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Tenby police officer’s double life as RNLI volunteer

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FROM patrolling the streets to rescuing people at sea, a Tenby man is leading a double life as both a Dyfed-Powys Police officer and a volunteer with the RNLI.

PC Rob Garland comes from a family with an astonishing 180 years of combined service to the lifeboat service in Tenby, and gives up his free time to help people and animals in danger at sea.

He has spoken about his experiences as Dyfed-Powys Police celebrates its officers and staff who give up their time for other agencies as part of the UN’s International Volunteer Day.

PC Garland, who joined the RNLI at the age of 17, said: “Being in Tenby, I spent most of my time down the harbour, on the beaches and was always in and out of boats. It was a natural thing for me to do.

“My family have a long tradition with the Tenby RNLI. My great-grandfather was the coxswain (skipper), as was my great-uncle, while other uncles and my grandfather were also on the crew.

“It was kind of inevitable I was going to join.”

Not only does he have RNLI in the family, but PC Garland explained that the crew itself is a community who combine their efforts to get the job done.

“We have a great crew in Tenby, we all know we are there to do a job however we do have a laugh with it also,” he said. “We do lots of events within the community and work close in hand with all partner agencies at these events.

“However, when the pager goes off, everyone is immediately focused and the professional approach is unrivalled.”

The jobs PC Garland and the crew are called to range from helping disabled fishing trawler, heading out to broken down cargo ships that weigh over 150 times the weight of the lifeboat, or to children in an inflatable dingy being blown off the beach. He added that more and more, the crew is called to help animals in distress.

“Recent years have seen an increase in us going to dogs over cliffs, as the dog may still be alive in the water, and also to ensure the safety of the dog owner,” he said. “If they know help is on the way, it can and does stop them from taking extreme risks in going into sea or scaling down cliffs to get their pet.

“Being a dog owner myself, it’s hard to see a dog that has fallen 60 meters on the rocks below and the owner distraught trying to get to it. We do our best to recover the dog provided its safe for us to do so and to bring the dog back to the owner in a respectful and dignified way.”

PC Garland is on the crew of Tenby’s two lifeboats, and explained that the smaller inshore lifeboat d-class is used for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations – often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves. The other boat is the bigger all-weather Tamar class, which can go to sea in any weather and is self-righting in the event of capsizing.

Looking back over shout-outs, he said: “Back in October 2017, we launched the all-weather boat into very rough storm 10 conditions during Storm Brian to reports or a person having been washed off the rocks.

“During the shout, I fractured my hand due to the impact of the waves on the boat, which was regularly being submerged by large waves. Thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm with good intent.

“I also remember launching in February 2016 s to a cargo ship which had suffered engine failure south of Caldey Island and was adrift. We launched to assist and to hold it off Caldey Island until a salvage tug arrived.

“The waves on this shout were some of the largest I have seen, they even dwarfed the cargo ship that was 94 meters in length. Thankfully, the cargo ship missed Caldey Island dropped its anchor to the east where we stood by for a few hours to ensure that it was no longer drifting.”

As a police officer, PC Garland fits call-outs around his shifts – even attending a shout minutes after getting back into bed following a night shift.

“I am aware that as a police officer my day job comes first,” he said. “I am a volunteer with the RNLI, however it does not pay my wages.

“Once I am home, having finished a shift, I will turn my pager on and answer the call should it come in. On my rest days or annual leave if I am in Tenby I will always carry my pager with me.

“It has come to the point where if my partner and I go out for a meal that I always leave my wallet and car keys with her, as I have left her in the restaurant taking them with me, which can take a bit of explaining to the staff.”

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Boost for town: Local celebrity Matt Baker to take on the Castle Hotel

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A WELL known local musician and radio DJ is to take on a landmark business in Haverfordwest. The nine bedroom Castle Hotel is probably one of Pembrokeshire’s best known venues – but Matt Baker says it is now under new management.

Matt Baker is not doing things slowly, with a planned opening of the premises on May 28 promising live music, good food and a relaxing atmosphere for all ages. For what is sure to be a positive piece of news for Haverfordwest’s ailing town centre, he is currently advertising for staff, thus creating jobs.

Matt, who previously ran The Tiddly, made his announcement on his Facebook page this morning (May 16), with hundreds of people liking the post and many more wishing him well with his new venture.

Matt Baker is a DJ for Pure West Radio based in Haverfordwest (Pic: M Baker/Facebook)

He wrote: “Well folks I got some exciting news.

“As most of you know cruise ships have been a big part of my life, 16 years on and off.

“In between that I did open my own pub here in Pembrokeshire call The Tiddly and worked me bottom off to provide a great place for people to come and switch off with live music every night.

“That unfortunately had to come to an end and I have missed it very much.
Well, seeing as I can’t go back to ships at the moment I’ve decided to take on an adventure I
“I’ve always dreamed one day I would own and that is a Hotel.

“It’s not just any Hotel, but one full of amazing history right here in the heart of Pembrokeshire and right in the Center of Haverfordwest.

