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Housing officer Amanda raises £6,000 in brave Channel swim

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A WOMAN’S determination not to let a disability affect how she lives her life has culminated in her swimming the English Channel.

Thanks to 20 gruelling months of training, amazing support from her friends and family – and plenty of bara brith – Amanda Love completed the swim in August, raising more than £6,000 for charity in the process.

It was just five years after she underwent a full discectomy (the removal of a spinal disc) following years of back problems.

“The disc had gone through my spinal cord and wrapped itself around the nerves of my right leg,” said Amanda, a housing officer from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Gradually it deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t walk as it was too painful.”

The operation to remove the disc took place in early 2014 and two years later Amanda knew she had recovered as much as she was going to. Although her back was much better, the damage to her nerves meant she was left with very little feeling in her right leg and foot and was unable to continue running.

Amanda admits it wasn’t an easy period of her life. “It takes some time to mentally and physically accept and become used to the ‘new normal’,” she said.

But after a discussion with friend, ultra-runner Julie Evans, she decided that her disability did not have to define her have to mean giving up things she loved – and so they entered Ironman Cozumel in Mexico. “I know it sounds mad,” she said. “But it was very important to try and do the things that make me me.”

With her competitive swimming background, she and Julie figured that her speed in the swim would give her enough time in the bank to allow her to walk the marathon and still finish within the timeframe allowed, with her left leg compensating for her right leg on the bike ride.

Completing the event was a huge turning point and spurred her on to contemplate swimming The Channel – which she’d had in the back of her mind for a while.

“I knew I would be turning fifty this year. There is a period when your children are grown up enough not to need you so much and your parents are well enough, when you have a bit more time to yourself, and a friend said to me if you don’t do it now you might never get another chance!” said Amanda.

To swim The Channel you have to complete a qualifying six-hour sea swim in temperatures of less than 16 degrees which Amanda completed in October 2018. She then embarked on 20 months of training, consisting of pool swimming at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, sea swimming, and strength and conditioning at Bfit Health and Fitness Facility in Milford Haven.

At least once each week, she would put in a long training day where she would get up at 4.30am and go to Bfit for a 45 minute strength and conditioning session before arriving at the pool at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre just after 6am, where she would swim for four to five hours (12 km).

“That was the winter training,” she said. “As the sea temperature warmed up, I did more sea swimming to get used to the cold because wetsuits are not allowed. Some of the longest training swims were six hour swims from Broad Haven, around Stack Rocks, across to the far end of Newgale and back to Broad Haven, about 12 miles in total and again the following day.”

Her friend Mel Miles, who works in education at Pembrokeshire County Council, would support Amanda’s sea swims by kayaking beside her, helping with the feeding regime and not least protecting her from curious sea-life.

“Without Mel the Channel swim wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Mel would hold her paddle over me when the fulmars decided to divebomb me. The wildlife were very interested in me; a gull took a sandwich out my hand once and a seal followed me for about 45 minutes, every so often nudging the soles of my feet. Mel would also throw food and drink at me, so we could work out what I could stomach whilst swimming. Initially eating as I swam would make me quite sick but we worked out through trial and error what would provide the energy I needed for endurance swimming and was palatable in the sea.”

Amanda’s training swims also included a swim circumnavigating Ramsey Island with friend David Astins, a six hour endurance race in a lake in Reading and a 14 km swimming race in the river Thames, culminating in her final week of training which saw her A woman’s determination not to let a disability affect how she lives her life has culminated in her swimming the English Channel.

Thanks to 20 gruelling months of training, amazing support from her friends and family – and plenty of bara brith – Amanda Love completed the swim in August, raising more than £6,000 for charity in the process.

It was just five years after she underwent a full discectomy (the removal of a spinal disc) following years of back problems.

“The disc had gone through my spinal cord and wrapped itself around the nerves of my right leg,” said Amanda, a housing officer from Pembrokeshire County Council.

“Gradually it deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t walk as it was too painful.”

The operation to remove the disc took place in early 2014 and two years later Amanda knew she had recovered as much as she was going to. Although her back was much better, the damage to her nerves meant she was left with very little feeling in her right leg and foot and was unable to continue running.

