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Letters reveal hostility to school plans

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Criticised: Council leader Jamie Adams

Criticised: Council leader Jamie Adams

THE HERALD has seen correspondence between the Chair of the Tasker Milward and Picton Charity and Council Leader Jamie Adams that casts doubts on the legality of the Council”s revised proposals for the reorganisation of secondary education in mid and north Pembrokeshire.

The letter, dated September 8, takes Cllr Adams to task over the way the Council appears to have prejudged and predetermined the outcome of any fresh consultation.

Speaking to The Herald last Friday, former Council leader Maurice Hughes said: “It seems to me that talking about consultation with us and then telling parents of children in St Davids that their children will be going to Pembrokeshire College after the age of sixteen, gives the game away about just how much consultation and compromise the Education Department has in mind.”

Demonstrating that the Trustees of the Charity are not prepared to back down, Maurice Hughes” letter reads:

“The Trustees have become aware of the revised proposals (discussed at Council Thursday, September 10) and have taken advice on them. In relation to the proposals for Fishguard and St Davids, one recommendation is that post 16 provision should be in a new sixth form centre as part of a formal collaboration between the County Council and Pembrokeshire College.”

It goes on to point out that proceeding with consultation and publication would represent a predetermination of any subsequent proposals affecting Haverfordwest”s schools, rendering them unlawful. “Any consultation document,” the letter continues, “would itself be in breach of a number of provisions of the statutory code.”

Concluding the letter queries just what mutually satisfactory settlement the council is contemplating if it has already decided where the town”s pupils are to be educated after the age of sixteen.

A further missive was sent to all councillors by the Governors of Tasker Milward and Sir Thomas Picton Secondary Schools.

The letter discloses that a meeting took place between Ian Westley, Kate Evans-Hughes and the chairs of the schools” governining bodies.

It continues: “Various ideas were considered in the hope that a compromise solution could be found to suit all parties.

“Site locations were considered but the main sticking point is that we, the Governors, together with the staff, the pupils, and vast numbers of the local population, require to retain choice of education in the area which in effect means a new 11 – 19 year school in Haverfordwest incorporating a 6th form.”

Citing that the original recommendation of the council’s own specialists (Tribal) was that the 6th form should be run through a secondary school on or near a school site, the letter maintains that the reasoning behind the council’s desire to shuffle sixth formers off to Pembrokeshire College is ‘highly suspect’.

In addition, a new strand of debate is developed. The letter suggests that the Council’s long term plan is to shift all of Pembrokeshire’s sixth form provision to the proposed Pembrokeshire College Centre (which would chime with the original aim to put all post-14 education under the College, as revealed by Council Leader Jamie Adams nearly two years ago).

In relation to that prospect the letter points out: ‘The population of Haverfordwest has been particularly vociferous in its opposition to a 6th form centre and we feel that when it actually dawns on the population of south Pembrokeshire that their schools may suffer the same fate, individuals will at last awake’.

Criticising the local authority for seeking to site a new school on the smaller of the two available sites in Haverfordwest, the letter pours scorn on the proposal its authors say they ‘find it incredulous that this site has been chosen for what will in effect be a much larger school than currently exists on its grounds”.

On a final note, councillors are left in no doubt of the strength of the opposition to its plans: ‘We remain vehemently against any funding being routed through Pembrokeshire College, or the pupils being placed on that site.

‘If the Council does not listen to the voice of the people, it will be this Council which will have lost 21st Century funding.”

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The Pembrokeshire man on the Titanic

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ON the morning of April 15 1912, in the North Atlantic some 450-miles south of Newfoundland, the RMS Titanic slowly slid beneath the sea just two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg.

Stories from that night are famous, from the lookouts misplacing their binoculars to the ship’s band playing even as the sea washed over their feet, the sinking of the Titanic holds a special place in the public consciousness and continues to grab our attention some 109 years after the ‘unsinkable’ ship sank.

Over 1500 people lost their lives in the biggest maritime naval disaster at that point.

