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Mental health charity founder awarded Welsh legend status

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A PEMBROKESHIRE woman, who set up a mental health charity after her husband tragically took his own life, has received prestigious National Lottery Award for her work in supporting people in rural communities with poor mental health.

As part of the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards, Emma Picton-Jones from Clarbeston near Haverfordwest has been awarded one of only 12 prestigious Local Legend Awards in the whole UK and is the only recipient from Wales.

To celebrate her accolade, 31-year-old Emma will join a host of stars from the world of stage and screen at the glittering 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards show which will be filmed for BBC One at BBC White City Studios in London later this month (Tuesday, Oct 15).

The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the UK’s favourite National Lottery funded people and projects and they celebrate the inspirational exploits of the ordinary people who do extraordinary things with National Lottery support.

Mother of three, Emma, has received the prestigious National Lottery Local Legend Award for her tireless work in supporting farmers and people in rural communities throughout the country with poor mental health. In July 2016, Emma’s 34-year-old husband, Daniel Picton-Jones, an agricultural contractor, tragically took his own life after battling with depression and anxiety.

In the wake of Daniel’s death, Emma, a farmer’s daughter, set up The DPJ Foundation – named after Daniel’s initials. The group encourages people in farming communities to open up about mental health, especially men working in the agricultural sector. Agriculture carries one of the highest rates of suicide and the foundation aims to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health and provide support services.

Two grants a mounting to £20,000 from the National Lottery over the last two years has enabled The DPJ foundation to launch and raise awareness of Share the Load – a 24/7 telephone and counselling service for people with mental health problems in rural communities.

“I was naive before Daniel’s death,” said Emma, who has raised around £150,000 to provide mental health training to farming industry professionals to help them identify symptoms in people and provide support.

“I didn’t realise the extent of the issues in our community. When I started talking to people, everyone knew someone who had died through suicide. I needed to do something positive. Farming is a traditional sector and people can be very isolated. Farmers also work long hours which can often take its toll on them and they are more likely to be resistant towards seeking support. I also think people tend not to talk about mental health and keep it to themselves a lot more in rural communities. Not everyone wants to admit to their neighbours that they’re suffering. All these barriers prevent people from talking about their mental health problems. That’s why I set up the charity and I wanted to use Daniel’s story to break down the stigma.”

Delighted to receive the National Lottery’s Local Legend Award, Emma said: “It’s nice to be recognised for the work we’re doing as a collective to raise awareness of and support people with mental health problems in rural communities. The National Lottery funding has enabled us to take what we’re doing throughout the whole country and reach more people with our support.”

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, added: “It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that Local Legends like those awarded this year, can continue their work and inspire so many.

Emma Picton-Jones has done an incredible job in her local community of Pembrokeshire and beyond in raising awareness about mental health problems and tackling the stigma associated with mental health. The work she does is hugely impressive and vital for the people the foundation she set up has helped. They thoroughly deserve to be crowned a Local Legend in the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.”

The National Lottery Legend Award recognises a person that has made an outstanding contribution to their local area. They may have enhanced the local culture or quality of life by dedicating their skills, enthusiasm and energy to a diverse range of projects. The winners were selected by a panel made up of representatives from the National Lottery family.

Each Local Legend has been able to continue their amazing work with the help of National Lottery funding.

Since 1994, the National Lottery has made more than 5,500 millionaires but its primary purpose is all about giving to good causes. National Lottery players have raised more than £40 billion for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community over the past 25 years. Over than 565,000 National Lottery grants have been awarded across the UK, the equivalent of around 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district helping to strengthen communities, deliver sporting success, protect the environment, unleash local creative talent and look after the elderly and those at risk.

The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards will air on Thursday 19th November on BBC One- 25 years to the day the first National Lottery draw took place.

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Crabb takes up the reins as Wales Committee chair

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has been elected as the new chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee in Parliament.

