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Four men from Pembrokeshire were first casualties of WW1

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amp-rseaTHIS week marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Among the first casualties on August 6, 1914, were four people aboard the Pembroke Dock-built HMS Amphion who were from Pembrokeshire. They are David Craig, Albert Martin, Alfred Ernest Simmons and James Henry Skyrme. Historian and author Steve John, who has created the West Wales War Memorial Project online, has researched the names of five men who died in those first days. David Craig, from St Dogmaels, was Leading Seaman for the Royal Navy.

He was born in Glasgow on May 24, 1875, and married prior to the war and lived with his wife Eleanor at the Watch House near the Ferry Inn in St Dogmaels. On the morning of August 6, 1914, HMS Amphion was returning from a search of the English Channel when she struck a mine that had been laid the previous day. The bridge and foredeck of the boat were destroyed and the engines were shut off leaving her helplessly drifting into more mines which blew her up resulting in the loss of 150 of her crew. David is commemorated alongside his shipmates on the Plymouth Naval memorial in Devon.

Albert Martin, stoker, a 26-yearold from Milford Haven also died. He was a pre-war regular in the Royal Navy, serving aboard HMS Amphion. Albert was one of the men killed when the mine exploded, becoming one of the very first British casualties of the Great War. He was buried at Shotley (St Mary) Churchyard, Suffolk. Alfred Ernest Simmonds, Petty Officer Stoker, of Pembroke Dock was another. He was 39 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and at Bethany Chapel, Pembroke Dock. Also commemorated in Plymouth and Pembroke Dock is James Henry Skyrme, aged 33,of Llangwm, who also served as a pre-war regular in the Royal Navy, aboard HMS Amphion. All details were researched by Steve John and were found at http:// www.wwwmp.co.uk/

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Beach clean highlights tide of plastic pollution

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Preseli MP Stephen Crabb has praised the work of local volunteers after joining them for a beach clean in St Davids.

The clean at Porthlysgi Bay beach was organised jointly between environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy and EcoDewi as part of the Wales-wide Autumn Clean Cymru campaign, with over 15 volunteers litter picking while socially distancing.

EcoDewi is a new ecology and energy group on St David’s peninsula, working to increase the community’s capacity to produce its own, locally-owned sustainable energy.

Between Saturday’s beach clean and visitors piling litter in gateway, over 30 bags were collected. Rubbish included fishing wire, a steel toe cap shoe and plastic bottles, all of which will now be disposed of responsibly. While some litter is left behind on the beach by inconsiderate users, much of the rubbish now comes from the sea, as the tide washes in what has been thrown overboard by some sailing vessels.

Speaking following the clean, Stephen Crabb said: “Pembrokeshire’s beaches are some of the very best in the world, but litter remains a dangerous and unsightly problem. Beach cleans are a good way to protect and learn more about our natural environment and Saturday’s clean was a good example of many hands making light work.

“There have been positive steps by UK and Welsh Governments to reduce the volume of plastic pollution going into our waters, including a ban on microbeads, plastic straws and drink stirrers. But last weekend’s beach clean was a real eye opener and it is clear that more action is needed.

“My thanks to Keep Wales Tidy and EcoDewi for organising an excellent beach clean at one of Pembrokeshire’s hidden gem beaches. Anyone can volunteer for a beach clean and I look forward to taking part in another in the near future.”

Jeremy Wadia of EcoDewi said: “Community collaboration is key to fighting the current ecological and climate crisis, and it’s always great to see people coming together to clean our local beaches which benefits both our marine & land wildlife and of course residents and visitors. Seeing local and regional leaders out on the ground inspiring others to get involved is really important, so we are very grateful to Stephen for joining us at Porthlysgi.”

Mari Williams, Keep Wales Tidy Pembrokeshire officer said:

“It was a brilliant event and great to have so many people turn up to volunteer. We’re all responsible for the health of our oceans, that’s why clean-ups like this are so important and do make a real and lasting difference to our marine environment. Our campaign Autumn Clean Cymru was a chance for us to take a stand and declare that litter is not acceptable.”

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Young Vlogger proving life has zero limitations

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Jacob Weakley "despite my disability, I'm always moving forwards"

A YOUNG Pembrokeshire local, Jacob Weakley, is on a mission to raise awareness about his disability Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia.

