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Street Cat Bob’s quick read crusade

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BESTSELLING author James Bowen and his famous furry friend Street Cat Bob are on a mission to get the nation reading. “He’s a life-changing little man,

Quick reads: One man, one moggie, one mission !

Quick reads: One man, one moggie, one mission !

that’s for sure. “Worldwide bestselling author James Bowen can barely contain his gratitude and love for Bob, the small bundle of ginger fluff who completely reversed his fates. When the pair met while Bowen was a homeless addict, Bob gave his new owner a sense of responsibility and the pair became a regular fixture on London’s busking circuit – shortly before Bowen was given the chance to tell his (and Bob’s) story in a series of successful books.

Now the pair are hoping to encourage others to take up reading, via the Galaxy Quick Reads campaigns, which offers people an accessible route into the world of books. All the Quick Reads are written by big name authors, but are shorter and easier to tackle: Perfect for adults who are less confident in their reading skills. For Bowen – a prolific reader, who says he has books all over his flat – reading has had a profoundly positive impact on his personal wellbeing: “Reading, or in fact anything that can help you focus your mind, is absolutely an essential part of the plan in helping someone with a mental illness or any emotional problems,” he explains.

“Especially if someone is wanting to escape depression; reading is uplifting. However, some people find it hard to read when depressed though, maybe due to a lack of concentration. I’m really proud to have my book turned into a Galaxy Quick Reads – because they are bite size they are great for people who want to read but might struggle with bigger books. I think reading can help heal the mind, giving the reader something to connect and relate to.”

As both a reader and an author, Bowen offers some insight into just what makes books such magical things: “Reading is such a great way to switch off from the outside world and relax. But it can also open your mind to new ideas, people and places. It’s a great form of escape, if you are sitting on a train or a bus or something, books are a great thing to have because the time will fly past!” he laughs – and as a man who has completed many book tours over the last few years Bowen knows a thing or two about keeping occupied whilst travelling.

But in his opinion, books definitely offer something more than just an enjoyable distraction. “If you are reading a good book, and it really sinks in to you, then you can really experience something else,” he says. “Somebody wrote a comment on Amazon that my book was the twentyfirst century version of ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ by George Orwell, and while I could never accept that kind of honour, I do believe that books like mine – especially autobiographies – give people a whole new perspective on a kind of life that they might not know about.”

For Bowen, Dostoyevsky’s classic ‘Crime and Punishment’ was a total game-changer: “It’s such a brilliant book – quite a difficult read though, I wouldn’t recommend it for an early Quick Reader – but having been a drug addict, I can understand the story of having to make money and having to take responsibility for the consequences.” Before he had a place of his own, Bowen would sometimes take a break from the streets to spend time in a bookshop or library: “It is a shame that bookshops aren’t as prominent as they used to be. I have a real soft spot for comics and graphic novels, I’m a bit of a geek like that, so I would always hit the graphic novel section first. I love bookshops and libraries because you could be looking for one thing and stumble across something totally different. They suck you in like that!” he smiles. Thankfully, Bowen’s homeless days are long behind him now, mainly thanks to Bob, who still keeps him company, wherever the author’s work takes him: “He is always by my side,” he smiles. “Even if I have got my nose stuck in a book – which is a lot of the time – he’s not on my lap but he is always nearby, on the arm rest or by my side on the sofa. He’s wonderful, such a calming chap.” Galaxy Quick Reads are bite-sized books written by best-selling authors which cost only £1. They are available from bookshops, supermarkets and online or can be borrowed from libraries across the country. For more information visit www.quickreads. org.uk.

 

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Community

Pembrokeshire Lane Blighted by Illegal Dumping Incident

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OVER a dozen large plastic vegetable oil drums along with assorted rubbish were discovered discarded along a rural lane in Pembrokeshire, sparking outrage amongst local residents. The unsightly scene, strewn with 15l and 20l drums and accompanying cardboard packaging, was first noticed by Councillor Di Clements near her farm residence, spanning across the road between Martletwy and Minwear.

