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Housing officer Amanda raises £6,000 in brave Channel swim

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A WOMAN’S determination not to let a disability affect how she lives her life has culminated in her swimming the English Channel.

Thanks to 20 gruelling months of training, amazing support from her friends and family – and plenty of bara brith – Amanda Love completed the swim in August, raising more than £6,000 for charity in the process.

It was just five years after she underwent a full discectomy (the removal of a spinal disc) following years of back problems.

“The disc had gone through my spinal cord and wrapped itself around the nerves of my right leg,” said Amanda, a housing officer from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Gradually it deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t walk as it was too painful.”

The operation to remove the disc took place in early 2014 and two years later Amanda knew she had recovered as much as she was going to. Although her back was much better, the damage to her nerves meant she was left with very little feeling in her right leg and foot and was unable to continue running.

Amanda admits it wasn’t an easy period of her life. “It takes some time to mentally and physically accept and become used to the ‘new normal’,” she said.

But after a discussion with friend, ultra-runner Julie Evans, she decided that her disability did not have to define her have to mean giving up things she loved – and so they entered Ironman Cozumel in Mexico. “I know it sounds mad,” she said. “But it was very important to try and do the things that make me me.”

With her competitive swimming background, she and Julie figured that her speed in the swim would give her enough time in the bank to allow her to walk the marathon and still finish within the timeframe allowed, with her left leg compensating for her right leg on the bike ride.

Completing the event was a huge turning point and spurred her on to contemplate swimming The Channel – which she’d had in the back of her mind for a while.

“I knew I would be turning fifty this year. There is a period when your children are grown up enough not to need you so much and your parents are well enough, when you have a bit more time to yourself, and a friend said to me if you don’t do it now you might never get another chance!” said Amanda.

To swim The Channel you have to complete a qualifying six-hour sea swim in temperatures of less than 16 degrees which Amanda completed in October 2018. She then embarked on 20 months of training, consisting of pool swimming at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, sea swimming, and strength and conditioning at Bfit Health and Fitness Facility in Milford Haven.

At least once each week, she would put in a long training day where she would get up at 4.30am and go to Bfit for a 45 minute strength and conditioning session before arriving at the pool at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre just after 6am, where she would swim for four to five hours (12 km).

“That was the winter training,” she said. “As the sea temperature warmed up, I did more sea swimming to get used to the cold because wetsuits are not allowed. Some of the longest training swims were six hour swims from Broad Haven, around Stack Rocks, across to the far end of Newgale and back to Broad Haven, about 12 miles in total and again the following day.”

Her friend Mel Miles, who works in education at Pembrokeshire County Council, would support Amanda’s sea swims by kayaking beside her, helping with the feeding regime and not least protecting her from curious sea-life.

“Without Mel the Channel swim wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Mel would hold her paddle over me when the fulmars decided to divebomb me. The wildlife were very interested in me; a gull took a sandwich out my hand once and a seal followed me for about 45 minutes, every so often nudging the soles of my feet. Mel would also throw food and drink at me, so we could work out what I could stomach whilst swimming. Initially eating as I swam would make me quite sick but we worked out through trial and error what would provide the energy I needed for endurance swimming and was palatable in the sea.”

Amanda’s training swims also included a swim circumnavigating Ramsey Island with friend David Astins, a six hour endurance race in a lake in Reading and a 14 km swimming race in the river Thames, culminating in her final week of training which saw her A woman’s determination not to let a disability affect how she lives her life has culminated in her swimming the English Channel.

Thanks to 20 gruelling months of training, amazing support from her friends and family – and plenty of bara brith – Amanda Love completed the swim in August, raising more than £6,000 for charity in the process.

It was just five years after she underwent a full discectomy (the removal of a spinal disc) following years of back problems.

“The disc had gone through my spinal cord and wrapped itself around the nerves of my right leg,” said Amanda, a housing officer from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Gradually it deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t walk as it was too painful.”

The operation to remove the disc took place in early 2014 and two years later Amanda knew she had recovered as much as she was going to. Although her back was much better, the damage to her nerves meant she was left with very little feeling in her right leg and foot and was unable to continue running.

Amanda admits it wasn’t an easy period of her life. “It takes some time to mentally and physically accept and become used to the ‘new normal’,” she said.

But after a discussion with friend, ultra-runner Julie Evans, she decided that her disability did not have to define her have to mean giving up things she loved – and so they entered Ironman Cozumel in Mexico. “I know it sounds mad,” she said. “But it was very important to try and do the things that make me me.”

With her competitive swimming background, she and Julie figured that her speed in the swim would give her enough time in the bank to allow her to walk the marathon and still finish within the timeframe allowed, with her left leg compensating for her right leg on the bike ride.

Completing the event was a huge turning point and spurred her on to contemplate swimming The Channel – which she’d had in the back of her mind for a while.

