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Sanna wins Wales Air Ambulance place for the world’s toughest mountain race



A PEMBROKESHIRE woman has been picked to represent the Wales Air Ambulance at one of the world’s toughest mountain races.

Sanna Duthie, 35, of Milford Haven, beat off stiff competition to win the Montane Dragon’s Back Race charity place, which covers 236 miles of Wales’ uniquely wild, trackless, and remote mountainous terrain.

The event will see competitors run the equivalent of 1.5 marathons every day in six days, starting from Conwy Castle and finishing at Cardiff Castle from Monday 4 September to Saturday 9 September 2023.

Ultra-runner Sanna impressed the judging panel with her passion and dedication and is the first female athlete to win a Wales Air Ambulance charity place for the gruelling race.

The panel consisted of Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnership Fundraiser, Tracey Ann Breese, Campaigns Manager Katie Macro and last year’s charity-place winner, Richard Gardiner.

Sanna, who works in office administration, said it had been her ambition to enter the Montane Dragon’s Back Race, but the £1,599 entry fee had financially held her back.

She said: “As a proud Welsh runner, the race has been on my radar for many years, I know several people who have taken part which has only fuelled my desire to do it. I work in office administration full time and the entry fee was just too much for me sadly.
“To spend a week running on the mountains in Wales is the best holiday I can imagine, the thought of being out on the mountains for days sounds so freeing. To be given the chance to take part in the Dragon’s Back Race is a dream come true.

“To be the first female to win the charity place is amazing. We need more female ultra-runners. Women are so strong mentally, and this challenge will require me to dig deep.  It’s an honour to be chosen and it has given me a big boost mentally, as well as the drive to train even harder.”

Sanna has been Ultra-running since 2015 and has won a plethora of races. These include the Gower Ultra, GB Ultra Beacon, The North Canum, Dirty Dozen Back Yard Ultra and the Preseli Ultra-beast 2022 which she won and set a new female record.

The athlete has committed to raising a minimum of £2,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance and hopes to promote her journey on social media and through a podcast.

Sanna is no stranger to fundraising for the Charity having raised nearly £5,000 in 2021 by running the entire Pembrokeshire Coast Path, an incredible 186 miles, all in one go. Not only did Sanna complete the challenge, but she also achieved the fastest known time of 51 hours and 30 minutes – with no sleep and the only stops being to refuel.

She said: “We were just coming out of lockdown and I managed to fulfil my dream of running the entire 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It was probably the best weekend of my life.

“As a result of that I appeared on radio shows in Wales and was interviewed on lots of running podcasts and I did some talks at the local schools. I even got asked to join the judging panel for last year’s Wales Air Ambulance Dragon’s Back Race.

“I asked for sponsorship and managed to raise just under £5,000 for Welsh Air Ambulance which is a cause I feel very strongly about. The service is very active in our community.  Pembrokeshire is quite rural and road links are not great. It is a charity that people in our county care about and want to support.”

Sanna said to complete the Montane Dragon’s Back Race would be a life goal and that she already has a training plan in place for the race.

She said: “It gives me butterflies just thinking of it.  It really will be a dream come true and to be able to do it and raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance really makes it extra special.

“I would say that I am an emotional person, this can often be seen as a bad quality, but I think it makes me a good ultra-runner. I help and support people and it also means that when I set a goal, I give it my all. I really hope I won’t let you down.”

The Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.

It offers advanced critical care across Wales which is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru). 

As a result, the service is consultant-led and is known as a ‘flying emergency department’, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient at the scene of an incident. This includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

Tracey Ann Breese, Wales Air Ambulance’s Events and Partnership Fundraiser, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to offer Sanna a place at this year’s Montane Dragon’s Back Race. It was clear from her application that she is totally committed to running and being able to complete the race, both as a personal goal and to fundraise for Wales Air Ambulance.

“We received a number of strong entries and we would like to thank everyone for sending their videos to us. I am looking forward to seeing and being able to support Sanna’s journey and am truly grateful that she has chosen to support our Charity for the second time.”

To support Sanna visit her Just Giving page,

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Mental Health support project in running for Lottery’s ‘Project of the Year’



A HAVERFORDWEST project which aims to improve the mental health of the people of West Wales by providing free support, is appealing for votes to be crowned National Lottery Project of the Year.

Get The Boys a Lift beat off stiff competition from 3,780 organisations to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards, which celebrates the inspirational projects and people who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

There are 17 shortlisted finalists from across the UK, all of which will compete in a four-week public vote from 11th September to 9th October to be named the National Lottery Project of the Year. Winners will receive a £5,000 cash prize for their project and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.

Get The Boys A Lift (GTBAL) is a not-for-profit organisation launched by a group of friends which provides free mental health support to the people of Pembrokeshire while promoting open discussions about mental wellbeing. The project has gone from strength to strength since 2016, now offering a mix of in-person and online counselling services to anyone over 17.

The team run a clothing and coffee shop in Haverfordwest called ‘Our Place’, offering a unique café experience where visitors can chat to counsellors and make new friends. The project’s drop-in service has provided around 500 people with free and easy support, without the challenge of extensive waiting lists. The project’s online counselling service, which launched during the pandemic, also gives clients the option to have sessions remotely.

