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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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New mobile visitor centre ready to help visitors gear up for the Pembrokeshire Coast

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Park Authority Ranger Richard Vaughan and Summer Ranger Megan Holt with the new information van at Poppit Sands.

PEOPLE visiting some of Pembrokeshire’s top beaches and events may soon encounter a new mobile information centre, with a specially converted van ready to hit the road and help people enjoy their visit.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s new information van will be set up at seaside locations and popular local events, with Rangers on hand to give advice to those who need help and suggest free activities for those looking to discover the area’s wildlife.

National Park Authority Ranger Service Manager, Libby Taylor said: “This new vehicle will help our staff provide a range of information at locations where we know many people head to enjoy the National Park.

“As well as helping people learn more about the area and the different ways they can make the most of their visit, people can also find out how they can make the least impact on the Park during their stay.

“As well as having an awning to provide shelter, the van also includes space for magnetic panels that can be changed so the information that’s most relevant to the location or event can be provided.”

The vehicle, which has been converted by local company Poppit Campers, also includes a solar panel, which will help to power two iPads, which will give members of the public a chance to find further information on subjects such as nearby walks and wildlife identification.

The purchase and conversion of the vehicle was made possible through the support of the Welsh Government.

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Community

Deadline approaching for £500 payment to unpaid carers

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THE DEADLINE to apply for a one-off £500 payment to eligible unpaid carers in Wales is rapidly approaching.

The Welsh Government scheme, administered by Pembrokeshire County Council, is open to all unpaid carers in Wales who were in receipt of Carers Allowance on 31 March 2022.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on 15th July 2022 and those who believe they are eligible are urged not to miss out.

The Council is also sending out 400 letters this week to those they believe may be eligible and who have not yet applied.

The payment is in recognition of the increased financial pressures many unpaid carers experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help with some of the additional costs they have incurred. 

The payment is targeted towards those individuals who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and have low incomes.

You will not be eligible for the payment if:

  • You have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance but do not receive a payment because you are in receipt of another benefit at the same or higher rate; or
  • You only receive the carer premium  

If you have already applied please be assured the Council is working its way through the applications as quickly as possible.

How to apply

Applicants (this should be the person in receipt of carer’s allowance)

are required to complete the online form at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/grants/unpaid-carers-500-pound-payment

Required information is:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Post code
  • A bank statement showing your name, address, account number and sort code

If you are having problems completing the on-line application form please email: UnpaidCarers@pembrokeshire.gov.uk alternatively call 01437 764551 for assistance.

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Crime

Lola James: Two people have denied charges in connection of the death of 2-year-old

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TWO people who have been charged in connection with the death of a Haverfordwest toddler have denied charges.

30-year-old Kyle Bevan of Aberystwyth, denied a charge of murder at Swansea Crown Court.

Lola’s mum Sinead James, 29, denied a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

Lola died in Hospital on July 21, 2020, four days after sustaining a severe head injury at her home address in Princess Royal Way, Haverfordwest.

Bevan was remanded into custody.

James was released on conditional bail.

The trial will take place in 2023 and Judge Thomas said it is expected to last four weeks.

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