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Shadow Education Minister Responds to Western Mail ‘Nonsense’.

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AngelaBurnsSpeaking exclusively to the Pembrokeshire Herald, Shadow Education Minister and Pembrokeshire South Carmarthen West AM, Angela Burns, hit back at the Cardiff based Western Mail, which ran a critical article about her children’s school placement.

The Western Mail’s feature questioned, via a political source as they put it, Mrs Burns decision to send both of her children to a Cardiff based school rather than a ‘local’ Pembrokeshire School. However, Mrs Burns has responded by pouring scorn upon their ‘political source’, claiming that when she had pressed the newspaper reporter at the Western Mail further it was clear that their article had been based on just this one contributor alone, rather than from a number of sources. She went on to explain to the Herald,

“ I was initially contacted by the Mail who indicated it was regarding an issue of office hours. It transpired they wished to speak about my children. He (the Western Mail reporter) stated that ‘people’ had told him that my children were not being educated locally (in Pembrokeshire). He went on to say it was on my Facebook page.”

The Assembly member then pointed out that actually she did not have a current Facebook page and had not used the social network for nearly two years. Responding to the Western Mail’s criticism of her decision she said,

“ This isn’t really a new story anyway. My children moved up with me to Cardiff a year and a half ago and they now go to a local state primary school, not a private school, in the next village to where we reside when in Cardiff. The alternative would be for them to stay in Cosheston, our home in Pembrokeshire”.

The minister went on to explain the issues with her children remaining in Pembrokeshire whilst she worked away four days a week in Cardiff:

“In the first term of the Assembly I was in Cardiff for maybe two days a week, but now it is for four days a week. If they remained in Cosheston they would just see me at weekends. As my husband is also busy with several jobs it would mean employing a nanny for most probably three to four days a week. We talked to our children, aged seven and ten, and they made the decision that they wanted to be with Mum all week. They are two young girls who need their Mum, even more so as they get older, and this way (by moving them to Cardiff in the week), we don’t need a nanny and they spend more time with mum and dad. They want a normal ‘mum’ to do ‘normal’ mummy stuff, and now with more responsibility this term, I am working four days a week in Cardiff over forty-three to forty- four weeks a year over a five year term. I didn’t want to miss them growing up and, though I am really priviliged to represent my constituency, I don’t want to do it at the expense of my children.They are young for such a short time and it isn’t like my husband could take on the role, so a nanny would have been needed, which is not an ideal situation. It (working away from home) can take a toll on a family and I didn’t want it to happen to my family”.

Mrs Burns also pointed out to the Herald that, as she works and lives in Cardiff, as well as in Pembrokeshire, her children were attending schools for which she contributes. She questioned the motives of the Western Telegraph, by stating, “If I were male or in Westminster, where it is common practice for MPs’ families to move with the MP, I don’t think they would have been so critical.”

Angela Burns also explained the system whereby AMs are able to work away from home in Cardiff.

“ We have the right to a second home and we have an allowance provided by the Assembly. It is seven hundred pounds a month and from this we pay our rent, council tax, electricity, etc. I actually rent a house for nine hundred pounds a month and I personally pay the difference.”

She hinted that the Western Mail may have another agenda, as she believes they are an anti-Assembly paper, and suggested that other Assembly members, and the Assembly, have been unfairly criticised in the past.

“I have been touched by all the support I’ve had (since the Western Mail article) from Labour, Plaid, the Liberals and Cabinet ministers who have all said what a load of nonsense this is. This all stemmed from one person!”.

Earlier this year the Western Mail wrote articles criticising the Welsh Government’s refurbishment of its Ty Hywell building in Cardiff Bay, as well as highlighting their alleged shortcomings in how grants are awarded.

 

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Community

Milford Haven School warms hearts with over 200 gifts for local children

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MILFORD HAVEN SCHOOL has once again led a successful Christmas charity initiative, bringing festive cheer to over 200 children in need.

For several years, the school has been supporting PATCH, the Defender House Charity, through its annual Toy Appeal. This November, a special tradition continued as a Christmas tree adorned with tags stood tall in the school, each tag representing a local child affected by deprivation.

