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Grieving mum hits out at defence force

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mum hits outHEARTBROKEN mum Helen Thomasen, from Haverfordwest, has slammed the armed forces after her hero son was killed in an Afghanistan firefight.

Lance Corporal Rory Malone was gunned down after he saved the life of Major Craig Wilson, who had been shot by insurgents.

The 26-year-old was then hit by a 7.62mm calibre round before he died on the battlefield with fellow Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer. But Helen, originally from New Zealand, has been appalled by her treatment at the hands of the New Zealand Defence Force, where her son served.

She claims she was misled over the role her boy was playing in the warzone.

“The average New Zealand soldier has not seen combat since Vietnam,” Helen said.

“Our soldiers are only really deployed for peacekeeping missions.”

But this time was different. The so-called “Battle of Baghak” saw Rory and Pralli killed and six wounded, two by so-called friendly fire.

“I never thought for a moment that he would ever be in danger, it had never crossed my mind,” the mum of seven said.

On the day of the battle, on August 4, 2012, Malone – the great-great-grandson of Gallipoli campaign commander Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone – was assigned to one of four patrols. They were responding to a help call from the NDS – the Afghan secret police – who had come under fire after catching a bombmaker in the remote Baghak Valley.

Craig’s patrol were first on the scene. They were there for six hours. Then Major Wilson arrived.

While Malone was briefing Wilson, he saw an insurgent and started shooting at him over Wilson’s shoulder.

The major was hit in the arm and dragged to the back of a Humvee truck by Malone and an unnamed officer.

Malone, who had by then taken a bullet in the leg, also got in the vehicle. But he got out again. The family do not know why he did this.

Seconds later he was dead.

Helen, 53, said questions needed to be answered about why her became a “sitting duck” and why footage of the firefight showed her son “appears to be in charge” of the situation despite his rank.

But she feared she would never get the “full information” from the military.

Helen heard her boy was dead when she was called from New Zealand by her son Peter at 2.30pm, UK time.

“I knew instantly something was wrong because he was ringing at that time,” Helen said.

Peter told her: “Rory has been shot and he is dead.”

“I told him not to ring me up and tell that s*** to me because how could that be true,” Helen said.

Just discovering her son was in combat was “a huge shock”.

“The thing about New Zealand soldiers is that they do not expect to see armed combat,” she said.

“You can be in the army for 20 years and never see armed combat.”

The former Dyfed-Powys Police traffic warden used to watch British soldiers’ coffins being removed from planes on the news.

“I would think, ‘Thank God I never have to go through that’,” she said.

The NZDF could not be reached for comment.

But in a previous statement it insisted it was satisfied with care shown to Malone’s family, and it was always trying to improve.

“The NZDF continues to learn from these experiences and adapt its procedures,” a spokesman said.

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Castell Howell Foods highlights sector concerns over Covid recovery

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THE HOSPITALITY sector may be opening up, but transport and supply issues are hampering the industry’s recovery – according to Castell Howell Foods.

One of the UK’s largest independent food wholesalers, Castell Howell, has taken the step of contacting customers to highlight the significant challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from the pandemic.

While there is relief at easing lockdown and optimism for a busy summer with bookings for UK ‘staycations’ and leisure activities, pressing issues remain.

Shortages of key staff and problems faced by some suppliers have resulted in the Welsh wholesaler being forced to make some “uncomfortable” decisions and changes to its operation, including having to pass on some supply chain price increases.

In particular, a shortage of qualified delivery drivers has meant the Cross Hands based business has had to be resourceful to maintain its delivery frequency to its customers. To help bridge the gap in the short term, other Castell Howell staff who hold an HGV licence have been temporarily redeployed to the transport department. Among them are area sales managers.

Castell Howell Sales Director, Kathryn Jones, said “Unfortunately, due to the drastic reduction in sales in 2020, our workforce decreased by over 100 colleagues. Whilst we now need most to return to the workplace, many have found alternative employment; this is a common theme across the supply chain.

“We have been actively advertising and recruiting for several months. However, as highlighted in the press, there are over 75,000 vacancies across the UK for HGV drivers alone.