“I knew I would be turning fifty this year. There is a period when your children are grown up enough not to need you so much and your parents are well enough, when you have a bit more time to yourself, and a friend said to me if you don’t do it now you might never get another chance!” said Amanda.

To swim The Channel you have to complete a qualifying six-hour sea swim in temperatures of less than 16 degrees which Amanda completed in October 2018. She then embarked on 20 months of training, consisting of pool swimming at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, sea swimming, and strength and conditioning at Bfit Health and Fitness Facility in Milford Haven.

At least once each week, she would put in a long training day where she would get up at 4.30am and go to Bfit for a 45 minute strength and conditioning session before arriving at the pool at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre just after 6am, where she would swim for four to five hours (12 km).

“That was the winter training,” she said. “As the sea temperature warmed up, I did more sea swimming to get used to the cold because wetsuits are not allowed. Some of the longest training swims were six hour swims from Broad Haven, around Stack Rocks, across to the far end of Newgale and back to Broad Haven, about 12 miles in total and again the following day.”

Her friend Mel Miles, who works in education at Pembrokeshire County Council, would support Amanda’s sea swims by kayaking beside her, helping with the feeding regime and not least protecting her from curious sea-life.

“Without Mel the Channel swim wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Mel would hold her paddle over me when the fulmars decided to divebomb me. The wildlife were very interested in me; a gull took a sandwich out my hand once and a seal followed me for about 45 minutes, every so often nudging the soles of my feet. Mel would also throw food and drink at me, so we could work out what I could stomach whilst swimming. Initially eating as I swam would make me quite sick but we worked out through trial and error what would provide the energy I needed for endurance swimming and was palatable in the sea.”

Amanda’s training swims also included a swim circumnavigating Ramsey Island with friend David Astins, a six hour endurance race in a lake in Reading and a 14 km swimming race in the river Thames, culminating in her final week of training which saw her

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Pembroke: Leave teenage girls alone, sex offender told

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A SEX OFFENDER from Ashdale Lane, Pembroke has been jailed for repeatedly ignoring court orders which were put in place to protect young girls.
Gareth Thomas James Flynn, aged 41, frightened a 14-year-old girl who refused to get off a bus in case he managed to find out where she lived.
41-year-old Gareth Thomas James Flynn scared a 14-year-old girl because she refused to get of a bus, frightened he would learn her address.
He admitted breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and was jailed today for a year.
Sitting at Swansea Crown Court, Judge Geraint Walters berated the defendant.  His Honour said that Flynn had shown a complete disregard for the original SHPO.
The judge said: “Leave teenage girls alone. They are scared of you”
He told Flynn he would be on licence for 12 months after his release from prison, and he reminded him that the SHPO remained in place.

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Narberth: ‘My mum’s camper was stolen and found burned out down the road’

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A CAMPER VAN stolen on Thursday night in Narberth was found burned a short distance from where it was parked, the owner’s son has said.

Zachary Bunce posted an appeal on Facebook on Friday morning saying: “Can every single one of my friends please share this my mother’s Ford transit campervan was stolen last night in the Narberth area can people please be on the lookout for this van as my mother is completely heartbroken.”

But three hours later he updated the post to say: “Thank you everyone who shared, sadly my mums van was driven 1.3 miles down the road and driven into a ditch and burnt it out.

Mr Bunce has said on that the incident has been captured on CCTV, and took place at 2.10am in the morning (Jan 24).
Anyone with any information should contact the police on 101.

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Hook: Police and school confirm death of boy, 13

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POLICE are investigating the sudden death of a 13-year-old boy from Hook on Wednesday (Jan 22)

A police spokesman told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 13-year-old boy, from the Hook area of Pembrokeshire.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time. Next of kin have been advised and are being supported.”

A letter was sent out to parents and carers by Haverfordwest High VC School headteacher Jane Harries following the death. The letter reads: “It is with great sadness that I have to inform you about the sudden death of a year nine pupil at our school.

“The children in Year nine were told this morning by myself and other pupils were told by their teachers during their lesson this afternoon. The full detail surrounding the death are not known at this stage – but children have been reassured that this is something that does not happen very often. Your child may or may not want to talk bout it, but it is likely that he/she will need your special care, attention and reassurance at this difficult time.

“We are deeply affected by the death, but we are trying, for the children’s sake, to keep the school as normal as possible over the coming days, whilst allowing the children opportunities to talk about the pupil if they wish to. Trained support staff and counsellors are helping to support us through this difficult time. If you feel that your child needs extra support, please let us know.

“Our thoughts are with the pupil’s family at this difficult time, and the whole school community sends them our sincerest sympathy and support. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s achievement leader, or Miss Thomas, pastoral support manager. Paul Lucas, chairman of the governing body at Haverfordwest High VC School, said: “The governors are shocked at the tragic loss of this young student. The family are in our thoughts at this very sad time.”

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