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Health Board Charity Grabs £3.9 million

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charity123AN INVESTIGATION by The Pembrokeshire Herald has revealed that the Local Health Board has reclassified millions of pounds of charity funds – which were pledged by donors for various specific projects – and reclassified that money so it can be spent how it sees fit. 

In 2009/2010 the Board undertook a secretive accounting exercise that moved £3.427m from restricted funds to unrestricted funds, meaning that its own charity could use the cash as it wished. The Herald can also confirm that by moving the cash into unrestricted funds, the Health Board’s charity is able hold on to the money which was raised for a Cancer Day Unit (CDU), even if it did not build one in the county. The Herald can also confirm that if the Board Charity held on to the money raised for the CDU in Restricted fund and then did not build a CDU in Pembrokeshire, then it would have to return the money to those who made donations to that project. If the money is Unrestricted, it would not. The Board claims that its own health charities given “vital support beyond what the NHS currently provides”. But in one example of charitable funds expenditure uncovered by the Herald, £4.5K of charity funds were used to refurbish storage cupboards. In addition, a recent decision means that the income from investment funds enabling the purchase of equipment for cardiac care can be deployed to meet other financial needs. The move was welcomed at the time by the only elected representative on the Health Board’s Executive Committee, Labour turncoat and IPPG Cabinet member Simon Hancock. So shy is the Health Board Charity of providing information about its activities that minutes of its meetings are virtually absent from the Board’s website. A look at the Board’s website on Tuesday, July 15 revealed that no public record of minutes exist for the Charity Committee’s meetings before March 3, 2014. With the last recorded meeting taking place on June 17, 2014. One explanation for the absence of minutes could be the reconstitution of the charity. A move that also means that past records of fundraising and charitable accounts have been removed from the public record. That change means that the unilateral reclassification of restricted funds to unrestricted ones would not be contained within information publicly available via the charities’ regulator’s – the Charity Commission – website. The Board claims: “All our funds are reported in our accounts and Annual Report to the Charity Commission and are subject to external audit by Wales Audit Office.“ The reality is that the reclassification of £3.9m in 2009/2010 cannot be found by reference to the public record at the Charity Commission, as that health board charity no longer exists. The Herald has, however, obtained copies of minutes of Charity Committee meetings, accounts and correspondence that sheds a startling light on the Board’s handling of charity funds. While the Health Board charity’s publicity strategy emphasizes its independence from the Local Health Board, that position is difficult to square with repeated assurances given by former Board Chair Chris Martin and former CEO Trevor Purt that charitable funds would be used to underpin the services would be revamped. If the Health Board’s charity was truly independent, unfettered discretion as to the deployment of its funds would be subject to a decision of its Trustees in line with Charity Commission rules and its own constitution (or Trust Deed). An examination of past Charity Committee meetings minutes obtained by the Pembrokeshire Herald shows that the names of those attending the meetings and taking part in decisions to spend charitable funds have been obliterated to prevent their identification. The Health Board charity says it will work with other charities and fundraisers. It offers its services to Leagues of Friends. The Charity Committee and the Board were not so forthcoming when it decided to secretively reclassify donations given to it away from one type of fund to another. As an example, the Herald has noted that the Board delegated two members of the Committee to visit undertakers in Pembrokeshire to ensure that legacies that would otherwise have been donated to Ward 10 at Withybush Hospital were instead directed to Pembrokeshire Cancer Services. The Health Board charity’s use of undertakers to help it meet its fundraising target of £2m a year means that families of bereaved could be misled into making donations to a cause not of their own or their deceased loved one’s choosing. The important difference between the two is that a donation