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Badger and the pilot of the future

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Badger0MANY years ago, the older among you will remember there was a comic called The Eagle, the main star of which was chiseljawed English spaceman Dan Dare. Along with his faithful companion Digby, Dan Dare fl ew the good ship Anastasia around our solar system and beyond righting interplanetary wrongs with the aid of his trusty left hook.

Of course, readers, Frank Hampson’s optimistic take on the future of space exploration, and in particular the United Kingdom’s leading role in providing crack pilots to Space Fleet, has become hackneyed and kitsch in a way The Eagle’s young readers would not have believed. Badger is not inclined to nostalgia, readers: the here and now is just fi ne by him. Whenever people bang on about how much better the past was, he always reaches for a large pinch of salt. Whenever politicians bang on about the past or appeal to some sort of inchoate and misty common memory, Badger reaches for a shotgun.

Badger has written before about UKIP: The provisional wing of the Monster Raving Looney Party. Last week UKIP gained its first elected MP. A curious looking cove called Douglas Carswell, who for the previous nine years of his political life had brayed along with the best of them behind David Cameron, last month jumped ship to Nigel Farage’s Barmy Army and immediately sought a fresh mandate from his electors. The wonderfully-named Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strooooood (BBC pronunciation) who rather sounds like the type of character from Dan Dare who ends up trapped by the Mekon in the third story panel, decided subsequently that he would also joint a party whose appeal is not so much retro as a re-tread of all those fi lms in which upper lips were stiff and good old Blighty showed the way to world, or at least the fi endish foreigners who threatened Blighty’s right to rule it. Now, readers, apart from a passing resemblance to the Mekon, which is what started Badger off down this particular route, Douglas Carswell has not much to do with Dan Dare.

Well, not unless we look upon him as someone who demonstrates what someone should do if they change sides and join another party. Not so much a ‘pilot’ in the usual sense we understand then, but as someone who shows the way a politician should act if they ‘cross the fl oor’. Or in the case of members of Pembrokeshire County Council, surrender to the dark side. Of course, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless say they have not acted out of anything other than principle in leaving one party and joining another. Badger can be – and is – cynical about many things, not least politicians who leave one party to join another, but having done so they both stepped down as MP’s and sought a fresh mandate. It is a tragic waste of their fine example that it was wasted on a group of saloon bar bores and dingbats like UKIP.

Imagine if Messrs Carswell’s and Reckless’ example applied to Pembrokeshire, readers. Sue Perkins defected, but did not put herself to a fresh electoral test. Perhaps 2012 was a close enough call for her and she did not trust her electorate’s good judgement to return her when she betrayed them after the election. The Pope of Neyland, Simon Hancock, did not have to put himself through an election in 2012. He simply played a word game after it. You have to wonder, however, how many of his constituents would vote for him in a contested election after he has presided over cuts in social care and local services and introduced charges for day centre use for the elderly on practically no empirical evidence. Stephen Joseph would have been back and forward to the polls a couple of times. Or perhaps just once.

Bob Kilmister, Jonathan Nutting and Peter Stock would have sought reelection, as would David Bryan. And now Alison Lee would be facing the voters seeking their endorsement for joining a group under the leadership of a person in whom she had no confi dence as recently as a few weeks ago. It is not a question of wrong and right. It is a question of the electorate not being swindled if a councillor changes their mind once through the doors of the gravy train. Badger does not criticise all the decisions councillors make. No. Badger wants to make it clear, readers, that the root of many of Pembrokeshire’s longer term problems stem from further afi eld in Cardiff Bay and Westminster. But the way in which the majority of county councillors have demonstrated the judgement of stunned cuttlefishes, the combined intelligence of a tin of tomato soup, and the spinelessness of a small rubber chickens on springs has caused him to despair. Readers: What confidence can we have in the majority of our elected members if they keep on behaving in such self-evidently self-serving ways?

And the worst thing is that, apart from Jamie’s spymaster, Rob Summons, none of the governing group stood as anything other than a pretended independent. Too gutless to stand on principle – or bereft of them – they collectively perpetrated the type of dishonesty one should only expect from merchant bankers. Which is how Badger thinks of many (not all) of them: A great big set of merchant bankers. Pembrokeshire now faces grave challenges, readers. Some want to do away with our political autonomy and destroy our local democracy. Leighton Andrews, who has refused to be interviewed by this newspaper about his moronic plan to gut Welsh local government like a fi sh, represents one challenge. The looming budget problems, represent another. So Badger would like to propose a radical solution to our county councillors.

Not just to the IPPG, but to all our councillors, even the ones Badger likes. Stand down. All of you. Then, present yourselves at the ballot box clearly setting out your programme to address Pembrokeshire’s problems and your constituent’s concerns. No generic partisan bollocks. Make your pledges personal and direct. Be prepared to be judged by how you perform against them. None of this hiding behind the label ‘independent’, no crappy, clever-clever word games: Tell people what you believe in, what you want to do, and how you intend to go about achieving it. Badger’s friend Old Grumpy is often fond of saying that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Well, Pembrokeshire’s electorate did not vote for the type of crass posturing we have seen from County Hall in the last couple of years. County Hall’s politics needs a proper realignment. So come on, councillors. Set a direction. Get a mandate. Follow it through. Or, instead of being turkeys voting for Christmas, are you just chicken?

