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Friends drive 2,000 miles in just 36 hours for charity

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THREE Pembrokeshire men have raised over £3,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance by completing a 2,000 mile charity drive in just 36 hours!

Owen Hughes, 30, Chris Williams, 34, and Dean Murphy, 28, set off in their Skoda Fabia estate car from Fishguard to John O’Groats, then to Lands’ End and back. They hoped to complete the challenge, which was named the O.C.D Charity Drive after the initials of their names, within 48 hours.

Lorry driver, Owen, said: “It all went really well, it was better than expected. We had a good run and only got held up for 45 minutes. We took it in turns driving and basically kept the car moving all the time and finished it much quicker than expected.”

The men from Fishguard smashed their original target of £1,000 by raising £3,050 for the lifesaving charity.

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.

The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

Wales Air Ambulance has four aircraft based across Wales, in Dafen, Caernarfon, Welshpool and Cardiff.

Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.

The trio were delighted with the support they received from local companies and public.

Before the charity drive, they had a few problems with their car and their sponsors helped source parts to make sure the car was ready for the challenge.

Owen, said: “It is amazing, we set out to raise £1,000 and we smashed that amount. All three of us are delighted about how much we’ve raised. We’ve had really good support from local companies, especially in Cardigan, and we received a lot of donations through our Just Giving page.”

During the charity drive the men also received a donation online from people they didn’t know that had passed them a few times throughout the challenge.

Since completing their challenge the men have sold the car and donated the £600 also to the fundraiser.

Reflecting on why they wanted to raise funds for the Wales Air Ambulance, Owen added: “We’re all bikers and with covid-19 affecting fundraising events we wanted to give something back to the Wales Air Ambulance. Hopefully it is something we will never need to use, but it is there if we need it. As a charity they are not government funded. We’ve raised the money to keep the vital, life-saving charity going, as anyone can need it at any time!”

Katie Macro, the Charity’s South West Wales Community Fundraiser coordinator, said: “A huge thank you to Owen, Carl and Dean for raising over £3,000 for our lifesaving charity.

They set off to complete the mammoth drive in just 48 hours but smashed that target by returning home within 36 hours. The amount of money they’ve raised has reflected their dedication to raise funds for a charity that they wanted to support.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported them throughout the O.C.D Charity Drive and donated to the Wales Air Ambulance. Every donation is so important to us. By keeping our helicopters in the air we can continue to take the emergency department to the patient, saving time and saving lives.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.

These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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Community

Redstone Bridge opens as part of A40 improvements scheme

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TRAFFIC is now flowing across a key element of the A40 improvements scheme following the grand opening of Redstone Bridge, north of Narberth. This milestone was celebrated on Friday, May 17, with a ceremony that highlighted the involvement and spirit of the local community.

The honour of declaring the bridge open was bestowed upon pupils of Narberth CP School, symbolising the younger generation of the community. Accompanied by their headteacher, Mrs Moore, and assistant headteacher, Mr Noble, the pupils were joined by residents and staff of Blaenmarlais Care Home in Redstone Road.

The A40 project, extending from Llanddewi Velfrey to west of Redstone Cross, is being delivered by Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd for the Welsh Government. The opening ceremony featured a short speech from Project Manager David Noblett, who expressed gratitude to the pupils, residents, and the workforce from Griffiths and Trueform Civils Limited. The crowd applauded as the pupils cut the ribbon, officially opening the bridge and walking across it for the very first time.

A spokesperson for Griffiths commented, “Griffiths would like to thank residents, businesses, and the community for their co-operation during the closure, which allowed the final phase of bridge construction to be completed on time. A particular thank you to the residents of Northfield Road who experienced parking restrictions throughout this period. They were admirably supported in the parking of their vehicles by Janine Perkins from Bloomfield Community Centre, and Narberth Health Centre, which allowed a family with a baby to use their car park during the closure period.”

The Narberth children were specially chosen to do the honours, representing the future of the community and underscoring the project’s significance for upcoming generations.

The completion of Redstone Bridge marks a significant step in the A40 improvements scheme, promising enhanced connectivity and infrastructure for the region. The community’s involvement in the ceremony highlights the collaborative effort behind this essential project, reflecting a shared commitment to progress and development in Pembrokeshire.

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Community

Tenby to mark D-Day 80 with Beacon Lighting Ceremony

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PLANS are well underway for Tenby to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a special beacon lighting ceremony on Castle Hill. This significant event will honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in Operation Overlord, the largest naval, air, and land operation in history.

