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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

Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire

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MILFORD HAVEN’S Torch Theatre is launching ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’, an exciting new community project that aims to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit.

We all love a good story, but they are especially good if they throw light on the place that we are from. The Pembrokeshire Story is trying to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.

The inspiration behind the project originated from the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran, who, whilst caring for his father who was suffering with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020, encouraged his father to elaborate on stories which previously he had only touched on in passing.

Peter said: “My father told us of his time as an evacuee, having been sent from his home in Liverpool to the Welsh speaking village of Llamberis in North Wales. It was a fascinating tale and one that we might never have heard about had it not been for Covid-19. We’re all so busy, I feel we just don’t spend enough time with each other to allow these wonderful moments to happen, we’re all so busy it would seem.”

Peter’s father has thankfully gone on to make a full recovery from Covid-19 and is continuing to tell many more stories.

The Pembrokeshire Story is being led by Tenby based creative James Williams, who has assembled a team of freelance artists to capture extraordinary stories in different mediums from across the county. These stories are only part of the project and the Torch Theatre requires your help to capture your stories told across the generations.

James added: “Local artists have already been working to gather stories from over the county, and now we’d like to ask you to join in. We are putting out a call for videos made by young people where they interview their grandparents or older relatives about their experiences and stories of Pembrokeshire. These videos will be added to an online Living Archive which will be available for anyone to access.”

All the stories submitted will be added to the Living Archive on the Pembrokeshire Story website which will be launched in April. Videos can be made on a phone or recorded from a digital platform call (ideally filmed in landscape), they can be in English or in Welsh but must be no longer than 5 minutes.

If you would prefer not to film your submission, we would be happy to receive your story as an audio recording (mp3 format) or in writing, with an accompanying photograph.

For more information visit https://www.torchtheatre.co.uk/the-pembrokeshire-story/

If you would like to submit a story, please contact James Williams via this email address marketing@torchtheatre.co.uk

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NHS worker from Pembroke Dock raises over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge

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An NHS worker from Pembroke Dock has raised over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge with her husband Edd, having been inspired by the support their young niece received as a baby at Glangwili Hospital Special Care Baby Unit.

Donna Reed works in the Communications Team at Hywel Dda University Health Board and wanted to do her bit to say thanks to everyone who nursed Layla and supported the family for several weeks when she arrived very early in 2012.

Donna says, “Born at just 3lbs, Layla is now a beautiful, bubbly and full of beans eight-year-old. As a family we’d like to give something back to the staff who cared for Layla when she was so tiny.”

Donna and Edd raised over £1,000 on a JustGiving page and a donation of £500 was made by Edd’s employer, Valero Energy Ltd, where he works as a Process Operator.

Karen Jones, a Senior Nurse thanked the couple for their efforts. She said, “We really appreciate what Donna and Edd have done to support us. Donations like this are used to purchase items for parents and babies in order for their stay to be more comfortable and to help make the stay less stressful – items such as parent pamper packs, items for the parent’s sitting room and overnight room baby’s journal, items to support breast feeding and items to support premature babies development. They are also used to support specialist neonatal training for staff and purchase specialist neonatal equipment.”

Donna and Edd are planning a series of physical challenges through the year. Donna adds, “A year on since I started fundraising for Glangwili Hospital’s SCBU, and after all but one of my events last year were postponed, I decided to take on a very unique challenge to raise another £100 to get to my target.

“I ran the Narberth Nobbler’s 4 x 4 x 48 challenge between March 5-7. The event involved me and Edd running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, a total of 48 miles over the weekend. This is an incredibly tough endurance event that will test our stamina, perseverance and mettle.”
Layla’s mother Rebeca said, “As Layla was born prematurely it was a very worrying time, however we knew she was in the best hands in SBCU as they built her up to a healthy weight and did everything they could to reassure us as parents.

