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New book showcases incredible rescues by RNLI lifesavers

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A NEW book providing a collection of first-hand accounts of some of the most dramatic rescues carried out by RNLI lifesavers around the UK and Ireland over the past 20 years is now on sale.

Surviving the Storms recounts 11 of the charity’s most remarkable rescues from the last two decades. These are stories of extraordinary courage and compassion at sea, providing a rare insight into the life-or-death decisions the RNLI’s lifesavers have to make when battling the forces of nature and saving lives.

From volunteer lifeboat crew members in Scotland rescuing those on board a sinking ship, to lifeguards in Cornwall saving the lives of people just moments away from drowning, this book has an abundance of drama told from the unique perspective of the RNLI lifesavers, as well as those they rescue.

The new book goes on sale on Thursday 11 June 2020, with royalties from all sales supporting the lifesaving charity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘Surviving the Storms is a wonderful account of selflessness and bravery although there is no book big enough to do justice to every RNLI rescue and rescuer. We have hundreds of lifeboat stations and thousands of crew members and lifeguards all dedicated to saving lives. Between them, they’ve helped so many people survive the storms and I’m proud of every one of them.’

The book features a rescue from Porthcawl RNLI where the lives of two fishermen were saved by Aileen Jones and her crew. The story is told through the eyes of Aileen, the first female crew member in the RNLI to be award a Bronze Medal for Gallantry and details the events which unfolded that morning back in August 2004.

The lifeboat launched to a fishing vessel that had suffered engine failure and was drifting perilously towards a notorious sandbank. With one of the fishermen onboard seriously injured, Aileen battled force 8 conditions to save the boat and her crew from a situation that would have undoubtably cost them their lives.

Aileen said: ‘I can recall the events of that day remarkably well given the fact it was almost 16 years ago. It was the school summer holidays and I happened to be in earshot of the VHF radio when I heard the call to the Coastguard from the fishing boat. We knew straight away that the boat was drifting dangerously close to the sandbank. If we didn’t get their quickly, the boat and those onboard would be in grave danger.’

Aileen recalls the elation of finally getting a tow line across to the fishing vessel but the almost immediate deflation as the line parted and they were back to square one. She said: ‘After the line went, I knew I needed to get a crew member onboard the vessel to re-establish the tow. The wind and sea conditions did not make that task easy.’

Aileen is extremely proud to see this story feature in the book and is excited to read the tales of her fellow RNLI volunteers who feature. Aileen said: I am immensely proud that this story will feature in ‘Surviving the Storms’. It is an honour, not only for me, but for the crew with me that day to be a part of RNLI history in this way.’

The book, which has a recommended retail price (RRP) of £14.99, is available to buy now.

As well as being available to order online from Amazon and Waterstones, the book is also due to be stocked at supermarkets across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda stores, as well as independent book shops and Waterstones stores. It is also available on Kindle, Apple Books and as an audio book.

To order a copy of Surviving the Storms visit https://books.harpercollins.co.uk/surviving-the-storms/

Education

Delight as foundation phase learners return to class

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PEMBROKESHIRE Headteachers have reported very positive returns to school for Foundation Phase Learners.

All Foundation Phase Learners returned to schools on Monday, March 1st and attendance has been reported at almost 90% since.

The Council’s Director for Education, Steven Richards-Downes, said: “A wide range of council services have worked together to ensure that Foundation Phase pupils have been able to return
safely to school.

“I am particularly grateful to all school staff and families for ensure that learning is now available for our youngest learners face to face.”

Headteachers remarked how schools have filled with smiles and laughter following the safe and phased return of Foundation Phase learners.

Cora O’Brien, Headteacher at Waldo Williams School in Haverfordwest emphasised how quickly learners have settled back in to a routine.

“It has been an absolute joy to hear their laughter in the playground and to observe their love of learning face to face once again. I thank everybody in the Waldo Williams School
community for working so hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly.”

Vicky Hart-Griffiths, Headteacher of Ysgol Hafan y Mor in Tenby, said: “It has been wonderful to welcome all our Foundation Phase learners back to school. They are thriving, being amongst
friends and back to a school routine.  

“All the pupils have spoken about how happy they are to have returned and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome them back and we can’t wait until we have all our pupils back in school.

