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Pembrokeshire charity recruits community fuel champions



PEMBROKESHIRE FRAME has received funding to recruit a community fuel co-ordinator and five volunteer champions as they look to raise awareness about energy efficiency, whilst tackling fuel poverty across the county.

The funding from gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, will allow the charity to act as a community point of contact for those facing fuel poverty issues and will help to make a positive difference to local communities most in need.

The employed advisor and five volunteer champions will help individuals claim benefits, provide debt management advice and make referrals through to Wales & West Utilities existing network of partnerships. They will also be able sign people up to the Priority Services Register (PSR), make referrals for specialist support with fitting Locking Cooker Valves and distribute free carbon monoxide alarms.

Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has provided the funding as part of its Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA).

Paul Hughes, Chief Officer at Pembrokeshire FRAME, said: “This funding will allow us to deliver far-reaching benefits. Not only will it allow us to get into the heart of Pembrokeshire communities to help those most in need to gain specific advice on energy efficiency and gas safety, but it will allow us to provide employment and volunteering opportunities to local people.

“We are all feeling the impacts of the rising costs of living, and this funding will allow us to run a 5 day a week hotline for fuel poverty and carbon monoxide enquiries, whilst having face to face contact across communities.

“It’s great that Wales & West Utilities is supporting our efforts by providing this funding and we are hopeful that many people will benefit.”

Pembrokeshire FRAME is a supported employment and life changing charity that transforms hundreds of lives in Pembrokeshire each year, by providing access to learning, supported and meaningful occupation, voluntary and employment opportunities and help and support to enable individuals to reach their potential. The community fuel champion will be based at the charity’s Merlin Bridge site, however, will also work in Pembroke Dock.

Tom Robinson, Social Obligations Specialist at Wales & West Utilities, said: “We’re delighted that this funding will allow Pembrokeshire FRAME to support the most vulnerable by providing vital energy efficiency advice and safety information.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support those most in need in our communities. Working with trusted partners like Pembrokeshire FRAME means we can help more people stay safe in their own homes.”

Between April 2021 to March 2026, Wales & West Utilities has £7m to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and keep people safe from the ‘silent killer’.

Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident & Emergency for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

Funding is made from the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

If you have a project that you think Wales & West Utilities could support, either individually or collaboratively with other gas networks, then contact Wales & West Utilities at

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.


Child swept out to sea rescued by kayakers as lifeboat launches



THE KATHLEEN ANN, embarked on its second call-out of the day at 3.55pm on Sunday, 28th May, following reports of a child being swept out to sea near Amroth.

The distressing incident prompted the immediate launch of the lifeboat, with its dedicated crew racing to the scene.

However, as the lifeboat made its way towards the location, reassuring news arrived that the child had been successfully rescued by alert kayakers and was now safely back on the shore.

With the child out of harm’s way and in the capable hands of the kayakers, the lifeboat crew received the stand-down order.

Grateful for the swift response and the fortunate outcome, the lifeboat returned to its station.

Angela Thomas, who witnessed the entire event, took to Facebook to share the remarkable tale of heroism. Delme Thomas, affectionately known as Del by many in the community, was the unsung rescuer who stepped forward without hesitation to save the day. Despite being unaware that the coast guard had already been alerted and the challenging conditions of the sea, Delme took it upon himself to ensure the young girl’s safe return.

Equipped with a life jacket and a commendable sense of bravery, Delme powered through the tumultuous waters towards the stranded girl, who was perilously far from shore. The distance between them only grew as time passed, but Delme’s determination and unwavering resolve never wavered. Reflecting on the incident, he humbly remarked that he would willingly embark on a similar rescue mission in the future. However, he also issued a plea to beachgoers to remain vigilant, emphasising that the outcome could have been vastly different.

Fortunately, the girl emerged from the ordeal shaken, frightened, and chilled to the bone, but physically unharmed. As she was brought back to safety, the gathered crowd erupted in applause and offered shouts of appreciation.

The RNLI said that this incident serves as a reminder of the ever-present dangers posed by the sea and the importance of remaining vigilant while enjoying coastal activities. The quick actions of the kayakers, who selflessly intervened and rescued the child from the perilous situation, are commendable and a testament to their vigilance and competence.

They said: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Delme for his selflessness and wish him well as he continues to be an inspiration to us all.”

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Community unites to honour the memory of Zac Thompson



AS SUMMER approaches and the county prepares for another holiday season, the community of Pembrokeshire stands determined to ensure that the tragic passing of 11-year-old Zac Thompson on West Angle beach last year does not become just another statistic.