Staff members at the school wholeheartedly participated by selecting a tag, purchasing a thoughtful gift, and placing it under the tree. These gifts were then collected by PATCH for distribution, ensuring a brighter Christmas for many children.

This year, responding to requests from the wider community, the initiative expanded beyond the school gates. Additional Christmas trees with tags were placed in prominent community locations including Milford Haven Library, Neyland Library, and Hubberston and Hakin Community Centre, allowing more community members to contribute to this noble cause.

The response was overwhelming. Over 200 presents were lovingly donated, highlighting the communal spirit of Milford Haven. Ms. Morris, the headteacher of Milford Haven School, expressed her immense pride in the staff’s involvement and extended heartfelt thanks to the libraries and community centres for their indispensable support.

“It’s more than just gifts; it’s about showing we care and understand the challenges some families face, especially during the festive season,” said Ms. Morris. She emphasized the school’s ongoing commitment to supporting local families and raising awareness of the community’s needs.

The initiative’s success not only brought joy to children but also reinforced the strong bonds within the Milford Haven community. The generosity and compassion shown by the school and its wider community stand as a testament to the power of collective effort in making a significant difference in the lives of those in need.

As the festive season approaches, the Milford Haven community can take pride in their substantial contribution to the PATCH Charity Toy Appeal, embodying the true spirit of Christmas and bringing the warmth of “Nadolig Llawen” – Merry Christmas – to many.

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Pembrokeshire siblings receive award for saving their father’s life

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CAI and Celyn Llewellyn, a brother and sister from Pembrokeshire, have received prestigious recognition at an award ceremony in London.

The pair were awarded a British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Award on 6th December after their father, John, had suffered a cardiac arrest at their home in Fishguard in November last year. John’s life was saved by the quick thinking of his two children who carried out CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

The British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards is an annual event to honour incredible people who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease. The event celebrates everyone from CPR lifesavers to innovative fundraisers, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS. The ceremony was attended by a star-studded guest list including Pippa Middleton, Vernon Kay and David Seaman, amongst others.

“If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”

Cai (19) and Celyn (22) were nominated for the award by their mother, Nicola.

Nicola said, “My husband John was just doing his usual morning workout in our home-made gym. It’s not very often the kids are home on the weekend, but on this particular Sunday morning, Cai and Celyn were making a cooked breakfast when John suddenly staggered into our kitchen. They immediately alerted me to call 999.”

Celyn had realised something was seriously wrong as John was unable to speak or catch his breath, while Cai put his arms around John to help him to the sofa. No sooner than Cai and Celyn had moved John to the sofa, he went limp. Despite no previous experience in CPR, the pair had to jump into action.

Cai said, “It was like a light switch. Dad suddenly was like a dead body next to me on the couch and was no longer in control of himself. Something just clicked inside me – I managed to put him on the floor and cut his t-shirt off to begin CPR.”

Meanwhile, Celyn was aware that the nearest defibrillator to them was at the village hall, situated around 300 yards from their house and sprinted to retrieve it while the family received support over the phone from the emergency operator.

Celyn added: “None of us had ever used a defib before. We didn’t even know we needed a code to access it, but the four-digit code is now etched in my brain. Once I got back with the defibrillator, the next 20 minutes were crucial. Cai was amazing – he was so calm taking on responsibility of using the defibrillator and finding the electrical rhythm with support over the phone from 999. We had to shock him three times in between 20 minutes of CPR, before the fire brigade arrived as first responders.”

It was a long wait for the family as emergency services took over, and he was eventually flown by air ambulance to Morriston hospital in Swansea – over 60 miles from their home on the west coast.

Doctors believe John’s cardiac arrest was caused by a ventricular arrhythmia, and he was fitted with an ICD (Implantable cardioverter defibrillator) a few weeks later. An ICD is a small device which can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. The British Heart Foundation continues to fund research into ICD research, to save and improve more lives in Wales and across the UK. In Wales, just one in 20 people survive a cardiac arrest when it occurs outside of a hospital setting.

