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Local optician shortlisted for national award



A PEMBROKE DOCK optician has been shortlisted for an award at the Optometry Wales Awards 2023.

Emily Couling, 25, who works at Specsavers Pembroke Dock, is a finalist for the ‘Pre-registration Optometrist of the Year’ award.

The winner of the award will be announced at the awards ceremony this Saturday, 25 November, at Portland House, Cardiff.

Ms Couling, who has been employed at the Diamond Street store since she was 18, says: ‘I had no idea I’d been nominated for an award, so it was such a nice surprise when the finalists were announced. It’s nice to have my colleagues recognise the care and passion I have for the job and our customers.’

Andrew Williams, Specsavers Pembroke Dock director, who nominated Ms Couling for the award, adds: ‘We are so pleased for Emily – she has been a real asset to our team since she first joined seven years ago.’

‘At Specsavers, we’re very passionate about providing our local community with not only the best eye and ear care, but also the best careers. Emily started with us just before she went to university so to see her close to becoming a fully qualified optometrist is very rewarding. We are all incredibly proud of her, and, regardless of whether she wins the award, we know she’ll have a long and successful career.’

Specsavers Pembroke Dock offers a full range of eye health and hearing services, including OCT scans and children’s sight tests. Find out more at

As part of Specsavers’ mission to make eye health accessible to all, it also offers a Home Visits service to the housebound, with mobile opticians covering more than 90% of the UK.

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Offshore wind could power economic growth



UPTO 5,300 new jobs and up to £1.4 billion could be generated for the UK economy by galvanising the supply chain and infrastructure opportunities arising from the development of new floating wind farms.The independent study, The Celtic Sea Blueprint, conducted by Lumen Energy & Environment, looked at the minimum requirements needed to deliver the first three projects outlined by The Crown Estate in December.
It also examined the gaps, such as ports deep enough for handling the giant turbines, vessels to service the sites, and export cables to transport electricity to land.
Addressing these gaps will be critical to establishing these first windfarms, and, with a further pipeline of windfarms expected in the region and rising global demand, the opportunities for ports, manufacturers and the wider supply chain could be far greater.
Action is required now, locally and nationally, to capture the opportunities associated with this fast, growing, innovative new technology. The first three floating wind farms, which will be able to generate up to 4.5GW of electricity – enough to power more than four million homes, will be some of the largest in the world.
And, as the first in the UK outside of Scotland, it marks a new phase for offshore wind in England and Wales.
The South West/Wales has the potential to be at the forefront of driving this development with opportunities from port infrastructure to significant SME support across the supply chain.
In particular, the research highlighted opportunities for the region, from assembling the large floating platforms needed to house the turbines to building on the existing local high-skilled welding and concrete expertise and local suppliers.
It highlighted opportunities for local ports across the region from the assembly, transport, and storage of parts during the construction and life-cycle of the sites.
At the same time, the region’s strong shipping expertise could also benefit during the development stages.
Gus Jaspert, Managing Director of Marine at The Crown Estate, said: “Floating wind is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the region and the nation. It will boost clean electricity generation by unlocking the deeper waters of the Celtic Sea not previously accessible by fixed turbines and providing greater access to wind blowing from the west.
“The benefits, though, are even more wide-ranging. They open up wider local and national opportunities for manufacturers and the supply chain, from cables to platform construction to port development, creating thousands of new jobs and skills.
“But there are also gaps in the market.
“If the UK is to make the most of the economic and environmental opportunities from the transition to renewable energy, we must be on the front foot. We must act now to develop the supply chain capability, skills and infrastructure needed to establish these windfarms and future floating windfarms in the Celtic Sea and elsewhere.
“We want to work with the industry, trade organisations, local communities and across governments to ensure we are harnessing all the available opportunities and supporting the UK in continuing to accelerate its world-leading position in offshore wind.”
RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail, Co-Chair of the Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce, said: “The Celtic Sea Blueprint shows that floating wind can deliver immense industrial growth.
“Some of the world’s biggest floating wind farms will be built in the Celtic Sea, with turbines twice as tall as Blackpool Tower, platforms the size of football pitches and hundreds of kilometres of hi-tech cables.”
Jess Hooper, Director for RenewableUK Cymru, added: “Manufacturing is part of the Welsh national story. We have a proud industrial work heritage, a skilled manufacturing base, and strong links with the universities and colleges that feed into this industry.
“Retaining, upskilling and transitioning our local workforce towards offshore wind is the biggest opportunity to provide high-quality employment for decades to come.
“Only by developing our port capabilities in South Wales can we do this.
“Our ports are paramount in attracting the right anchor companies to safeguard against project delivery bottlenecks and develop our local supply chain capabilities.
“Investment in the region now is critical to delivering on that 4.5GW of offshore wind at the scale and pace required to meet our net zero targets.”
The Crown Estate is now focused on bringing key parties together to create an action plan for developing supply chain and infrastructure capabilities in the region and across the UK.
The Crown Estate has invested in extensive spatial planning and surveys to map the environmental and physical properties of the wind farm sites, conducted environmental assessments and begun work with the Electricity System Operator on connections to the UK’s energy grid up front in the process.
It will also introduce a series of contractual commitments for developers to help drive positive social and environmental impacts for the region focused on jobs, skills and training, environmental benefits and working with local communities.
The formal tender process for the floating wind farms starts at the end of the month.

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Welsh social enterprise launches app to combat local business closures



REACTING to the challenging economic climate in Wales, the Social Enterprise Buy Local Wales has launched an innovative and interactive new mobile app, designed to connect local businesses with their communities, and visitors to the region. 

