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Rhian scoops prestigious care award

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A PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL employee has been awarded at this year’s prestigious Employers for Carers Awards held by Carers Wales, which recognise and celebrate those who have supported unpaid working carers in Wales during the last year.

Rhian Bennett, Commissioning Manager, Social Care and Housing, scooped the Line Manager award at the event which was held last month.

The awards, which were part of Carers Week, are designed to recognise those in an organisation who have gone the extra mile in the last 12 months in supporting working carers – such as raising awareness, supporting peers and being a workplace champion, network facilitator or chair.

Rhian’s accolade recognises her efforts as a line manager who supported working carer’s and had a positive impact on helping them to balance care and work within the organisation.

She was nominated by a member of the team she manages, who is an unpaid carer – and this was in relation to her gratitude for the support that she receives and the wider team.

Rhian said: “It was a lovely surprise to win but it was an honour to be nominated and receive the award.

“It’s crucial to support and enable staff to provide care outside of their day job. This award is for everyone who is an unpaid carer and goes the extra mile to ensure their loved ones are supported.”

Carers Week was established by Carers UK more than 25 years ago and is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges unpaid carers face. This year’s theme was – ‘make caring visible, valued and supported’.

Jonathan Griffiths, Director of Social Services and Leisure, Social Care & Housing, added: “My congratulations to Rhian for this award, the recognition of her impact on supporting carers shows her commitment and drive to make a difference for people.

“To ensure employers protect carers time and support them, is essential and it’s pleasing to see Rhian’s approach has been recognised in this positive way.”

Community

Two Pembrokeshire residents honoured in King’s Birthday List

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PEMBROKESHIRE is celebrating the achievements of two distinguished locals who have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours. John Fletcher, a dedicated farmer, and Professor Andrew Campbell, a prominent academic, have both been awarded the MBE for their respective contributions.

John Fletcher: Champion of Shire Horses

John Fletcher, 70, the founder of Gentle Giants Shires in Moylegrove, has been honoured with an MBE for his services to the conservation of shire horses. His journey with these majestic animals began at the tender age of nine on his parents’ farm at Penrallt Uchaf. Inspired by his father, who had previously used a shire horse for ploughing, young John developed a lifelong passion for the breed.

In 2003, following the sale of the farm’s milking herd, Gentle Giants was established. Today, the organisation boasts a global following of 69,000 on Facebook and provides shire horses for weddings, funerals, and other events across the UK. The Gentle Giants have also featured on several television shows, including “Don’t Tell the Bride” and “Coast and Country”, as well as in the award-winning film “Calon Gaeth”.

John’s dedication to shire horses has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, during a Royal visit to Nevern, he and his shire horse, Prince George, met His Royal Highness. The future King praised John’s efforts, expressing his gratitude and interest in the farm’s breeding programme.

Gentle Giants remains a family-run venture, and the Fletcher family took to social media to celebrate John’s accolade. They expressed immense pride in his tireless work and commitment to training and promoting shire horses. “Not one to take things easy, he always has a new project on the go,” they shared. “Buyers often return due to the high standards achieved by the horses he has trained.”

John’s influence extends beyond the UK, with his horses working and competing as far afield as Norway and Italy. He is passionate about educating the public on the versatility of shire horses and enjoys welcoming visitors to the farm in Pembrokeshire.

Professor Andrew Campbell: Advocate for Tourism

Also honoured with an MBE is Professor Andrew Campbell of Goodwick, recognised for his services to tourism. Professor Campbell, who describes himself as “passionate about tourism, cake baking and swimming in the sea,” has made significant contributions to the field.

A professor of practice in tourism with the University of Wales, he is currently the chair of the Welsh Government’s Economic Ministerial Advisory Board. Until September 2021, he served as chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance, representing over 6,000 tourism businesses throughout Wales. The Welsh Government describes him as “a respected academic within tourism, a key economic sector,” noting his valuable insights into the challenges facing the tourism and skills sectors.

Living and working in north Pembrokeshire, Professor Campbell is known for his hands-on approach and commitment to enhancing the region’s tourism landscape. His recognition in the King’s Birthday Honours underscores the importance of his work and his dedication to the community.

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Community

GWR advises customers to check before travelling on Sunday 16 June

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GWR is advising customers to check their journey tomorrow morning before leaving home because of a shortage of train crew.

