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Local author storming up Amazon book charts

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No wreck: Storming book charts.

No wreck: Storming book charts.

A PEMBROKESHIRE author has seen his first book go straight to the number one spot on an Amazon best sellers chart. James Hedley Phillips’ debut book, ‘Pembrokeshire Trilogy, Tales of the Sea’, contains many stories and facts collected by Mr Hedley in his, near half century, of diving experiences. The writer has found more than 30 wrecks in his diving career, including a 15th century trading ship and coal freighter, but he believes there are over 3000 known wrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast. His career in diving began in 1968 and he has dived in many waters, including those off of North Carolina, Florida, Israel, Greece, France and Sri Lanka, but states that none compare to the ‘unforgiving’ seas in West Wales, of which he said: “Pembrokeshire has always been infamous for the variety of its sea and wind patterns, so in previous centuries sail ships were utterly at the mercy of the elements.

But when you add in dangerous rocks then even modern vessels are vulnerable to a combination of features which you don’t quite find anywhere else in the world.” The Herald spoke exclusively with ‘Jim’ Hedley Phillips at his Pembrokeshire home, starting by asking him what had first inspired him to dive and how diving has changed over the years: “I am an outdoor person and my family are all from maritime areas, so i fancied scuba diving.To breath underwater, it’s fascinating. The equipment has improved tremendously, we used to use wet suits, which are cold, but now we use dry suits so you stay dry and don’t get cold and can stay diving for much longer.

The safety is much better and we don’t use twin hoses anymore and we have decompression computers that we wear.” The Herald asked what his most memorable finds were and what are the main dangers of diving: “Probably Entering a room in wreck that had sunk in the 30’s. The door had rotted and on the floor were the hinges, locks and handles. We found knives and forks on the floor where the table had rotted away and these were left. In Pembrokeshire, if I narrowed it down, I would say the ‘Langton Grange’ on Bell Rock, We went 150 foot down and there was row after row of dinner plates – the galley had disappeared but the plates were all in a row. If it was gold we had found, everybody would be coming out of the woodwork – you don’t get the problems if you don’t find treasure.

There is supposed to be the ‘Santa Cruz’ which was apparently sunk off Pembrokeshire with millions of pounds worth of gold on board. I looked at the archives, but there is no actual record of anything expensive sinking around here really.” “I have never found human remains diving, everything is recycled, it is a normal process. You don’t find bones but we have found buttons, on the ‘Nimrod, that sunk in 1860, buttons from the uniforms of the 45th regiment. Half a dozen soldiers went down – next to the cabinet where the booze was kept.” “The main risk is getting stuck.

You always dive with someone you have confidence in so if a problem occurs they can get you out of it. We don’t get a decompression problem because of the amount of slack water, so a diver can only go down for 20 minutes before the current starts up. The deeper you go go, though, the harder it is to concentrate, it’s called ‘nitrogen narcosis’. The nitrogen becomes like an alcohol and you can feel it coming on – but with years of experience you can push it away.” “There are no problems being attacked by a shark around here, seal pups, however, will pull your fins – they are just playing though! I have only seen sharks in Sri Lanka – they circled us but they didn’t come that close to us, fortunately.”

“It’s not just about shipwrecks – it’s looked at the pirates from Pembrokeshire – it’s more about stories and the people and characters. It’s worth a read just for the history of Skomer – 90% of the book will be about stuff of which people don’t know. Like the ‘Vendome’, it took 4 minutes to find the wreck, but just off it was a cave, I saw the biggest Conga eel I have ever seen, it was as thick as a telegraph pole. It had teeth the size of a Sabre Tooth tiger – I gallantly backed away! Finally, we asked if there were more volumes planned: “This first book took ten months, working some 12 hours a day, sorting it out, explaining the stories and getting it all together, but you get so involved that time means nothing. I have done 40 years of research, the book was very thick so I thought I would do it as a trilogy – all together it would be thicker than ‘War and Peace!’ I self published the book, paid for everything.”

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Business

Maintenance plant shutdown planned for Dragon LNG

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DRAGON LNG is scheduled to commence a 26-day planned maintenance shutdown at its Waterston
site from Monday May 17

The 24/7 shutdown will enable Dragon to carry out periodic maintenance and inspection, whilst
taking advantage of the opportunity to carry out some small improvement projects in a safe and controlled manner.

In addition to the normal preparations for a shutdown, which started in February 2020, Dragon
have been working extensively with Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council TTP team and UK Government, including the Department for Business, Energy
and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to align already in place COVID controls in preparation for our
additional workforce from 15 key vendors to support a successful event.

During the shutdown, there will be over 140 valve overhauls, approx. 960 COVID-19 LFD | PCR
tests carried out by a specialist company and over 200 virtual site safety inductions (enhanced with
COVID site controls).

With the works taking place within the site process area, any impact to our community, including
noise and dust disturbances is not anticipated. Please do note that flaring will be undertaken
during the shutdown.

A Dragon spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Whilst this is a major event at Dragon, the 1st shutdown since 2011, our top priority always is the safety of our team and community”.

Dragon continues to update its’ community and stakeholders on the progress of the work.