Amanda admits it wasn’t an easy period of her life. “It takes some time to mentally and physically accept and become used to the ‘new normal’,” she said.

But after a discussion with friend, ultra-runner Julie Evans, she decided that her disability did not have to define her have to mean giving up things she loved – and so they entered Ironman Cozumel in Mexico. “I know it sounds mad,” she said. “But it was very important to try and do the things that make me me.”

With her competitive swimming background, she and Julie figured that her speed in the swim would give her enough time in the bank to allow her to walk the marathon and still finish within the timeframe allowed, with her left leg compensating for her right leg on the bike ride.

Completing the event was a huge turning point and spurred her on to contemplate swimming The Channel – which she’d had in the back of her mind for a while.

“I knew I would be turning fifty this year. There is a period when your children are grown up enough not to need you so much and your parents are well enough, when you have a bit more time to yourself, and a friend said to me if you don’t do it now you might never get another chance!” said Amanda.

To swim The Channel you have to complete a qualifying six-hour sea swim in temperatures of less than 16 degrees which Amanda completed in October 2018. She then embarked on 20 months of training, consisting of pool swimming at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, sea swimming, and strength and conditioning at Bfit Health and Fitness Facility in Milford Haven.

At least once each week, she would put in a long training day where she would get up at 4.30am and go to Bfit for a 45 minute strength and conditioning session before arriving at the pool at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre just after 6am, where she would swim for four to five hours (12 km).

“That was the winter training,” she said. “As the sea temperature warmed up, I did more sea swimming to get used to the cold because wetsuits are not allowed. Some of the longest training swims were six hour swims from Broad Haven, around Stack Rocks, across to the far end of Newgale and back to Broad Haven, about 12 miles in total and again the following day.”

Her friend Mel Miles, who works in education at Pembrokeshire County Council, would support Amanda’s sea swims by kayaking beside her, helping with the feeding regime and not least protecting her from curious sea-life.

“Without Mel the Channel swim wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Mel would hold her paddle over me when the fulmars decided to divebomb me. The wildlife were very interested in me; a gull took a sandwich out my hand once and a seal followed me for about 45 minutes, every so often nudging the soles of my feet. Mel would also throw food and drink at me, so we could work out what I could stomach whilst swimming. Initially eating as I swam would make me quite sick but we worked out through trial and error what would provide the energy I needed for endurance swimming and was palatable in the sea.”

Amanda’s training swims also included a swim circumnavigating Ramsey Island with friend David Astins, a six hour endurance race in a lake in Reading and a 14 km swimming race in the river Thames, culminating in her final week of training which saw her

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Tesco shoppers asked to check bank statements after some charged three times

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ANYONE who has shopped in Tesco since Friday, June 11 has been urged to check their bank account and make sure they have been charged the correct amount.

The advice comes as some Tesco customers paid up to three times more for their shopping this weekend after a payment software glitch affected some card payments.

Shoppers who paid via online bank Monzo were charged twice on Friday, according to consumer website MoneySavingExpert.

However, another payment problem struck over the weekend when some shoppers tried to pay for their purchases using contactless payments, only to be told it had been declined.

They then tried to pay again, which worked, only to find that they had been charged twice – or even three times. Some customers on social media said they had to spend “endless time” on their day off talking to their bank.

Following the news that, Libby James, co-founder of www.merchantadviceservice.co.uk, commented: “This software glitch customers experienced in Tesco over the weekend could be down to a host of technical issues varying from an intermittent internet connection, to too many transactions being processed at once – it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. However, shoppers who purchased goods from Tesco over the weekend should thoroughly check their online bank transactions to ensure they have not been overcharged. For those who were affected, they should directly contact the merchant for a refund. Although technology has failed Tesco customers on this occasion, to avoid this where possible in future instances, try not be too hasty when it comes to contactless payments and wait for the transaction to be authorised, rather than tapping again to be safe.”

If you do require more information from Merchant Advice Service, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Public urged to have say on second homes and empty properties policies

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has begun a consultation exercise on the authority’s policies relating to second homes and long term empty properties.

Reducing the number of second homes and long term empty homes is seen as desirable as increasing the supply of affordable housing across Pembrokeshire is a priority.

Second homes and empty properties reduce the number of houses available to local residents.

