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Adapting to change Welsh food producers rise to the challenge of a ‘New World’

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It may not quite be ‘business as usual’ for small food and drink producers in Wales. Still, many are turning to alternative ways, and collaborating with fellow producers to maintain sales.

Supporting producers through these often difficult and rapid changes is Cywain – a programme designed and developed by Menter a Busnes that is dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector.

Cywain’s Marketing and Events Team Leader, Alex James says: “The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have hit many food and drink producers particularly hard. But there are positive stories to be highlighted too.

“Through Cywain’s continued work with producers, we know how hard they are working to adapt their business plans and services to enable them to continue to provide customers with fantastic Welsh produce.

“For some it has meant changing the way they work, while others have come together to create new opportunities – and have embraced the spirit of ‘clustering’ which Cywain already fosters as the facilitator for the Fine Food Cluster Wales.

“So, we thought we’d share some of the stories about producers who have
successfully taken up the challenge of operating in this ‘new world’ we are living in. and encourage the public to shop local.”

Cywain’s drive to highlight ‘good news’ stories follows on from the launch of its online Producer Map (https://menterabusnes.cymru/cywain/en/our-producers/ ). The specially created map pinpoints a host of excellent food and drink producers from across Wales who can provide an online shop and delivery service.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “It is heartening to hear how producers and small food and drink companies are adapting their businesses at this time – and I am sure there will be more uplifting and positive stories to come.

“By thinking outside of the box, and by working and clustering together, producers are keeping their enterprises going and continuing to providing customers with wonderful Welsh food and drink.”

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CLAM’S CAKES
Over the past 40 years, Clam’s Cakes has gone from a Crickhowell coffee shop enterprise to a purpose-built bakery supplying hotels, restaurants, cafes and retailers across the UK.

Therefore, when the hospitality sector was closed down, Clam’s lost virtually all its orders overnight. Left with freezers full of its award-winning, hand-made cakes, the company swiftly came up with an alternative plan.

Production may have been temporarily halted, but the Phillips family – who founded the business – have taken to the road to bring people a slice of cheer to people currently unable to leave their homes.

Clam’s are now delivering cakes and biscuits to customers living within a 10-mile radius of Crickhowell.

The cake selection changes weekly, with the list published on the company’s Facebook page. Orders are then placed and paid for by phone and delivered to the customer’s doorstep.

“It’s just been our family doing it, but people have been very grateful,” says
proprietor, Jane Phillips “we’ve had so many compliments. My son, Lewis, has been making bread so that we can offer customers loaves with their orders. We’ve got a warehouse of flour, so we’ve added flour, fresh eggs and butter to the selection. It’s helping our egg supplier too.”

Also, the family has donated personal protective equipment (PPE) normally used in their bakery to a local health centre. And they have been delivering cakes to hospitals and frontline workers. On a personal note, Jane has found the telephone contact with customers rewarding experience too.

“I’ve found some customers who are finding isolation challenging enjoy having a chat when they ring up with their order.

“We may not be making much of a profit at the moment, but we are making people happy.”
More information: www.clamscakes.co.uk

JACK AND AMELIE
Unable to launch their new children’s meal enterprise as planned, Sophie Brown and Abi Dymmock are instead concentrating on building a customer base around their native Cardiff.

The two friends came up with the idea of creating ‘grown-up food for kids’ after their own experiences of trying to juggle the demands of work and a young family. They named the company after their children – ‘Jack and Amelie’.

Says Sophie, “While on maternity leave, we had time to prepare new and varied meals for our children. But on returning to work, this became harder to fit in, and we found there wasn’t a lot of ready prepared food available to help with those busy
times.”

Their dishes are twists on family favourites “packed with veggies”. They offer variety and balance, with meat, vegetarian and vegan-friendly choices. The frozen meals include Rainbow Thai Curry with Lentils and Veggies, Caponata Stew with Herby Turkey Meatballs, Beef Casserole with Root Veggies.

However, the friends’ plans to unveil the Jack and Amelie range at a major UK food and drink trade event last month were scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Undeterred, and utilising the skills from their previous careers in project
management, they swiftly adapted to the situation – and are using their social media channels (@jackandamelie) to keep in touch with customers.

“We’d found a great manufacturer, and we were ramping up production, but we’ve had to change – fortunately in our previous jobs, we were used to pivoting ideas. So, for now, instead of our original plan of supplying retailers, we are selling direct to the public around Cardiff.

“We’re making contactless deliveries and establishing contact with parents. We’ve had great feedback, especially from parents who are now having to look after their children while also working from home.”
More information: www.jackandamelie.co.uk

TŶ TANGLWYST DAIRY
Once a familiar sight, doorstep milk deliveries are proving to be a vital service for many people who are self-isolating.

For south Wales dairy, Tŷ Tangwlyst, doorstep milk deliveries are also helping to keep open an essential outlet for the farm’s award-winning dairy produce.

The Lougher family has long been supplying milk from their 110-strong herd of Pedigree Holstein dairy cattle to customers’ doorsteps around a ten-mile radius of the farm in Pyle, near Bridgend.

Now, as their round gets bigger, it is even prompting the business to expand its workforce.

