THE FARMERS’ Union of Wales’ “Help Cut Food Miles…Buy The Welsh One” message already promoted in a variety of events at the Welsh Assembly, House of Lords and European Parliament has cropped up – in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
That’s because the union’s Anglesey county branch was a sponsor of Sian Pierce Roberts, of Cefn Arthen, Brynsiencyn, who has just returned from a seven-day, 115km camel trek through the Sahara where she proudly wore the FUW’s “Buy The Welsh One” campaign tee-shirt. Her father Gwyn and mother Nerys are FUW members and Nerys runs the “Pobty’r Bryn” award-winning bakery renowned for its Bara Brith, Taffi Triog (treacle toffee), oat cakes and shortbread. Sian, who recently started working as a midwife after completing a BA course in midwifery at Bangor University, took part in the sponsored Sahara Trek to raise money for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society). “Since working as a midwife, I have become familiar with the SANDS charity who do a wonderful job providing support for parents, families and friends who have lost a baby,” she said. “The charity supports further research that endeavours to reduce these numbers. “Whilst I’m still young and healthy, I decided that I wanted to help the charity and agreed to participate in the ‘trek’ through the Sahara desert. It was a memorable experience, to say the least. “I had to raise a minimum sponsorship of ?2,250 towards the trip, so I decided to organise events such as concerts, bag packing in supermarkets and barbecues. I wanted to raise money through events where the public would gain something back. “Throughout the 18 months of fund-raising, I received great support from a variety of people, such as local businesses, friends and family and I’m extremely grateful to the FUW for sponsoring me.” In her spare time, Sian enjoys taking part in young farmers’ competitions and is the current chairman of the YFC movement in Anglesey. “Bodedern YFC organised a party and Rhosybol YFC organised a pancake night with the proceeds going towards sponsoring the trip, so I am extremely grateful to them all for the support. “Before setting off I didn’t know anyone on the trip, so I met 20 people for the first time at Heathrow airport on the morning of March 8. We all came from different backgrounds, jobs and parts of the UK but all of us had one thing in common – we were all there to raise money for a charity close to our hearts. “Within days we all became firm friends as we were with each other 24 hours a day for nine days, and we’d support and encourage each other throughout the journey. I organised the trip through a London company called Skyline, so as well as the 21 people we also had three team leaders, three men who would be in charge of the camels, two chefs and one doctor – so we were in safe hands! “We flew from Heathrow to Casablanca, which is at the top of Morocco, then an hour’s flight from Casablanca to Ouazazate, and a fivehour bus ride to the desert, where we met seven camels who were also venturing on the journey to carry our water, bags, food packages and the doctor’s package. “We were about to walk for seven days, with two travelling days either side. From day to day, we got up by 6am, had breakfast and then start walking. We walked for about four to five hours in the morning and two to three hours in the afternoon – apart from one day, when we got a little bit lost, so we walked for 11 hours! “It’s safe to say we definitely completed the 100km but the leader thought it was close to 115km by the end of the trip. The trip varied on a daily basis. The sand piles got bigger and bigger the further we got into the desert, and if we were walking on a flat piece, the ground got dusty, with small and large stones under foot. “There were a few things that would complicate your day and they affected everyone in different ways. One thing I noticed was that we take simple things like clean water, showers and electricity for granted. I’ve never used so many baby wipes and dry shampoo! “It was approximately 30 degrees and the temperature would drop down to freezing during the night. So we had to wrap up warm and make sure that we had a good sleeping bag! I did expect it to be boiling hot but, to be honest, it was not too bad as there was a nice breeze whilst we were walking. “But one of the things I did not expect was the rain – and, sure enough, one night we had heavy rain – and we were in bed by 8pm! The leader informed us the next day, of all the years he has worked in the desert, only once has he experienced rain in the Sahara! “We had been advised prior to the start of the trip to bring ski glasses with us, in the event of a sandstorm.? And sure enough, I experienced three storms whilst I was in the Sahara and they were very vigorous! “It was extremely difficult to walk through these sandstorms as we could only see two feet in front of us! Although I did not want a storm and rain, I’m glad I’ve had these experiences to add to the adventures of the trip. “The chefs and the camel crew would put two tents up every night – one to cook in and one to eat in – and they would always prepare a feast for us. “In the mornings, if we were lucky, we had bread and porridge for breakfast, salad and fruit for lunch and a three-course meal that included soup, vegetables, meat and fruit for dinner. The food was wonderful and it was miraculous what the crew could achieve in such a small tent. “The trip is an experience to remember. I’ve had the privilege of seeing a foreign country, meeting people from different backgrounds and, most importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to raise money for a great charity! “I’d like to thank everyone for all their support, and with their help I’ve raised ?3,400 for SANDS.” Sian will be telling the story of her fund-raising Sahara trek when she attends FUW Anglesey’s annual general meeting on Thursday June 26 (7.30pm) at Tafarn-y-Rhos, Rhostrewfa, as a guest speaker.
Appeal for dog walkers to keep pets under control during lambing season
THE LAMBING season is upon us and with many public paths crossing fields of sheep, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is appealing to dog walkers to follow best practice when out in the countryside.
While walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail and other public footpaths and bridleways:
Always keep dogs on a short lead and under close control when sheep or any other livestock are present.
Clean up after your dog; bag it and bin it wherever you can or take it away –please do not leave poo bags in the countryside.
National Park Authority Public Rights of Way Officer, Meurig Nicholas said: “If your dog is out of your sight or left out of control, it may chase after, attack or worry sheep. Worried and stressed pregnant sheep can miscarry or abort their lambs.
“Young lambs are also very vulnerable at this time, and can get distressed and even die if they are separated from their mothers or abandoned after being chased by dogs.”
There have also been incidents where dogs have had to be rescued from cliffs because they were not kept under close control.
Mr Nicholas added: “These situations have resulted in emergency services such as the Coastguard and RNLI having to retrieve and rescue dogs. These incidents are avoidable and add unnecessary pressure to our busy emergency services.”
Plan for ‘collaborative approach’ to tackling rural crime issues
THIS week (Mar 9) Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn chaired a strategic meeting with key stakeholders to identify collaborative opportunities to tackle rural and wildlife crime in the Dyfed-Powys area.
Following a meeting with the Farming Unions in Wales earlier this year, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn is keen to establish a Strategic Partnership Working Group with key stakeholders that will aim to identify ways of working collaboratively to tackle some of the rural and wildlife crime issues in Dyfed-Powys.
Dyfed-Powys Police have recently appointed a Sergeant for the Rural Crime Team, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been keen to consult with key stakeholders to gain an input from partners to support the development of a new Rural Crime Strategy for the Force.
Key Stakeholders that were invited to be part of the strategic group include both NFU Cymru and FUW unions, as well as local authorities, National Parks, RSPCA and many others.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I had positive discussions with representatives from both unions earlier this year to highlight some of the rural crime issues in the Dyfed-Powys area.
“One of the priorities identified was the need to take a collaborative approach to tackling rural and wildlife Crime, and the meeting with several key partners today was an opportunity to develop discussions and ideas further”.
Earlier in March, PCC Dafydd Llywelyn published a Rural Crime bulletin, which highlights some of the work that has taken place recently in the Dyfed-Powys area, and cross border collaborative initiatives.
PCC Dafydd Llywelyn noted that this multi agency partnership will aim to build on some of the great work that is already happening, and said; “This meeting today comes a year on from the successful St. David’s Day Conference focusing on Rural Crime that I held at Police Headquarters last year. The last 12 months have been like no other but sadly crime and incidents affecting the rural community have continued.
“Today’s multiagency Strategic meeting was an opportunity to present the new Sergeant for the specialist team, and to discuss a new website that we are developing in partnership with North Wales Police to provide key crime prevention messages to the agricultural industry – the Future Farms Cymru initiative.
“I’m grateful to all partners who attended the meeting today, and I now look forward to take all comments on board as we look to re-energise and refocus the work of the Dyfed Powys Rural Crime Team.”
NFU Cymru ‘responds robustly’ to WG
NFU CYMRU has said that many proposals within the Welsh Government and Defra’s Welfare in Transport consultation will cause significant disruption to livestock transportation in the UK.
In a robust response to the joint Welsh Government / Defra consultation, the union has stressed the significant impact the proposals would have on the livestock and poultry sectors, and raised concerns that if the proposals are implemented, they will fail to deliver any meaningful benefit to animals’ welfare.
Wyn Evans, NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said: “In order to ensure the best possible welfare outcomes, the main priorities should be the animal’s fitness to travel, loading and unloading, driver training and experience, rather than the length of the journey or the external temperature at the time of transport.
“We firmly believe that the current regulations for domestic transport already deliver high welfare, as a result of the standards, cleanliness and adaptability to different weather conditions of transport boxes in the UK. But as an industry, we want to strive for even better. We believe that in order to do that there should be more focus on certified training and providing clearer, sector-specific guidance, particularly during loading and unloading rather than what is proposed in the consultation. Good welfare and healthy livestock go hand in hand; safe arrival at a destination, be that at market or abattoir, must be and is a priority.
“The transporting of livestock is an integral part of UK food production. The suggested changes to journeys based on duration and weather conditions would cause serious delays and disruption, potentially damaging welfare outcomes, while changes to vehicle requirements would add significant costs. It will also lead to many more journeys being made, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which work against both farming’s and the government’s net-zero targets.
“Turning to the part of the consultation on live exports, we have inputted our views into a proposed NFU assurance scheme, which is detailed in an appendix in the response. This would be extremely effective in delivering welfare outcomes at the same time as maintaining this trade, as assessing the animals’ health and reporting back to producers is a fundamental part of the scheme.”
Richard Williams, Chairman of NFU Cymru’s Poultry Group said: “Looking at the month of January for example, over the last three years on average there were 10 days where temperatures were five degrees or less. If the proposals were implemented to stop transport at this temperature, no broilers could be collected off-farm in those days. If we had a prolonged cold snap; this would have a massive effect on the food chain.
“With any policy developments government makes, it is essential they are based on the latest evidence. We have an industry to be proud of, with world-leading standards, and that includes our current transportation requirements for all farmed livestock.”
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