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Bug Farm explains rush to keep people and animals safe as raging wildfire approached

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A PEMBROKESHIRE business has taken to the internet to thank everyone who has supported them throughout the recent grass fires. The management of Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm said on Facebook: “Thank you everyone for your kind comments about the fire.

“Being told that you may lose your family home, cows and nature reserve is rather sobering.

The business describes itself as a visitor and research centre located on a farm wildlife reserve grazed by our Tyddewi Herd of Welsh Black cattle. IT has a focus on invertebrates (bugs) alongside sustainable food and farming, they are also home of Grub Kitchen & Bug Farm Foods. 

However all of that was hanging in the balance with people and animals threatened by the oncoming flames.

Ongoing battle: Tabitha and Andy extinguishing a reignition.

They explained: “With the fire just one field away from them, our first priority was getting our cows to a safer area. We had a team of ecologists working on the land who thankfully saw the fire and got away in time. Then we looked up and said: “oh my gosh, the house”.

“All my memories of my late mum and dad were in the house. We drove through the smoke and flames to reach it. I will never forget seeing the small mammals running for their lives across the road, in particular a rabbit with charred fur that stopped in the middle of the road and looked straight at me before carrying on. The firefighters said their priority was trying to save the first 5 houses of Nun Street if possible.

“Ours was number 1, the house nearest to the fire. I was allowed one dash in by the firefighters to grab what I could. Typically, the fire expanded behind me, with Andy the other side of it not being able to contact me. It was completely terrifying for everyone.

No entry: The fire jumped a road at one point during the incident

“A huge thank you to my cousin Rachel and Nick for hosing down the garden as the fire reached the garden hedge and closing all the windows of the house while I grabbed precious memories. Thanks to a monumental effort, our house, Tabitha’s home, the cows and most of our fledgling nature reserve at Penweathers are safe. The fire team were amazing.

“After putting the main blaze out on Saturday, they must have returned 4 or 5 times on Sunday, when we, Adam Vincent at Clwb and the TYF Adventure guides couldn’t control the blazes.

“Following advice from the fire officer, Andy did an amazing job on Saturday night and Sunday cutting fire breaks around our meadows as a preventative measure to stop the fire spreading to the houses in St Davids and the cathedral cemetery if it reignited (which it did…time and time again).

“Tabitha and Angela worked tirelessly with us and Adam putting out the fires and a big thanks to Lou for helping out too.

Devastation: Scorched earth remains after the blaze was extinguished

“On Sunday, two big fires started, one at Newgale and another at a South Pembs recycling centre, and all the fire teams in the county were called away. It was an odd feeling on Sunday evening, hearing the local fire officer saying that all engines in west Wales were deployed elsewhere so, if it re-started, we were pretty much on our own and so we should do everything we could to extinguish the new, small fires so they couldn’t escalate.

“We managed to keep on top of the small fires and smoking bales thanks to regular patrols and local residents calling us whenever they spotted smoke so we could rush to extinguish new fires before they got too big.

Destroyed by fire: Shed’s seen better days

“After almost 24 hours of fire-free time, we thought we had won and then, on Tuesday afternoon, got a call to say that smoke had been spotted again.

“By the time we arrived, Adam was extinguishing a smoking bale and then we found a smoking hawthorn tree in a largely unburnt hedge, at the edge of what had burnt: within seconds, the trunk was glowing bright red, with flames starting to spread.

Fire appliances responding to the blaze

“Thanks to the rain, we had our first fire-free day yesterday (the second busiest day of the year at The Bug Farm). Please bear with us over the next few days if we are a bit zombie-like, we are all exhausted and still a bit shaken, but so, so thankful that it has ended how it has.

Scale of burned area and proximity to residential property can be seen clearly in this shot

“The fire burnt through our neighbour’s arable land and improved grassland, destroying the crops, but seemed to skirt around our wildlife habitat, going through the hedge banks but not making it across our fields, despite them being long grass meadows. Having been told at least 5 times over the past few days that it is: “long grass and bl**dy rewilding like you are doing” that is causing these fires to spread, it is worth noting that the re-wetted marshy grassland stopped the fire in its tracks and stopped it getting to the cemetery and to St Davids houses on Nun Street – you can see it very clearly in the pictures below. Oh and it started by someone leaving glass bottles on the footpath.

