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Badger and the season of goodwill



AND SO, like a particularly obnoxious curry, December has once again come around to torment poor Badger. This, readers, this is Badger’sbadger84image least favourite time of year: scarred by decades of exposure to Christmas ‘specials’ Badger is afflicted with chronic tinselitis. The very sound of the word ‘merry’, or worse ‘merrie’, is enough to give Badger fond thoughts of emigration to climes where jolliness and holly-ness is a touch less de rigeur. Events this year have compelled Badger to cast his mind back over the years. Along that journey, Badger has tried to try to discover where it is that this seasonal disorder has its origins. And, readers, it has come to Badger that there is no one, single reason why Badger dislikes Christmas so dyspeptically that the merest scent of a Brussels sprout is enough to engender dyspepsia itself. Badger has memories of finding the tangerine wrapped in tissue paper among the games, toys and annuals that made up his presents on Christmas morning.

Those memories are fond and suffused with recollection of the thrill that Christmas brought to his childhood. Badger remembers Christmas cake iced impenetrably with the type of covering they used on space shuttles; mince pies; fruit puddings and turkey dinners that had a half-life of half a week or more. Even those, readers, even those bring Badger pin-sharp and pleasant recollections of his grandfather sitting in a rocking chair in a crowded cottage reading a Louis L’Amour western and smoking a Kensitas cigarette with nary a thought for the fire hazard caused by doing so after a carbohydrate heavy meal. Badger’s misty-eyed reminiscences are shot through with memories of execrable Christmas television. Dick Emery. Dickbloody- Emery. The great Clive James, it was, who described dear old Dick as “the man of a thousand faces, all of them the same”.

You can’t improve on that type of criticism. Badger isn’t even going to try. Badger’s childhood was, by and large, the era of three channels on the telly, all of which stuck to the same formula throughout Badger’s childhood. Badger says “by and large” because there was always a strike hovering in the air threatening to take BBC or ITV off the air over Xmas. BBC had Billy Smart’s Circus, ITV had Chipperfield’s Circus; there was Val Doonican, Cilla Black, and Peters and Lee. And these shows had viewers not in the millions, but in the tens of millions – although the nature of sampling as it was then meant that these figures were extrapolated from data provided by those taking part in a survey limited to those watching television. Badger can tell you with confidence, readers, that when people say the past was a time when they made their own entertainment, a glance at television schedules from Badger’s childhood will tell you why that was the case.

Crooners and carols and King’s College, Cambridge: these are not a few of Badger’s favourite things. But even the recollection of Dick van Dyke in Chitty-Chitty Bang- Bang, does not explain Badger’s disinclination to join in festive fun. So having discounted appalling television, indigestible food and tangerines in tissue paper, Badger decided to press on with his inquiry to get to the bottom of his end of year malaise. He peeled off the layers of the years like wrapping paper, trying to get to the issue’s kernel without losing the Sellotape that holds his Christmas reminiscences in place. The more he looked, the less he knew.

There were memorably awful Christmas presents: crimes against knitting and crochet that cannot easily be forgiven; the cigarette lighter that damned near cost Badger his eyebrows; thoughtless socks; and games of such stupefying tedium that – even now – when Badger sees a Monopoly Board he can’t wait to find someone wearing a monocle and top hat to beat over the head with one. Badger thought about religion, the root cause of Christmas. Now, readers, Badger has views on religion. Please feel free to worship how and what or whom you want, readers. Badger would rather believe in humanity (in the general, not in the particular: after all, readers, who would willingly believe in Noel Edmonds?).

But no, readers: all that holly and ivy, those little donkeys and the shepherds who washed their socks by night; Badger refuses to judge how he felt about them then by the standards of his adulthood. Neither is Badger going to jump on the bandwagon that blames consumerism and greed for why Christmas is no longer as ‘special’ as it used to be. There was less choice in the gifts Father Christmas would deliver to girls and boys when Badger was a boy, but he does not believe that children now are any more acquisitive and grasping than they were when he was young. It is only that there is a greater range of opportunity than was afforded by the Co-op, WH Smiths and Woolworths. Space-Hoppers or I-Pads: these are symptoms, not causes. And not one of these things, not a one, readers, can Badger say led him to regard Christmas with a jaundiced eye and bitter chuckle. Finally Badger decided that he was looking at the question the wrong way.

What if it was not Christmas that had changed, but Badger? And, if so, what had changed? Looking at the problem that way: Badger came to think that it could be the loss of childhood innocence that has led him to his current predicament. Was there some existential dread at his own mortality or sense of loss to which Badger could ascribe Yuletide ennui. But that, readers, is far too trite and easy. It is the kind of thing a priest or game show host might say in patronising tones to bring home just how magical Christmas is for children. That, readers, would be a cop out.

Then it came to him, readers! In a moment of perfect clarity it came to Badger that the reason he disliked Christmas was because while Badger can be persuaded he will not be compelled. It is the forced jollity to which Badger objects. Badger does not want to be told “smile, it’s Christmas.” Badger would rather find his own reasons to be cheerful, and not just for one season but for all seasons. Goodwill for one season and greed, gluttony and bigotry for the rest? Is that what we want? In Badger’s view either all seasons – all days – are special, or none are. Despite everything, Badger is optimistic about humanity (with the caveat above) and will opt for the former every time. So, this season of goodwill, readers, Badger wishes that you are all at least as happy and no less filled with goodwill towards humankind as you are the rest of the year. Or vice versa, just in case.

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



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



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:

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



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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