“The school feels alive again and there’s a positive buzz and laughter once again echoing throughout the school.”

Gareth Lewis, Headteacher at Broad Haven CP School said children had returned “with real enthusiasm, and have been very keen to meet up with their friends.”

Mr Lewis added: “Our parents have been very supportive and positive about the return, and those with older children are very much looking forward to a wider return to schooling.”

Mr Richards-Downes said plans were now turning to more learners returning to schools in the near future.

“We are looking to the next phases of the re-opening of schools on the 15th of March as long as the government guidelines allow.”

Further details will be released in due course.

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Pembrokeshire County Council: This week’s Leader’s coronavirus update

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL Leader, Councillor David Simpson, has provided a further coronavirus update for Friday, 5th March as follows:

‘Welcome everyone to my weekly update.

“It is with rather a heavy heart that I tell you that it’s almost 12 months since my first statement on the coronavirus pandemic.

“On 9th March 2020, I addressed our Cabinet meeting with the following words:

“Further to the news yesterday that two people in Pembrokeshire had tested as positive for the Covid 19 virus, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both a speedy and full recovery.

“I can reassure you that our services will continue as usual, and all our employees can continue to attend to their work, appointments, schools and services as they normally would.

“We should all help protect ourselves and our communities by following Public Health Wales advice, particularly around washing hands and using a tissue for symptoms associated with cold and flu and then safely disposing of it.

“I am grateful to the co-operation and hard work of all of our staff and we will provide further updates and information when we have them.

“In the meantime I can confirm that detailed planning arrangements, both internally, with partner agencies and through the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum, are well underway to ensure that the Council and Pembrokeshire are as well placed as possible for whatever challenges we may face. Thank you.”

“I am sure you will join me while I take a moment now to remember all those people in Pembrokeshire and further afield, who, very sadly, passed away since I made that announcement.

“I continue to be incredibly grateful, as I’m sure you are, to everyone who is helping to beat this pandemic, working so very hard now for over a year.

“We are fortunate now to be in a position where the vaccine programme is protecting older members of our community and starting to roll out among one of the biggest groups – the over 65s and those with underlying health conditions.

“This time next week (12th March) the Welsh Government will have notified us of their plans for the next three weeks.

“In the meantime, we remain in Alert Level 4 and the stay at home message continues to be more important than ever as we reach the threshold of better times.

“I wish you all a good weekend and thank you once again to the vast majority of wonderful Pembrokeshire residents who are doing the right thing and waiting patiently at home for restrictions to lift.

“We do really appreciate your efforts and determination to help bring this pandemic to an end.”

 

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Sergeant Hillier ‘died doing the job he loved’, says his heartbroken father

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THE ARMY SERGEANT who died after being injured in a live firing exercise, has been named locally.

The incident occurred at Castlemartin Training Area, and led to the death of Sgt Gavin Hillier, who was in the Welsh Guards.

In a post on social media, his father wrote: “Absolutely devastated to be writing this post, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

“At 3.45am this morning I received a phone call that will forever change my life. My eldest son Gavin Mark Hillier was in a fatal accident yesterday in the army (the job he loved).

“Sleep tight & rest in peace son. I’m so proud of you. Goodnight and god bless, love your heartbroken dad.”

An Army spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness we can confirm the death of a soldier on March 4.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

“The circumstances surrounding this death are being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

It is understood that Sergeant Hillier, who served as part of the Welsh Guards’ motor transport platoon, was due to be deployed to Iraq and had previously been awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, the regiment’s Colonel in Chief, in 2019.

The tragic incident is the latest in a number of accidents at Castlemartin.

In 2017, The Herald reported that two soldiers died in a tank explosion, which a coroner ruled was due to a design flaw.

The following year, an Army captain was jailed in July 2018 after a 21-year-old soldier was killed by a stray bullet during an exercise at the range in 2012.

An investigation has been launched into the death of a soldier at Castlemartin RAC Range following a military exercise.

Police were called to the site at just before 10.45pm on March 4.

Sadly, a man was pronounced dead shortly after. Our thoughts are with his family, who have been informed of the incident and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation is underway led by Dyfed-Powys Police. Officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and MoD.

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