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Jane Dodds MS supports Christmas Jumper Day

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JANE DODDS MS for Mid and West Wales has supported Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser on Thursday 7th December by donning their favourite festive knit.

Since 2012, the charity has raised more than £35 million for children around the world by calling on kindred-hearts to help make the world better with a sweater. Funds raised through Christmas Jumper Day will help children get access to food, healthcare, and education.

This year has been far from easy for families living on the lowest incomes in Wales, and part of the money raised will also go towards supporting Save the Children Cymru’s work in providing grants to buy food and essential household items and making sure children can thrive within their communities.

The charity hopes to make this Christmas Jumper Day the most sustainable and ‘green’ one yet and is urging everyone to dig out an old jumper and decorate it with festive trimmings, instead of buying a new jumper. Many schools and organisations are also holding a Christmas Jumper Swap Shop to save the environment, save money and save lives.

Jane Dodds MS has joined with thousands of others in all corners of Wales by wearing their Christmas jumper to promote the day.

Commenting, Jane Dodds MS said: “Everyone can take part in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on 7th December to support children across the globe.

Whether it’s adding decorations to an old jumper, re-wearing last year’s knit, or swapping a woolly with a friend, anything goes – and the more sustainable the better!”

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Community

Working together to protect our countryside and our country

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OPERATION Dawns Glaw, a multi-agency taskforce of specialist from key agencies across Wales has reformed to reduce, and where possible eliminate the impact of grass fires across Wales.

The task force, which was initially established in 2016 to tackle incidents of deliberately set grass fires across Wales, will also be turning its attention to the increase in accidental fires, often caused as a result of our own careless behaviour when out enjoying the countryside. 

In 2023 fire services across Wales attended 1,880 grassfire incidents – this was a decrease of 45% on the previous year with deliberate grass fires decreasing by 1,059 (45%) to 1,301. We want to continue in this direction.

Every year fire is responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of countryside, open space, and wildlife habitats.  We want to work with our communities to build a healthier and resilient countryside and to develop a more biodiverse countryside for the future. Working with our communities and sharing our knowledge provides us a better understanding on what we can do limit the damage that accidental fires cause to our environment.

Peter Greenslade, Corporate Head of Prevention and Protection for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and Chair of Operation Dawns Glaw, said: “We launch our campaign again this year on St David’s Day, with a patriotic plea that we all continue to work together to build a healthier and more resilient Welsh landscape, by developing a more biodiverse countryside for our future. We want to continue to protect our landscapes, green grassland, and countryside that we are all so fortunate to have on our doorstep.

“We want to work with our communities, farmers, and landowners to share our knowledge and understanding of the effect that both deliberate and accidental fires have on our communities.  We understand that controlled burns can have a positive effect on the environment, creating biodiversity and a sustainable eco system and we are available for free advice on how do to this safely.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to reinforce our messages that while accidents can happen, there are some within our communities who are deliberately setting fire to our countryside – not only is this a crime, for which they will be prosecuted, but it also places unnecessary pressure on front line services and puts our communities in harm’s way. I would encourage anyone with information relating to such crimes to call 101, or to report anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111”. 

The Operation is also continuing its work with farmers and landowners across Wales, reminding them that while they may burn heather, grass, bracken and gorse up until the 15 March (up to 31 March in Upland areas), they must have a Burn Plan in place to ensure they are burning safely. It is against the law to burn outside of the burning season and can result in penalties of up to £1000.

Find out more about #DawnsGlaw 2024 via Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s website www.mawwfire.gov.uk/DawnsGlaw, where you can also access some simple safety tips and download the campaign’s safety messages for use on your own social media channels. Together we held stop grass fires and protect our countryside and our country.

Remember – If are out enjoying the countryside and you do come across any suspicious activity, please call CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 101. In an emergency, always call 999.

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Lonely Planet says Heart of Wales line ‘one of best rail journeys in Europe’

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WORLD famous travel guide Lonely Planet has named the Heart of Wales railway line as one of the best rail journeys in Europe.