Jacob lives with the clear message that he will never let his disability define him, stating “regardless of my disability, I’m always moving forwards”

Twenty-four-year-old Jacob refuses to let anything get in his way and has a huge passion for travel and to experience the world. Jacob has travelled all over the globe alongside his girlfriend Laira to places such as Budapest, Malaysia and many other beautiful locations.

Through his travels he has shown repeatedly that he will not let anything get in his way.

Jacob and his girlfriend on one of their many adventures

Jacob created the Youtube channel and blog both under ‘theweakleypost’ to show his fun adventures and his fitness journey, after graduating from University after studying Sports Coaching and Development.

The young traveller stays positive about his disability, and keeps his followers up to date on all his latest news and adventures.

Jacob and his friends recently were able to raise money through an online fundraiser to get an essential ‘Triride’ for him to be able to have the freedom to go anywhere he would like to.

He had faced challenges within his local area due to steep hills and uneven roads making it harder for Jacob to have access to different places within Pembrokeshire, but due to his following and the power of social media he has been able to reach his goal.

Although Jacob has reached his goal, he explained that the left over funds raised will go towards helping charities which are supporting others who face challenges with disabilities within their everyday life.

In the future to come Jacob explained to Pembrokeshire Herald: ‘When we are able to travel freely again I look forward to going to even more places and documenting them through my Vlogs.”

To find out more about Jacob and his travels visit: https://theweakleypost.squarespace.com/abouttheweakleypost
Or follow his Instagram/ Youtube channel: theweakleypost

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Remembering the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge fifty years on

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TODAY, marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge, then called the Milford Haven Bridge, a day that would change bridge building forever.

The construction of the bridge was a staple of a then booming economy, with the original project estimated to be around £2m, but the flawed design caused devastation.

On June 2, 1970, disaster struck the small village of Pembroke Ferry, when a 150 tonne section of the part-built Cleddau Bridge collapsed, killing four men and injuring another 5 people.

At 2.16pm BST, as a section of the bridge was lowered onto the supporting structure below, villagers reported hearing a groaning sound followed by an engulfing cloud of red dust.

The first officer on the scene was dad of two, PC Phil Lloyd, having just clocked into his shift at Pembroke Dock Station when the fire siren sounded.

Recalling the day, Phil, 74 said “I presumed it was just another chimney fire.”

Then at 2.20pm Phil received a call from his mother in law, she lived 30 metres below the bridge.

“When I went into the switchboard the fella said ‘your mother-in-law is on the phone’.”

“She shouted, ‘the bridge has come down!’ and i said ‘don’t be so dull’.”

PC Lloyd’s mother-in-law, Ivy Lewis, lived directly under the bridge, in Pembroke Ferry, on the south side of the river.

With the oil refineries, Milford Haven Port, all being developed in the county, the bridge was a much needed asset, which would give better accessibility and cut down the 20-mile round trip for vehicles.

Arriving at the scene, Phil described it as “utter pandemonium”.

At the time of the collapse, the local gas man was attending Mrs Lewis’ property. She originally assumed that he “had blown the house up”.

It was only when stepping into her garden could she fathom the true cause of the commotion. The whole section of the bridge was resting at a 45-degree angle in her garden.

Astonishly the bridge narrowly missed the below properties. Although it had completely demolished Phil’s aunties coal shed and outdoor toilet.

“Luckily there was a gap between her house and her sister’s house which is where the bridge came down.” Phil said.

“One man had been killed at the scene and two others were taken to hospital but died later. Then when the bridge was lifted, we found another man underneath.”

Construction of the box-section bridge was put on halt immediately.

Within 18 month’s bridges in Germany and Australia, both of the same ill-fated design collapsed with fatal consequences.

The cause of the collapse was later revealed that the diaphragm above the pier of the bridge had not been thick enough and buckled as the 230-foot section was cantilevered out.

Following an inquiry, a number of safety recommendations were made, which included the addition of 500ft of extra steel to strengthen the bridge.

In 1995, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster a memorial plaque to the four men who died, William Baxendale, George Hamilton, James Thompson and local man Evan Phillips.was unveiled.

Unfortunately the plaque was later stolen and has not yet been replaced.

The completed Cleddau Bridge reopened in 1975, making it the largest unsupported span in Europe although costs had escalated to £12m upon completion.

The disaster which shook the small village, laid the foundations for which a new standard was developed in the box girder bridge design.

The Cleddau collapse was regarded as the last major bridge disaster in the UK.

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