On receiving the award, the Llewellyn family said were proud to accept recognition while they adapt to what they call their ‘new normal’. John has now been diagnosed with heart failure, and while the incident has had a physical toll on John’s health, he continues to make incredible progress.

John said, “As a family unit, we’ve made so much progress in a year. At Christmas last year we were still so on edge and for months we were all quite scared to leave the house in case something happened. I am still here because Cai and Celyn acted with a maturity and a calmness that has left me just so proud of them.”

Celyn added, “You can sometimes feel alone in this bubble of being impacted by heart failure, but through the BHF we have found a community of people who understand or even share our experience. Information from BHF is available to help us every step of the way through dad’s recovery. We are now encouraging everyone we meet to get CPR training and to find their local defibrillator. If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “I’m blown away by the incredible stories of our winners who have shown such courage, resilience, and bravery in the face of heart and circulatory disease.

“These awards are truly heartwarming and make me so proud to be part of Team BHF. Thank you to our judges, hosts, celebrity guests and supporters for creating such a magical evening for the BHF and the heroes we celebrated. We hope the awards inspire others to take action against heart and circulatory diseases – by learning CPR, fundraising, or even donating unwanted goods to one of our stores.

“Our heart heroes are among the 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases. This Christmas, our research is a gift that keeps on living, helping to keep families together and hearts beating for Christmases to come.”

Support the BHF by giving a gift that keeps on living this Christmas: https://www.bhf.org.uk/christmas

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Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office wins prestigious national award for its custody visiting

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The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys has won a prestigious national Gold award for the quality of its Independent Custody Visiting Scheme.

The Independent Custody Visiting Scheme is a volunteer scheme that is run by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Arising after riots in the 80s centred around public distrust in policing, and in particular the policing of black communities, independent custody visitors (or ICVs) are volunteers who give their time to make unannounced visits to police custody across the UK, ensuring the rights, entitlements and wellbeing of detainees throughout the country.

In Dyfed-Powys, there are currently eighteen volunteers who act as Independent Custody Visitors, and make unannounced visits to police custodies in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and Powys. 

They report their findings to the Police and Crime Commissioner, who in turn holds the Chief Constable to account.

The Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance Awards were presented at a ceremony at the Old Library, Birmingham on 29 November.

ICVA is the national organisation which supports, leads and represents locally-run custody visiting schemes. Schemes manage teams of independent volunteers who visit those detained in police custody.

There were four graded levels of award, and the Dyfed-Powys Scheme was delighted to have received the Gold standard; meaning their Scheme provides an excellent standard of custody visiting and volunteer management. The Scheme was established in Dyfed-Powys in 2001, and since its roll out, thousands of visits have been made to custody suites across the force area.

Welcoming the award, Dafydd Llywelyn, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys told The Herald: “I am thrilled to announce that our Independent Custody Visiting volunteer scheme in Dyfed-Powys has been honoured with a prestigious national Gold Award.  This recognition reflects the commitment and dedication of our volunteers and the high standards of custody visiting and volunteer management in our region.

“It is a testament to the collaborative efforts of our community, Dyfed-Powys Police and my Office, reinforcing our commitment to excellence in ensuring the welfare and rights of individuals in Custody.  I would like to congratulate and thank all of our volunteers for their hard work – we are proud of this achievement and will continue our efforts to maintain this gold standard in the service we provide to our community”.

On a blog, published following the awards ceremony to congratulate volunteers, ICVA Chief Executive Katie Kempen said; “I am so grateful for all of your incredibly hard work on the Quality Assurance Framework, in what for many have been quite challenging times.

“At the opening of the assessment window, many of your schemes were still in a period of Covid recovery and getting schemes back up to resilience, recruiting and training new volunteers all over the country.

“As we have moved through the process, many of you have come into post and as well as getting accustomed to your new role have taken on the Quality Assurance Framework too. I am so proud of each and every scheme and their award.

“It hasn’t happened without a commitment to the scheme, to the amazing volunteers and ultimately to the fair and effective treatment of those deprived of their liberty by the state. Thank you all so much.

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