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Pembrokeshire Leisure welcomes back school swimming

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PEMBROKESHIRE Leisure is welcoming back school swimming lessons around the county for the first time since March 2020.

Swimmers from over 20 schools will be attending in their class bubbles to enjoy learning vital water competency skills in Pembrokeshire Leisure’s six swimming pools.

In a county which is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coastline, being safe in and around water is a potentially life-saving skill.

The programme of school swimming lessons helps to achieve the Welsh national priority that every child is a swimmer by the time they leave primary school.

The National Curriculum requirement which has been designed in line with this is that every key stage 2 child should be able to:

  • Swim 25 metres with clothes on (shorts and t-shirt), then tread water for 30 seconds and demonstrate an action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P)
  • Demonstrate a shout and signal action to attract attention.

The first school to return was Ysgol Glannau Gwaun at Fishguard Leisure Centre and there are now 20 primary schools which will be attending swimming lessons around Pembrokeshire.

On Monday 14 th June, Coastlands County Primary School attended and their Head Teacher Sonja Groves said: “We are delighted to finally get back to swimming after such a long time away. The children were so happy to be back in the water learning and enjoying. Swimming is a vital life skill which helps to keep the children of Pembrokeshire safe in and around all types of water.”

Leisure Services Manager Gary Nicholas said: “It is fantastic to be able to safely welcome back school swimming to our facilities. Primary school aged children have missed over a years’ worth of swimming lessons and Pembrokeshire Leisure are committed to supporting the aim of every child a swimmer by age 11.

“We will continue to do this by delivering quality school swimming lessons following the Swim Wales Nofio Ysgol programme, using the Free Swimming Initiative to provide targeted sessions for the most deprived swimmers and by continuing to provide swimming lessons at all sites in our Learn to Swim programme.”

For more information about how you can book your child swimming lessons and support their journey to becoming a competent swimmer, contact your local leisure centre.

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Landmarc flies the flag at local training camp to celebrate Armed Forces Week

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TO CELEBRATE Armed Forces Week 2021 and the contribution made by local military personnel, Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc) has raised the Armed Forces Day flag at Castlemartin Training Area in Pembrokeshire.

Following an unprecedented year for the UK’s troops as they responded to the challenges raised by the pandemic, Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), wanted to extend an extra special thank you, by flying the official Armed Forces Day flag at military training estates across the UK, including local camp, Castlemartin.

Landmarc employees were joined by Armed Forces personnel and staff from DIO to witness the raising of the flag, where it will fly proudly until Armed Forces Week comes to a close on the 28th of June.

This Armed Forces Week, Landmarc has pledged its support and sponsorship of Team Emotive in its mission to complete one of the world’s most difficult ocean rowing challenges – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – all in the name of raising money for mental health charity, Veterans at Ease.

Made up of four Armed Forces veterans, including one Landmarc employee, Team Emotive is preparing to travel 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Rowing two hours on, two hours off for forty days, this challenge will push the team to its limits both physically and mentally. 23 rd June 2021

In addition, Landmarc has also announced its official partnership with the Armed Forces charity, SSAFA, working together to support veterans as they transition into civilian life.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc, comments: “Each year, every one of us at Landmarc gives thanks to our troops during this special week. As part of the 25 per cent of veterans and reservists that make up Landmarc’s workforce, I know first- hand how important this event is for morale within the Forces community.

“It’s always fantastic to see so many people and organisations come together each year for Armed Forces Week, but the events of the last fifteen months have heightened our gratitude. The efforts from our servicemen and women have been immense and impossible to ignore in the nation’s fight against COVID-19; with our own staff working alongside the military to support the demands of the training estate as it hosts troops from across the country.”

For more information on Landmarc Support Services, please visit www.landmarcsolutions.com.

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Endurance runner tackles Pembrokeshire Coast

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ENDURANCE runner Sean Conway has successfully completed his epic series of marathons in the UK’s National Parks.

On Thursday, June 17, Sean tackled the Pembrokeshire coast, running from Newport to Dinas Head and back, fuelled by sports nutrition brand ‘Grenade’.

Sean, who is from North Wales, has ran the length of Britain before but says this was the longest stretch of days where he has had to constantly do a marathon every day.

Speaking of his run in Newport, Sean said: “It was so hilly. Honestly, the weather was amazing. It wasn’t too hot and there were some nice views along the way. At Dinas Head, it was amazing looking down at the lagoons and there are some amazing rock formations.”

He took six hours to complete his marathon but there was little time for recovery as he moved on to his final run in Snowdonia the day after.

“This was my second-last marathon so my body was feeling pretty battered and I’ve had to do it fully self-supported so I was doing one run out then back to the car and then out again”, Sean added.

“With covid we’ve all been staying at home more so I wanted to show off how amazing the National Parks are.

“There will be more of us visiting as restrictions are eased but we don’t want to ruin it by being silly.”

Sean was provided with his nutrition for the runs by Grenade and he said he ‘would not have been able to survive without them’.

In the morning he would have an energy drink which contained vitamins and electrolites and he would also mix this in with his water for some of his runs.

Sean would also have protein bars to give him an extra boost as he tried to keep on top of his protein intake.

“Pembrokeshire was so scenic. When I announced the runs this was the run that stood out online and I was really looking forward to doing it. We’ll definitely be coming back soon” Sean concluded.

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