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Top maritime honour bestowed on Milford Haven pilot

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ON SEPTEMBER 3, Merchant Navy Day, the UK Government honoured Captain John Pearn with a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. This is the highest medal of honour within the maritime sector and it recognises John’s lifetime of service to marine pilotage and safety.

John joined the Port’s skilled team of pilots in 1992 and has since become an exemplary ambassador for marine pilotage. He played a key role in the safe introduction of Liquefied Natural Gas vessels to the Milford Haven Waterway and has worked tirelessly within the wider UK, European and worldwide piloting communities to improve safety. He has collaborated with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department for Transport, British Ports Association and UK Harbour Masters Association, whilst also promoting safety internationally at the International Maritime Organisation. He has served as the Chairman of the UK Maritime Pilots Association, crusading for Piloting safety standards, served as Vice President of the International Maritime Pilots Association, and still holds a key role on the Pilot Ladder Safety Committee, continuing to contribute to improving safety standards.

Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive at the Port, said: “We are unutterably proud of John. We can think of no better way to honour his lifetime commitment to improving the industry and the lives of those who work in it. As a key part of the UK’s maritime sector, we recognise and celebrate the dedication and diligence of all seafarers that the Merchant Navy Medals honours and send our congratulations to all recipients of this year’s awards.”

John is one of 11 seafarers recognised in the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. These awards focus on the often overlooked but nationally important work carried out by the men and women in merchant navy, and their role in ensuring the safe movement of 95% of UK trade. It’s a particularly important part of Pembrokeshire life with so many families working within this community along the Milford Haven Waterway.

Maritime pilots are responsible for the safe movements of vessels in pre-determined locations in accordance with the 1987 Pilotage Act. Here on the Milford Haven Waterway, except for a few cases, pilotage is compulsory for all ships, or tug and tow combinations, of 50 metres or more in length overall, with some vessels even requiring two pilots. 

Photo caption: Captain John Pearn, pilot at the Port of Milford Haven, has been awarded a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service

Business

Tata workers call first strikes in 40 years to stop steel destruction

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HISTORIC strikes in Port Talbot as Labour vows emergency talks with Tata after general election

Around 1,500 Tata workers based in Port Talbot and Llanwern will begin all-out indefinite strike action over the company’s plans to cut 2,800 jobs and close its blast furnaces.

The strike action, which begins on 8 July, will severely impact Tata’s UK operations. It is the first time in over 40 years that steel workers in the UK have taken strike action.

The escalation in industrial action comes after the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, began working to rule and an overtime ban on Tuesday (June 17).

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tata’s workers are not just fighting for their jobs – they are fighting for the future of their communities and the future of steel in Wales.

“Our members will not standby while this immensely wealthy conglomerate tries to throw Port Talbot and Llanwern on the scrapheap so it can boost its operations abroad. They know South Wales is ideally placed to take advantage of the coming boom in green steel – if the right choices are made.

“The strikes will go on until Tata halts its disastrous plans. Unite is backing Tata’s workers to the hilt in their historic battle to save the Welsh steel industry and give it the bright future it deserves.”

Labour has called for Tata to halt its plans and wait until after the general election to engage in talks with the government, saying there is a ‘better deal to do’. Labour has pledged £3 billion for UK steel if elected next month, a commitment secured by Unite. Labour has also made emergency talks with Tata a priority if it wins the election.

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Business

Amendments submitted for holiday chalets scheme at trout fishery

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Amendments to a scheme granted by Pembrokeshire councillors last year after being repeatedly recommended for refusal have been submitted to county planners.

Last summer, Pembrokeshire councillors backed plans for holiday chalets at a trout fishery, despite them being recommended for refusal on multiple occasions.

Plans to provide nine accommodation cabins and ancillary works at a former fishery business at Millbrook, Manorwen, Fishguard, were backed at two meetings of Pembrokeshire County Council planning committee, despite them being recommended for refusal.

The application was backed for a second time at the committee’s May meeting, after a ‘minded to approve’ decision at the previous meeting.

The decision, a departure from the adopted Local Development Plan, meant the application would need to be referred to full council for a final decision.

Officers had repeatedly recommended Messrs L & C Williams’ application  – diversification of an existing agricultural holding and trout fishery business – be refused on the grounds it would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the character and appearance of the countryside.

The application was then considered at the July 2023 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council, with a recommendation that the council did not endorse the resolution of the planning committee on the grounds it went against Development Plan policies which directed that planning permission should not be granted.

The application was conditionally approved by 48 votes to eight, with one abstention.

The applicants have now submitted amendments to the granted scheme, asking for revisions to the plans to include a lower carbon footprint through air-source heat exchangers for both heating and hot water and the use of solar panels.

It also includes the need for addition excavations needed and hopes to make it more disability-friendly.

The amendments will be considered at a later date.

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Business

The Amber Boutique: Gemma triumphs as Apprentice of the Year

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IN a testament to hard work and dedication, Gemma Phillips, co-owner of The Amber Boutique, has been named Apprentice of the Year at the prestigious B-wbl Consortium Annual Apprenticeship and JGW+ Learner Awards. The event took place on 7th June at the Tower Hotel in Swansea, celebrating the outstanding achievements of apprentices and learners within the B-wbl Consortium Provider Network.

Gemma Phillips began her journey at The Amber Boutique in November 2020, embarking on an apprenticeship that saw her complete both NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 in Nail Services by 2023. Demonstrating remarkable commitment and skill, Phillips not only excelled in her training but also took the bold step of taking over the salon in April 2024, alongside her colleague Rebecca Lloyd. Under their stewardship, The Amber Boutique has thrived, becoming a beacon of success in the local business community.

The awards ceremony highlighted the dedication and high-level skills of learners in the Apprenticeship and Jobs Growth Wales+ programmes. Phillips was nominated by HB Training for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category, an honour that recognised her significant accomplishments since the inception of her apprenticeship. Among hundreds of nominees, Phillips stood out, making it to the top three before ultimately being declared the winner.

Her assessor at HB Training praised her indomitable spirit and perseverance. “Gemma was nominated for the Apprentice of the Year award due to her hard work and dedication to learning. She did not let her disability stand in her way and, with support from HB Training and adapted training provision, Gemma successfully achieved her Level 2 and 3 Nail Services qualifications. As a result, she now owns her own salon business. Gemma is a real-life hero and a true inspiration to others, demonstrating that a disability does not need to be a barrier to achieving your goals.”

The B-wbl Consortium awards, held annually, celebrate the success and achievements of their outstanding learners. Providers within the consortium nominate their top candidates for each award category, with a panel of independent judges selecting the finalists from the numerous applications received. Phillips’ victory is a testament to her relentless pursuit of excellence and her ability to overcome challenges.

The Amber Boutique continues to flourish under Phillips and Lloyd’s leadership, embodying the spirit of resilience and entrepreneurial success. Gemma Phillips’ story serves as an inspiration, proving that with determination and support, extraordinary achievements are possible.

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