Upon the unsightly discovery, Councillor Clements undertook an immediate investigation into the debris, sifting through the detritus in hopes of uncovering any clues that might lead to the identification of those responsible. The presence of numerous black bin liners containing smaller containers suggested the waste originated from a food service establishment. It is believed that the rubbish was illicitly deposited sometime between 4 pm on Sunday, 25th February, and the early hours of 6:30 am on Monday.

Prompt action was taken by Councillor Clements, who reported the incident to Pembrokeshire Council. The council’s swift response was commended by Clements, as a waste advisor was quickly dispatched to the scene to further investigate the matter. By Monday afternoon, the council had successfully cleared the debris.

Councillor Clements is currently appealing to the public for any information regarding suspicious activities that could lead to the identification of the perpetrator, who she suspects may be a repeat offender in the area. Expressing her dismay, Clements remarked, “I am extremely disappointed to see this and I can’t believe someone would do this.”

The council and Councillor Clements extend their gratitude to those involved in the prompt cleanup and urges anyone with information to come forward.

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Community

Local woman honours brother’s memory by planting trees at school

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VHARI RUSSELL, founder of Creating Nature’s Corridors charity, led a tree-planting initiative at a school in Roch village, commemorating her late brother Rory Bernays from Pelcomb Cross.

Russell, driven by a profound sense of purpose following her brother’s untimely passing, established the charity with a mission to address the pressing issue of climate change by planting trees. Her dedication culminated in a significant milestone as she spearheaded the planting of 1,000 trees and hedging plants at her nephew and niece’s school on Friday, the 22nd of February.

The event, held at the heart of Roch village, witnessed an inspiring collaboration between students, parents, and teachers, as they united to expand the existing woodland and establish a new hedgerow within the school grounds. Mr. Evans, the headmaster, expressed his gratitude for the generous donation, emphasizing the joyous atmosphere as students enthusiastically participated in the planting activities.

“We are delighted to have been given this gift of over 1,000 plants,” remarked Mr. Evans. “The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves planting on Friday. It’s a wonderful legacy to have created, and our school is very lucky to have such supportive parents to make the playground such a wonderful haven for nature and students alike.”

For Russell, the initiative holds deep personal significance, as it honours her brother’s love for nature and his commitment to instilling the same passion in his children. Reflecting on the experience, Russell highlighted the importance of planting trees at her nephew and niece’s school, following previous endeavours at the Pelcombcross community playground.

“Rory loved the great outdoors and always encouraged his children to enjoy it, so it was really important to me that we planted at Ozzy & Aoife’s school,” Russell remarked. “It was such fun planting at the school; many children had never planted a tree before, and the delight on their faces was magical.”

The initiative not only serves as a testament to Russell’s dedication to environmental conservation but also embodies a poignant tribute to her brother’s memory, ensuring that his legacy lives on through the flourishing greenery at local community spaces.

For further information, readers are encouraged to visit Creating Nature’s Corridors.

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Community

Voting made easy in new video with Pembrokeshire Supported Employment Programme

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A new video has been created in partnership with Pembrokeshire Supported Employment Programme (PSEP) to illustrate how accessible voting can be for all. 

Pembrokeshire County Council Electoral Services has been working hard to ensure that everyone who wants to vote has access to all the information they need to do so, whether that be via postal vote or in person at a polling station.

The skills of film graduate Aeran Hopewell, currently working with the PSEP, were put to good use as they shot and edited the video featuring colleagues Kath Brookes and James Pugh, along with Electoral Services and Communications team members.

The video provides a run through of how to vote, including the need for photo ID in some elections, and aims to reassure anyone who has concerns about voting at a polling station.

It demonstrates that the process is straightforward and that there are always people on hand to assist when needed. 

It will be available to watch on the Council’s YouTube as well as being shared among support, community and access groups around Pembrokeshire and with other Local Authority partners.

Member Champion for people with learning disabilities at Pembrokeshire County Council Cllr Alistair Cameron said: “It is vital to address the barriers some face when it comes to voting in person and this excellent film, created with the input of those people we hope will benefit, goes some way to reassuring everyone that there is always help on hand.”

Returning Officer Will Bramble added: “The upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election is the first time registered voters in Wales will need to show photo ID so it is fantastic to see this video explaining the process and it will hopefully encourage more people to head to their polling stations.”

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