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Park plans for starry, starry nights

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IN 2012starysky/13, the Brecon Beacons achieved International Dark Sky Reserve status for the whole National Park. On a clear night in the Brecon Beacons, you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. It’s enough to make anyone starry eyed.

Now Pembrokeshire’s own National Park Authority has decided to try to create a number of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the county.

The UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe. You can find dark skies near where you live, if you can get away from bright lights such as street lighting. That could be in your back garden, a local park, or getting out of town altogether. From a city centre location we might see about 100 stars with our naked eyes, and the further away from the streetlights you go, the better the view becomes. Under a really dark sky we can see over 1,000 stars. We can even see our own galaxy, The Milky Way, stretching across the sky.

Pembrokeshire Cost National Park does not particularly lend itself to being a Dark Sky Reserve or Dark Sky Park because it is relatively small, ribbon-like, and is affected by significant light sources on the Milford Haven. These factors would make Dark Sky Reserve and Dark Sky Park requirements very difficult to meet, and the associated improvement commitments onerous to maintain.

Instead, officers have sought to identify a series of potential Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park. Dark Sky Discovery Sites are small, accessible observation sites with good night sky quality. Proposals for Dark Sky Discovery sites are submitted to and decided by the UK Dark Sky Discovery partnership, which is made up of national and local astronomy and environmental organisations.

There is currently only one Dark Sky Discovery site in the National Park: the National Trust’s car park at Broad Haven South. A spread of Dark Sky Discovery Sites across the National Park could help raise the profile of the Park, not only for stargazers and photographers but as part of more general “Park-at-night” type experiences (wildlife observation, John Muir/Duke of Edinburgh tasks, navigation, bushcraft and so on), potentially out of the main visit or season.

In order to qualify for Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) Site status, the proposed locations need to meet a number of criteria that make them safe and accessible as well as having suitably dark skies, in order to fully suppor t the above aims.

Dark Sky Discovery Sites are places that:

are away from the worst of any local light pollution

provide good sightlines of the sky

have good public access, including firm ground for wheelchairs.

The sites are generally freely accessible at all times The website sets out two clear categories of Dark Sky Discovery sites. The two darkness ratings are:

‘Orion’ sites. At these sites, the seven main stars in the winter constellation Orion are visible to the naked eye. Typically, this means away from, or shielded from, bright lights such as street lights, security lights or approaching car lights.

“Milky Way” sites. At these sites the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. They are much darker sites found only in more rural areas.

The ten selected sites are: Poppit Sands Beach; Bedd Morris National Park car park; Bwlch Gwynt; Garn Fawr National Trust car park; Rhosfach Common; Abereiddi Bay car park; Martin’s Haven National Trust car park; Kete National Trust car park; Stack Rocks National Park car park; and Skrinkle Haven National Park car park.

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Local florist creates stunning tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

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GWENDA’S Flowers From Home have created a beautiful floral display as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II following her passing on September 8. 

Chris used four flowers from around the country in his display. Daffodils from Wales, red roses from England, Eryngium (similar to thistles from Scotland) and Molluccella, which is also known as ‘the bells-of-Ireland’.

Gwenda’s Flowers From Home create high quality arrangements and guarantee a personal touch with every bouquet. 

Chris, 39, named his business after his grandmother. Chris said she was a royalist and she loved the Queen. 

He feels as though this tribute is very fitting and is proud to make the display in his grandmother’s name. 

The display is currently located in Haverfordwest at the War Memorial. 

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Veteran opens Slimming World in Milford Haven

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ARMY Veteran, Rachel, has launched her own Slimming World group in Milford Haven after her own positive experiences. 

“I changed lives in the army and hope to continue changing lives for people in Milford Haven.”

Rachel was born and raised in Milford Haven. As a small child, she was “active and busy” and a real tomboy alongside her brothers. 

In 1998, she joined the Army at 16-years-old as a Combat Medical Technician. Following training, Rachel served in Germany, all over the UK, overseas in Cyprus, and was deployed to Oman, Kosovo, Bosnia and Poland before retiring from service in May 2021.

