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Milford Haven: Choir celebrates first concert of the summer term

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AN ENJOYABLE evening was spent at St Francis Catholic Church, Milford Haven last Friday with an appreciative audience for the first concert of the summer term. The choir was delighted to have the presence of young soloist Leah Bower, who sang some beautiful pieces and had everyone entranced with her lovely voice. Under the direction of Lynne Kelleher and accompanied by Peter Griffiths, a couple of new items were aired for the first time and were well received by the audience. The choir was rewarded with a superb supper provided by the ladies of the Church.

The ladies took time off for the half term break, but an extra rehearsal will take place in preparation for the busy programme in June and July. The next event will be the annual Songs of Praise at Neyland Marina Gardens on Sunday 9th June. Tickets are now on sale for the forthcoming charity concert in St David’s Cathedral on Friday 21st June when the ladies will share the stage with Haverfordwest Male Voice Choir in support of H.O.P.E.

For information regarding the choir please contact Carol (01646) 699417 or www.neylandladieschoir.weebly.com

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The tale of the WW2 Luftwaffe pilot who mistakenly landed in west Wales

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IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.

On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.

Armin Faber mistakenly flew to South Wales after the dog-fight

Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).

One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.

Spitfire pilot Alois Vašátko lost his life in the battle

In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.

Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.

The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!

Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).

As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!

Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.

He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.

Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.

They did find one, however.

The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.

Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.

49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.

This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.

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A perfectly Pembrokeshire perspective – by Cara Jasmine Bradley

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Budding young travel writer Cara Jasmine Bradley writes about her experience at visiting Pembrokeshire last summer

IT WAS the moment that saw all my childhood dreams come true in a dramatic flurry afore my eyes.

The hoof beats below me intensified, and I laughed as I was showered in a mixture of sand and sea spray. The wind slapped at my face in refreshing fashion as we thundered along, tearing up the surf.

Slicing into the waterfall of rain, I felt overwhelmingly empowered and alive. I wanted the descending coastline to spiral onwards forever.

Towering cliffs doused in pulsating spillages of shrubbery dwarfed the cove on either side, creating an illuminating spotlight to my disposition.

The grey clouds overhead created a quintessential backdrop to the bursts of colour created by the blissful clash of the sea and its surrounding rolling meadows.

Leaning forwards, I embraced the rain and my every spine-tingling sensation, and allowed the horse to pick up his pace another notch. The feeling of sheer freedom was indescribable.
Pembrokeshire: the place that presented me with one of the most invigorating memories of my life.

Galloping along a deserted stretch of Haverfordwest beach truly made up the ingredients for the stuff dreams are made of. The drum of the hooves replicated my bursting heart, and I scarcely recalled a time I had felt more joyous.

It was the promise of horse riding on the beach that had initially enticed me to Pembrokeshire that summer, but it was the treasured alternate elements that sum up the mystical county that have kept my heart alight ever since.

Pembrokeshire quickly enlightened me the depth of its rural charm, showcasing just what the UK does best: nature. We arrived at our caravan that first evening to find that we already had our first visitor ready and waiting for us at the door. In the gathering dusk, the silhouette of a badger made my breath catch in my throat. I had never been in such close proximity to one before! The badger boldly held eye contact for a few seconds, before scuttling off, only to return every night!

Perhaps it was the prime location of our caravan that won me over. An overgrown pathway led us away from the caravan park. We passed by the towering wall of bold foxgloves and followed the aroma of sea salt until we found ourselves in an open field, which boasted astounding views out across the sea via the craggy cliff-side beyond.

Watching the sun set from that very spot became a nightly tradition that never failed to motivate and mesmerize.

The declining sun dropped an explosion of blood orange across the cliffs, sending its rays clambering across the still surface of the sea far into the horizon. It felt as though I was stood on the brink of the eye to the world, gazing at its magnificence through a magnifying glass.

Famed for its paradise perfect beaches that behold the ability to make one believe that they could actually be anywhere in the world, Pembrokeshire also modestly lets fans into its sacred secret of outstanding countryside.

It’s easy to get lost in the endless woodlands and forests spread generously across Pembrokeshire. And by ‘lost,’ I also mean in the metaphorical sense of the word, for it is almost impossible not to abort all of life’s worries and negativities under the protection of the rich canopy of trees.

Enchanted pathways zig-zagging through the heart of dense woodland defines a magical fairytale setting intent on inspiring.

The woods were stunningly silent, aside the therapeutic droplets of rain cascading from the branches. The air was thick with the revitalising smell of nature – that tantalising ambiance that can only truly be appreciated after the rainfall.

The blackberries sat plump on their bushes, squirrels darted across the undergrowth in our wake, and mysterious flora and fauna shimmered in delight amidst the showers.