“We are so grateful for the care and support that staff gave to Layla and to our family, and to my sister and Edd for raising money for the unit.”
Donna also plans to take part in Broad Haven Triathlon, Cardiff Half Marathon and Snowdon Marathon Eryri, providing they go ahead.
Donna would like to thank everyone who’s supported her fundraising so far and is encouraging people to donate if they can, “Any amount, no matter how small, will help make a difference and 100% of funds raised will go towards helping babies like Layla and their families,” she says.

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Community

Great Western Railway and the Fishguard Ocean Port – How WWI dashed ambitious plans for Fishguard

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by Doug Evans

ALTHOUGH Fishguard Port is best known now for its easy route to Ireland, it was once part of an ambitious plan to take trans-Atlantic passengers away from the likes of Plymouth and Southampton.

In 1889, the Great Western Railway rook over the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway, and in preparation of turning Fishguard into a purpose-built ocean liner port, the GWR opened its first station, Fishguard & Goodwick railway station, in 1899 while work on the new port began with the construction of Fishguard Harbour’s East breakwater.

The overlooking village of Harbour Village was built to accommodate workers and the necessary 27 acres site and 900 metre breakwater were provided by blasting 1.6 million tonnes of rock from the cliff face.

A new line would connect the proposed liner terminal on the East Breakwater to the West Wales line. The new 2 mile route, which would have bypassed the steeper gradients and curves on this part of the original line, would have included a deep cutting, embankments and two tunnels.

However, the project to build a breakwater and an ocean-going terminal was abandoned after it became clear silting (which could not be prevented by dredging) would stop large ocean-going ships from using the port.

Local legend has it that the engineer responsible for this mistake committed suicide after realising the port was not suitable for its intended purpose. Another local myth suggests that the breakwater was deliberately built this way as locals didn’t want the harbour to become too large.

The East Breakwater was left unfinished. Two short sections of the planned railway to the new port terminal were completed before the project was ended.

In 1906, Fishguard and West Wales was visited by the largest ship in the world at the time the RMS Mauretania.

Fishguard Harbour, from above

An archived pamphlet for the Fishguard Port from 1913 provides a fascinating insight into the journey from America to London at the time.

It reads: “Fishguard is situated on the south-west coast of Wales, and is the nearest British port to New York used by Atlantic liners. It affords the quickest means of reaching London, and is also a convenient port for the Continent.

“In addition, many parts of England and Wales are within easy access of Fishguard; the Metropolis is 262 miles away and this distance is covered in under five hours.

“Tickets for seats in the special train from Fishguard to London will be furnished to Saloon passengers holding railway coupons. Passengers who do not hold coupons can purchase same at Purser’s Office before leaving the steamer.

“Single tickets and outward halves of return tickets between Fishguard and London are available for three months if purchased in America, or if issued in exchange for vouchers obtained in America. In other circumstances they are available for ten days.

“The baggage of London-bound passengers is ready labeled, “London, via Fishguard,” the lettering being white on a purple ground, the bold lettering and the distinctive coloring precluding the possibility of confusion.

“The route from Fishguard to London, passing through the industrial centres in South Wales and the charming scenes of the Thames valley, is full of interest.

“The speed at which the run is covered is the most potent tribute to the excellence of the Great Western’s iron road and their rolling stock.  Only one stop is made, and this of a very short duration, at Cardiff.

“Between the Fishguard of today and that of even a decade ago there is a great difference. A bay which boasted but of a departing or rather departed fishing industry, and was visited by only a few coastwise traders and fishing craft seeking shelter, has been converted into a splendid harbour, a harbour in which great natural advantages have been ably supplemented by the works which the Great Western Railway Company have constructed.

“At the quay by the railway station the splendid fleet of turbine steamers running between Fishguard and Rosslare (Ireland) are berthed, and here are the most modern appliances for the speedy transfer from ship to train, or vice versa, of goods and baggage.”

Although the ambitious plans for Fishguard were not to be, the Port continues to this day, providing crossings to Rosslare with the Superferry Stena Europe providing two daily crossings all year round.

Transport for Wales operate from Fishguard Harbour and have special trains to connect with the arrival and departures of the Stena Line Superferry Stena Europe that operates to/from Rosslare.

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