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The Britpop legend and the cheese maker

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Tech savvy: O2 helps businesses work smarter with Alex.

Tech savvy: O2 helps businesses work smarter with Alex.

O2 BUSINESS is launching a significant new offering of bespoke products and free expertise from O2 Gurus for small business owners, under a £20m investment to help British businesses go digital. To mark the launch, O2 has shown one of the country’s best known small businesses – the cheese business of Blur bassist Alex James  ways to help take the hassle out of technology.

The launch follows new research from O2 Business which reveals that while over three quarters (81%) of small business owners in Wales appreciate ‘techpertise’ can make their business more efficient and successful, the majority feel they lack the time, money and understanding to make the most of technology. With 78% stating that tech solutions are often too expensive and present a barrier to business growth, almost half (43%) admitted to searching online for help. To show how free help is at your fingertips, O2 Business sent an O2 Guru to Alex James’ farm to help him and his team work smarter from both the office and the top of a cherry picker: “My parents thought I was mad to join a band and Blur thought I was mad to start a cheese business.

If you have a passion – go for it. Unfortunately, that passion can mean, like me, you’re not that good with spreadsheets or mastering remote working. My one greatest piece of advice is – don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Alex James. Like many SoHo (Small Office, Home Office) business owners, Alex James faces day-to-day challenges in keeping a small business running. Working with a small team who are based across the country, including his Oxfordshire farm, Alex has found keeping everyone continuously updated problematic.

The O2 Guru helped him solve the issue with one of its newly launched products, Office 365, which allows employees to create and edit documents from any device, even when they are away from the office. As a result, Alex is now able to keep an eye on the balance sheet whether he’s at his farm or on a tour bus on the other side of the world. Alex said: “Cheese making is a really traditional business, but I know that technology should have its place in all businesses nowadays, including my own. One of the problems is that new business owners like myself are often confused about what’s available and the difference it will make, but tech shouldn’t be ignored. I would encourage any business owner to seek advice, trust in the tech and see the positive impact on their business.”

Recognising that the availability of technology is only half the issue when it comes to small businesses benefitting from the digital world, O2 Business has introduced specificallytrained over 200 O2 Gurus and advisors to provide free, impartial tech advice. They are on hand from today in O2 stores across the country, online through web chat and on the phone. O2’s £20m investment over two years is the culmination of the global development of the digital platform – which allows customers to choose pick and mix the devices, airtime plans and apps they want, all on one bill – as well as the recruitment and training of O2 Gurus and a marketing campaign to promote the launch.

Ben Dowd, O2’s Business Director added: “At O2 we know that no two small businesses are the same, and the technology which will help each business fulfil their full potential varies widely. We want to treat each small business as an individual, which is why we offer a ‘Pick and Mix’ approach to our entire new range of products and services. We want to help more small businesses to grow and thrive in an increasingly digital Britain, and we believe a key step is to take the hassle out of technology. We see first-hand how the right tech can help any company work smarter, faster and more efficiently, and we are proud to be making such a significant investment in the cause.” O2’s offering is unique in that it allows small business customers to pick and choose from a range of products and services, to create a bespoke package that is most beneficial for them.

Launching within the range is: Box – an app allowing small businesses to access their content on any device and from any location McAfee Multi Access – helping protect small businesses against a range of threats such as malware, data loss, identity theft and other fraudulent activity across multiple devices Microsoft Office 365 – giving small businesses access to the familiar Office desktop apps on any device, all based in the cloud Just Call Me – a conference calling product, which turns a mobile number into an audio conference bridge (coming soon) TuGo for Business – allowing for wifi calls over smartphones, tablets and desktops (coming soon)

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There’s Treasure at the end of the rainbow for Saundersfoot!

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Funding from Welsh Government of £10,000 is to be awarded to Saundersfoot

The West Wales Care Partnership (WWCP) is launching three Participatory Budgeting pilots, one each in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion, and locally in Saundersfoot.  Funded through the Welsh Assembly Government’s Transformation Fund, these pilots aim to explore a different way to manage public money and help to build stronger communities. Community members decide how part of a budget will be spent, by engaging with local people to find out what matters most to them and to generate ideas to achieve them.

This method empowers local people to play a key role in deciding how public money is spent on activities, projects, and services in their communities. In practice, this means community and voluntary groups can apply for funding to deliver projects of value to local people, and local people decide where the funding goes.

Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS) is working in partnership with a local steering group to make this happen in Saundersfoot as part of this Pembrokeshire pilot project. Saundersfoot was selected due to the fantastic work accomplished during the pandemic by the Saundersfoot Connect Facebook group and the appetite from the village for positive community action.

Funding from the Welsh Government of £10,000 is to be awarded to the village, and the community will be given the opportunity to decide what are the priorities, where and how it will be spent. An informal steering group to develop the pilot has been set up under the project title Saundersfoot Community Treasure Chest – Your Cash Your Voice, Your Choice.

Local businesses are also being asked to consider making a financial contribution to increase the money available in the Community Treasure Chest.

Three community engagement events have been organised to take place from 10am – 1pm at the Regency Hall on the 28th September and the 5th & 12th October. Come along to find out more information, and to tell us what matters to you. There will also be an opportunity to have your say on the Connect Saundersfoot Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/SaundersfootConnect Community members will asked to decide what will be the priorities and eligibility criteria, and surgeries will be organised to offer support and information to anyone who wishes to apply.

