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The perfect time to try pork from Wales

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TV chef Angela Gray: Pork for Wales ambassador

TV chef Angela Gray: Pork for
Wales ambassador

FROM September 19 to October 4, British Food Fortnight will celebrate the finest local produce from around the UK. Taking place at harvest time, this annual national festival promotes the benefits of eating seasonal food which, in the autumn, includes ham and sausages. And you won’t find any better than those made with pork from Wales.

Pork from Wales is steeped in the tradition, knowledge and expertise, handed down over many generations, needed to ensure that the quality of the end product is first class. Welsh farmers adapt their farming methods according to the time of year, giving the pigs the care they need in every season. The climate and landscape of Wales both contribute to producing quality pork.

Welsh pig farms are typically smaller and more specialised than their European equivalents. The pigs, mainly rare breeds including the native Pedigree Welsh, are kept in smaller herds and reared for longer, allowing them to mature. As a result, pork from Wales has a darker colour to its skin and rose-coloured flesh and this is reflected in its taste, as testified by TV chef Angela Gray, who runs a cookery school at Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan.

She said: “Generally kept in smaller herds, the pigs tend to live in a more natural environment and are less stressed, improving the overall quality of the meat. From taste to texture, the difference in quality is clear: compared to supermarket products, Welsh pork is much better for cooking.”

Angela is one of 14 ambassadors for pork from Wales who have been chosen to feature on the new Porc.Wales website, which was created to showcase the fantastic pork that Wales produces.

Emma Rose, who runs Rhosyn Farm near Carmarthen with her husband Neil, features on the new Porc.Wales website which is designed to encourage people to eat local pork. Emma is just one of a small handful of producers who were picked to tell the story about why pork produced in Wales is so special.

Emma and Neil have been running the farm since 2006 and now have around 100 acres of woodland for their herd of Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. Their flavoured sausages have won six gold awards at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, where they also won gold for their bacon and came third overall in the competition.

Emma said: “Thanks to grazing on a wide variety of nutrients and minerals from the woodland soil, our pigs produce stronger flavours and tastier produce. This breed is special to us as it delivers both wonderful bacon and pork, but it is also one of our rare breeds; one which I am keen to support and protect.”

Michelle and her husband, from Cosheston, started keeping pigs as a hobby before deciding to go into rearing them to sell at local farmers’ markets. Then in 2014 they set up Slow Pig, a hot food van serving up slow roast pork, handmade burgers, chorizo and their own frankfurters at food and music festivals, weddings and events across Wales.

She said: “We now keep around 50 pigs at our farm, where they are free to roam outdoors in pasture and Beech woodland. We raise mainly Saddleback and Magalitza breeds; the latter are a rare, curly-coated Hungarian breed known for their high fat content, making them particularly suited to charcuterie. Our pigs are reared to 14 – 19 months and because they’ve taken longer to rear, this makes for a tastier product and we think that makes all the difference.

“The connection between the farm and the van means that we use the whole of the pig, meaning we get to try out lots of interesting dishes, and that nothing is wasted, from beautiful slow-braised pigs’ cheeks to a Welsh favourite, homemade faggots. Our trademark dish is the Crispy Pig Burger, slow-roasted pulled pork, shaped into a patty, then coated in a panko crumb, deep fried and served with an apple slaw.

“Our pigs are reared in small herds and are free-range means they have the best standard of living. Slow Pig customers care about food provenance and don’t mind paying a little extra for a premium product.”

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), which created Porc.Wales, is the organisation for the development, promotion and marketing of Welsh red meat. They work with all sectors of the red meat industry, from farmers through to retailers, to develop profitable markets for PGI Welsh Lamb, PGI Welsh Beef and pork from Wales.

Melanie Hughes, Market Development Officer at HCC said: “The pork industry in Wales is growing and also innovating and it’s something that we can all be very proud of. The new Porc.Wales website informs foodies about the wonderful people and products that we have in this sector of the meat industry in Wales and it will hopefully encourage consumers to buy good quality, locally produced pork.”

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Community

Latest on Skills Partnership’s employment plan at Royal Welsh Show

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THIS WEEK (Jul 22) at the Royal Welsh Show, the Mid Wales Regional Skills Partnership (RSP) unveiled its update to the Employment and Skills Plan 2022-2025. It addresses the region’s evolving employment and skills needs, reflecting sector growth and economic demands.

The updated plan incorporates new labour market intelligence and qualitative data, providing accurate growth forecasts for Powys and Ceredigion. The RSP collaborated with business-led cluster groups to gather industry-specific insights, ensuring the plan meets the Mid Wales economy’s current and future demands.

The updated plan highlights key growth areas up to 2028, including a 6% increase in the construction and advanced manufacturing sectors, a 9% rise in food and drink production, and a 4% growth in the digital sector. It also emphasizes the importance of skills linked to Net Zero and energy, highlighting emerging workforce requirements.

Councillor James Gibson-Watt, Leader of Powys County Council, and Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Co-Chairs of the RSP Board said, “We are pleased with the positive steps the region has made in growth. By collaborating with schools, colleges, universities, and training providers, the RSP is helping to ensure that the right skills are available at the right time to meet the demands of our Mid Wales employers.”

