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Project described as ‘fantasmagorical’

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John Dix: Pictured with My Guide volunteer, Kylene Rafferty

John Dix: Pictured with My Guide volunteer, Kylene Rafferty

A PEMBROKESHIRE man has described a project, which helps blind and partially sighted people regain their independence, as “fantasmagorical”.

88-year-old John Dix of Pembroke said that the My Guide scheme from the charity Guide Dogs Cymru had made a major difference to his life.

The scheme helps blind and visually impaired people to get out and about by pairing them with specially-trained volunteer guides in order to help them reach their mobility goal. This could be as simple as walking to the shops or a social club, or practising routes they have learnt with their rehabilitation officer. The aim is to increase mobility, confidence and independence.

John, a former submariner, had been reluctant to venture out due to his sight loss, but is slowly regaining mobility thanks to regular walks with 33-year-old volunteer Kylene Rafferty.

He said: “I can now go out and about where I couldn’t before, and meeting people is something I look forward to. I’m always happy when I know that Kylene is coming.”

The My Guide scheme has greatly improved his confidence, independence and mobility. “We converse together and meet other people as well, so the whole thing is fantasmagorical!” he added.

His wife, Daphne, said she also benefits from the service. “It gives John a break from me and he brings things back to me so we both share in it,” she said, “We are both very appreciative of the service.”

Kylene helped Guide Dogs to launch the project at Oriel y Parc, St Davids, in March 2014 while working as the charity’s Sighted Guide Ambassador. She said: “John is a lovely gentleman who I really enjoy being in a My Guide partnership with. He is great company and always brightens up my day with his upbeat personality and use of fun words.

“I genuinely get a lot out of volunteering for My Guide and always head home feeling as though I have made a real difference. It’s lovely just to go out for a relaxing walk in the fresh air.”

Ian Coxon, who took over the ambassador role from Kylene last year, said referrals are on the increase, with several clients waiting for guides to be trained. Identifying the right volunteers is vital, as the scheme involves working closely with adults who have a visual impairment.

He said: “We take care to get the right match of personality and interests. For example, a blind or visually impaired person may wish to work towards going to the football every week. A volunteer might only give an hour a week, but it needs to be a regular commitment.”

Volunteers receive specialist training in practical sighted guiding to enable them to form a successful and confident partnership with a visually impaired person. Further training focuses on improving communication skills and overcoming barriers to independence.

Ian added: “Volunteers say they get great satisfaction from helping a visually impaired person to become more mobile. They are giving something back to their community, and learning new skills that they can apply in day to day life. These are skills that transfer well to the workplace, and the qualifications can be added to a CV.”

Volunteers are currently needed for clients in Haverfordwest and Spittal. If you are over 18 and would like to know more, ring Ian Coxon on 07881 269572 or email Ian.Coxon@ guidedogs.org.uk

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Community

‘KINDNESS WILL ALWAYS OVERCOME’

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Pupils at Pembrokeshire Learning Centre re-planting their garden with the members of the youth engagement programme at MAWW Fire and Rescue Service.

GESTURES of kindness towards a group of young people have been praised.

The Pembrokeshire Learning Centre in Neyland suffered vandalism in September, where vegetable patches planted by pupils were destroyed.

The discovery of the damage upset and affected many pupils who had worked hard to grow the crops.

On hearing about the vandalism, the youth service at Mid and West Wales (MAWW) Fire and Rescue Service contacted the PLC offering to help re-plant and restore the garden.

Graham Jenkins, Service Youth Team Coordinator for MAWW Fire and Rescue Service said they had worked with the PLC on various schemes in previous years and were ‘particularly saddened to learn that the school’s garden had been vandalised in such a way’.

“Our youth engagement work has been restricted during the pandemic, but we are delighted to help these young people to re-plant their garden and, in so doing, re-energise our youth engagement programme in Pembrokeshire,” he said.

Sian Williams is Headteacher at the PLC, a school for 11-16 year olds with complex needs. She said: “We were all shocked and dismayed at the needless damage to an area where the pupils and staff had worked so hard to make into an enjoyable place to spend time. However we were touched by the outpouring of support and offers to help rectify the damage.

