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Lifeguard helps deliver training in Philippines

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lifeguard helpsLIFEGUARD trainers from the RNLI have travelled to the Philippines to begin delivering a lifesaving tuition course, aiming to help save hundreds of people from drowning there each year.

Chris Rigby, from Pembrokeshire, is one of two of the charity’s instructors to travel to the Camotes Islands, where they will spend five days delivering lifeguard training to 26 candidates, before spending an additional three days teaching ‘train the trainer’ skills to ten of them.

Chris travelled to the Philippines last week, ready to start the lifesaving training programme from March 17. The candidates represent a variety of organisations across the Philippines – from lifesaving clubs and Coastguard departments to fire service, police and local government – but all have a shared need; to be able to save lives in water.

The course, which has been specially designed by the RNLI, will cover the essentials of lifeguarding, including recognising when a person is in distress; how to use rescue equipment; beach surveillance; risk assessments, and rescuing and treating a casualty.

After the training, the candidates will return to their respective areas of the Philippines better equipped to save lives from drowning. Those who have received the ‘train the trainer’ tuition will also have the skills to share their learning with others, so they can continue growing and developing their organisations into the future.

Steve Wills, the RNLI’s international development manager, explains: “Drowning is sadly a common occurrence in the Philippines. Many drowning deaths are preventable if there are trained lifesavers on hand to respond quickly and take the right action to carry out rescues and save lives.

“The course our trainers will deliver covers the absolute essentials of lifeguarding. Our priority is that we leave the candidates better equipped with knowledge and skills to save lives and, importantly, carry on developing the lifesaving abilities of their own organisations into the future.”

Before starting the 7000 mile journey Chris Rigby, South Wales RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, said: “It’s a real honour to join the RNLI’s International Team and being able to help tackle the global drowning epidemic. I am eager to make the 7000 mile journey to the Philippines and put the lifesaving and training skills the RNLI have taught and equipped me with into practise in what will be a completely different environment compared to my day-to-day work in Pembrokeshire.”

In a planned approach to tackling the estimated 400,000 drownings that happen worldwide each year, the RNLI is also helping develop lifesaving services in other countries where drowning is prevalent, including Bangladesh, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Senegal and the Gambia.

The charity is focusing on helping other organisations to help themselves by providing a range of services such as training, safety education, and guidance on search and rescue and flood resilience.

For further information see www.rnli.org/international.

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Wales’s oldest person, Mary Keir, celebrates 112th birthday

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MARY KEIR, recorded as Wales’s oldest person has celebrated her 112th birthday at Awel Tywi Residential Home in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire where she has lived for the last 12 years.

Surrounded by friends and family, Mary celebrated with a lunch of roast dinner followed by sherry trifle and then a buffet in the evening.

Pupils from Ysgol Ffairfach also visited to celebrate with Mary as well as Dinefwr Male Voice Choir who entertained Mary and all the residents at Awel Tywi with an array of songs.

Mary is still actively involved in life at Awel Tywi, taking part in activities, entertainment and meetings as well as helping other residents. She also remains a keen lover of music, in particular the piano which has been a lifelong passion.

A former ward sister and district nurse who lived in Llansteffan independently just before her 100th birthday, Mary then became a resident at Carmarthenshire County Council’s Awel Tywi Residential Home.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services said: “Happy 112th Birthday wishes to Mary.  My thanks also to our fantastic team of carers at Awel Tywi for delivering excellent care to Mary as well as all of the home’s residents”.

Her son Robert Keir and daughter-in law Sian Keir celebrated her birthday with her and said: “Mary, our mother and mother-in-law still has a great will and determination. She has received fantastic care at Awel Tywi and we really appreciate everything that the amazing staff do for her every day”.

The year Mary was born, 1912, was famous for a number of historical moments including:

  1. Sinking of the Titanic: On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Over 1,500 of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew on board died, making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.
  2. Founding of the Republic of China: Following the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China, the Republic of China was founded on January 1, 1912. Sun Yat-sen was the first provisional president, marking the end of over two thousand years of imperial rule in China.
  3. South Pole Expeditions: In 1912, the race to the South Pole concluded as Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition reached the pole on December 14, 1911, followed by Robert Falcon Scott’s British team on January 17, 1912. Scott and his companions died on their return journey.
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Working together to protect our countryside and our country

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OPERATION Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency taskforce of specialist from key agencies across Wales has reformed to reduce, and where possible eliminate the impact of grass fires across Wales.

