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Island fort project deserves support

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St_Catherine's_Fort_Front,_Tenby_From_On_The_IslandA special Pembrokeshire Herald report by Dennis O’Connor
SINCE becoming uninhabited in the late 1970’s, the corridors of one of South Pembrokeshire’s most iconic buildings are now once again beginning to echo with the ambitious sound of change.
Cutting through the red tape in order to progress plans to re-develop the fort at St. Catherine’s Island, located just off the foreshore at Tenby, is painfully slow but the Island project manager Pete Prosser remains hopeful that approval will be granted so that work may finally begin to open what would undoubtedly be a highly popular tourist attraction.
Built in 1870, the fort was constructed to repel foreign invaders, but its guns were not installed until 1886. It later became a private house before an anti-aircraft battery was installed at the front of the island during World War Two. Much later it became the unusual location of a zoo before the island was vacated in the seventies. It is the rich early history of the fort that the developer wants to once again bring to life.
After the breath-taking trek along the island, the vast granite and limestone fort is hugely impressive when viewed from the approach to the drawbridge. As you enter the building, senses are flooded with the history of the long narrow corridors and beautifully designed vaulted ceilings of the rooms. The tracks on-which the cannons moved are still visible and the significance of the positioning of gun slots throughout the fort provide rare snapshots of the town. Even in darkened recesses there is a real sense of safety within the old building.
Since becoming vacant, the fort has been plagued by trespassers, some of whom have accelerated the decay of this wonderful building by their selfishness. As a result, some rooms are in a pretty sorry state. However, despite this and being open the elements, the building remains defiant to these intrusions and progress can be made through the warren of corridors which reveal the sheer scale of the building. After climbing the steps which lead out to the top of the fort the natural instinct is to head for the nearest vantage point to take in the stunning views of nearby Caldey Island and the mainland and the views are truly magnificent.
Public access to the five-acre island and fort is strictly prohibited and it is not difficult to see why. After years of neglect and decay the area is not fully safe so this is the predominant issue which is being addressed by Pete Prosser and his team. They are dependent upon low tides and muscle power to transport equipment to the island and this means having to work a full shift whilst being cut off from the mainland but spirits are high and there is almost a tangible sense of excitement now that safety work is underway.
When full permission for the project is finally granted, visitors can look forward to an interactive experience which will bring the varied history of the fort to life through its themed rooms and characters.
Children will be able to explore the fort’s tunnels in safety while parents and grandparents enjoy the sense of history. There is even a plan for one room on the lower floor to be fitted with underwater camera controls to that unique access is given to the marine life around the island.
Over years, many people would have gazed at St Catherine’s Fort and would have longed to know what it would be like to see inside the garrisoned walls, so when the rare window of opportunity opened to meet Pete and his team on the island for a personal tour, it was the realisation of a little boy’s dream that has been many years in the making.
However, not everyone is happy with the proposal to save the building from total decay. If the plans were not sympathetic to the fort or its history then that would be understandable, but any opposition to the idea of preserving such an iconic historical monument should be viewed cautiously by the people of Pembrokeshire who also deserve to have the opportunity to be able to have their childhood dreams realised.

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Art Auction in support of Tenby Museum

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TENBY Museum and Art Gallery opened it’s doors to the public on the 9th September after being closed for eighteen months due to Covid. During this time a new roof and replacement Velux windows were installed as well as extensive internal redecoration carried out.

Being closed for all this time has resulted in a loss of revenue for the museum,  and with this in mind the ‘Friends of Tenby Museum’ are organising an Art Auction on Friday 10th December at the museum to help raise much needed funds

There was a wonderful response from artists who contributed their work in support of the museum including Naomi Tydeman, Sally Green, Tom Sloan, Jon Houser, Meirion Jones, Brian Froud and Louise Burdett to name just a few. All the work will be on display at the museum gallery and can be viewed for free by the public on Thursday to Saturday from 25th November until Friday 10th December.

