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Sun shines on Sensory Garden opening day

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At the opening ceremony: (l-r) Cllr Collier, Claire Gray, Cllr David Bryan, Mrs Leney (all school governors) Headteacher Mrs O’Brien, Charles Young, Head of the LRC Mrs Byres, and Deputy Head Mrs Jones

At the opening ceremony: (l-r) Cllr Collier, Claire Gray, Cllr David Bryan, Mrs Leney (all school governors)
Headteacher Mrs O’Brien, Charles Young, Head of the LRC Mrs Byres, and Deputy Head Mrs Jones

AFTER MONTHS of hard work from a small band of dedicated volunteers, Mount Airey School’s ‘Sensory Garden’ was officially opened on Thursday , June 23.

The garden will provide opportunities for pupils, many of whom have highly complex needs, to access the outdoor environment in a ‘safe, engaging, and multi-sensory manner.’

The Sensory Garden was the brainchild of Milford Haven father Charles ‘Boney’ Young, whose son, Cai, was a pupil at the school’s Learning Resource Centre for four years.

Charles told The Herald: “In September 2012 , my youngest son was sent to speech and language therapy as a non-verbal child .

Speech and Language then put us into contact with the Doctors at Withybush Hospital for assessment of ASD.

“Not long after this , he was sent to Mount Airey. Needless to say , the results were outstanding and his speech , motor skills and confidence soon started to flourish .

“ In September 2015 , Cai was at an age where it was time for him to leave Mount Airey. In the final days of his schooling at this amazing school, I began chatting with Mrs O’Brien about how grateful I was to the school and its staff for all that they had done for Cai .

“I then suggested I could put Mount Airey up for a chance at a vote to win funding to help the school and , specifically , the LRC unit.”

Charles has previously raised funds for a number of charities, including Clic Sargent and the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, through the Charity Angling Festival, which was supported by The Herald in 2015.

After seeing a presentation from Mount Airey pupils in which they put forward the idea for a Sensory Garden in the school, the project was put forward for the funding competition

by the Charity Angling Festival. After a public vote on social media, Mount Airey LRC were confirmed winners with 75% of the vote.

After the Charity Angling Festival proved to be a resounding success, the hard work really began. After consulting with staff and pupils, a design for the garden, which focuses on providing individual and combined sensory opportunities for the user that they may not normally experience, was put forward.

After the plans were then developed, Lee Canny , of Canllin, prepared the necessary method statements and risk assessments for the work to take place.

Once the plans were approved, work could commence on clearing the site of the Sensory Garden – a plot of land adjoining the school which had been left to run wild for years.

Work started towards the end of 2015, and the site was eventually cleared. However, rain and gales hampered the efforts of Charles and fellow volunteers, Lawrence Drake and Byron Thomas-Jenkins.

Once Spring finally arrived, though, work was able to progress. Astonishing progress was made in turning a patch of wasteland into a feast for all the senses although , due to other commitments , Charles found himself regularly working alone.

Haverfordwest Mayor , Sue Murray , and local County Councillor, Jonathan Collier , also offered their support, with Jonathan even building the chimes and putting in a shift on the cement mixer!

Staff and pupils took the opportunity to thank Charles and his wife Claire for all their hard work at the opening ceremony on Thursday. Mount Airey pupils gave him a rapturous round of applause and sang a song dedicated to him before Cai cut the ribbon to officially open the garden on his return to the school.

On behalf of the pupils, parents, staff and Governing Body, Headteacher Mrs Cora O’Brien thanked the Young family for their tremendous generosity in creating a wonderful sensory garden.

She described it as: “A place to listen, a place to see, a place to smell, a place to taste, a place to touch.

“A place where we can all endeavour to remain forever young.”

Speaking after the event, Charles said: “I would personally like to thank Mrs O’Brien, Mrs Jones and Mrs Byres for allowing me to attend today. While I’m thanking individuals, I would also like to say a big thanks to Cllr Jonathan Collier and Chris , the Sheriff of Last Year , for attending today, and also to Cllr Sue Murray who was unable to attend. You have been instrumental in providing me with the emotional support to carry this out. I would also like to thank my wife and family, who often didn’t see me as I was up the garden at every dry opportunity.

“Everyone says that their school is their home away from home, but for these teachers and pupils , both past and present , this is their home, their playground and a stage for them to perform.

“The teachers here have taught friendship and given lessons in life, while conveying the values of authority and humbleness with equal perfection.

“ Today we were able to share in a dream that was once nothing but a passing comment in conversation.”

