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Thomas Cook air hostess speaks to The Herald about her journey



WITH grounded flights and cancelled holidays, it’s been a stressful time since the collapse of Thomas Cook on Monday (Sept 24), especially for the cabin crew and pilots who have lost their jobs.

Bethan Phillips, 25, who grew up on the Mount Estate, was an air hostess for Thomas Cook for two years and has been taking part in rescue flights to help stranded Brits get home. She said the firm will be doing this until the end of October, and she is receiving no pay for the work she is putting in since Thomas Cook went into liquidation.

Speaking to The Herald, Bethan said: “We turned up to work to find planes had been impounded. We weren’t given any notice and found out on the news that we longer had a job! We had no communication from Thomas Cook other than an email telling us a conference call would be held at 10 am.

We’re all upset, and people have lost their mortgage, some of the cabin crew are married to pilots so now they both are jobless.”
On September 8, Bethan was pictured with a 73-year-old man, who had been awarded a certificate for his first flight. At that point, she had no idea Thomas Cook was in trouble.

The first Bethan knew about the loss of her job, was a post by the Civil Aviation Authority on Twitter, which said: “Thomas Cook Group, including the UK tour operator and the airline, has ceased trading with immediate effect. All Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.”

Just one hour after the news broke at 2 am, Bethan received a text to say that the flight she was supposed to be boarding at 4 am, had been ‘delayed’. The message read: “MT1062 BRS MAH. Your flight is delayed to 08:20Z. Cabin Crew report at 06:50Z.

Please be advised that your flight is delayed as per check-in times are given. We fully expect your flight to operate as normal (with the relevant delay). Please ONLY contact Crewing with questions relating directly to the operation. Any queries regarding the future of the business will be addressed by your cabin crew management in due course.”

It wasn’t long after that she received an email containing details of a conference call regarding an ‘important business update’ in light of the morning’s news, with a ‘full update’ on what will happen next. The call was listened to only.

Bethan said: “The conference call was seven minutes long, which said ‘We are sorry we couldn’t get a deal, we advise you to sign on ASAP, and letters will be sent and you can claim payment from the government’. That was all we had. The communication was shocking. They just don’t care.”

She continued: “We’ve been out on rescue flights to get people who are stranded – this is going to go on until the end of October. We aren’t being paid for it.

“A percentage of us are trained on Smartlynx – this is a company we lease aircrafts to for use their flight crew, and then you have Thomas Cook cabin crew. They said the cabin crew who are trained by Smartlynx will get paid but the others won’t be.”

Bethan added that there are cabin crew currently stuck in Cuba and can’t get home.

The general feeling around those who worked with Bethan at Bristol airport is upset and anger, especially after the UK Managers have already been contracted for their sister company.

The sister company, Thomas Cook Condor, has been saved by the UK bosses: A company that the cabin crews have put extra work into to help get off the ground.

Bethan finished, saying: “We have been working for months helping Condor out in Germany because they haven’t had any staff. Their crew didn’t want to work over Christmas either, so our crew went out for three weeks to help.

We’re supposed to be ‘One Thomas Cook’, but we’ve seen posts from our bosses saying they’re happy to have freed themselves from the UK brand. I don’t know if they realise we can still see what they’re posting on our group online.”


Coastal car parks at beauty spots remain closed



THE RECENT changes in regulations reinforce that movement is restricted to your local area.

This has been identified by the Welsh Government as an approximation of a five mile radius from your home.

Members of two separate households from the same local area (not travelling more than five miles) can now meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

You should aim to meet another local household as close to your home as possible. Always take care to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

Pembrokeshire County Council car parks at attractions and beauty spots (including public toilets) currently remain closed so you should check before travelling.

They remain closed as a clear message that travel remains restricted, and associated tourism amenities remain closed.

A critical point for all to note is that lifeguards are not currently patrolling beaches and toilets and other facilities are not open.