Described as ‘a spectrum of scenery’ that alternates ‘from the sand-edged estuaries of South Wales’ to ‘one of England’s prettiest medieval cities’, the line has been ranked amongst the top ten train rides in Europe for 2024.

Others on the prestigious list include the Le Petit Train Juane in the French Pyrenees, The Berina Express in Switzerland and The Brenner Railway passing through Germany, Austria and Italy.

Running between Swansea and Shrewsbury, a full trip on the line takes 4 hours and covers nearly 200km, passing through villages such as Llandeilo and Llandovery within the south and Craven Arms and Church Stretton further north.

Marie Daly, Chief Customer and Culture Officer at Transport for Wales said: “The Heart of Wales line is a beautiful rural railway that is popular with day trippers and walkers, it also provides vital links for the rural communities in Mid Wales and the Borders.

“It’s great to be recognised internationally by Lonely Planet and I’d encourage visitors to take a ride and enjoy the experience of dramatic mountains, forests, wild rivers and the quaint towns and villages of Shropshire, Powys, Carmarthenshire and Swansea.”    

“At TfW we’re on a journey to improve public transport and also to encourage people to choose sustainable travel.  For those visiting and interested, please visit www.walesonrails.co.uk to see the many wonderful places and attractions within Wales and how they can be accessed using public transport.”

Owen Griffkin, Heart of Wales Community Rail Partnership Officer said: “It was wonderful to see the Heart of Wales Line included as one of the top ten rail journeys in Europe. We are very proud of the railway and to see it gaining global recognition as one of the most scenic routes in Europe is something we can celebrate.

“Articles like this will drive more tourism to the area and provide economic benefits to communities all along the line, and we will be looking to capitalise on this in our next Community Rail Partnership activity plan.”

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Welsh neighbours band together to rescue Gaza families

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A GROUP of parents from North Pembrokeshire, have taken it upon themselves to provide aid to families in Gaza, offering a beacon of hope amidst the ongoing crisis.

The community initiative, known as “Cwtch Pals,” aims to secure safe havens for families, particularly those with young children who have been caught in the relentless conflict that has stripped them of their homes, food security, and safety.

The grassroots effort is driven by a deep empathy towards the children in Gaza, with one parent reflecting, “We see our children’s faces in theirs.” The group’s motivation is rooted in a historical consciousness, drawing parallels to the Kindertransport efforts during the Holocaust, where Jewish children were saved by individuals in a similar act of humanitarianism. “It’s the least we can do,” said a mother, whose father was a Holocaust survivor, emphasising the significance of passing on the legacy of kindness and rescue.

The connection between the Welsh group and the families in Gaza is deeply personal, with relationships built over years through platforms like Amnesty International and direct educational engagement. Lara, a member of the initiative, shared her touching story of teaching one of the now-adult children in Gaza, who has since become a wounded reporter. The group is currently focusing on raising £7,000 to complete the evacuation of this family, among others, to safety.

Families that have already received assistance are finding temporary refuge in Egypt, with some members still unable to leave Gaza due to their indispensable roles in the community, such as a doctor who remains to attend to the urgent medical needs despite his family’s worries for his safety.

Cwtch Pals has its origins in Croeso Teifi, a charity response to the Syrian crisis, and benefits from the Community Sponsorship scheme in the UK, a testament to the effective integration of refugees through community-managed schemes. This initiative not only supports the immediate needs of the displaced but also ensures their long-term integration by providing access to education and employment opportunities in Wales.

Despite the dire situation and the UK government’s hesitance to open its arms to Palestinians, the group remains steadfast in its commitment to fill this gap through local action. The initiative is a poignant reminder of the universal values of democracy and humanity, as echoed by a grateful mother in Gaza, who, despite her circumstances, recognises and appreciates the efforts of the Welsh parents. Her words underscore the impact of the initiative, promising to share their stories of kindness and determination with future generations.

The group’s actions are a powerful example of how community solidarity can transcend borders, offering a glimmer of hope and a path to recovery for those in dire need.

For those looking to support or join the effort, Cwtch Pals can be contacted through Facebook or their dedicated email, emphasising the collective power of small communities to make a significant difference in the lives of others across the globe.

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