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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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Library reservations service expanded

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PEMBROKESHIRE’S Library Service has extended its reservation service.

Customers can place up to two reservations for books and audiobooks, which are available and in stock at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Narberth, Newport, Neyland, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Saundersfoot and Tenby.

Items are also available to reserve from the service’s Stack (store).

Library members can place reservations free of charge, in person or via the online catalogue.

To access the online catalogue, log on to https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture and select ‘Find Library Books’.

Customers can also place a request for an item not currently in stock, to be purchased as one of their two reservations.

The Library Service is not offering an Interlibrary Loan service at the present time.

For details on the library services currently offered in Pembrokeshire, please view https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture

 

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Extra police patrols at Tenby skate park after ‘men approached young girls’

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CONCERNED locals in Tenby have taken to social media to write about concerns of inappropriate behaviour – between males they think may have been asylum seekers currently housed at Penally Army Camp – and young girls in Tenby.

The police have said they are investigating the matter.

Witnesses have said that young girls have been approached by males while at the skate park in Tenby.

The Home Office has said that the camp will be used to house up to 250 male asylum seekers whilst their claims are processed due to a shortage of alternative accommodation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports circulating on Facebook have claimed to have direct knowledge that male residents of the camp have been talking and exchanging contact information with local school girls, some suggesting that they were in school uniform when talking with the men.

However, the police have not confirmed that that is the case – it remains an unproved allegation.

One local claimed on Facebook: “So tonight a few of us concerned local parents decided to go to Tenby skate park.

“As we got there two young girls where sat on a bench waiting for someone.

“Some kids told us they were the ones talking to the men yesterday exchanging Snap Chat details and stuff.

“Then the men from the day before turned up… saw us and scurried off down the beach.

“The two girls then quickly wandered off.

“These girls were about 14.”

One resident had stated that they had reported the incidents he had seen and heard to the local police station, he claimed that an officer told him they were in talks with Greenhill School about the incidents.

Pembrokeshire County Council said that they are unable to comment on the alleged incidents, however a spokesman told The Herald in a statement: “All I would say is that our schools regularly advise pupils not to engage with strangers.”

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed they are investigating two alleged incidents at the skate park, and have been in contact with the local schools.

A police spokesperson told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We have received two reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour at the skate park in Tenby and are looking to speak to the people who contacted us.

“In the meantime the skate park is now part of our patrol plans and we have linked in with local schools to reinforce the School Beat Stay SMART online messaging.”

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Off-duty lifesavers were lost but ready to react

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A PEMBROKESHIRE man whose life was saved by multiple twists of fate has praised those who stepped in during his hour of need.

Keen amateur triathlete Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, was out on a post-lockdown bike ride when he suffered a cardiac arrest that was to set off the incredible chain of events.

Steven said: “We were about 40km into an 80km ride when it happened.

“It was strange and lucky as only two weeks earlier I was running alone in Paris, and the night before I swam 2km alone in the sea, and during lockdown had done lots of exercise on my own.

“But that day, I had met my brother-in-law, Chris, and some friends.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I would have been alone.”

Meanwhile, just a mile or so away was off-duty Welsh Ambulance Service Community First Responder Angharad Hodgson, from Martletwy, and her firefighter partner Steve Bradfield, from Narbeth.

Steven Landrey, 51, of Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

“We were heading to meet friends at Barfundle Beach. We hadn’t been there for a few years so were following the sat-nav in the car,” said Angharad.

“We were running late and had taken a wrong turn as the sat-nav must have frozen or lost signal.

“We decided to turn back on ourselves, and that’s when we saw Steven on the floor being worked on by Chris.”

Always travelling with their defibrillator and kit, Angharad and Steve, who is also a trained medical responder, were able to pull over swiftly and step in with their life-saving defibrillator.

Angharad, 23, said: “We put the pad on his chest and after about 30 manual chest compressions, Steven had stopped breathing and the defibrillator told us we could shock him twice.

“We did it and he came back to us, but his breathing was very sticky so we continued CPR until the air and land ambulances arrived to take over.”

Steven was taken by road to Swansea’s Morriston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to fit a stent into a lower left artery of his heart, which had flooded with blood and caused the cardiac arrest.

Steven is making a good recovery at home and is taking the first steps back to work in his role as a European Managing Director for Babcock Aviation, an aerial emergency services business.

He said: “I’m working with the National Cardiac Referral Scheme and also a personal trainer and am feeling well and getting strength back every day.

“With my work, I have seen emergency care provision across Europe and Canada and the care I received at every step of the way here in Wales has been world-class.

“I can’t thank Chris, Angharad, Steve, the air ambulance crew and the paramedics enough, along with the doctors and surgeons at Morriston, they were all amazing.

“I realise everything went my way that day, and for those few hours I was the luckiest man alive, but having these trained people in our communities to support emergency medical services is absolutely vital.

“Community First Responders like Angharad, CPR training and Public Access Defibrillators really do save lives and are to be respected.”

Glyn Thomas, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Community First Responder Officer in Mid and West Wales, said: “The prompt actions of Angharad and Steve were no doubt a major factor in the patient’s survival.

“Even off-duty as they were, they demonstrated control and organisation – they are both a credit to their communities and organisations.

“We wish Steven a smooth recovery and all the best for the future.”

Today is Restart a Heart Day, a national initiative run by the Resuscitation Council UK, British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance and the ambulance services across the UK to promote education around Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

In the absence of physical events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to watch a video by Resuscitation Council UK and keep an eye on social media from partners like Save a Life Cymru who are promoting key messages such as early recognition of cardiac arrest, early CPR and early defibrillation.

Restart a Heart Day runs parallel to the Trust’s month-long Shoctober campaign which aims to educate primary school children on the benefits of getting confident with CPR – even making this brilliant animated video.

Angharad, who also works for the local authority’s social services team in Pembrokeshire, has been a Community First Responder since April 2019 and was inspired to make that brave step by another incident back in 2018.

She said: “I was driving home from shopping along the A40 in Carmarthen when I came across a terrible car accident on the opposite carriageway.

“I pulled my car over and crossed the road to try and assist without any thought process really.

“Seeing the work of the paramedics on scene really spurred me on to become a Community First Responder.

“I’d like to thank Tony Wall who is my CFR Co-ordinator for being so supportive and giving so much of his time to fundraise for life saving equipment such as defibrillators in local communities.”

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