Emma Thomas, Chair of the Mid Wales Regional Skills Partnership, said, “The Employment and Skills Plan Update 2024 is a testament to our ongoing efforts to support the region’s economic development.

The Mid Wales RSP encourages stakeholders, businesses, and the community to explore the comprehensive Employment and Skills Plan on the Growing Mid Wales site: www.growingmidwales.co.uk/midwalesskillspartnership

The RSP is part of the Growing Mid Wales team, and works across the counties of Ceredigion and Powys, ensuring the development and delivery of the vision for Growing Mid Wales. This includes working to drive investment in skills by developing responses based upon local and regional need.

Stay updated on the latest developments with the work of Growing Mid Wales, by signing up for a monthly newsletter. Email [email protected].

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Community

New guide for older people on accessing GP practices in Wales

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THE OLDER People’s Commissioner for Wales has launched a new guide to help older people and their families better understand their rights when accessing their GP practice, and the kinds of services and support that should be available.

The Commissioner has published the guide after research she undertook earlier this year found that changes to the way services are delivered, and the changing roles of health professionals working with GP practices, have left many older people struggling to find suitable appointments.

The guide includes information on a range of topics, from communicating with your practice, to finding the right service and professional, to the support that should be offered to help meet your needs, to what you can do if you’re not happy with the service you are receiving. The guide also includes contact details for organisations that can provide help and support to older people and their families, including the Commissioner’s own Advice and Assistance Service.

The guide was developed with support from older people, as well as health professionals and other key stakeholders, and is being distributed to every GP practice in Wales, as well as to older people via community-based organisations.

Versions of the guide are available in BSL, Audio and Easy Read formats, alongside summaries in other languages.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “As we get older, accessing GP practices often becomes a more prominent part of our lives and can play an important role in helping us to stay healthy and independent.

“One of the key findings from my recent ‘Access to GP Practices’ report was that many older people are unsure about what services are available from their GP practice and what they are entitled to.

“That’s why I have produced this guide, to empower older people and their families, and help them better understand their rights when accessing GP practices.

“This will help people feel more confident when making appointments and engaging with their GP practice, better understand the services and support they are entitled to, and feel more empowered to raise issues or concerns.”

Alongside launching her information guide, the Commissioner has also published a progress report3, which provides an update on the action taken in response to her ‘Access to GP Practices’ report since its publication in March.

The progress report highlights the ways that the Welsh Government and health boards are using the Commissioner’s findings to shape policy and practice, as well as the commitments made by other key organisations to deliver action to improve older people’s experiences.

The Commissioner added: “I was pleased to see the positive response to my ‘Access to GP Practices’ report and welcome the action that’s already underway.

“It is now essential that policy- and decision-makers build on this and deliver further action against my recommendations, something my team will be pressing for and closely monitoring as we move forward.”

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Community

Barafundle Bay named cleanest beach in the UK

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PEMBROKEHIRE’S Barafundle Bay has been honoured as the cleanest beach in the United Kingdom, according to a comprehensive study by LitterBins.co.uk. The study, which analysed TripAdvisor reviews, Google ratings, cleanliness scores, and bacteria levels, places Barafundle Bay at the top of the list, making it the perfect destination for families this summer.

The research, conducted just in time for the school holidays, evaluated 50 popular beaches across the UK. Barafundle Bay achieved an impressive 86% excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, a 4.9 out of 5 Google star rating, and a cleanliness score of 78 out of 100. The beach also boasts low average bacteria levels of just 10 cfu/100ml, indicating pristine water quality.

Barafundle Bay, often referred to as one of the UK’s hidden gems, is renowned for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Accessible only by a half-mile walk from the nearest car park, the beach is free from commercialisation, contributing to its immaculate condition. Visitors can enjoy a tranquil and scenic environment, making it an ideal spot for relaxation and family outings.

Local authorities and residents are delighted with the recognition. Councillor Gwen Jones of Pembrokeshire County Council commented, “We are incredibly proud of Barafundle Bay being named the cleanest beach in the UK. This accolade is a testament to the hard work of our community in maintaining and preserving our beautiful coastline.”

Pembrokeshire is no stranger to pristine beaches, with several others in the region also receiving high rankings for cleanliness. Rhossili Bay and Mwnt Beach, for instance, both feature in the top ten cleanest beaches in the UK, highlighting Wales’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty.

The study also sheds light on other top-ranking beaches across the UK. Woolacombe Sands in Devon and St Cyrus Beach in Aberdeenshire were ranked second and third, respectively. However, the recognition of Barafundle Bay stands out due to its combination of natural beauty and exceptional cleanliness standards.

The designation of Barafundle Bay as the UK’s cleanest beach is expected to boost local tourism, drawing visitors eager to experience its unspoiled charm. Local businesses are preparing for an influx of tourists, hoping to showcase the hospitality and beauty of Pembrokeshire.

As the summer holidays begin, families are encouraged to visit Barafundle Bay to enjoy its stunning scenery and safe, clean environment. The accolade not only puts Pembrokeshire on the map but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our natural landscapes for future generations.

For more information on Barafundle Bay and other top clean beaches in the UK, visit the LitterBins.co.uk website.

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