“Everyone said when I was at The Tiddly “we love it here but we wish you were in town” as The Tiddly was 3 miles outside of Haverfordwest.

The Castle Hotel is steeped in history, and is a Grade II listed building. The Boxing Day Hunt, with riders, horses and hounds late 19th century. (Pic DA Images)

“I’m super excited to start a new chapter in my life and with the support of the people of Pembrokeshire and beyond and I’m hoping it will be life long.

“The Hotel has nine beautiful rooms on suite and a lovely restaurant area and a lounge/bar which I’m planning to have all up and running very soon, all been refurbished by the way.
We still are In uncertain times but I’m hoping we are at the back end and can enjoy each other’s company like before and socialise.

“I’m bringing back live music, good food and drink, and a place to come and switch off for all age groups with a comfortable and enjoyable environment.

“I’m planning for the 28th of May to be open, that’s in just under 2 weeks, but if you know me, you know I like a challenge.

“Please come support and follow all guidelines for now as we move forward in these new times.

“I will look forward to welcoming you to The Castle Hotel with open arms and let’s make more great memories together.

“See you soon Pembrokeshire and beyond!”

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‘Reach out to friends and family’ says Council Leader

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THIS week’s update from Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council:

‘Hello everyone, I hope you are all keeping well and safe.

‘I’d like to highlight that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

‘I’m very aware that the last 15 months has had a huge impact on our lives and, in some cases, our wellbeing.

‘Mental Health can be a hidden issue and we all need to be aware that some people may need some extra support.

‘On a personal level the lockdown restrictions have reminded me of the importance to talk to people and to ensure people are supported.

‘Supporting your friends and family can be as simple as a phone call to say hello. A quick hello can ensure people are ok and managing and can give someone a huge uplift.

“Our communities have done a fantastic job of supporting each other so please, Team Pembrokeshire, continue these efforts.

‘I urge you all to pick up the phone and say hello to your friends and family, as we all need to play our role in everyone’s wellbeing – talking about issues does make a difference.

‘If you are suffering from Mental Health or general wellbeing issues please reach out, do not struggle on your own, your friends and family can help and make a difference.

‘Please also take the opportunity to also view the website at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week which has much more information and support.

‘I now want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in last week’s elections.

‘Elections take a phenomenal amount of organisation at the best of times but even more so in a pandemic situation.

‘To all those who ensured the smooth running of the elections process, thank you.

‘Congratulations to all the successful candidates and I look forward to working with them to further improve the lives of Pembrokeshire people.

‘We have now had further updates from Welsh Government and the next phase of the unlocking road map has been unveiled.

‘From Monday, 17th May, indoor hospitality can re-open.

‘Up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants.

‘We have so many fantastic hospitality venues in Pembrokeshire who we know will be giving their customers a big welcome after so long away.

‘The opening of indoor hospitality will be a major landmark in our emergence from the pandemic and towards recovery.

‘While out and about please remember social distancing rules are still in pace, consider your actions on others, remember your footprint has an impact on our communities, so please tread lightly.

‘When you go home, leave with a smile – enjoy your days out, enjoy seeing your families and most importantly enjoy our beautiful county and please support us in keeping Pembrokeshire special – play your part and please be responsible.

‘I want to wish you all a lovely weekend and I look forward to talking to you all again next week through my update.

‘Thank you everyone.’

You can keep up to date with all the Council’s press releases here: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/newsroom

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Plan to rescue rare butterfly from extinction in Pembrokeshire

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority is stepping up efforts to save the marsh fritillary butterfly, which was once widespread in Wales but is now close to extinction in Pembrokeshire.

Funded by the Pembrokeshire Nature Partnership, the new landscape scale strategy aims to improve the fortunes of the rare species, which relies on networks of flower rich marshy grasslands across the landscape.

Much of this habitat, which is home to the favourite food of its larva – the devil’s bit scabious (succisa pratensis), has been lost due to drainage, inappropriate tree planting and the neglect of traditional management of grasslands through light grazing with heavy animals such as cattle.

National Park AuthorityBiodiversity Officer, Sarah Mellor said: “The marsh fritillary in Pembrokeshire is now in a very precarious position. We think it has already become extinct in a number of areas in its former range and it has not been seen on the St Davids Peninsula since 2013. The population around Keeston and Tiers Cross is also now thought to be extinct.

“We must find a way to make space for wildlife in our landscape to ensure that nature can thrive for future generations. It is quite sobering to think this species could disappear from Pembrokeshire in my lifetime. We have a responsibility not to let this happen on our watch.

“Even in those areas where it remains we have seen dramatic declines, for example around Mychanchlogddu it used to be recorded from 32 sites, but since 2015 it has only been seen at seven sites.”

The National Park Authority has already stepped up its action to rescue the rare butterfly by assisting landowners to bring sites into suitable management through grant aid and providing suitable grazing animals through the Pembrokeshire Grazing Network and the Conserving the Park Scheme.

The new strategy will include mobilising Park Authority staff and volunteers to undertake targeted surveys at sites across the county, as well as helping landowners to manage their land in a sensitive way to help ensure the future of this rare butterfly.

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