With fewer people available to work, GWR is warning of short notice cancellations and alterations, especially on long distance services between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

Journey planners and other industry systems will not be correct until the early hours of Sunday morning, as GWR works to staff as many trains as possible – and customers are being warned that they will need to check their journey on Sunday morning.

If your train is cancelled, you can use your existing ticket on the next available service.

Rail replacement buses will operate on the Kemble line between Swindon and Gloucester.

GWR expects to run a full level of service on Monday 17 June.

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Falkland Islands flag raised in Milford Haven to mark Liberation Day

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THE Falkland Islands Government flag was raised at Pembrokeshire County Hall and the British Legion in Milford Haven to commemorate Liberation Day, marking the end of the Falklands War on 14th June 1982. This solemn event was carried out by veterans of HMS Ardent, a Royal Navy frigate that played a crucial role in the conflict.

The Mayor of Milford Haven, Cllr William Elliott was joined by his mother, Mrs Wendy Elliott and the Deputy Mayor Cllr Eddie Davies for the HMS Ardent Association Flag Raising and Reception at Royal British Legion Club. Also in attendance were a number of Pembrokeshire County Councillors including Milford Haven’s Cllr Viv Stoddard, and Cllr Terry Davies.

On 21st May 1982, HMS Ardent was lying in Falkland Sound when it came under fire from the Argentine Air Force. Twenty-two of the 199 crew members on board were killed, and the ship sank the following day after suffering devastating damage.

As the first wave of Argentine aircraft attacked HMS Ardent, cook Jon Major threw himself to the floor and prayed. He survived, but 22 of his shipmates, including a close friend, did not, and dozens more were injured.

Speaking anniversary of the attack, Mr Major, then 62, recounted the terrifying moments. “Anyone who said they weren’t scared would be lying. It was extremely frightening,” he said. “We were all told to take cover when we saw the aircraft coming in. We all lay on the floor with our hands on top of our heads. When the first bombs hit, the whole ship shuddered. The first thing I did was pray.”

Mr Major was one of eight cooks onboard the Type 21 frigate. Three members of the close-knit team were killed. “Cooks were used for what is known as ‘defence watch’, watching out for incoming aircraft. It was eight hours on, eight hours off,” he explained. “When we were off-duty, we tried to get our heads down as best we could, but there was always something to do. We’d often be involved in moving shells and other ammunition around the ship.”

Mr Major was also a first-aider, although the scale of the damage inflicted in the raids meant he could do little to help. “Most of the damage was down aft (the back of the ship),” he said. “The bombs took out the galley. Because of the smoke, we couldn’t get down there.”

As the attack continued, the captain, Commander Alan West, gave the order to “abandon ship”. According to the official report into the loss of HMS Ardent, the ship “succumbed to two determined multi-aircraft attacks, which she had little chance of deflecting, and was seriously damaged”. The report added that the damage to the vessel would have been greater had a number of the bombs dropped not failed to explode.

Mr Major recalled, “To us, it all seemed to happen in seconds.”

Survivors of the attack were transferred to HMS Yarmouth and taken to South Georgia, before making the long voyage home where they were greeted by their families. “My mum and dad came down from Hull,” Mr Major said. “I remember just feeling numb.”

After returning to the UK, he and his fellow crew members were given four weeks’ “survivors leave” before being redeployed. “It was basically a case of ‘get on with the rest of your lives,'” he said. “Back then people didn’t really talk about mental health. I think it would have helped people if they had talked.”

Mr Major remained in the Royal Navy for another 20 years before leaving the service. “I had some great times, but I also had some pretty bad times, like losing 22 shipmates. It’s something you don’t forget,” he said.

Liberation Day commemorates the victory and liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentine occupation, a conflict that lasted 74 days and concluded with the surrender of Argentine forces. The raising of the flag serves not only as a remembrance of those who perished but also as a celebration of the enduring freedom and sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

The bond between Milford Haven and HMS Ardent remains strong, symbolising the town’s support for the Royal Navy and its dedication to remembering those who served and sacrificed. The flag-raising ceremony is a testament to the bravery of the crew of HMS Ardent and the resilience of the community that honours their memory.

In total, 255 British military personnel, three islanders, and 649 Argentine soldiers died during the 74-day Falklands War. A service to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict will be held at 14:00 BST on 19th June at Hull Minster.

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