Pembrokeshire currently has the second highest rate of second or empty homes in Wales and in 2017 the Council introduced a 50% Council Tax premium on second homes and a premium of up to 100% on long term empty homes.

The money raised in Pembrokeshire is used to support the development of affordable housing, such as a long-term housing project in Solva, as well as providing grants to local projects through the Enhancing Pembrokeshire Grant fund.

The consultation asks respondents to give their views on potential options from April 1, 2022, which include varying the Council Tax premium for second homes and long term empty properties.

The consultation is available here: https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/review-of-second-and-long-term-empty-homes

The closing date for responses is Monday 26th July.

If you are unable to complete the survey online, please call 01437 764 551 to request a hard copy response form.

The responses provided will be compiled into a report to be considered by Cabinet before a final decision on the options will be made by full Council on 14th October 2021.

Cllr Bob Kilmister, the Cabinet Member for Finance, urged Pembrokeshire residents to take part in the consultation.

He added: “The more feedback we get on this matter the better. The issue of second homes and empty properties is one that cannot be ignored.

“While people from elsewhere in the UK find it relatively easy to afford property in Pembrokeshire, it is much more difficult for those living and earning locally.

“A high proportion of second homes in a community also poses a threat to the viability of local schools and opportunities to nurture and grow the Welsh language.

“While further possible actions on second homes and long term empty properties are being considered by the Welsh Government, the Council is currently only able to consider the level of Council Tax premium.

“I would ask all Pembrokeshire residents to provide feedback on the options for Council Tax premiums on second homes and empty properties so we have as many viewpoints as possible to consider ahead of future decisions.” 

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Tributes to victim as police confirm fatal workshop fire in Sageston

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POLICE have confirmed that a workshop fire in Sageston over the weekend was sadly fatal and is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Dyfed-Powys Police was called to a fire at a workshop at a property in Sageston at shortly after 10am on Saturday, 12 June.

“Sadly, a male was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The Health and Safety Executive and HM Coroner has been informed.”

Mr Scourfield, 56, was in his workshop in the grounds of his home at Sageston on Saturday morning when a fire broke out.

Four fire crews rushed to the south Pembrokeshire village and brought the blaze under control, but sadly, Mr Scourfield died at the scene.

A spokesman for the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “On Saturday June 12 at 10.02am, Joint Fire Control received reports of a fire in a workshop in the village of Sageston in Pembrokeshire and crews from Pembroke Dock, Tenby, Milford Haven and Haverfordwest were mobilised to the incident.

“A total of four appliances and a water bowser were in attendance of the incident.

“The fire was brought under control swiftly by the action of the initial attending crews and a joint investigation has already begun between the Service’s fire investigators and colleagues from Dyfed-Powys police to establish the cause of the fire.

“Due to the unstable nature of the building, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) were deployed to the incident to provide support in securing the scene as part of the investigation.

“The fire service left the incident at 06.11pm.

Tributes have poured in for Mike.

He was a great supporter of Carew’s sports teams and all three of the club’s cricket games were cancelled on Saturday.

Carew Cricket Club posted on Twitter on Sunday: “The thoughts of everyone associated with the club are with the Scourfield after yesterday’s tragic news.

“Michael was an integral part of the club for decades and his support and sponsorship played a major role in helping the club get to where we are today.

“Over the years he held pretty much every role within the club, from scorer to chairman, and cared deeply about the club.

“There are no words to express the shock and sorrow felt around the club yesterday.

“His loss leaves a massive hole, and he will always be remembered.”

Other clubs also sent their condolences to Carew and to the Scourfield family.

Cresselly Cricket Club posted: “Such devastating news, our thoughts and condolences to all of the family and everyone connected in the community from everyone at Cresselly CC.”

Neyland Cricket club added: “Condolences from all at Neyland CC to the Scourfield family and to all at Carew Cricket Club on this devastating news. Mike epitomised all that was good about cricket. Our thoughts to all at this incredibly sad time.”

Kilgetty Cricket Club also posted: “We’re really saddened to hear the news about Michael. All our thoughts go out to the Scourfield family, Carew Cricket Club and the whole of the Carew community.”

Cresselly seconds also held a minute’s silence for Mike before their game with Laugharne on Saturday.

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