Even after the garden was completed, there were still funds remaining . After consulting with the teachers, it was arranged that some of the money should be put towards hiring a coach and sending the pupils and teachers of the LRC Unit on a free trip to Folly Farm, with the remainder to be put towards more gardening equipment for the Sensory Garden.

However, although the finishing touches were still being put to the Garden on the morning of the opening, Charles has no plans to rest on his laurels yet, and has planned to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast al Path without any food, money or camping gear later this summer to raise money for other good causes.

Charles thanked a number of people who contributed materials and expertise to the project free -of -charge, including Gareth Phillips at A and C Aggregate Tiers Cross, who provided sand, stone and concrete, Phillip and Steven Thomas of Tbs Turf, Lee Canny of Canllin, Andrew Gray and Son Plant Hire, local resident Fern Jones who donated the blocks for the wall, Scales and Tails who donated a fountain and pump, and finally The Pembrokeshire Herald and all the anglers who fished the Charity Angling Festival last year, who made it all possible.

Thomas Sinclair, Herald Editor, said: “Our newspaper is proud to support such an important community project, and we wish it every success for the future.”

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Return of Walk and Talk group for Dementia Action Week

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE Walk and Talk Group will make its return next week, coinciding with Dementia Action Week which runs from May 17-24.

Several events are being held across Pembrokeshire and the UK and PAVS has announced two Walk and Talk sessions.

One will be held in the South of the County in Begelly on Wednesday, May 19, and one in the North of the County in Newport on Thursday, May 20.

Walk and Talk is a dementia supportive group. The group provides the opportunity to socialise, improve your physical and mental wellbeing and at the same time enjoy the wonderful Pembrokeshire scenery. There will be walk and talk groups every week starting from next week.

Places are limited and will be on a first come first served basis,  to book a place on these walks please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email cherry.evans@pavs.org.uk

Dementia Action Week aims to promote and make people aware that with the right support, people living with dementia can live a good quality of life doing what matters most to them for as long as possible.

One in fourteen people over the age of 65 are living with Dementia and approximately 42,000 people in Wales have Dementia. 65% of people living with dementia are women and 35% men

The covid-19 pandemic meant that many groups and clubs had to shut down and that has made things difficult for those people living with dementia.

People were left isolated and feeling lonely but thanks to modern technology they have been able to keep many in contact with those groups and their loved ones.

Throughout Dementia Action Week there will be daily interviews on the radio station Pure West Radio with lots of information about the activities and points of reference for support across Pembrokeshire.

These daily interviews will cover everything from diagnosing dementia, support, carers perspectives and even the power of music. You can listen to these each day at 11.15am Monday to Friday and at 2.15pm on Saturday and Sunday

If you fancy trying out a ‘tea and natter’ session on Zoom on Tuesday, May 18, at 2.30pm please contact Cherry Evans on 07849 086009 or email cherry.evans@pavs.org.uk

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Cllr Mike James is new Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has a new Chairman.

Cllr Mike James became Chairman at the virtual Annual Meeting of Council today (Friday, May 14) following an extended period as Vice Chairman due to the Covid-19 situation.

Cllr James, who represents St Dogmaels, moves into the Chairman’s seat vacated by Cllr Simon Hancock.

Cllr Pat Davies was appointed Vice-Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

At the same meeting Cllr Hancock was appointed Presiding Member for the coming year.

Cllr James joined Pembrokeshire County Council in 2010 and has previously served as Chairman of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Chairman of National Park Wales.

Cllr James said: “I feel very privileged to be appointed Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“I always try to achieve the best in my life and this is right up there at the top.

“I hope I can achieve the high standard set by Councillors who have been Chairman before me. Councillor Simon Hancock most certainly accomplished that standard.”

Cllr James is married to Sian and they have two daughters, Fern James and Rhiannon Lloyd.

Born and bred in St Dogmaels, Cllr James attended Ysgol Llandudoch and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.

He worked for 32 years at Slimma/Dewhirst Cardigan and for four years as an LSA in Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn.

Cllr James has also served as Clerk to St Dogmaels Community Council, as the Carers Champion for Pembrokeshire County Council and as a representative on numerous other committees and sub-committees.

A member of Cardigan Rugby Club Male Voice Choir, Cllr James also sits on the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr James added: “The last 14 months have not been easy for many people. I hope there is a light at the end of a long tunnel where we can meet and speak to loved ones again.

“I am a people’s person and I hope, if I am allowed, to have the opportunity to meet and talk to as many residents in Pembrokeshire as possible.”

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister

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International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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