Her role as a combat medical technician meant she often had to deal with soldiers who had been injured in war zones. Rachel described dealing with the range of injuries as “life-changing”.

Rachel’s job not only consisted of helping soldiers physically recover; she also helped them with their mental well-being. 

She said she: “always pointed out the positives ahead of them for their lives and their families.

“The fulfilment I would get from seeing them recover and their family made whole again is so rewarding, I cannot put it into words.”

She has always been a strong, physically fit person. She enjoyed an active lifestyle and felt as though she “could always eat what she wanted.”

In 2017, she was posted to Harrogate. Rachel was 36 years old and had recently given birth to her third child, a daughter, after already having two sons aged 13 and 5. 

She says she was almost two stone overweight even before her pregnancy. 

Rachel said: “So here I was with four stone to lose. I had lost all confidence and was at a loss.

“I was at a GP surgery when I saw a poster for Slimming World. I was there for my daughter’s first vaccinations and that’s when I decided to join my local Harrogate Slimming World group.”

Rachel said she was welcomed to the group with open arms. She described the members as being lovely, offering to make her a hot drink after being weighed or hold her baby while she got settled into the group. 

It was at this group that Rachel found her love for Food Optimising, which is Slimming World’s unique plan to lose weight and get healthy. 

She swapped takeaway meals for ‘fakeaways’ using recipes she learned from her group. 

After only a week, Rachel had lost 4 lbs and knew this new plan was one she could follow. 

Over the next 10 months, she enjoyed curries, chillis, chips loaded with a variety of toppings and cheese within her daily allowance, and she could still enjoy treats every now and then. 

By June 2018, she had hit her target and lost the whole four stone. She said she “felt amazing!”

Unfortunately, during lockdown, she became a single mum and was at an “all-time low”. She moved back to Pembrokeshire in December 2021 and quickly swapped healthy meals for quick and easy, high-fat processed meals.

Rachel said: “Being stuck in the house with three children during lockdown was hard. 

“As I was working from home with nowhere to go, I found myself mindlessly eating as I was only eating out of boredom. 

“I put almost two stone back on and I was devastated.”

In January 2022, she decided to get into shape again. She joined the local Slimming World group in Johnston. 

Rachel said she had two stone to lose and was determined to return to her target weight. 

She claims she was blown away by the consultant Kelly’s knowledge of the plan and her motivation. 

“She guided me back through the new member talk, reintroduced me to my love of Slimming World and allowed me to fall in love with the plan all over again!” Rachel added. 

“The warm atmosphere and the gentle reminder that the plan can be used for all the family reignited my passion.

“Since January 10, 2022, I have lost one stone and five pounds. I am only two-pounds away from my personal target.”

After talking about Slimming World and the freedom it allows Rachel to have, she joined Slimming World and trained to be a consultant. 

Thanks to her time in the Army, helping those with their physical and mental health, Rachel feels that she would be well suited to helping those achieve their goals. 

She commented: “The training is thorough and covers not only the plan but the psychology of wanting to lose weight. 

“It has totally changed my views on how I shop, cook and eat food, and I hope my drive and motivation will help others to do the same.”

To join Rachel’s Slimming World group, call Rachel on 07391 634033 or visit Milford United Football Club, Marble Hall Road, every Thursday at 5.30pm. 

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National one-minute silence for the Queen will be held at 8pm on Sunday

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A NATIONAL one-minute silence will be held in honour of the Queen at 8pm on Sunday, Downing Street announced on Monday (Sept 12).

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “At 8pm on Sunday 18 September, the night before the state funeral, there will be a one-minute silence where the public are invited to come together and observe a national moment of reflection to mourn and reflect on the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II.”

“The silence can be marked privately at home on your own or with friends and neighbours, out on your doorstep or street with neighbours, or at any locally arranged community events and vigils.”

“We encourage local community groups, clubs and other organisations to mark this moment of reflection. And if you are overseas, people are encouraged to mark the silence at their local time.”

“The shared national moment of reflection is an opportunity for everyone across the UK to mark the death of Her Majesty and we will set out details of where the Prime Minister will mark it closer to that time.”

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