With support from The National Lottery, the project was able to buy a coffee van in 2022, allowing representatives to travel further afield, not only raising funds to maintain the organisation’s services, but promoting its core message about the importance of openness around mental health.

GTBAL runs regular events across the region, including outreach in schools and workplaces as well as community events. Its ‘Break the Stigma’ coffee van has been stationed at Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire across the summer, giving the team a chance to spread the GTBAL message to a wider audience, not only to local people, but the region’s many visitors. Profits from the project’s bespoke clothing range, which includes everything from hoodies to beach towels, go back into the team’s crucial work.

Greg Walters, Director at GTBAL, said: “It is a real honour to be nominated and to be part of this process. It feels really special to be recognised for the work we do at Get the Boys a Lift. Thanks the to support of our community we’ve been able to save a lot of lives. We hope that people will vote for us and we can continue to spread the word about the help we provide!”

Jonathan Tuchner, from The National Lottery, added: “We’re so pleased to have received so many nominations highlighting the excellent work that National Lottery-funded projects are doing up and down the UK. It’s no secret that times are tough, so it’s great to see so many people and projects dedicating so much time and energy into giving something back to their communities.

“It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that the work of these amazing projects is made possible.

“Get The Boys A Lift are making an incredible impact in their local community and they thoroughly deserve to be in the finals of the National Lottery Awards Project of the Year 2023. With your support, they could be a winner.”

To vote for Get The Boys A Lift, please go to Or simply use their specific hashtag on X (formerly known as Twitter) #NLAGTBAL . Voting runs from 9am on 11th September until 12pm on 9th October.

For further information please contact The National Lottery Awards: Oswyn Hughes on 07976 324 179 or email [email protected]

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How community-run pubs and shops revitalise west Wales



WEST WALES celebrates as community-run pubs and shops promise a new wave of employment and trading opportunities. The recent trend of communities banding together to buy beloved establishments, turning them from privately-owned entities into cooperatively-run ventures, has become a lifeline for some local favourites.

At the heart of Newport, Pembrokeshire, Havards Ironmunger’s store stands as a beacon of hope. The community has rallied behind its purchase, ensuring its doors remain open and its products accessible to the locals. However, Havards isn’t the only establishment to benefit from this community spirit.

Each establishment purchased through this community cooperative model aims not only for profit but also seeks active participation from the community to steer its future. These “social businesses” have been sprouting all over West Wales. From the Tafarn Sinc pub in Rosebush, purchased in 2017, to the White Hart Pub in St Dogmaels and the recent community buyout of Tafarn y Vale in South Ceredigion, the wave of community-driven commercial ventures is unmistakable.

Two additional Pembrokeshire projects deserve special mention: the community-driven purchases of Cross Inn, Hayscastle and Tafarn Crymych Arms pub. Each cooperative business relies on the tireless work of volunteers, all united by a common goal: to ensure local trade thrives, offering employment to local residents.

The Tafarn Crymych Arms, which remained closed for two long years, is buzzing with activity once more. The team is actively seeking local suppliers for its restaurant and recruiting fresh talent for the roles they offer. With positions such as a 3-day-a-week Grants Manager and a full-time Pub Manager available, locals have a chance to be a part of this community resurgence.

Cris Tomos, a staunch supporter of these community cooperatives and a member of community development charity PLANED, expressed his enthusiasm, “The ability for communities to own and retain local establishments is pivotal. This model paves the way for local produce and offers competitive employment opportunities.” He adds that there’s a wealth of support for such ventures, urging interested parties to visit the PLANED website for comprehensive guidance on community ownership projects.

Job seekers, take note: the deadline for positions at Crymych Arms is approaching fast, set for the 16th of September. Full details can be found at

In Tomos’s words, “It’s truly heartening to witness the rise of community cooperatives. These hubs – be it shops or pubs – are essential for community life, and the support they’ve garnered is nothing short of commendable.”

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Aldi donates 66,200 meals to Welsh charities over the summer



ALDI stores in Wales donated 66,200 meals to families in need during the recent summer school holidays. 

All of its Welsh stores supported local charities and foodbanks during a period of increased demand by redistributing surplus food via community giving platform Neighbourly. 

Since Aldi’s partnership with Neighbourly began in 2019, Aldi stores across the country have already donated more than 35 million meals – including over seven million meals so far this year.  

This summer, Aldi also gave every child in the UK a chance to try an Olympic or Paralympic sport for free as part of its ‘Get a Taste for Sport’ initiative, helping parents meet the cost of providing healthy activities during the summer holidays. 

Liz Fox, Corporate Responsibility Director at Aldi UK, said: “The school holidays are always an incredibly hard time for households across the country, made even worse by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. That’s why we committed to supporting even more families in Wales this summer via our food donations scheme with Neighbourly, helping vital charities provide meals to those who need them most.” 

Steve Butterworth, from Neighbourly, added: “Demand on charities and foodbanks in Wales is incredibly high. This push in donations from Aldi was essential in helping so many families during the school holidays and we know how grateful the organisations were for the supermarket’s support.” 

Shoppers can also donate food to local charities, food banks and community groups via the community donation points in Aldi stores nationwide. 

Britain’s fourth largest supermarket also works with Company Shop, the UK’s leading redistributor of surplus food and household products, to redistribute surplus food from its Regional Distribution Centres to Community Shops around the country.  

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