made expressly for the benefit of Ward 10 would be a restricted fund that could only be used to benefit Ward 10. A donation to Pembrokeshire Cancer Services would be to an unrestricted fund operated by the Board’s own Charity that it could deploy as and when it saw fit. The Board has claimed in public on a number of occasions that funds are “ring-fenced” to develop a CDU at Withybush and to refurbish Ward 10. That assertion was made in a letter to new Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb in a letter from Trevor Purt, the Health Board’s former CEO. That sounds like the money is set aside and cannot be used for other things. But it does not. Mr Purt’s claim that the funds were “ringfenced” does not mean that charity funds will be used to develop such services in the same way that they would if the funds the Board reclassified were still restricted for that sole use. The distinction can be summarised as the difference between the Board having to use donations for the purpose for which they were intended or saying it will use them for that purpose but without any commitment to do so. An analogy of that type of meaningless promise is that the Board told Pembrokeshire it would maintain paediatric care in Pembrokeshire and then ran the service in such a way as to force inpatient paediatrics to move to West Wales General Hospital. When we asked the Board to comment on the activities of its charitable fund, it told us: “In relation to the above Cancer Services Fund a total of £550,000 has been committed voluntarily by the Charitable Funds Committee to two projects. The refurbishment of Ward 10 (the main cancer ward in Withybush Hospital – amount committed £250,000) and the re-provision of a Cancer Day Unit (in conjunction with Bucket Full of Hope).” Campaigners suspect the Board re-designated the funds because of the preponderance of donations given to provide cancer services in Pembrokeshire that were restricted for use at Withybush or within our county. That sentiment appears to be justified by unfortunate minutes seen by the Herald that suggests that, after the funds grab took place, an investment of £550,000 for cancer services at Withybush should be announced to “appease” people in Pembrokeshire. One charity the Board thought would be appeased is the Bucketful of Hope Appeal was set up in memory of Adams Evans-Thomas, who while suffering from the leukaemia that ended his life, campaigned for leukaemia and cancer sufferers. After Adam’s death, his baton was picked up by his mother Chris Evans- Thomas, who was subsequently awarded the MBE for services to charity. Chris continues to be involved in the Appeal and recently made a public request for the return of money handed over to the Board so that the charity could make good on the numerous promises made by the Board to build a Cancer Day Unit it has never fulfilled. Interestingly, and as the Herald was able to reveal last week, in 2010 former Board Chairman Chris Martin did offer to return the money raised toward the CDU to the Bucketful of Hope Appeal. He accompanied that offer with a statement that the Board intended to press ahead with building a CDU. In the circumstances, the charity declined as the Board seemed about to make good on its promises. The Herald has spoken to others at the meeting where that offer was made. Judging from the stance since adopted by the Board, Mr Martin’s approach was either unauthorised and unlawful or a cynical ploy, as the Board recently claimed: “The Health Board did not receive donations and legacies from the public to the Cancer Services Pembrokeshire Fund with any specific wish that it is for the Bucket Full of Hope’ or any expressed restriction (most likely in the form of a legacy) that it be used in this way. “Instead it was received with the wish that it be used in Cancer Services in Pembrokeshire (in the form of unrestricted donations). “Further, the Charity Commission have confirmed that under charity legislation the Trustees have a duty to expend the funds under the objects of the charity to which they were donated and these are specifically NHS. It was further confirmed by them that the University Health Board’s Charity has no power to hand these monies wholesale to a non NHS charity. Therefore it is the hospital charity that is responsible for the public discharge of those funds under Charity Commission rules and charity legislation.” While the Board Charity now says it cannot disentangle the money given to fund the CDU from its combined funds, as the redesignation of those funds took place before Chris Martin’s offer to hand back fundraisers’ money, its assertion appears to be – at best – slightly disingenuous and potentially selfserving.