“With premises such as schools, offices closed, the commercial and wholesale side of our business has taken a downturn. However, our domestic deliveries have increased,” says dairy farmer Rhys Lougher, whose family have been farming at Tŷ Tanglwyst for several generations.

“Demand for doorstep deliveries has been such we’ve had to extend our rounds. As a result, we’ve created extra roles in the company, and when our commercial trade

does come back, we’ll be looking to take on additional staff.
“We’re a small family business with dedicated, hard-working employees. Luckily, we’ve been able to very quickly adapt to changes to our customer base and respond to people’s needs.”

The award-winning business, which produces butter and cream too, also supplies customers with eggs and fruit juice. But in these challenging times, some changes have had to be made to meet demand.

Says Rhys, “There has been a shortage of cardboard egg boxes, so we have had to use plastic, and we’re buying fruit juice in bulk. With more people baking at home there has been a surge in orders for butter – so that has been tight at times.” Orders are placed via Facebook and social media, and for many customers, Tŷ Tanglwyst’s deliveries are particularly welcome.

“People have said how grateful they are for the deliveries and that it is helping them while they have to stay at home. Many people have also said they can taste the difference with our milk, and that when this is all over they will keep ordering from
us.”
More information: www.tytanglwystdairy.com

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Flo Evans: Was Cooper responsible?

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‘THE PEMBROKESHIRE MURDERS’ has brought the crimes of local man, John Cooper, back to the forefront of our minds.
A notorious and brutal man, his crime spree, which could have started as early as 1961, would go on to leave 4 people dead, 30 homes burgled and 2 serious sexual assaults.

But now many local people worry that Cooper, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011, may have been responsible for more.

This weeks ‘The Pembrokeshire Herald’ printed edition takes an in-depth look at 2 mysterious deaths in Llangolman, but there’s another death far closer to Cooper’s former stomping ground that the family believe could be connected to ‘The Bullseye Killer’.

At the time of her death in 1989, the same year that the Dixon’s met their grisly demise on the coastal path near Little Haven, frail 77 year old Flo Evans lived in Jordanston, a stones throw from Cooper’s house and well within his patch, in fact Mrs. Evans was mentioned by Cooper during police interviews.
It was later revealed that both John and Pat would visit Flo and John would do odd-jobs around her home.
Flo, it’s believed, liked the couple so much that she tried to help them secure land nearby for a small-holding.

Days after telling her friends that she was unable to find her house keys, Flo Evans was found dead in her bathtub, fully clothed.

Mrs. Evans death was, at the time, believed to be the result of her slipping and banging her head before falling into the bath and drowning.
Flo’s family never believed that version of events, talking to The Sun, Flo’s great-niece Rena Murphy said: “Aunt Flo was very set in her ways, she did things in a particular fashion.
“But the way she was found fully clothed in a cold bath and with no money in the house . . . we knew it was suspicious.”

Flo’s niece, Jean, said “Cooper knew my aunt. He visited her regularly and would have known there was always money in her handbag and more hidden upstairs.
“He lived across the fields from her and that fits with the way he approached his other victims.

“We could never understand why Aunt Flo was found dead in the bath with all her clothes on.
“She always lit a fire in the kitchen to heat the water before taking a bath and that fire wasn’t lit.”
“Money was missing, she didn’t have her false teeth in, the TV wasn’t switched off properly and the front door was open.”
Jean went on: “Hopefully, the police will now reopen the case. It would give us some closure.”

Rena finished by saying: “Even if they never charge him, we will still have the satisfaction of knowing he is locked up for good.”

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Puppies and ‘large quantity’ of alcohol stolen from Bramble Hall Farm

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DYFED POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of four puppies and a large quantity of alcohol from Bramble Hall Farm, Pembroke Dock, at approximately 5pm on Sunday, January 10.

It is understood that one of the puppies, believed to be blind, was found wandering in Monkton and has been recovered.

A source close to the farm said they believed that the culprit or culprits may have driven to the farm in a retired local taxi.

Anyone with information about the theft or knows the whereabouts of the dogs please contact PC 773 quoting reference DPP/0053/10/01/2021/01/C.

This can be done online at: http://orlo.uk/0GKuU, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

(Photo: Police at Bramble Hall Farm as part of a previous investigation into animal welfare. Herald photographer)

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Business grants: Find answers to frequently asked questions

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A SERIES of frequently asked questions (FAQs) relating to Covid-19 business grants has been put together by Pembrokeshire County Council.

It is hoped the FAQs will answer many of the queries being received from local businesses.

Understandably, given the number of different grants schemes that have been announced by the Welsh Government over the last year there have been a lot of questions about which grant to apply for, how the money will be distributed, anticipated timescales for payments etc.

The current grants being processed are the Restrictions Grants. The Firebreak grants have now closed.

One of the most frequent questions received is about the automatic payments of the Non Domestic Rates related grant.

The FAQs explain that where possible automatic payments for the Restrictions Grant were made at the end of December and start of January.

All automatic payments have now been processed.

If you have not received an automatic payment relating to the Non Domestic Rates grant then you will need to apply.

The Council has a dedicated team working hard to process the grants to ensure that the money reaches Pembrokeshire businesses as soon as possible.

The FAQs can be found here https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support under the Restrictions Business Fund heading.

Further information on business grants and how to apply can be found via the same link.

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