Doors open to the public at 6.15pm and the auction will start promptly at 7.00pm. Our auctioneer for the night will be the very talented local artist Guy Manning.

All proceeds will go to the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery which is the oldest independent museum in Wales. We appreciate your support and if you can’t make it on the night, you can either leave a bid in a sealed box at the museum or on-line at the museum website www.tenbymuseum.org.uk

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Community

Ultra-runner demonstrates to never give up on your dreams

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Rhys O’Mara (Left), Sanna (Centre) and Hollie Thomas (Right)

INSPIRATIONAL speaker Sanna Duthie recently inspired Military and Protective Services learners at the College with her story of running the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in a record breaking 51.5 hours without any sleep, to help raise money for the Welsh Air Ambulance.

Former College learner Sanna Duthie, an office manager by day and active runner by night, shared her experience of running the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in record breaking time. Sanna had participated in a few marathons over the years such as Tenby Long Course Weekend, the Gower 50 and the London Marathon.

However, the real adrenaline rush to complete the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path was when Sanna competed in a 100 mile race of the coastal path in 2017.

“I realised I wasn’t too bad at that distance and then that’s when I got it in my head about doing the whole thing.”

Running a coastal path isn’t the easiest challenge and Sanna had to be prepared with an extensive training programme running over 300 miles a month equivalent to 10 miles a day. Sanna also had strength and conditioning training at a local gym to ensure her successful recovery.

“Coast running is hard on your muscles and joints and you need to strengthen those in order to not get injured,” said Sanna.

Originally Sanna started to run the entire coastal path in August 2020 but after 63 miles had to abandon the race due to dangerous weather conditions. This only made Sanna more determined and she completed her ultra-run on 8 th May 2021.

Sanna explained the highs and lows of the run, “There were times when I just wanted to quit, and I even started to hallucinate but I used a tactic where rather than focus on the whole run I broke it down into sections – this made things less overwhelming. Close friends and family would join alongside me on different stages of my run, and this motivated me to get to the finish line.”

Protective services learner Rhys O’Mara was thoroughly inspired by Sanna’s story, “I feel like, from the talk, I’m more inspired to go out and push myself to take on bigger and better physical challenges, the talk really showed that you can achieve anything when you dedicate yourself to a task. After College I’m looking to join the RAF as a drone pilot and have a full career in the forces.”

Sanna was the first female to run the entire coastal path and breaking the previous record of 64 hours and 32 minutes and raised an impressive £5,768.14 for charity.

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Public urged to take part in Council budget consultation

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MEMBERS of the public are being urged to participate in Pembrokeshire County Council’s budget consultation 2022-23.

Launched this week, the consultation asks the public where they think the Council needs to spend money, and where it can save it.

As part of the process, the Council has created an online budget simulator, which includes videos from Cabinet members talking about the financial pressure in their portfolio areas.
Cllr Bob Kilmister, Cabinet Member for Finance, encouraged all those interested in how the Council spends its funds to take part in the consultation.

“It’s very important that we hear from as many people in Pembrokeshire as possible,” he said.

“Like other Councils, we are once again facing significant budget pressures and understanding community and household priorities is vital in helping us to make the difficult choices necessary in setting the 2023-23 budget.

“We look forward to hearing from you.”

How to take part in the consultation:

Teams Live Stream event
Join a Teams Live Stream event on Wednesday 1st December from 7pm – 8pm. Put your budget questions directly to Cllr Kilmister or the Council’s Director of Resources, Jon Haswell, or listen to the discussion. Questions are welcomed in English and Welsh.

Budget Simulator
Give your views on the budget priorities for 2022–23 by using our Budget Simulator which is available at https://haveyoursay.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/

Download the survey and return to County Hall
Alternatively you can download and complete our hard copy Information and Response Form. Once complete please return to surveys@pembrokeshire.gov.uk or Pembrokeshire County Council, Policy & Partnerships, County Hall, Haverfordwest, SA61 1TP.

The consultation will end on Wednesday 5th January 2022.

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