“Please take your litter home and don’t smoke or have barbecues in the countryside in a drought.

“Lots of people have kindly offered to help. If you would like to help, please grab gloves and a bag and walk the Pilgrim’s Way footpath that is now partially burnt, picking up glass bottles, cans and other human detritus that is now visible to help stop this happening again.

Business

Tax refunds to aid energy crisis

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RESEARCH from RIFT Tax Refunds reveals that UK taxpayers could pay for more than 40% of their household energy bills next year by applying for a tax refund.

The latest data by RIFT Tax Refunds shows that: 

  • Today, the average one-year tax refund has climbed to £1,518 – money that could be owed due to taxpayers having overpaid as a result of an incorrect tax code, or money that can be claimed back for work-related expenses such as travel and uniform. 

But how far can it actually go when it comes to covering the rising cost of living?

  • With the current energy price cap of £1,971 (up to the end of September 2022), the average tax refund would cover 77% of the annual bill.
  • Even if the cap rises to £3,549, as it expected to in October, the average tax refund would still cover 43% of a year’s worth of energy.
  • The UK’s average monthly mortgage payment is £1,054. This means a tax refund will cover 144% of the cost or, in other words, one and a half month’s worth of mortgage payments. 
  • Another common concern, and one that’s been widely reported in the past few weeks, is the surprisingly high price of school uniforms.
  • On average, it’s estimated that the cost of getting a child equipped to go back to school with a full and proper uniform is £365 – a cost that could be well and truly covered for a family with up to four children with the average yearly tax refund. 
  • Petrol prices have also soared over the past couple of months. Today, the average price for unleaded petrol is 173.5 pence per litre. This means the average tax refund is enough to purchase 875 litres of fuel.
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Business

Council officers conduct visits in response to Avian Influenza incident

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Following the identification of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza  in poultry at a site near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire and the declaration of an Influenza Protection Zone and wider Surveillance Zone surrounding the Infected Premises (by the Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales), on Friday 9 September, officers from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Division have been engaged in visiting addresses within the 3 kilometre Protection Zone around the site.

Officers are identifying locations where poultry and/or other captive birds are kept and to provide information on restrictions that currently apply to help prevent the spread of disease.

The Council’s officers are working in support of veterinary colleagues from the Animal and Plant Health Agency who are managing a co-ordinated response to the incident, in collaboration with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Agency and Public Health Wales.

A map showing the extent of the zones and restrictions that apply can be seen on the Welsh Government website at https://gov.wales/declaration-avian-influenza-protection-zone-surveillance-zone-near-milford-haven-pembrokeshire, and road signs are currently being erected by the local authority to help clarify where these zones begin and end, which will remain in place until the restrictions can be lifted.

It is vital keepers of birds remain vigilant and ensure they have the very highest levels of biosecurity in place.

Responsibilities of people who keep birds:

  • All keepers of kept birds should be vigilant for signs of the disease such as increased mortality, respiratory distress and drops in food or water intake, or egg production.
  • Consult your veterinary surgeon in the first instance if your birds are unwell.
  • If you or your vet suspect that avian influenza could be causing illness in your birds, you must, by law, report this to the Animal and Plant Health Agency Wales on 0300 303 8268. This will trigger a disease investigation by APHA vets.
  • You must apply strict biosecurity measures to prevent any materials, equipment, vehicles, clothing, feed or bedding that could have been contaminated from wild birds coming onto your premises. Further guidance is available here: biosecurity and preventing disease in captive birds.

The UK health agencies advise that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the UK food standards agencies advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.

Members of the public who do not keep birds can help by reporting dead wild birds.  You should call the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 if you find:

  • One or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • Three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks)
  • Five or more dead birds of any species

These may be collected for examination and avian influenza surveillance, depending on the species and location. It is important not to pick up or touch any sick or dead bird.

Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to Defra. Instead contact the RSPCA (in Wales and England) on 0300 1234 999 who may be able to offer assistance.

