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St Davids: New RNLI station opened

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The St Davids RNLI lifeboat crew outside the old lifeboat station,which has seen lifeboats launch since 1912 (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

The St Davids RNLI lifeboat crew outside the old lifeboat station,which has seen lifeboats launch since 1912 (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

ST DAVIDS RNLI have ushered in a new chapter in their proud 147-year lifesaving history today (October 21) on an emotional day for crew members past and present.

The current lifeboat crew are delighted to move into their new £10m station at St Justinian’s, which has just been declared fully operational after intensive launch testing. The state-of-the-art building in one of the most remote corners of the Welsh coast took more than two years to construct and will now be the launch base for the station’s £2.7M Tamar class lifeboat and the smaller inshore lifeboat.

But today is also a day of reflection as volunteer lifeboat crew past and present say goodbye to the beloved Tyne class lifeboat Garside as it launches down the old station slipway for the final time. Garside first arrived on station in 1988 and in its 28 years of service has launched 343 times to emergencies at sea. Its crews have saved 79 lives and rescued 35 people.

Today crew from across the lifespan of the lifeboat – some of whom have been crew members for the entirety of its service – will take to the water to watch the final launch and say farewell to the stalwart lifesaving vessel.

st-davids-rnli

St Davids RNLI’s Tyne class lifeboat Garside’s crew waving goodbye after the boat’s final launch this morning. (pic. Lyndon Lomax)

It will also be the final time a lifeboat launches from the historic former lifeboat station in St Justinian’s, which has stood since 1912 and seen generations of crews pass down the slipway to save lives at sea.

St Davids RNLI Coxswain Dai John, who recently won a long-service award for his 30 years on the crew, said: “Crew members have come and gone, but Garside has been a consistent and reliable presence here for almost three decades.

“Every member of the crew will have their memories of her, whether it’s their first shout, the endless scrubbing to keep her pristine or a memorable rescue. Naturally we are all sad to see her go.

“But from today we will be looking forward and the new lifeboat and the new station and facilities mean we will be able to save lives at sea for many more years to come.”

The remote location of the new station posed many challenges for main building contractor BAM Nuttall, both in terms of access for plant and equipment and the unpredictable sea and weather conditions. The seaward part of the works were constructed using a large jack-up barge, whilst the landward foundation works and construction of the boathouse were serviced from the land using a 70m reach tower-crane. Wherever practical, materials were brought in by sea to minimise the effects on the narrow access roads.

As well as the slipway for the Tamar class lifeboat, the new boathouse has additional space to accommodate the smaller D-class inshore lifeboat.  Its facilities include a drying room for kit and better provision for crew training and equipment maintenance. There is better access to the station, which is important for the delivery of equipment and, more importantly, for the evacuation of casualties brought in by the lifeboat

Paul Eastment, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said: “This is a proud day for St Davids RNLI. Everyone involved in the project has put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get to where we are today.

“The former lifeboat station has stood for more than a century and the exposure to the rigors of the sea and the need to house the new 25-knot Tamar class lifeboat meant a new boathouse and slipway was needed.

“The new facilities will support the operation of the St Davids lifeboats well into the 21st century, contributing to the saving of many more lives and building upon the long and proud record of the brave lifeboat crews who have served this challenging part of the coastline for almost 150 years.’

Local people chipped in to support the new station project and the community arm of the fundraising appeal exceeded all expectations, raising over £214,000 towards the costs of the project. Welsh sporting stars Ian Walsh and Gerald Davies fronted the community appeal and the biggest bequest – a surprise £80,000 donation – was received in memory of the late Captain Bleddyn James by his sister Miss Ella.

Dai John said: “We would like to thank the local community, both for their overwhelming support via the fundraising appeal, and their patience and understanding during the period of construction.”

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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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