“One of our previous learners kindly reached out to help by donating his Education Maintenance Allowance in order to repair the damage. In addition B&Q Carmarthen donated plants to replace those destroyed, aided by MAWW Fire Service who worked alongside pupils to restore the garden to its previous state.

“We are hugely grateful, these offers restore your faith that kindness will always overcome.”

Jo Thomas, Teacher In Charge of the LRC, added: “We were so lucky to have the MAWW Fire and Rescue Service help us re-pot our garden, so it now looks good as new. We cannot thank everyone who offered help to us enough.

“It has made the young people in the PLC feel much happier because they were devastated at the damage children the same age caused, especially when they had worked so hard on the garden. All the children want to say a huge ‘thank you’.”

Local county councillor Simon Hancock said: “The ýoung people of the Pembrokeshire Learning Centre work so hard to cultivate their plants and improve their environment and it is shocking there has been this mindless vandalism. I am so grateful to the MAWW Fire and Rescue Service for their kind and timely support in putting things right.”

Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning, Cllr Guy Woodham also thanked the Fire and Rescue Service and the others who had helped stating: “When something as unkind as vandalising a school garden takes place, it is heart-warming when the community responds to address the wrong cause. I am very grateful for the continued support offered to the PLC by MAWW Fire and Rescue Service and all those who also helped restore the garden to its former glory.”

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Community

Nigel Parlor runs Newport Marathon for Pembrokeshire NHS

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Nigel Parlor

WELL done to Nigel Parlor from Merlin’s Bridge, in Pembrokeshire, who is running the Newport Marathon to raise money for NHS mental health services in the county.

Nigel, who works for Network Rail, has been in training since June for the event, which takes place on October 24th.

As he pounds the course, Nigel is raising money for St Caradog Ward at the Bro Cerwyn Centre in Haverfordwest.

He said: “I have been suffering myself with anxiety and depression for the last year, so feel it is an appropriate area to support.

“I’m taking on the challenge of running the Newport marathon to raise money for my local mental health unit and to make people aware of the importance of talking about their mental health.”

Nigel, who has previously taken part in Long Course Weekend and other running events, added: “I am looking forward to the challenge and being part of a team to raise money for a worthwhile cause.”

To support Nigel, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nigel-parlor Nicola Llewelyn, Head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they wanted to thank Nigel for his fundraising efforts.

““The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive,” said Nicola.

For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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Community

Pembrokeshire men run Newport Marathon to raise money for Glangwili

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Gerald and Bryan

COUSINS Bryan Hughes and Gerald Brace are running in the Newport Marathon to raise money for Prostate Cancer Services at Glangwili Hospital.

The pair are taking part in the ABP Newport Wales Marathon on 24 th October to say thank you for the treatment Bryan’s dad, Delroy Hughes, received at Glangwili Hospital after he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in July 2019.

Gerald said: “When Delroy was diagnosed it was a huge shock and worry for him and his family. But thanks to the quick action and treatment at Glangwili Hospital, along with radiotherapy at Singleton Hospital, Delroy has now been given the all-clear.”

“Bryan and myself will be running in the Newport Marathon to raise as much money as possible to give something back to the Prostate Cancer Unit for the fantastic work they do,” added Gerald, who is a 51-year-old personal trainer and sports massage therapist from Sageston, Tenby.

Bryan, 42, a Track Section Supervisor for Network Rail, from Haverfordwest, has completed the Newport Marathon before, in 2018. Gerald has also already completed two marathons, back in 2014.

Gerald said: “Training is going well. We are both up to 16 miles and reaching the business end of the training with an 18 and 20-miler to do in the next few weeks!”

The pair, pictured with Delroy Hughes, hope to raise £1,000 and are holding a raffle in October to help boost funds.

If you would like to donate to Bryn and Gerald’s fundraiser, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gerald-brace

Nicola Llewelyn, Head of Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board, said they wanted to thank Bryan and Gerald for their fundraising.

““The support of our local communities enables us to provide services over and above what the NHS can provide in the three counties of Hywel Dda and we are extremely grateful for every donation we receive,” said Nicola.

For more details about the charity and how you can help support local NHS patients and staff, go to www.hywelddahealthcharities.org.uk

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