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Sincere apology to whistle-blower following Mik Smith cover-up

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THE COUNCIL has apologised after a damning report into the Mik Smith affair has heavily criticised senior council officers, including the former Head of Youth Service Eirian Evans, former Chief Executive Bryn Parry Jones, and former Council leader Jamie Adams.

The report prepared by a task and finish group of councillors takes no prisoners as it lays into the series of missteps and attempted cover-ups regarding the way the local authority’s then-leadership responded to a whistle-blower who reported serious concerns about the convicted paedophile’s relationship with young people in his care while a youth worker for the Council.

As the Leader of the present Administration of Pembrokeshire County Council, I am extremely pleased to see this report produced by the Members of the Task and Finish Group and I appreciate the input of Members, Officers and individuals to produce the conclusions in the report.

Cllr David Simpson said in a statement: “I am however drawn to the involvement of the Whistle Blower in this case. It is never an easy thing to whistle blow in the workplace and I appreciate this is something people have concerns over. It is crucial to ensure that we continue to encourage people to whistle blow and our policy and procedures, I am pleased to say have been updated and reviewed significantly since the period of time these matters occurred. These procedures now can empower people to whistle blow when they wish to report matters of concern.

“Regarding the case in question, I would very much like to thank the Whistle Blower who came forward in the first instance and who provided information of that experience to the Task and Finish Group process. That experience and insight is crucial when organisations like ours seek to learn from negative situations and by adopting recommendations from the group today we are continuing to ensure ever improving safeguarding procedures.

“Therefore I am extremely thankful for the involvement of the whistle blower in this process and would like to offer my sincere apology to her for having to be engaged in this sensitive matter over such a protracted period of time and having to re-visit what would have been a challenging and upsetting set of circumstances.

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Pembroke Dock: Extraordinary stories of arctic exploration

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YOU can discover extraordinary stories of arctic exploration at a special event at Pembroke Dock Library this week.

On Wednesday 18th April from 7pm, David Saunders MBE will be discussing the journeys of three ships built in Pembroke Dock and bound for the Arctic, only to be lost in some of the most mysterious stories in the history of exploration.

David is a maritime historian, a subject he has studied extensively and has always been passionate about.

He is also a well-known naturalist, having become the first warden of Skomer Island in 1960. He was awarded a MBE in 2003.

The event is free to attend and no booking is required.

For more information, contact Pembroke Dock Library on 01437 775 825.

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Kilgetty: Walkers raise £3700 for Harriet Davis Trust

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LAST AUGUST, the customers of the White Horse Inn organised a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Harriet Davis Trust.

The team of 30 walkers, led by Dilwyn Davies, has now collected all the sponsor money and the donations have reached a fantastic £3713.

Elizabeth Sleight, fundraiser for the trust said: “This was a truly amazing fundraising effort by Dilwyn and the White Horse Inn team, and we were completely overwhelmed by the result.

“Everyone has been so generous and it will make a huge difference in helping us give disabled children the best possible holidays.”

The Harriet Davis Trust has four holiday houses in Pembrokeshire for disabled children and their families and it is currently raising funds to refurbish its Giltar View property in Southcliffe Street, Tenby.

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Haverfordwest: Fresh artist on the block ready for exhibition

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AN EXHIBITION showcasing the work of an extremely talented local artist will open on Monday, August 1 at The VC Gallery in High Street, Haverfordwest.

Maxine Bunston from Haverfordwest, who has only had one year of experience in the art industry, has managed to create a huge range of fantastic art work, that she will be proudly presenting next week.

The Herald caught up with Maxine, to talk about the art that she will be exhibiting, and what it means to her. She said: “It’s escapism from mental health. It keeps me distracted from low self esteem, especially when people have commented on my appearance. But, mainly, it’s a distraction from mental health and self harm.”

Many of Maxine’s beautiful paintings depict delicate fairies, and The Herald asked Maxine why she decided to feature these in her work. She said: “They’re mystical and magical, and it’s escapism in the way of feeling like a child: Everything is innocent, and it’s the light-heartedness of life, really.”

Maxine has long struggled with mental health, and her art has reflected her emotions and what she was going through at the time.

Everything is innocent: Maxine paints to escape from mental health

Friend of Maxine and regular at The VC Gallery, Mia Gillies, said: “I’ve known Maxine for 10 years, and she started doing art at Bro Cerwen. I’ve seen her evolve from celtic style into really detailed fairy work, with dots and lots of action going on.

“She has really streamlined her work and now, you recognise it as Maxine’s work. It’s also not messy and more, it’s really clean and very intricate.”

All of the paintings at Maxine’s exhibition, which runs from August 1 until August 31, are for sale with prints available on request.

When asked if she classes herself as an artist, Maxine said: “No, I don’t like to call myself an artist. If someone asks me what I do, I don’t say that I’m an artist.”

If you would like to visit The VC Gallery to see Maxine’s wonderful work on display, you can do so from 10am until 5pm, Monday to Friday. To view Maxine’s work online, you can also visit www.facebook.com/escapistfantasyart

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