His Majesty, The King, has requested that instead of lighting beacons for his coronation last year, they be lit on June 6 to commemorate the anniversary of this pivotal World War Two operation. The Normandy landings in 1944 opened Europe’s Second Front, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hitler’s Nazi regime 11 months later.

The commemoration will begin with a procession led by the Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Dai Morgan. Accompanied by fellow councillors, representatives of the Tenby Royal British Legion, and local cadet units, the procession will leave Castle Square at Tenby Harbour at approximately 8:50 pm on Thursday, June 6. The procession will then make its way up to Castle Hill.

Upon reaching Castle Hill, the International D-Day Tribute will be read, after which Cllr. Morgan will light Tenby’s beacon at 9:15 pm. This beacon will form part of a UK-wide chain of beacons and Lamp Lights of Peace, symbolising unity and remembrance across the nation. All members of the public are welcome to join in this solemn and significant commemoration.

Earlier in the day, at 11 am, the Mayor will lay a wreath at Tenby’s war memorial. This act of remembrance will honour all those who gave their lives during the D-Day landings, ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten.

This special beacon lighting ceremony and the wreath-laying are poignant reminders of the courage and determination of the Allied forces. The events planned in Tenby offer an opportunity for the community to come together to reflect on the historic significance of D-Day and to pay tribute to the heroes of Operation Overlord.

Tenby’s commemoration is part of a larger national effort to mark this historic anniversary, ensuring that the legacy of those who fought and died continues to be honoured and remembered for generations to come.

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Community

First electric mobile post office tested in Pembrokeshire

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THE FIRST full-electric Post Office vehicle has been successfully trialled in the UK, and it has all happened in Pembrokeshire.

The pioneering effort is being led by Pembroke Postmaster, Mark Wilson, who, along with his team, has been serving 11 rural communities in Pembrokeshire with a new electric Mobile Post Office.

Replacing the traditional diesel vehicle, this new electric model has demonstrated its capability over the past several weeks, navigating the hilly terrain of the region without issue. The environmentally friendly vehicle can travel over 100 miles on a single charge, comfortably exceeding the longest 60-mile route covered by the Pembroke Mobile Post Office. This ample range alleviates any concerns about “range anxiety” and eliminates the need for mid-route recharging, as the vehicle is conveniently charged overnight.

Mark Wilson highlighted the positive reception from the community, stating, “Our electric Mobile Post Office is turning heads with its distinctive signage. People are used to the typical Post Office red vehicles, but the design on this vehicle emphasises its environmental benefits. It’s exciting to have the first of these in the UK. Customers have praised our new vehicle for being less polluting and visually appealing.”

The new electric vehicle maintains the same height as its predecessor but offers a slightly wider build, which has proven manageable on country lanes. Its interior design provides better layout and increased space, allowing for more retail offerings and greater storage capacity for parcels, accommodating the rising trend of home shopping returns and online sales.

Wilson added, “Colleagues working on the Mobile are pleased with its road handling and the smoother driving experience thanks to the automatic transmission.”

The Mobile Post Office has long been a vital service for maintaining Post Office access in smaller, rural communities. It offers a full range of Post Office services, including mail, pre-ordered foreign currencies, banking for all major high street banks, bill payments, and vehicle tax.

The 11 communities currently served by the electric Mobile Post Office include:

  1. Cosheston
  2. Milton
  3. Carew
  4. St Florence
  5. Broadmoor
  6. Lawrenny
  7. Angle
  8. Herbrandston
  9. St Ishmaels
  10. Marloes
  11. Dale.

Nigel Parry, owner of the Post Office National Outreach Model, which includes Mobile Post Offices, underscored the environmental and economic benefits of these electric vehicles. “We know the green credentials of these vehicles; they are better for the environment as there are no emissions polluting communities. These vehicles are also cheaper to run and maintain.”

Parry emphasised the importance of real-world testing to ensure the vehicles’ fitness for purpose. “We want to see how they perform in real-life conditions. Hilly terrain, cold weather, traffic jams, and the age and condition of the battery all affect the vehicle’s range, so it’s crucial to ensure there is spare capacity to serve outlying communities throughout the year.”

An additional advantage of electric vehicles is their quicker maintenance turnaround, reducing downtime compared to the biannual servicing required for diesel vehicles.

Following this successful trial in Pembrokeshire, another electric Mobile Post Office will be introduced in East Anglia next month, with a third location yet to be determined. This rollout aims to further test the suitability and cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles for rural locations. Currently, there are 67 diesel Mobile Post Offices operating across Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

This move marks a significant milestone in the Post Office’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, ensuring that even the most remote communities can benefit from modern, eco-friendly services.

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