One year has passed since Zac, described as “cheeky, mischievous, and loyal,” lost his life in a devastating drowning incident.

His family and friends, joined by a small group of coaches and parents, have established Forever11, a charity aimed at finding solace and promoting sea safety awareness in Zac’s name.

On that fateful evening in July, Zac, a pupil at Pembroke Dock Community School, had no intention of venturing into the sea. Accompanied by his elder brother and their 11-year-old cousin, they had gathered on the beach to witness the beauty of the sunset. Tragically, an unexpected “freak wave” swept the boys off the rocks, and Zac found himself caught in a powerful whirlpool.

Although his two family members managed to scramble to safety on nearby rocks, Zac succumbed to the water’s grasp.

A vigilant member of the public brought him to the shoreline, where emergency services were waiting. He was swiftly airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, but tragically passed away the following day.

This heartbreaking incident had a profound impact on the close-knit community, particularly Zac’s rugby team.

In response to this senseless loss, a dedicated group of coaches and parents formed Forever11, aiming to bring forth positivity in the face of tragedy. Natalie John, aged 35, and Lucy Cawley, both trustees of the charity, refer to their group as “one big family.”

Since its inception, Forever11 has managed to raise £11,000 through a family fun day held last August, as well as an additional £5,000 from various events.

The charity’s simple yet powerful mission is to educate the local community about sea safety and awareness.

This message carries profound significance in Pembrokeshire, a region marked by one of the highest rates of water-related fatalities in Wales. Natalie highlighted that a significant portion of these incidents involve individuals who had no intention of entering the water.

Lucy, a mother of two boys herself, struggles to comprehend the loss: “You just can’t imagine living without your children.” Zac was an enthusiastic sportsman and a capable swimmer.

Lucy described him as “cheeky, mischievous, very, very loyal to his mates, incredibly kind and compassionate.” Natalie, a mother of four boys whose husband coached Zac’s rugby team, added that he was protective, ensuring fairness and kindness towards others. He possessed a gentle and caring nature.

These sentiments echo the heartfelt tribute shared by Zac’s mother, Carli Newell, a journalist at The Pembrokeshire Herald. During the inquest she said: “Zac was a complete one of a kind. He was funny, cheeky, kind, caring, courageous, and a big ball of fun with mischief running through his bones.”

Zac’s magnetic charm, coupled with his striking features and piercing blue eyes, left a lasting impression on all who knew him.

Natalie and Lucy fondly remember how he had the innate ability to bring a smile to anyone’s face. “He was one of those kids who could walk into a room not knowing anyone but he would walk out with 100 new friends,” they remarked. “You were just drawn to him.”

A talented sportsman, Zac excelled in various disciplines, with football being his greatest passion. He played at county level and represented the Swansea City academy. Lucy attests that he possessed the talent to pursue a professional football career.

Additionally, he demonstrated his sporting prowess in rugby, where he was regarded as a superstar within his team. In August following his passing, Zac’s teammates organized a memorial football and rugby match to honor his memory and facilitate healing through open conversations.

Zac’s circle of friends had been together since the age of four, and their memories of him are cherished. Reflecting on the tragedy,

Natalie emphasised that it struck a chord with everyone, as it could have happened to any of them. Determined to ensure Zac’s memory endures, she intends to make this year’s fun day, scheduled for July 22 to coincide with Zac’s funeral anniversary, even more significant than the previous one.

Image credit: RNLI David Barrett

Originally intended as a one-off event, the inaugural fun day garnered overwhelming support from the community, raising over £10,000, which was split between the Wales Air Ambulance and Angle RNLI, organizations that provided aid during Zac’s rescue. Subsequently, Forever11 attained official charity status, enabling them to focus on water safety and drowning prevention in Pembrokeshire.

The charity’s efforts thus far have included identifying and replacing broken or missing life-saving equipment, such as life rings and throw ropes, along the coastline.

Additionally, they conducted their first free water safety awareness course for 32 schoolchildren. However, their ambitions extend further, recognizing the importance of educating children in real-world beach scenarios.

Natalie observed that despite living in a coastal region, many children have not experienced the beach. While it is impossible to shield children from all dangers, raising awareness and providing knowledge about tides, winds, and water conditions can make a significant difference.

Natalie shared, “Living on the coast, it’s surprising the number of children who haven’t been to the beach.” Through their initiatives, Forever11 aims to instill a sense of vigilance and preparedness among young beachgoers.

