businessman was recently completed by business property advisers Christie & Co.

Situated on the banks of the Afon Cych, close to the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion borders, The Nag’s Head occupies a substantial stone-built property, which was sympathetically extended in the 1980s and recently refurbished by the previous owners in 2017 to provide a spacious and welcoming interior, with flagstone floors, wood burning stoves and beamed ceilings.

The pub comprises four trading areas across the ground floor, including a main bar, a cosy snug and extensive dining areas, and a beer garden, which provides stunning views over the river. Additionally, the property benefits from three en suite guest bedrooms and three bedroom owner’s accommodation on the first floor.

Over the years, the previous owner has grown and developed a strong local and regional reputation for The Nag’s Head, which was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 UK Riverside Pubs’ in The Guardian in June 2017 and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, while also maintaining a 4.5 rating and excellent reviews on the review website.

Following three years of ownership, previous owner, Mr Miller has decided to sell The Nag’s Head to move onto new business ventures. He said: “We have enjoyed our time at the property and have invested a lot of time and effort in to turning the business around and are looking forward to focusing on our other business interests.”

New owner, Mr Dewi Davies, who also owns the nearby award-winning holiday complex, Clydey Cottages, is looking forward to taking over the reins of The Nag’s Head and putting his own stamp on the business. Mr Davies commented: “I am delighted to be taking over the Nag’s Head from Steve and Tracy Miller. They have done a marvellous job over the past two years, building the reputation both locally and nationally, and we have inherited a great team. For the time being, it’s business as usual for the festive season and we are all excited about the future for the Nag’s Head.”

Corrina Jones, Senior Business Agent at Christie & Co’s Cardiff office, handled the sale and said: “The Nag’s Head Inn is a well maintained public house with a warm and inviting atmosphere. I would like to wish Mr Miller all the best with his new business ventures. I look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength under the new ownership of Mr Davies and wish him all the best for the future.

“The market remains strong for well established businesses in South Wales. 2018 has proven to be one of our busiest years in relation to completions within the region, and we are seeing no slowdown in the market to date.”

The Nag’s Head was sold off a guide price of £495,000 for the freehold interest.

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