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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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Residents invited to a Pembroke Tunnel drop-in event

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NETWORK RAIL is inviting residents to a drop-in event to find out more about essential maintenance work at Pembroke Tunnel, west Wales, which will improve the resilience and reliability of the railway for passengers.
The work includes essential vegetation management and rock netting in the area with work taking place for a week in December before the main work takes place in January and February.
Ahead of the work residents are invited to a drop-in event on Monday 18 November from 3pm to 6.30pm at the Dutton Suite, Pembroke Leisure Centre, Bush, Pembroke, SA71 4RJ.
No appointments are necessary and members of the project team will be on hand to answer any questions.
Then between Saturday 14 and Friday 20 December Network Rail will carry out drilling work overnight to install rock anchors at the top of the railway cutting as Network Rail prepare for the main phase of the works.
That will then take place between Sunday 19 January 2020 and Saturday 8 February 2020 where engineers will work day and night to install rock anchors and bolts before installing the rock netting across the railway cutting using road rail vehicles and specialist machinery.
Michael Pinkerton, scheme project manager for Wales and Borders, said:
“We would like to thank residents in advance for their patience and understanding as we carry out this work at Pembroke Tunnel.
“All this planned essential work forms part of our commitment to maintain a safe and reliable railway that is fit for use now and in the future. We are working closely with our partners to keep disruption to the local community to a minimum and encourage anyone wishing to find out more about this work to come along to our drop-in event later.”

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“We have a duty to win” says Crabb at campaign launch

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STEPHEN CRABB has launched his 2019 General Election campaign, highlighting the ‘duty and responsibility’ the Party has to win.
The Welsh Conservative candidate is hoping to be re-elected on December 12, having served as MP for the last 14 years.
At the launch at Martha’s Vineyard on Milford Marina, Stephen addressed a crowd of supporters with a promise to continue being a strong voice for Preseli Pembrokeshire in Westminster.
Stephen Crabb has consistently been one of the hardest working Welsh MPs with a strong track record of standing up for the local community.
Speaking at the campaign launch, Stephen said: “This General Election will be the most important for many years.
“We face a choice between the Conservatives who have a clear plan to unblock Brexit and improve Britain – or a coalition of opposition parties under Jeremy Corbyn, who want more years of delay and division.
“That is not in our national interest nor is it in the best interests of Pembrokeshire. The Conservative Party has a serious duty and responsibility to go out and win this election.
“Over the last 14 years I have fought tirelessly for local people and local businesses and if re-elected, I will continue to work hard to give Pembrokeshire a strong voice in Parliament.”
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Christmas shopping misery for west Wales rail users

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RAIL USERS in west Wales face festive misery due to engineering works which will close the Carmarthen to Milford Haven link for almost a month.

The line will be closed from this Sunday, until the Sunday before Christmas, at a time when many take the train to Swansea and Cardiff shopping for gifts for friends and family.

Signs have already been posted at railway stations confirming the delays.

Trains will be replaced by buses; rail officials have said.

A spokesman from Network Rail said: “Due to essential maintenance work, rail replacement bus services will run between Carmarthen and Milford Haven from Monday, November 18 until Sunday, December 22.

“Pembroke dock and Fishguard services are also affected on Sunday November 24.

“On all other days of operation, the train services will continue to stop at Whitland, Clynderwen and Clarbeston Road, Fishguard and Goodwick, Fishguard Harbour and stations to Pembroke Dock.

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

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