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RNLI call for people to follow safety advice on the coast this holiday

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THIS CHRISTMAS and New Year as people choose to blow away the festive cobwebs on the coast, the RNLI has teamed up with the MCA to support the Winter Coastal Safety Campaign.

The campaign serves as a reminder that the coast and sea can be incredibly dangerous places – from rough winter seas to changing tides and unstable and eroding clifftop edges.

This Christmas, it’s business as usual for volunteer lifeboat crew around the coast who are ready to swap the turkey and tinsel for saving lives at a moment’s notice.

The charity and the MCA are hoping people adhere to government guidelines if lucky enough to live close to the coast. Also people are being urged to take heed of vital safety advice to ensure they and their families stay safe. The RNLI is keen to stress that it is people out enjoying the shoreline who are most at risk of drowning.

The RNLI’s drowning prevention campaign Respect the Water advocates the benefits of floating should people find themselves in cold water.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales says: “As people enjoy some well-deserved time off, we expect some families heading out and about enjoying our coastlines. Coastal walking is a very safe activity most of the time, but slips and falls from walking and running are the biggest cause of death on our coastline. We don’t want to stop people having fun, but want to share our safety advice to ensure everyone is able to enjoy Christmas.”

The RNLI is offering the following advice to people who will visit the coast this holiday:

  • Be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations; it is not just high cliff edges that are a risk.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Take care when walking in dark and slippery conditions.
  • Always take a means of calling for help. Always check the weather and tides. Getting cut off by the tide is a common cause of lifeboat launches.

Chris adds: “The sea is particularly cold this time of year, if you do enter the water unexpectedly the RNLI’s advice is to float on your back for a short time to regain control of your breathing. The natural reaction is to panic, but floating until you are in a position to call for help will give you a much better chance of surviving.”

The MCA campaign encourages people to add a ‘coastal safety check list’ to their Christmas list. The advice includes:

Before you set-off, make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear and carrying a fully-charged mobile phone so that you have a means of contacting family, friends or dialling 999 and asking for the coastguard, in a coastal emergency.

Always let people know when you’ll be back home too and don’t be tempted to take a risky photo by a cliff edge or large waves for social media, it could be the last moment you ever capture.
Get familiar with the area by reading local safety information, warnings and advice, and also check tide timings online before you go so that you don’t get caught out.
Open spaces are ideal for dog walking but please keep your furry friends on a lead and if your pet does get into danger, do not attempt to self-rescue your animal. Call 999 Coastguard and ask for our assistance.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: “We are expecting lots of visitors to the coast over the holiday period and are prepared and ready, as always, to deal with all emergency situations. But please take note of our safety advice and don’t take risks, be responsible for your actions and follow the Government’s Covid-19 guidance.”

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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