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Mental health charity founder awarded Welsh legend status

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A PEMBROKESHIRE woman, who set up a mental health charity after her husband tragically took his own life, has received prestigious National Lottery Award for her work in supporting people in rural communities with poor mental health.

As part of the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards, Emma Picton-Jones from Clarbeston near Haverfordwest has been awarded one of only 12 prestigious Local Legend Awards in the whole UK and is the only recipient from Wales.

To celebrate her accolade, 31-year-old Emma will join a host of stars from the world of stage and screen at the glittering 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards show which will be filmed for BBC One at BBC White City Studios in London later this month (Tuesday, Oct 15).

The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the UK’s favourite National Lottery funded people and projects and they celebrate the inspirational exploits of the ordinary people who do extraordinary things with National Lottery support.

Mother of three, Emma, has received the prestigious National Lottery Local Legend Award for her tireless work in supporting farmers and people in rural communities throughout the country with poor mental health. In July 2016, Emma’s 34-year-old husband, Daniel Picton-Jones, an agricultural contractor, tragically took his own life after battling with depression and anxiety.

In the wake of Daniel’s death, Emma, a farmer’s daughter, set up The DPJ Foundation – named after Daniel’s initials. The group encourages people in farming communities to open up about mental health, especially men working in the agricultural sector. Agriculture carries one of the highest rates of suicide and the foundation aims to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health and provide support services.

Two grants a mounting to £20,000 from the National Lottery over the last two years has enabled The DPJ foundation to launch and raise awareness of Share the Load – a 24/7 telephone and counselling service for people with mental health problems in rural communities.

“I was naive before Daniel’s death,” said Emma, who has raised around £150,000 to provide mental health training to farming industry professionals to help them identify symptoms in people and provide support.

“I didn’t realise the extent of the issues in our community. When I started talking to people, everyone knew someone who had died through suicide. I needed to do something positive. Farming is a traditional sector and people can be very isolated. Farmers also work long hours which can often take its toll on them and they are more likely to be resistant towards seeking support. I also think people tend not to talk about mental health and keep it to themselves a lot more in rural communities. Not everyone wants to admit to their neighbours that they’re suffering. All these barriers prevent people from talking about their mental health problems. That’s why I set up the charity and I wanted to use Daniel’s story to break down the stigma.”

Delighted to receive the National Lottery’s Local Legend Award, Emma said: “It’s nice to be recognised for the work we’re doing as a collective to raise awareness of and support people with mental health problems in rural communities. The National Lottery funding has enabled us to take what we’re doing throughout the whole country and reach more people with our support.”

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, added: “It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that Local Legends like those awarded this year, can continue their work and inspire so many.

Emma Picton-Jones has done an incredible job in her local community of Pembrokeshire and beyond in raising awareness about mental health problems and tackling the stigma associated with mental health. The work she does is hugely impressive and vital for the people the foundation she set up has helped. They thoroughly deserve to be crowned a Local Legend in the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.”

The National Lottery Legend Award recognises a person that has made an outstanding contribution to their local area. They may have enhanced the local culture or quality of life by dedicating their skills, enthusiasm and energy to a diverse range of projects. The winners were selected by a panel made up of representatives from the National Lottery family.

Each Local Legend has been able to continue their amazing work with the help of National Lottery funding.

Since 1994, the National Lottery has made more than 5,500 millionaires but its primary purpose is all about giving to good causes. National Lottery players have raised more than £40 billion for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage and community over the past 25 years. Over than 565,000 National Lottery grants have been awarded across the UK, the equivalent of around 200 life-changing projects in every UK postcode district helping to strengthen communities, deliver sporting success, protect the environment, unleash local creative talent and look after the elderly and those at risk.

The 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards will air on Thursday 19th November on BBC One- 25 years to the day the first National Lottery draw took place.

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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