For any enquiries, please contact karen.wood@dragonlng.com / 01646 691730.

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Community

Encouraging responsible dog ownership so everyone enjoys their day at the beach

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is encouraging and promoting responsible dog ownership to ensure that we can all enjoy the County’s glorious beaches this summer.

With Covid-19 restrictions easing and lots of people expected to head to the coast, respecting one another and the natural environment will be more important than ever.

And, as a dog-friendly County, Pembrokeshire will be welcoming many four-legged friends too.

While visiting and enjoying Pembrokeshire beaches, dog lovers are asked to be mindful of some restrictions regarding their pets.

Between 1st May and 30th September dogs are not permitted on the North Beach in Tenby, or Whitesands Beach near St Davids. However, some other beaches have specific dog-free areas Designated.

Other areas indicate where dogs must be kept on leads.

The byelaws are in place so that everyone, dog owners and non-dog owners alike, can enjoy their time at the seaside.

Updated signage detailing the byelaws will be displayed on all beaches, main beach access and exit points, plus signs and flags being displayed and flown by lifeguards.

This will help pet owners to take their pets to the areas of beach designated for their enjoyment.

The signage used will be part of a wider campaign to encourage responsible behaviour while visiting and enjoying Pembrokeshire.

While engaging with members of the public, explaining the byelaws and encouraging responsible behaviour will always be the preference, there has also been a change to how the restrictions will be monitored.

Enforcement Teams will be working alongside the patrols currently undertaken to address littering and dog fouling in our communities.

Where appropriate, Fixed Penalty Notices of £75 can be issued. This can rise up to £500 if the matter were to be successfully prosecuted in court.

It is hoped that by engaging, advising and promoting the byelaws, supported by new signage, the Council can encourage people to be even more responsible dog owners.

This will result in a fun, positive experience for all beach users this Summer.

Pembrokeshire County Council Leader Cllr David Simpson, said: “Pembrokeshire can’t wait to welcome all those who have been dreaming about a walk on the beach throughout much of the past year.

“We know and understand that dogs are part of the family and taking your pets out to the beach for the day or a simple walk at the seaside is so important.

“We hope that by engaging and explaining we can promote responsible dog ownership this summer to ensure everyone can enjoy their time on our incredible coast.

“Please plan your visits and take the time to have a look at the maps of the dog free areas and other information available and we look forward to welcoming everyone, whether two legs or four, once again.”

For more information, see: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/dog-control

Maps of the dog free areas and further information can be downloaded at: https://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/downloads

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Community

Speedy Sanna’s second shot at Pembrokeshire Coast Path record

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A DETERMINED Pembrokeshire woman will reattempt to set a new record next week by running the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the fastest time.

Sanna Duthie, 32, from Milford Haven, is aiming to become only the second person to run the whole of the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Sanna attempted to break the record in August last year, but after clocking off more than 63 miles she had to abandon the record attempt for her own safety, due to the horrendous weather conditions.

She hopes to complete her run in under 64 hours and 32 minutes and is using the opportunity to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. Sanna has already smashed her fundraising target of £2,000 by raising an amazing £2,162.

The current record is held by Haverfordwest’s Richard Simpson, who completed the challenge in 2018.

As an ultra-runner, she has previously completed a 100-mile run in under 28 hours, but she is now hoping to exceed that and raise money for a charity close to her heart at the same time.

Reflecting on how she feels about re-attempting the challenge, Sanna, who likes to run ‘silly races’ said: “I am very nervous but feeling determined and strong. I’ve trained over 300 miles a month since March 2020, so I’ve done all the training I can. I would have liked to have gone to the gym, but I’ve done what I can at home. I’ve been out on difference sections of the coast path since restrictions have eased and it’s in good condition.”

Weather permitting Sanna, who is ‘overwhelmed’ with how much money she has raised, will start the challenge at 8am on Friday, 7 May at St Dogmaels and finishing in Amroth on Sunday, 9 May.

In preparation of the challenge Sanna has received a lot of support from her partner, family and friends, she said: “My dad and partner have been amazing. Making sure I’m fed after long runs and just being there. My friends have been amazing and although we haven’t been able to run together just knowing they support me helps. I’m hoping some can join me on the challenge it will be great to catch up. The chatter will be a great distraction.”

Katie Macro, Wales Air Ambulance South West Wales Community Co-ordinator, said: “We’re so grateful to Sanna for taking on this huge challenge once again. Her determination is outstanding, and she has so far raised an amazing amount for our lifesaving charity.

“Despite the horrendous weather during her last attempt she managed to run over 63 miles and only stopped the record attempt when it became unsafe to continue. Her determination is inspiring.

“On its own, it is a significant personal challenge, and we will be supporting her all the way to the finish line – and hopefully to a new record. For Sanna to choose to raise money for our lifesaving service at the same time is incredible. We are so grateful for her support and we’d like to wish her all the best. Thank you to everyone who has supported Sanna and continue to support her with her fundraiser.”

You can show your support to Sanna by donating to her Just Giving page – Sanna’s 186 miles – Pembrokeshire Coastpathhttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sanna-duthie2.

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