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Pembrokeshire chef, Daniel Jones, wins Pub Chef of the Year 2023

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TALENTED chef Daniel Jones has scooped first prize in the Pub Chef of the Year category at the International Salon Culinaire awards 2023. The finals of the competition took place at ExCel London on 22 March 2023.

Executive chef Daniel is co-owner of JT at the Abergwaun Hotel, the hotel and restaurant in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, recently awarded a 4* rating by Visit Wales. His winning dish of Lemon Sole, Spring Vegetables, Bluestone Ale and Pickled Cockle Vinaigrette with ‘Welshman’s caviar’ (handpicked laver seaweed from the Pembrokeshire coast) came first place amongst the seven finalists, and will be introduced to the restaurant’s menu this summer.

International Salon Culinaire is regarded as one of the world’s top competitions for chefs, with over 100 categories, from pastry to knife skills. The competition has been a platform for chefs of all levels, from the talented young chefs training at college, to those who are well established and firmly on their culinary career journey. Gordon Ramsey won Chef of the Year in 1992, and the awards have over the years seen world-class ambassadors including Michel Roux Jr and, this year, Monica Galetti.

The Pub Chef of the Year category launched in 2022 to celebrate the fine food in the pubs and bars of the UK, and to recognise the hard work, expertise and talent in the kitchens of these establishments.

First place winner Daniel said: “I am over the moon to win the Pub Chef of the Year at the International Salon Culinaire. It’s a great honour to have cooked alongside other great culinary talent, and I’m delighted to have been recognised by the esteemed judges on the panel this year. I’ll be taking my accolade back to my hometown of Fishguard, where I hope I’ve made the community proud.”

No stranger to competition, Daniel competed in Masterchef: The Professionals in 2010 and he reached the semi-finals of the National Chef of the Year awards in 2018.

His modern European restaurant JT At the Abergwaun Hotel is steeped in Welsh heritage, supporting local suppliers and offering ingredients like Welsh lamb and beef, plus the famous Fishguard Duck and chicken, along with a selection of fine Welsh cheeses. The A La Carte menu changes daily, depending on what can be sourced that day, from locally foraged, farmed or fished ingredients like local lobster and spider crab.

Daniel will be introducing all-day dining on Saturdays for all to enjoy – including non-hotel guests – and this summer, JT At the Abergwaun Hotel will launch a seven-course tasting menu to showcase Daniel’s award-winning cooking (including his winning dish!) and the local Pembrokeshire produce which he’s so proud of.

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Tuk Tuk touring business with franchise hopes gets licence plate call turned down

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A SOUTH Pembrokeshire three-wheeler ‘tuk tuk’ tour business, which has hopes of creating a country-wide franchise has had a call for discreet signage on a support vehicle turned down.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s licensing sub-committee, meeting on March 27, considered an application to amend standard terms and conditions of a private hire vehicle.

The application, by Lorraine Niederlag of Begelly-based Tuk Tuk Time, asked for standard external private hire plates to instead be displayed internally for its “usually affluent” clients.

The application for this change of plates asked: “We wish to request the removal of the large private hire licensing plates, in exchange for more discreet internal plates. The intention is to focus on tours that would compliment our tuk tuk tours.”

The applicants said the charming three-wheeler Tuk Tuks were usually kept to south Pembrokeshire tours, and were not really suitable for county-wide day trips; the support car being used for that.

“As our clients are usually affluent, it would be detrimental to arrive in a pre-booked vehicle with such a ‘taxi’ image. In view of all bookings being pre-booked, we cannot see any safety issues for clients by more discreet signage,” the application added.

At the committee meeting, TUK Tuk Time said it hoped to use the support vehicle, bearing the signage “Wales’ premier travel” for some short trips from its campsite to restaurants until the business grew.

Lorraine Niederlag told members it was hoped that Tuk Tuk Tours could eventually become a franchise, with similar three-wheeler Tuk Tuk and support car schemes running in other parts of the country.

She told members that if the small plates call was turned down the support vehicle would be sold.


Cover image: Giving a shout out to the Rainbow Delivery Squad are Lorraine Niederlag, family and staff of Tuk Tuk Time. Picture: Gareth Davies Photography

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Sinead James: ‘I heard a loud bang and a scream from Lola at around midnight’

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“I WISH i did everything different, i wish i never had him in my house, i wish i never met him.”

These are the words sobbed by Sinead James in the witness box at Swansea Crown Court on Tuesday (Mar 28).

Lola’s mother, Sinead James, 30, was the first defence witness to take to the stand in the murder trial of two-year-old Lola James from Haverfordwest.