Full details of the car parking facilities which remain open for the local community can be found on the Council’s website:

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “The emphasis is on careful, structured unlocking, and not to put in danger any of the recovery measures that relate to public health and not to undo the safeguarding that lockdown has delivered.

“We will continue to review and monitor this carefully and take cautious, measured steps only to provide the benefits of the eased regulations without putting our residents at risk.”

Motorists are reminded not to contravene parking restrictions – such as yellow lines – where they exist as parking enforcement is still being undertaken.

As with other service areas, car parks will be reviewed in line with current advice.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Leaders coronavirus update



PEMBROKESHIRE County Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Tuesday, 2nd June, as follows:

‘I want to thank everyone for the continued support to myself, Elected Members and officers of the Authority.

‘We have all experienced many challenges over the years but this continued struggle is very testing for all. We continue collectively to work together to ensure we, in Pembrokeshire, remain safe and avoid catching Covid-19

‘It is clear that we still have to remain “local”. There is no remit for travelling outside our local community. You will have read and heard clear guidance on only travelling five miles from home.

‘As always and where you can, please exercise from your home. The more we can do to reduce the spread of the virus, the better we will all fare in the long term.

‘I want to highlight that today marks the 50 th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge. This was indeed a tragedy as lives were lost and it is a sad chapter in Pembrokeshire’s history.

‘As in any incident, people can, and do, rebuild and also learn lessons. After Covid-19 the new “normality” will look different from what we were used to. But we will all move forward and regain Confidence.

‘I’m sure, like you, I question how I should be tackling this issue. Should I be doing more? The answer is simple and direct – we need to ensure social distancing is maintained; wash our hands regularly and listen to the advice given by experts.

‘Remember: ‘Stay Strong and Stay Local.’

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‘Check in, Catch up and Prepare’ All school’s in Wales prepare to enter next phase



ALL children will have the opportunity to “Check in, Catch Up, Prepare for summer and September”, the Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced today as she published details of the next phase for schools in Wales.

It is proposed that all schools will start the next phase on 29 June, with the term extended by a week, therefore ending on 27 July.

In the next academic year, beginning in September, the intention is that the autumn half-term break will be expanded to two weeks.

In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts, lessons and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience, getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.

Next week, the Welsh Government will publish guidance to support schools, as well as further and higher education institutions. This will include information on managing their facilities and logistical arrangements, including buildings, resources, cleaning and transport.

The Government is also today publishing a paper from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, representing the latest understanding of the virus with respect to children and education.

Further Education colleges are ensuring that appropriate measures are being taken to re-open for face-to-face learning from 15 June. They will prioritise those students requiring licence to practice assessments and vulnerable learners. This follows close working with Government and the joint trade unions.

Guidance for childcare providers will also be published in the next week, supporting them to increase the numbers of children in attendance alongside schools.

Kirsty Williams said:

“My announcement today gives schools three and a half weeks to continue preparing for the next phase.

“We will use the last weeks of the summer term to make sure pupils, staff and parents are prepared – mentally, emotionally and practically – for the new normal in September.

“29 June means there will have been one full month of test, trace and protect, which will continue to expand. I can also announce that teachers will be a priority group in our new antibody-testing programme. As we continue to keep Wales safe, this approach will be critical.

“The evolving science suggests that warm weather and sunlight gives us the best opportunity to ensure more time in school. Waiting until September would mean almost half a year without schooling. That would be to the detriment to the wellbeing, learning progress and mental health of our young people.

“This is and has been a worrying period for us all. I know that many will feel apprehensive. We have not rushed this work and this decision.

“The three and a half week period before the next phase also gives us time to keep watch on developments elsewhere and provides further check-points to review evidence and the roll-out of testing.

“This is the best practical option that meets my five principles which underpin my decision making.

“I am also convinced that it is only by returning to their own school that we will see increased attendance from our more vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“Working together we will secure equity and excellence for pupils as they check in, catch up, and prepare for summer and September.”

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