Among the dead were American and British millionaires, White Star Line employees and countless anonymous immigrants from across Europe who were all seeking a better life in America.

908 crew were on board the Titanic when it left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, one of the crew was a man called Charles Essex Edwards, 38, who sometimes gave himself the first name of ‘Clement’.

Charles was born in 1862 to John and Harriet Edwards of St. Martin’s Place, Haverfordwest.

He worked as a carpenter as a 19-year-old man and would end up moving out of Pembrokeshire and going to sea.  By the time he married a lady called Lavinia Ann Poulter, from Llanstadwell, in May 1892 he was living in Newport.

Lavinia, a Pembrokeshire woman herself, was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Poulter who lived on Lawrenny Terrace in Neyland.

By 1895, Lavinia had returned to Pembrokeshire following the death of her mother. Charles and Lavinia’s marriage suffered but Charles would continue visiting Lavinia and stayed at his father-in-law’s house when he was on shore leave.

Although still married in the eyes of the law, Charles and Lavinia were basically separated by 1901.

Charles signed on to work on the brand new RMS Titanic after it had completed its sea trials in Belfast Lough, he gave his address as 7 Brunswick Square, Southampton. He worked on the Titanic as an assistant pantry-man steward who earned a monthly wage of £3 15s on his previous ship the SS Zeeland.

SS Zeeland: The ship Charles worked on before the Titanic

When RMS Titanic left Southampton a massive crowd had gathered to see the newest addition to the White Star Line fleet depart. Charles Edwards was there. He was there when the ship picked up more passengers at Cherbourg and Cobh.

He would’ve been working during the day, his job entailed keeping the ship’s pantries stocked with food and wine, a vital job on a ship with such a high-class passenger list as the Titanic.

He was, more than likely, sleeping when Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg in the ship’s path at 11:40pm on Sunday, April 14. He would’ve been woken by the noise of metal on ice and the ship shuddering as it was torn open on the starboard side.

As the ‘unsinkable’ ship took on water Charles, as a White Star Line employee, would’ve been given the unenviable task of waking up passengers, informing them of what happened and getting them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the scale of the situation on the Titanic became apparent, the command structure effectively disintegrated.

Captain Edward Smith would’ve cut a forlorn figure as he wandered around near the wheelhouse and his last words to his crew, according to reports at the time were:

“Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you.

“You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.”

This would’ve been around 2:10am, at that point Charles would’ve faced a literal up-hill battle with male members of the crew only having a 24% chance of survival and many people gathering ‘like bees’ on the stern of the stricken liner which, experts say, raised to a 12 degree angle.

The Pantryman-stewards from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic

Many male crew members elected to stay at their posts as, according to Victorian culture it was better for men to die than to live and be perceived a coward, so the lights of the ship remained on until about 2:18am, just two minutes before Titanic broke apart and began its journey to its final resting place some 12,000ft below on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But now you know there was a man named Charles Edwards who was born in Haverfordwest and who died when the Titanic sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body, if it was recovered, was never identified and we don’t even have a picture of him.

When news of the disaster broke, The Pembroke County Guardian described the tragedy as ‘one of the most appalling calamities in the long history of shipwreck’.

Four men from Maenclochog, it was later revealed, had a lucky escape as their plans to emigrate that April on the Titanic were thwarted by one of their number being unable to travel, so the group decided to wait for their friend. That decision saved their lives.

Pembrokeshire responded to the sinking by raising money for the Titanic Relief Fund, Pembroke Dock raised £12 2s 0d through a collection at the Royal Dockyard and, in Haverfordwest, Sidney White, who would later go on to own The Palace Cinema, hosted benefit performances to packed houses which raised £5 15s.

Lavinia, after a legal battle with Charles’ brother William, was given £192 in compensation for Charles’ death and went on to look after her father at Railway Terrace, Neyland until he passed away.

Lavinia went on to move to Middlesex where she lived until 1934. She left her estate to her chauffeur.

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Derek Lister: Accused of making child abuse images
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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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