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Church launches all-Wales rural group

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FrurallifeROM THE PRICE of milk to school closures – the challenges of rural life will be the focus of a new group being launched by the Church in Wales this week. 

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, will launch the Church’s Provincial Rural Group on Friday (June 6) at the Royal Welsh Showground. The group, made up of clergy rural advisers and lay people from across Wales, will advise on the particular challenges of rural ministry and flag up issues in rural life so that wider action can be taken – whether that’s reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the price of milk to the farmer or petrol at the pump, threatened closure of schools and disappearing bus-services. High on the agenda of many who live in rural Wales is also the issue of poor DAB and even FM radio signals and the absence of access to decent broadband speeds. Bishop John, who will chair the new group, said: “Whilst the farming and other land-based industries that shaped the Welsh landscape no longer dominate the economy and provide work as they once did, 82% of Wales remains rural in character. 60% of the country is classified as ‘deep rural’ – which means a community of no more than 180 households, lacking such things as a shop, Post Office, petrol station, cash-point, or even a bus stop – and is at least 30 minutes’ drive away from a larger settlement. In many villages, the church is the only community facility remaining, and the contribution that the church makes to community life is vital. “This new group will provide a base for the Church to reflect and act on rural matters and help us build a close working relationship with the Rural Department of the Welsh Government and other key organisations, such as farmers unions and local community councils to identify areas of common concern in rural areas. It will also help us raise the profile of rural issues in public life and we hope to work with other Christian denominations and voluntary organisations as we seek to keep rural issues high on various agendas.” The Provincial Rural Group will be made up of the Church in Wales’s six rural life advisers – one from each diocese – and six lay people, again representing each diocese. The launch takes place at the International Pavilion from 12 to 2pm with representatives from rural and political organisations.

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Community

Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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Community

Lottery win for local neighbours

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Ten people in Pembroke Dock are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.

The Milton Terrace neighbours netted the windfall when SA72 6BJ was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Saturday 18th April 2020.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “What lovely news to start off your weekend. Congratulations to our winners!”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.

This draw was promoted by the Wildlife Trusts which have received over £12.6 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The Wildlife Trusts look after more than 2,300 nature reserves and operate more than 100 visitor and education centres across the country. The Trusts work to make life better for wildlife, people and future generations.

Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook  and Twitter.

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Community

Call to stay safe and respect the countryside

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With more people using countryside paths and walks for exercise
during coronavirus restrictions, a call has gone out for walkers to stay
safe and respect landowners’ privacy and business.

The joint message comes from Pembrokeshire County Council and
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Pembrokeshire has some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales
and is fantastic to explore on foot.

And with exercise close to home part of the permitted reasons to
leave lockdown, paths and walks are increasingly busy.

Walkers are advised to only access footpaths from their doorstep and
be aware that when using Countryside Rights of Way that you are
crossing private land.

At this time of year the countryside is a busy place, lambing is in full
swing and field preparation for new crops is underway.
Those using the paths are asked to follow and observe any advisory
signs or temporary diversions you may come across.

Please note that routes are normally unrestricted, but under the
present situation there may be some routes that aren’t available, such
as closures to part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Please be particularly vigilant and respectful when using paths that
are in the curtilage of private residences or pass through Farm Yards
and adhere with “social distancing” at all times.

Please follow this advice:

Wherever possible restrict use to footpaths accessible within
your neighbourhood – if possible do not drive to the
countryside to walk.

Follow any diversion signs provided by landowner.

• Remember social distancing. Keep 2m distance from anyone
and use wide areas to pass each other safely.

• Plan your walk – try to avoid busy times of day when many
other people may be walking, and if possible, don`t use the
same route every day.

• Respect landowners as they may be self-isolating or have
vulnerable people living with them.

• Ensure dogs are kept on a short lead, but beware of livestock
as they may chase your dog.

• Do not let your dog come in contact with other people.

• Clean up after your dog – do not leave dog fouling bags
behind.

• Ensure gates are not left open allowing livestock to escape.

• Keep to the line of the path, do not allow your dog to run free.

• Respect the property and business you are passing through.

• Keep away from livestock

• As part of good personal hygiene always wash your hands
after visiting the countryside.

It is also worth remembering that when walking or running on roads
where there is no pavement, you should face on-coming traffic and
wear highly visible clothing.

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive of the Park Authority said: “This
guidance will protect the public and any livestock they may encounter
while out walking. It will also prevent additional calls upon emergency
services, who are already working at capacity, from having to respond
to issues such as trespass, lost dogs, sheep worrying and livestock
escaping from fields.

“We are encouraged by the response of the vast majority of the public
in following Government advice to stay at home and only access the
outdoors from their doorsteps. It is important for those people who do
have walking opportunities on their doorsteps to take note of the
advice provided when out walking.”

Full details of the Coast Path closures can be found on the Authority’s
website at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales.

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