James is accused of allowing or causing the death of her child, by failing to protect Lola from murder-accused Kyle Bevan, 31.

The court heard how James had very little experience of relationships that did not involve domestic violence, citing that two out of her three children’s fathers had been verbally and physically violent towards her.

This was backed up with evidence provided to the court last week from health visitors, social services and medical doctors.

In January 2020, James ended the relationship with her former partner, a man who was physically and emotionally violent towards her. Following the breakdown of this relationship, James sought mental health help from her doctor and was prescribed an antidepressant.

The following month, James entered a new relationship with Kyle Bevan, one that progressed extremely quickly – with Bevan living at her residence full-time within a month.

The court heard how James had interventions from social services shortly after the birth of her first child, and had attended a number of courses, namely the freedom course, which offers victims of domestic violence better understanding of abusive situations and how best to protect both herself and children.

This course was offered again following the breakdown of her previous relationship.

James admitted to the court that although she attended a few of the classes, she quickly realised that the materials were that of the same of the one she had previously completed so saw no need to carry on.

James described her relationship with Bevan, stating that the first couple of months were brilliant, but then things started to change.

The court heard of a number of incidents in the lead up to Lola’s death where Bevan had been verbally abusive and smashing up the family home, punching headbutting door frames and the sofa, and an incident where the defendant smashed a light switch with a hammer.

When asked whether James thought that the children were in any danger following these incidents, James replied that she never had any concerns for the children’s safety as Bevan hadn’t physically assaulted her like her previous partners so she did not consider the relationship one of domestic violence.

This is something that the Crown Prosecution argues should have set off alarm bells.

Caroline Rees KC, brought up all the accounts of Bevan smashing up the house, shouting in James face, punching door frames, sofas and smashing the light switch with a hammer.

Ms Rees asked the defendant if any of these occasions gave her any concerns.

She said: “Looking back to past relationships that were abusive and violent, and you had interventions to help, with various agencies working with you to teach you spot patterns of domestic relationships.

“One point of those is to stop you falling into those patterns and protect the children – did you learn?”

James replied : “No obviously not, I didn’t think Kyle would end up like this, I didn’t think my child would end up dead either.”

The court heard how the day before Lola’s fatal accident, James had spoken to her domestic violence officer and a suggestion was made to her to check Bevan’s name under Clare’s Law.

This was a subject that was broached by James with Bevan, however he refused to engage with the proceedings by withholding his date of birth.

Something the prosecution argued should have been a red flag.

On the night of July 16, James went to bed at around 8pm, leaving Bevan downstairs with two of her children.

James described being awoken by a loud bang and a scream from Lola at around midnight.

The defendant got up to investigate, however she found Bevan sat on Lola’s bed cradling her. Bevan told James that Lola had fallen from the ladder of the bunk bed and had banged her head and that he was dealing with it.

She went to the toilet and upon leaving the bathroom, she saw Lola laying in her bed, cuddling a Moana teddy and she reported she said: “Night mummy, love you.”

James claims she saw no visible injuries to Lola’s head or face at this time, despite the fact that she did not enter the bedroom.

James told the court how at the time, she believed Bevan’s explanations for the injuries to her children in the weeks leading up to Lola’s – all of which were explained away as the dog knocking the children over or clumsy play.

However in hindsight, she agrees that there was a pattern that she should have spotted.

The defendant added: “Yeah, but you don’t realise how hard it is when you’re going through it.

“I didn’t see it as a domestic violence relationship until the day my daughter was brought to hospital.

“The domestic violence I’m used to is getting beaten while you’re sleeping.”

James told the court how Bevan had promised to protect her and her children from her former partner who had made threats to come to her home and kill her in front of her children.

She said: “I’m petrified of every man, not just him, he said he would protect me and my children as Stephen had threatened to come to my house and kill me in front of my children.”

James sobbed in the witness box: “He never protected me or them, he killed my child.

“I wish i did everything different, i wish i never had him in my house, i wish i never met him.”

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