“We too are currently short of drivers, especially Class 2 HGV. Driving a multi-drop vehicle for Castell Howell is a very different proposition to driving a limited drop schedule. Consequently, as you can imagine, it has been challenging to fill these vacancies.”
Stock availability is also an issue, as some suppliers struggle to manufacture under new social distancing rules. Delivery to Castell Howell from suppliers is also being affected by the UK-wide shortage of haulage drivers.

Kathryn Jones said, “To build up buffer stocks, we are increasing our volume of orders, especially for commodity lines. We aim to mitigate future stock shortages the best we can. We are constantly seeking substitute products from manufacturers who have the capacity to deliver. However, this is becoming increasingly more difficult.”

Castell Howell has made changes to its ordering process to improve its own deliveries, with earlier cut-off times.

“These changes go against the grain and were extremely difficult decisions to take. However, it is imperative to implement these in order to continue operating under these difficult circumstances whilst still maintaining a high level of service. We are very grateful to our customers for their support, patience and understanding.”

For Castell Howell, the difficulties arising from the pandemic were exacerbated by the loss of business with SA Brain & Co. This loss occurred following the Welsh company’s deal with brewery giant Marston’s to operate SA Brains pubs from January 2021.

Before that date, Castell Howell had been the sole supplier to SA Brain since 2008, including supplying 80 of the Welsh brewery’s managed public houses.

Kathryn Jones said, “However, despite the challenges in the supply chain and deliveries, we remain optimistic that the sector in the UK will work together to navigate through these unprecedented times and have a successful summer.”

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Port boss: Pembroke Dock development full permission an ‘important step’

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THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the Port of Milford Haven has welcomed a decision of “non-intervention” by the Welsh Government over plans to re-vamp Pembroke Dock’s historic port facilities.

The redevelopment scheme, approved by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Planning Committee in May, will see some areas such as a dock covered with sand and “infilled”.

Plans also include the demolishing of some buildings, erection of buildings and ancillary works.
Despite planning being granted at council level, full authorisation to go ahead with the development was not to be issued until the Welsh Government made its decision regards the matter.

More about the planning application can be read here: https://www.herald.wales/west-wales/pembrokeshire/major-marine-project-causes-concern-about-visual-impact-and-heritage-loss/

Now that the Welsh Government has decided not to interfere with Pembrokeshire County Council’s grant of planning permission, the Port’s boss, Andy Jones, expressed his delight, saying: “This marks an important step forward in the development of Wales’ clean energy centre at Pembroke Dock.

“It will provide sustainable opportunities for the many people who rely on the activity along the Milford Haven Waterway for employment.

CEO: Port Authority’s Andy Jones (Pic MHPA)

“Pembroke Dock Marine will unlock new opportunities for young people to enter the maritime, renewable and engineering sectors, build resilience within Pembrokeshire’s business community, and make a positive contribution to our natural environment as we transition to a low carbon energy generation.”

Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.

Objectors had complained that the plans were too large and would damage the historic dockyard, as well as having a visual impact on the dock.

The was opposition from local heritage campaigners, with complaints over the size of two huge proposed hangars which the project’s critics said would impact adversely the landscape.

The economic benefits of the £60 million marine energy “far outweigh” any impact on the historic environment, a report earlier this year to council planners said.

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Medical evacuation from LPG tanker off St Ann’s Head

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ANGLE Lifeboat was launched on service at 12:59pm on Thursday afternoon (Jun 10) to assist in a medical evacuation from a LPG tanker 13 miles SSW off St Ann’s Head.

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay in Cornwall was also on route. With the poor visibility due to fog, Angle all-weather lifeboat was to stand by the vessel to provide an alternative route for evacuation if needed.

After a choppy route in the poor visibility the RNLI volunteers arrived on scene at 2:07pm.

At the time of their arrival, the paramedic from the coastguard helicopter was aboard the vessel preparing the casualty to be winched to the helicopter.

In less than ten minutes the casualty was winched up to the helicopter and flown to hospital, at which point the lifeboat and crews were stood down and headed back to the station.

After rehousing shortly after 3:30pm the lifeboat was washed fuelled and made ready for service shortly after.

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