Stephen Crabb, who served as Secretary of State for Wales from 2014 to 2016, secured support from across the political divide to be elected unopposed, and is looking forward to taking on the new role.

He received nominations from MPs drawn from of all parties in Wales as well as being supported by numerous other MPs from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The committee examines the work of the Wales Office and other UK departments in Wales. It takes evidence from Ministers, experts and other witnesses in order to make recommendations that benefit Wales and its economy.

Following the announcement, Stephen Crabb said: “This is an exciting opportunity and I’m grateful to have received support from such a wide cross-section the House of Commons, including from Conservative, Labour and Plaid Cymru MPs. By drawing on the knowledge and passion of MPs from all parties, the committee can help to shape a positive and optimistic agenda for Wales at a time of enormous change.

“Post-Brexit trade deals, the Shared Prosperity Fund, infrastructure investment and the climate challenge will all have an impact on Wales in the years ahead. The Welsh Affairs Committee will provide an essential forum for examining Government action in these areas and ensuring that the unique circumstances of Wales are properly understood.”

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Business

Old barracks promised new lease of life

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THE COMPANY which has purchased the iconic defensible barracks in Pembroke Dock have promised to breathe new life into the historic building.

The grade II fort was built in the Victorian era to provide a military defence to the Royal Dockyard. It was recently sold for an undisclosed sum to VR1844 Ltd. The company directors are listed as Jonathan McDermott, Emma Jane Morby, Lai Hang Seto, and Iain Trevor Walker.

VR1844Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: “VR1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time.

“Taking the view that it is only the right development for the right building at the right time it is our privilege to bring the building back into life, repair, nurture and give back to the local community, not to shut the main doors and lock the building away from people who are interested in it and its history.

“VR1844 Ltd who have brought this very under-loved and not looked after building, want to bring the buildings back into life with a mix of community uses, together with a number of dwellings that will breathe life back into the buildings.
“To do this VR1844 are already working hard with CADW, Pembrokeshire County Council and local councillors to bring forward a scheme that all parties can support, and the community can once again be proud of.”

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Town councillors object to hotel on health and safety grounds

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TOWN COUNCILLORS in Milford Haven have unanimously voted to object to a planning application my Milford Haven Port Authority to build a 100-bedroom hotel on Milford Docks.
Town Mayor Terry Davies said he had had numerous requests from members of the public to try to get it refused.
Several members of the public were at the meeting to watch, including Ian Bannister and his daughter and James Kershaw – whose homes were seriously flooded in 2018 causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Cllr Lynne Turner told councillors: “We look forward to the development of the marina and the town desperately needs a hotel, but we have been contacted by a number of representatives from the Lower Priory and Havens Head area who are very concerned about the impact on flooding in their villages.
“The sewage waste from this development, and the change to water run-off, unless the Port Authority addresses the culverts in the area, then we have to assume that this must present a big risk to increased flooding.”
“We need to wait for the outcome of a report to see how the hotel will affect the villages”
“Then that report needs to be acted upon, if needs be.”
Cllr Rhys Sinnett said: “It is clear from the representation from the communities affected by the floods in 2018, they are still awaiting answers and actions from Pembrokeshire County Council to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.
“Whilst no action is being taken, I don’t see how we can support anything that might raise water levels and I suggest we need to delay this as long as possible.
“There is no reference in the report to the flooding in 2018 so how can we support an application that has faulty information.”
“We have to object to this application within the scope of planning rules, and I propose that we can object in terms of health and safety.
What happened in 2018 was a had a huge impact on the health and safety of those who were living in Lower Priory and in Havens Head.
Cllr Turner then formally that the town council object, as Cllr Sinnett suggested, to the application on health and safety grounds.
Cllr Sinnett added that because of the controversial nature of the application, he would be strongly suggesting the application go before the council’s planning committee.
“That would be best for local democracy” he said, adding “this application should not be decided by officers under their delegated powers.
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