Available now on IOS and soon on Android, the app is built to be social, interactive, and user-friendly, with features designed to help local people find sustainable local products and services. The app was built to complement the website ( where locals can purchase goods and services, book appointments, and leave reviews for their favourite businesses. But it doesn’t stop there; the app will offer discounts, incentives, and a loyalty scheme designed to incentivise buying from local businesses and to reward customers’ commitment to Buying Locally.

Singer-songwriter and Marketing Consultant Jess Dando, the founder of Buy Local, highlighted the critical need for such an initiative. “In the face of rising online shopping trends and the dominance of supermarkets and discount stores, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate the value of local Welsh businesses. Our goal is not only to boost the local economy but also to educate communities on the benefits of buying locally – for the economy, the environment, and the individuality of our towns and cities.”

Buy Local Wales, however, is more than just an app. The website has been incredibly popular since its launch online, with audiences increasing daily through social media and the site, demonstrating the increasing popularity of consumer consciousness and a desire to get back to basics by supporting local enterprises.

Lester Dagge, a Design & Marketing Consultant involved with the project, stressed the urgency of the situation: “The time for talk is over – we need innovative action and collaboration across communities, businesses, and government to foster business growth, particularly in rural areas craving more employment opportunities and revitalisation of their town centres. Without immediate action, we risk seeing our beloved town centres decline further.”

Buy Local Wales has big plans, but their top priority is to champion grassroots business and community cohesion. They will be facilitating a series of business events in local communities across the region – with an emphasis on showcasing sustainable industries, like renewable energy.  There are also plans to offer targeted support and networking opportunities for traders, solopreneurs, and micro-businesses, who make up a large proportion of local business owners in Wales. 

The founder of Buy Local Wales, along with local business owners in Pembrokeshire remain optimistic, but resolute about the action needed to insight change, stating,  ‘There is no doubt that the app will have a positive impact, enabling local businesses to ensure an online presence and encouraging local people to support and Buy from local businesses, but this is just a small part of the affirmative action we all need to take, to breathe life back into our town centres and communities.

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Business hub opens third shop in west Wales to meet customer demand



TRADERS are enjoying start-up success with the support of Antur Cymru Enterprise.

Entrepreneurs, makers, and independent producers in west Wales are benefiting from the organisation’s Cymorth Busnes Lleol / Local Business Supportprogramme.

After opening retail units in Aberystwyth and Newcastle Emlyn, a space has now been unveiled on Cardigan High Street.

Loren Nash is the owner of Under the Laurel nature-inspired jewellery accessories and homeware, now based at the bustling store having launched during the pandemic.

She began making items in lockdown to improve her mental health; however, increasing demand led to customers across the area and online, so she decided to take the leap and join the Local Business Support community earlier this year.

“I started making items just for myself, but after requests from friends and family ended up creating an Etsy store, which is when it really started to take off,” she said. 

“As my customer base grew, I felt I needed a proper space to make and to sell, which is when Antur Cymru stepped in to help. They have been so incredibly helpful, imparting their knowledge and advice, which has been invaluable.

“They have also assisted me with social media, helped myself and other traders understand what grants are available and how to apply for them, and even demonstrated how to how to put together table and window displays.”

Loren added: “The response since opening has been wonderful and local people have been incredibly supportive, telling us how nice it is to see small businesses getting a chance to get their products out there. 

“Eventually I would love my own shop here on the high street with my partner and also run free art workshops where all supplies are provided by us and the space is welcoming and accessible – that’s the dream, but for now I am excited to be here and looking forward to the future.”

Among the other start-ups are Funky Fairy jewellery and keyrings, artist Titus Sharp, and Andrea Edwards, whose model venture Amaze Me 3D is reaping the benefits of having a physical presence in the town centre.

“This started as a hobby, gifting to my friends and family, and progressed just a few months ago,” said Andrea.

“I make 3D models out of a material called PLA (Polyactic Acid) which is environmentally friendly as it’s made from natural materials like corn starch and sugar cane. Dinosaurs and dragons have been particularly popular with the shoppers, and being here in this shop has shown me the true potential of my business.”

Talented artist Titus Sharp, whose Tonnau Glas (Blue Waves) venture is already picking up commissions and demand for bespoke glass creations cast from beach and sand ripples, was in agreement.

A former health and social care worker, he is proud to be part of the group and said: “I am here at the shop as much as possible, drawing, learning more about business and selling my work, which has been very positive.

“I’ve had several sales and commissions, and being part of the community has given Tonnauglas more exposure, which is great – everyone has been very supportive.”

Andrea Stinton and her Funky Fairy start-up combine the making of jewellery and keyrings from various metals sea glass and crystal beads with dreamcatchers and suncatchers woven from feathers, natural crystals, and crystal glass.

She echoed his words and has enjoyed a similar experience.

“What was a hobby and something I enjoyed doing with my daughter turned into demand for items from friends and family, then their friends and then it was craft fairs and more!” said Andrea.

“Antur Cymru identified this might be a good move for me and they were right. My dream is to have my own store one day and now I’m on the way to that thanks to them.”

Funded by UK Government and driven by Levelling-Up via Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire councils, the project also includes guidance for new and start-up businesses across the region via a team of skilled and experienced mentors and advisors.

The other outlets in Newcastle Emlyn and Aberystwyth have enjoyed regular footfall and community support, and Project Manager Julie Morgan said that has already been the case in Cardigan.

“The shop has been busy since day one, the town has really got behind us and given these small businesses real encouragement,” she said.

“The lessons we have learned at our other two retail spaces have given us a firm foundation to build on here, and with plans for further pop-up stores this year we are confident of giving start-ups and entrepreneurs in west Wales even more opportunities in the future.”

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