Chairman of the Steering Group and County Councillor for Saundersfoot Cllr. Phil Baker said: “We are delighted that the Village had been chosen to deliver a participatory budgeting project. It is a recognition of the exceptional volunteering effort that Saundersfoot has witnessed previously and brought into sharper focus during the Covid pandemic. The project is an exciting way for community groups to apply for funding for existing and new projects in the Village. I would take this opportunity to thank PAVS for putting us forward for this £10,000 pilot project.”

Most importantly the power is in the community’s hands. Once applications have been received there will be a community event, which will give the voting power to the community. Local people will be given the voice to decide which projects are prioritised in Saundersfoot.

For more information or to get involved please contact Vanessa John at PAVS development@pavs.org.uk or Chairman of the Steering Group Cllr. Phil Baker

cllr.phil.baker@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

Look out for more information and ensure you’re part of the next chapter for Saundersfoot.

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4 Young Friends 7 marathons in 7 days along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

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On 12th September, 4 childhood friends will set off to complete 7 marathons in 7 days to Conquer the Coast in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Rufus McGrath, Geordie Wainwright, Jamie Prowse and Sam Lebus, all in their early twenties, aim to raise £40,000 for mental health charity CALM, the ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably’ which is leading a movement against suicide – particularly amongst young men.

The coastal path, which they will be running, covers 184 miles. It stretches from St Dogmaels in the north of Pembrokeshire to Amroth in the south. They will be covering the distance together, running 7 marathons in 7 days. The route has a total elevation change of 35,000ft, which is greater than the height of Everest.

Rufus McGrath comments: “In these odd times, I know that people can go for a run or bike ride or do exercise to clear their head, but it is only treating the short-term solution. CALM can view each individual from a neutral standpoint, calmly and dispassionately, and the fact that CALM is free is incredibly important in tackling this societal issue.

“We chose Wales and the Pembroke coast for this run as it is so astonishingly beautiful: the sea, the cliffs, the surrounding farmland and the totally awesome coastal paths. All four of us have felt so much goodwill locally and, though it is a daunting prospect, we are so lucky to be undertaking this challenge here in Wales.”

They aim to raise £40,000 for mental health charity CALM, the ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably’

Geordie Wainwright – runner 2: “Running is often a solitary activity, so it’s great to feel a sense of togetherness by working together towards a common goal. Doing this challenge has already helped me develop a different attitude towards mental health. I now make a conscious effort to ask my friends how they’re doing so I can be there for them.”

Jamie Prowse – runner 3: “The challenge itself will be incredibly mentally tough, which aligns it with the charity we have chosen. It is a cause that is relatable to each and every one of us who has undergone a personal mental health battle or knows a loved one who has. It will undoubtedly test not only our physical endurance but also our mental fortitude like never before.” 

Sam Lebus – runner 4: “I’m doing this challenge because the new focus on mental health illnesses has made me more aware of how problematic the current global circumstances can be for people everywhere. Running, for me, has been a real source of strength. It’s provided a focus when life feels messy and is often the antidote to a stressful day. I love the rhythmic movement and the power and control one feels when you’re moving your body through the motions.”

For more info on the challenge:

CALM website

Conquer the Coast JustGiving Site

Conquer the Coast Instagram Site – @conquerthecoast2021

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School road safety improvements made following parents’ requests

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Cllr Viv Stoddart and Gelliswick VC School Headteacher Nick Dyer with the new bollards and safety rails.

A SERIES of road safety improvements have been made at Gelliswick VC School in Milford Haven.

Bollards and safety rails were installed over the summer following concerns about parking on pavements on the approach to the school.

Work was completed in August in time for the start of the new term in response to requests from the local County Councillor and parents.

Viv Stoddart is the County Councillor for the Hubberston Ward. She welcomed the Council’s work as “a very positive start to the autumn term at Gelliswick VC School.”

Cllr Stoddart added: “I am pleased the authority has prioritised this issue as a result of listening to my and the community’s concerns regarding the dangerous practice of some drivers parking on the pavement at the school’s busy drop off and pick up times. 

“During a site meeting in the spring at pick up time, parents were very vocal on airing their concerns about pavement parking.

“There are also long-standing issues about the traffic dangers posed by the limited parking available for staff, visitors, and parents to the 500 pupil-strong school. 

“Meetings with stakeholders has resulted in the Authority reviewing various options to mitigate the situation. 

“I hope the siting of the pavement safety rails is just the start of additional improvements that the authority is considering to progress in the autumn.”

Cllr Phil Baker, the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, confirmed further adaptations are under review at the site.

This includes examining the current configuration of the car park opposite the school and considering time-limited parking bays.

Cllr Baker added: “I’m pleased to see that these improvements have been completed in time for the new term.

“The safety of young people attending school is of the highest priority and we thank parents and the local Councillor for raising the issues so they could be dealt with effectively.”

Gelliswick VC School Headteacher Nick Dyer, added: “Gelliswick School is very pleased to see the bollards and railings installed at the top of Gelliswick Hill. 

“This has been the most recent stage in working with our partners in Pembrokeshire County Council to make Gelliswick Road safer for our children.”

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