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‘Cinderella’ daughter wins share of £7m estate

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A CINDERELLA farmer’s daughter who says she was left at home ‘with a muck fork’ whilst her teenage sisters went dancing has triumphed in her fight for a fair share of her elderly parents’ £7 million estate.

Eirian Davies, aged 45, was repeatedly assured by her parents, Tegwyn and Mary Davies, now in their 70s, that she would ultimately step into their shoes and take over the family’s ‘golden egg’ – thriving Henllan Farm, Whitland, and its herd of pedigree Holstein cows.

And three Appeal Court judges on Wednesday ruled that a stake in the thriving 182-acre farm was no more than her due for the years of low-paid toil she put in.

The family war had culminated in a “physical altercation” in the milking parlour, during which milk was thrown over Miss Davies by her mother, and she and her father ended up entangled on the floor where she bit her father’s leg.

Miss Davies had testified that she missed out on going to Young Farmers’ Club dances with her two sisters as a teenager because she had to stay at home to deal with her farming chores.

“They always told me that the farm would be left to me. Even on my birthday, when the other girls were having things, they would say – ‘you will have the damn lot one day, it will all be yours’,” she said.

Her father would regularly warn her “not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg” if she complained about her meagre wages, she added.

Until she reached the age of 21, Miss Davies was paid nothing at all for her work on the farm and, after that, there was a period when she was paid just £15-a-day for milking the cows, although sometimes she received more.

She claimed she could have ‘made a better life elsewhere’, but her 75-year-old father and mother, 76, insisted she had earned a fair income during her stints working on the farm, also being provided with free ‘bed and board’ and other benefits.

Describing her as ‘a self-employed herdswoman’, they argued she would have done no better financially had she worked away from the farm.

However, Lord Justice Floyd on Wednesday ruled that measuring Miss Davies’ contribution to the farm was not just ‘an exercise in forensic accounting’ and that her parents should be held to the promises they made to her.

The judge, sitting with Lords Justice Richards and Underhill, said Miss Davies had for years laboured under the impression that she was running the farm in partnership with her parents – however they had never signed the agreement.

In 2009, she was shown a draft will, which left the lion’s share of the farm to her. However, her parents later made changes to their bequests and proposed to place the farm in trust for the benefit of all three sisters equally.

Miss Davies had a ‘passionate interest in pedigree milking cows’ and, by 1989 when she turned 21, she was the only sister left at the farm, ‘her sisters having departed to follow other paths’, the judge said.

And, when she left the farm to work elsewhere for a while, her father begged her to return.

The milking parlour fracas in August 2012 was the final straw that broke the family asunder and her parents launched proceedings to evict Miss Davies from Henllan farmhouse, where she still lives.

However, at an earlier court hearing, Judge Milwyn Jarman QC ruled that Miss Davies had relied on her parents’ promises and thrown herself into working on the farm for low wages. She was thus entitled to a ‘beneficial interest’ in the business.

Dismissing the couple’s appeal against that ruling, Lord Justice Floyd said Miss Davies had received ‘less than full recompense’ for her contribution to the farm which could not be measured in purely financial terms.

The appeal judge concluded: “This is in many ways a tragic case.

“The bitterness between the parties was such that each had few, if any, good words to say about the other.

“The fact remained, however, that between them they had over the years built up, by hard work, great skill and passionate dedication a prodigious Holstein pedigree milking herd and a highly successful business.

“It is greatly to be hoped that they might now be able to resolve such remaining differences as they have in relation to Eirian’s entitlement without recourse to further costly and divisive litigation”.

Judge Milwyn Jarman told the earlier county court hearing that the bitter relations between Eirian Davies and her parents came to a head after she discovered their plans to split the farm equally between the three sisters.

“After one such argument with her father in February 2010, she went to the barn and put a rope from a beam around her neck,” said the judge, adding that, by good fortune, a farm worker saw what was happening and intervened.

Although there was evidence that her parents had “pinned their hopes” on Eirian over the years, they had become increasingly annoyed by her relationships with men following her divorce.

The judge said part of this concern was – not so much the men involved – but “any children that they had and how that may impact upon their duties to keep the business in the family”.

“Her mother referred to a string of men, to whom she referred as ‘wretches’, with kids behind them,” said the judge.

Family relations hit rock bottom in August 2012 during a “physical altercation” between Eirian and her parents in the milking parlour.

“Accounts differ about that altercation, but at some point milk was thrown over Eirian by her mother and she and her father ended up entangled on the floor where Eirian bit her father’s leg”, the judge said.

“Eirian received from her parents the next day a notice terminating her services, and two weeks later a notice to quit the farmhouse requiring vacant possession by October 31 2012”.

Despite the intense friction in the family, the judge said it was to their credit that Eirian and her parents had over the years “by hard work, great skill and passionate dedication built up a prodigious Holstein pedigree milking herd and a highly successful business”.

He described Eirian as having a “passionate interest in pedigree milking cows”, also referring to her evidence that she was consistently promised that the farm would one day be her’s.

“Eirian says that she first heard that ‘it will all be your’s one day’ when she was still at secondary school, for example when her mother took her sisters shopping and she was left at home, as she put it, ‘with a muck fork’.

“She says she regularly missed school and that her sisters were not interested in farming at all.

“She claims to have heard the same thing regularly thereafter from both parents, whenever she asked for money. She was told: “don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg'”.

A “major factor” in the family’s difficult relationship was the “strong personalities of both mother and daughter”, he noted, as well as Eirian’s frustration at her role in the farming business not being formalised.

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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