There was just something about trekking through the superlative forests that made me feel like a child again; uncontrollably wide-eyed with admiration and enthrallment. The scenery that generously enveloped me was so beautiful, so surreal, that I felt as though I was floating through a pleasant day-dream. You almost find yourself checking tree trunks for signs of fairies, resisting the urge to jump in puddles, and making wishes out of dandelions. Even the most cynical of adults would fail to fall victim to the spell.

Sharing my time with this mind-blowing landscape forced me to shrug off my stifling coat of conformity and simply be myself. I was walking hand in hand with the person I had almost forgotten to be. I was awakened, and my soul followed suit.

Quite often during our trip, we would pack our bags with a picnic, which we would relish half way through our lengthy walks, nestled somewhere between the forests and the coast. There is something quite thrilling about a mid-hike picnic. Rain sodden sandwiches tarnished with stray flecks of sand are part of the deal in the UK, and you know what? It only adds to the authenticity! Fleshly picked blackberries enhanced the flavour of the day, their tangy bitterness somewhat ruled out by the pride of souring and picking our own desserts straight from the trees!

One morning, we took a drive into a nearby town, enjoying the serene sights that walled the country lane ahead of us. We pulled over to catch a better glimpse of the sea from a particularly high spot en-route, and stumbled across a vast orchard adjacent to the cliffs. The lazy morning sun shone through the branches of the trees, the golden rays of its glow making patterns waltz underfoot. The scent of ripe, sweet apples drifted along the breeze, accompanied by the light buzz of the appreciative bees.
The time I spent walking around the orchard, lost in thought, was perhaps not as significant as my spectacular ride across the beach, but it is equally as memorable in terms of unrivalled serenity.

During our time in Pembrokeshire, we frequented a variation of dainty villages and towns, from Broad Haven to Tenby. Doused in a vibrant olde-worlde fishing village charm, Tenby was undeniably as pretty as it was wealthy in culture. With pastel-coloured houses rising above the coast, Tenby is a nostalgia-provoking location that posses the power to escort all of us back to care-free childhood afternoons spent on the timeless beaches of the UK.
A drive through Pembrokeshire will reveal a whole trove of hidden gem villages, quivering with the prospect of being uncovered.

Pembrokeshire ferociously ticks off the credentials for the most desirable trip. Combining pearly sands, twinkling seas, electrifying countryside, adorable towns, and endless adventures to be indulged and shared, this is what makes us so proud of our wondrously versatile United Kingdom.

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Pembrokeshire Springboard students become best sellers!

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SPRINGBOARD students who took part in its ‘Be a Best Seller Course’ were invited to Glan-yr-Afon library and cultural centre in Haverfordwest for the official launch of their newly published books last week.

Gelliswick Church in Wales V.C School, Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School, Tenby Church in Wales VC Primary School and Johnston Community School were the four schools to get involved in this Big Lottery funded project, delivered by Springboard.

On each of the ‘Be a Best Seller’ courses families got to work with three different tutors, in English, Illustration and Design, and Technology.

With their guidance, the families in each school got to work as a team to develop their own unique children’s stories.

They were inspired by the New York Times bestseller Press Here by Herve Tullet which the project coordinator discovered with her daughter on holiday last year.

Like Press Here, each book created by the families on “Be a Best Seller” invites the reader to physically interact with each page to prompt changes to the story that follows.

Gelliswick’s book, A Walk in the Forest, gets the reader blowing on leaves and turning like a bat.

Tenby’s book, The Snow Party, sees snow people getting on sledges and stumbling upon a Snow Dog.

The Perfect Home by Mary Immaculate follows a dragon on its journey from a little egg to a full grown adult in search of somewhere special to stay in Pembrokeshire.

And in Johnston’s book called The Christmas Tree the reader gets to choose their own tree, decorate it and light it up all ready for Santa to deliver his presents.

The families attending the book launch from all four schools were thrilled to see all their work come together in print.

Deborah Withey, the artist who led the families in the illustration and page designs of all four books, said: “The output of imagination and positivity was so high given that the concept of both writing a story and then telling that same story in images is a very big task.

“And what is more than worth noting is how well the children and their parents worked together, the children took the imaginative lead and their parents followed with supporting ideas. This project was a force of creative magic!”

Both the hard backed books and the e-books can be freely accessed from Pembrokeshire libraries around the county.

Laura Phillips, Springboard Coordinator was hugely impressed by the creativity of every learner who engaged on the project. The success of each book was hammered home to her when her daughter, just three years old, said “Again Mammy, again!” after being read each of the stories.

Springboard is a Learning Pembrokeshire project which runs a wide range of fun, free and exciting courses for adults and families in targeted areas.

Gelliswick

Gelliswick pupils and parents with copies of their colourful book A Walk in the Forest

Mary Immaculate

Families and pupils from Mary Immaculate proudly displaying their book The Perfect Home

Tenby

Tenby Primary pupils and their families produced The Snow Party
with the support of Springboard.

Johnston

Pupils and families Johnston Community School worked hard on their book The Christmas Tree

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