The task force, which was initially established in 2016 to tackle incidents of deliberately set grass fires across Wales, will also be turning its attention to the increase in accidental fires, often caused as a result of our own careless behaviour when out enjoying the countryside. 

In 2023 fire services across Wales attended 1,880 grassfire incidents – this was a decrease of 45% on the previous year with deliberate grass fires decreasing by 1,059 (45%) to 1,301. We want to continue in this direction.

Every year fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of countryside, open space, and wildlife habitats.  We want to work with our communities to build a healthier and resilient countryside and to develop a more biodiverse countryside for the future. Working with our communities and sharing our knowledge provides us a better understanding on what we can do limit the damage that accidental fires cause to our environment.

Peter Greenslade, Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and Chair of Operation Dawns Glaw, said: “We launch our campaign again this year on St David’s Day, with a patriotic plea that we all continue to work together to build a healthier and more resilient Welsh landscape, by developing a more biodiverse countryside for our future. We want to continue to protect our landscapes, green grassland, and countryside that we are all so fortunate to have on our doorstep.

“We want to work with our communities, farmers, and landowners to share our knowledge and understanding of the effect that both deliberate and accidental fires have on our communities.  We understand that controlled burns can have a positive effect on the environment, creating biodiversity and a sustainable eco system and we are available for free advice on how do to this safely.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to reinforce our messages that while accidents can happen, there are some within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside – not only is this a crime, for which they will be prosecuted, but it also places unnecessary pressure on front line services and puts our communities in harm’s way. I would encourage anyone with information relating to such crimes to call 101, or to report anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111”. 

The Operation is also continuing its work with farmers and landowners across Wales, reminding them that while they may burn heather, grass, bracken and gorse up until the 15 March (up to 31 March in Upland areas), they must have a Burn Plan in place to ensure they are burning safely. It is against the law to burn outside of the burning season and can result in penalties of up to £1000.

Find out more about #DawnsGlaw 2024 via Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s website www.mawwfire.gov.uk/DawnsGlaw, where you can also access some simple safety tips and download the campaign’s safety messages for use on your own social media channels. Together we held stop grass fires and protect our countryside and our country.

Remember – If are out enjoying the countryside and you do come across any suspicious activity, please call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101. In an emergency, always call 999.

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Lonely Planet says Heart of Wales line ‘one of best rail journeys in Europe’

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WORLD famous travel guide Lonely Planet has named the Heart of Wales railway line as one of the best rail journeys in Europe.

Described as ‘a spectrum of scenery’ that alternates ‘from the sand-edged estuaries of South Wales’ to ‘one of England’s prettiest medieval cities’, the line has been ranked amongst the top ten train rides in Europe for 2024.

Others on the prestigious list include the Le Petit Train Juane in the French Pyrenees, The Berina Express in Switzerland and The Brenner Railway passing through Germany, Austria and Italy.

Running between Swansea and Shrewsbury, a full trip on the line takes 4 hours and covers nearly 200km, passing through villages such as Llandeilo and Llandovery within the south and Craven Arms and Church Stretton further north.

Marie Daly, Chief Customer and Culture Officer at Transport for Wales said: “The Heart of Wales line is a beautiful rural railway that is popular with day trippers and walkers, it also provides vital links for the rural communities in Mid Wales and the Borders.

“It’s great to be recognised internationally by Lonely Planet and I’d encourage visitors to take a ride and enjoy the experience of dramatic mountains, forests, wild rivers and the quaint towns and villages of Shropshire, Powys, Carmarthenshire and Swansea.”    

“At TfW we’re on a journey to improve public transport and also to encourage people to choose sustainable travel.  For those visiting and interested, please visit www.walesonrails.co.uk to see the many wonderful places and attractions within Wales and how they can be accessed using public transport.”

Owen Griffkin, Heart of Wales Community Rail Partnership Officer said: “It was wonderful to see the Heart of Wales Line included as one of the top ten rail journeys in Europe. We are very proud of the railway and to see it gaining global recognition as one of the most scenic routes in Europe is something we can celebrate.

“Articles like this will drive more tourism to the area and provide economic benefits to communities all along the line, and we will be looking to capitalise on this in our next Community Rail Partnership activity plan.”

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