Dead or sick birds in public places, such as beaches, can also reported by calling 01437 764551 (or out of hours 0345 601 5522) for Pembrokeshire County Council to arrange to collect safely.

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Veteran opens Slimming World in Milford Haven

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ARMY Veteran, Rachel, has launched her own Slimming World group in Milford Haven after her own positive experiences. 

“I changed lives in the army and hope to continue changing lives for people in Milford Haven.”

Rachel was born and raised in Milford Haven. As a small child, she was “active and busy” and a real tomboy alongside her brothers. 

In 1998, she joined the Army at 16-years-old as a Combat Medical Technician. Following training, Rachel served in Germany, all over the UK, overseas in Cyprus, and was deployed to Oman, Kosovo, Bosnia and Poland before retiring from service in May 2021.

Her role as a combat medical technician meant she often had to deal with soldiers who had been injured in war zones. Rachel described dealing with the range of injuries as “life-changing”.

Rachel’s job not only consisted of helping soldiers physically recover; she also helped them with their mental well-being. 

She said she: “always pointed out the positives ahead of them for their lives and their families.

“The fulfilment I would get from seeing them recover and their family made whole again is so rewarding, I cannot put it into words.”

She has always been a strong, physically fit person. She enjoyed an active lifestyle and felt as though she “could always eat what she wanted.”

In 2017, she was posted to Harrogate. Rachel was 36 years old and had recently given birth to her third child, a daughter, after already having two sons aged 13 and 5. 

She says she was almost two stone overweight even before her pregnancy. 

Rachel said: “So here I was with four stone to lose. I had lost all confidence and was at a loss.

“I was at a GP surgery when I saw a poster for Slimming World. I was there for my daughter’s first vaccinations and that’s when I decided to join my local Harrogate Slimming World group.”

Rachel said she was welcomed to the group with open arms. She described the members as being lovely, offering to make her a hot drink after being weighed or hold her baby while she got settled into the group. 

It was at this group that Rachel found her love for Food Optimising, which is Slimming World’s unique plan to lose weight and get healthy. 

She swapped takeaway meals for ‘fakeaways’ using recipes she learned from her group. 

After only a week, Rachel had lost 4 lbs and knew this new plan was one she could follow. 

Over the next 10 months, she enjoyed curries, chillis, chips loaded with a variety of toppings and cheese within her daily allowance, and she could still enjoy treats every now and then. 

By June 2018, she had hit her target and lost the whole four stone. She said she “felt amazing!”

Unfortunately, during lockdown, she became a single mum and was at an “all-time low”. She moved back to Pembrokeshire in December 2021 and quickly swapped healthy meals for quick and easy, high-fat processed meals.

Rachel said: “Being stuck in the house with three children during lockdown was hard. 

“As I was working from home with nowhere to go, I found myself mindlessly eating as I was only eating out of boredom. 

“I put almost two stone back on and I was devastated.”

In January 2022, she decided to get into shape again. She joined the local Slimming World group in Johnston. 

Rachel said she had two stone to lose and was determined to return to her target weight. 

She claims she was blown away by the consultant Kelly’s knowledge of the plan and her motivation. 

“She guided me back through the new member talk, reintroduced me to my love of Slimming World and allowed me to fall in love with the plan all over again!” Rachel added. 

“The warm atmosphere and the gentle reminder that the plan can be used for all the family reignited my passion.

“Since January 10, 2022, I have lost one stone and five pounds. I am only two-pounds away from my personal target.”

After talking about Slimming World and the freedom it allows Rachel to have, she joined Slimming World and trained to be a consultant. 

Thanks to her time in the Army, helping those with their physical and mental health, Rachel feels that she would be well suited to helping those achieve their goals. 

She commented: “The training is thorough and covers not only the plan but the psychology of wanting to lose weight. 

“It has totally changed my views on how I shop, cook and eat food, and I hope my drive and motivation will help others to do the same.”

To join Rachel’s Slimming World group, call Rachel on 07391 634033 or visit Milford United Football Club, Marble Hall Road, every Thursday at 5.30pm. 

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