Reflecting on the establishment of Forever11, the team stated, “Forever11 started out as a saying by Zac’s school and teammates. It’s something that resonated across the community as a symbol of our love and heartache – a loss that impacted and shocked everyone who knew him. We often talk about the rugby family, and for us, Zac was part of that family.”

This year’s fun day promises to be an engaging event, featuring a samba band, performances by the Kelly Williams school of dance, axe-throwing and archery by Paddle West, and music by Honey Fungus. Traditional stalls, a display by the Pembrokeshire fire spinners, and various inflatable attractions will also be available for attendees.

More details can be found on the Forever11 website as the community rallies together to honor the cherished memory of Zac Thompson and prevent future tragedies in the waters surrounding Pembrokeshire

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Further funding for WellBeing Facilitators in Wales’ screen sector announced



A PILOT programme supporting people working in Wales’ screen sector with their mental health is set to benefit from additional £150,000 funding following a successful first phase, the Welsh Government has announced this week.

Funded through Creative Wales, the WellBeing Facilitators programme  is a partnership between CULT Cymru – the Creative Unions Learning Together programme and mental health and wellbeing specialists 6ft from the Spotlight CIC.

The programme has been driven and shaped by an Advisory Group of employers, unions and industry bodies to respond to issues and challenges that people working in the sector have raised.

In the first phase of the pilot that ran from September 2022 to March 2023, ten production companies accessed grants of up to £15,000 to place a specially trained WellBeing Facilitator on their productions to promote mental health and provide wellbeing advice in the screen sector.

Feedback from back both employers and the workforce showed that the facilitators made it much easier to resolve welfare issues and helped to improve the working culture. A number of productions also reported that having a Wellbeing Facilitator on set helped to increase their overall productivity.

Phase 2 of the pilot will build on the lessons learnt over the last six months and enable a new cohort of production companies to benefit from the support and advice on offer with the aim of increasing well-being on set and improving staff retention.

As part of phase 2 of the pilot six new Well Being Facilitators from under-represented groups including people from Global Majority Backgrounds, Disabled people and the LGBTQ+ community will be trained. There are also plans to open the pilot out to other creative sectors such as music.

Announcing the funding during Mental Health Awareness Week, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure funding for the second phase of this important programme – and as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week  – it’s a good time for us to  think and talk about mental health, tackle stigma head on, and find out how we can create a society that prevents mental health problems from developing and protects our mental well-being.

“The first phase of the WellBeing Facilitators programme has had a significant impact on fair, safe, inclusive and supportive working practices in the sector – and we look forward to working with partners on the second phase.”

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs, said:

“Bectu has consistently campaigned for workers’ mental health and wellbeing to be a key priority for employers and engagers, and I am delighted that the union is working in partnership with other creative unions, Creative Wales and industry stakeholders on such an important and successful initiative.

“The role of a WellBeing facilitator not only provides guidance and support for employees and freelancers, but demonstrates a commitment from employers to prioritising mental health and wellbeing at work.

“The impact of the pandemic on the industry’s workforce followed by the cost of living crisis means that, prioritising mental health at work has never been so important. Through consistent and continued industry collaboration, we can better support the workforce and ensure that film and TV production is on a path to improving its working practices.”

Ruth Ballantyne – Regional Officer, Musicians’ Union & Chair of CULT Cymru, said:

“Working with union members in the creative industries everyday we can appreciate the need for WellBeing Facilitators and the important role they can play. This pilot has helped to highlight the need within the sector for wellbeing support and following its success we are looking forward to extending these roles for those working in music and live events.

“Many musicians work in isolated, high stress environments where access to WellBeing Facilitators would be a very welcome addition. These roles are a vital step to ensuring that mental health and wellbeing is a priority and the creative industries are accessible to all”.

Feedback from the first pilot by employers and workers identified the benefits of having a trained WBF on a production. It showed that:

  • Having access to a Wellbeing Facilitator (WBF) was seen as demonstrating the employer’s positive commitment to supporting the wellbeing of its workforce.
  • The workforce was more confident in raising often relatively easy to resolve welfare issues via the anonymity of the WBF.
  • Voicing concerns around poor behaviour could help de-escalate issues.
  • Highlighting sensitive issues in scripts helped alert cast, crew and management to potential trigger points for individuals.
  • Being able to discuss in confidence personal challenges such as family issues, bereavement, poor mental health, financial problems, not getting enough work etc. & being sign-posted to appropriate support was seen as invaluable.
  • Training around mental health & wellbeing, management and equality and diversity needed by employers and the workforce.
  • Employers sought guidance on accessibility e.g. around disability, religion etc.
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