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Pembrokeshire siblings receive award for saving their father’s life

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CAI and Celyn Llewellyn, a brother and sister from Pembrokeshire, have received prestigious recognition at an award ceremony in London.

The pair were awarded a British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Award on 6th December after their father, John, had suffered a cardiac arrest at their home in Fishguard in November last year. John’s life was saved by the quick thinking of his two children who carried out CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

The British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards is an annual event to honour incredible people who’ve shown remarkable bravery and gone above and beyond to help others while coping with the devastating impact of heart disease. The event celebrates everyone from CPR lifesavers to innovative fundraisers, research champions and healthcare heroes working in the NHS. The ceremony was attended by a star-studded guest list including Pippa Middleton, Vernon Kay and David Seaman, amongst others.

“If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”

Cai (19) and Celyn (22) were nominated for the award by their mother, Nicola.

Nicola said, “My husband John was just doing his usual morning workout in our home-made gym. It’s not very often the kids are home on the weekend, but on this particular Sunday morning, Cai and Celyn were making a cooked breakfast when John suddenly staggered into our kitchen. They immediately alerted me to call 999.”

Celyn had realised something was seriously wrong as John was unable to speak or catch his breath, while Cai put his arms around John to help him to the sofa. No sooner than Cai and Celyn had moved John to the sofa, he went limp. Despite no previous experience in CPR, the pair had to jump into action.

Cai said, “It was like a light switch. Dad suddenly was like a dead body next to me on the couch and was no longer in control of himself. Something just clicked inside me – I managed to put him on the floor and cut his t-shirt off to begin CPR.”

Meanwhile, Celyn was aware that the nearest defibrillator to them was at the village hall, situated around 300 yards from their house and sprinted to retrieve it while the family received support over the phone from the emergency operator.

Celyn added: “None of us had ever used a defib before. We didn’t even know we needed a code to access it, but the four-digit code is now etched in my brain. Once I got back with the defibrillator, the next 20 minutes were crucial. Cai was amazing – he was so calm taking on responsibility of using the defibrillator and finding the electrical rhythm with support over the phone from 999. We had to shock him three times in between 20 minutes of CPR, before the fire brigade arrived as first responders.”

It was a long wait for the family as emergency services took over, and he was eventually flown by air ambulance to Morriston hospital in Swansea – over 60 miles from their home on the west coast.

Doctors believe John’s cardiac arrest was caused by a ventricular arrhythmia, and he was fitted with an ICD (Implantable cardioverter defibrillator) a few weeks later. An ICD is a small device which can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. The British Heart Foundation continues to fund research into ICD research, to save and improve more lives in Wales and across the UK. In Wales, just one in 20 people survive a cardiac arrest when it occurs outside of a hospital setting.

On receiving the award, the Llewellyn family said were proud to accept recognition while they adapt to what they call their ‘new normal’. John has now been diagnosed with heart failure, and while the incident has had a physical toll on John’s health, he continues to make incredible progress.

John said, “As a family unit, we’ve made so much progress in a year. At Christmas last year we were still so on edge and for months we were all quite scared to leave the house in case something happened. I am still here because Cai and Celyn acted with a maturity and a calmness that has left me just so proud of them.”

Celyn added, “You can sometimes feel alone in this bubble of being impacted by heart failure, but through the BHF we have found a community of people who understand or even share our experience. Information from BHF is available to help us every step of the way through dad’s recovery. We are now encouraging everyone we meet to get CPR training and to find their local defibrillator. If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “I’m blown away by the incredible stories of our winners who have shown such courage, resilience, and bravery in the face of heart and circulatory disease.

“These awards are truly heartwarming and make me so proud to be part of Team BHF. Thank you to our judges, hosts, celebrity guests and supporters for creating such a magical evening for the BHF and the heroes we celebrated. We hope the awards inspire others to take action against heart and circulatory diseases – by learning CPR, fundraising, or even donating unwanted goods to one of our stores.

“Our heart heroes are among the 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases. This Christmas, our research is a gift that keeps on living, helping to keep families together and hearts beating for Christmases to come.”

Support the BHF by giving a gift that keeps on living this Christmas: https://www.bhf.org.uk/christmas

Community

Wales hurtling towards 10,000 care home bed deficit over next decade

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EXPERTS have warned there will be desperate shortage of 10,000 care home beds in Wales over the next decade.

The alert has been raised specialist business property adviser Christie & Co who say there is a growing need for new, “future proof” care homes to meet the need.

Their prediction comes at a time when demand is spiralling upwards, with the over 85 population set to double over the next 20 years.

According to sector champions Care Forum Wales (CFW) the “alarming figures” illustrated the need for social care to be funded properly for existing homes to survive and encourage the development of new ones.

CFW warned that Wales was “sleepwalking into disaster” because the growing shortage of care home beds would pile pressure on the beleaguered NHS when hospitals were already virtually at breaking point.

Building new care homes is a costly business as Gwynedd and Flintshire county councils have shown recently.

They have plans to build two new facilities with a total of around 100 beds between them at an estimated cost of more than £250,000 per bed.

If their figures are correct that would mean it would mean it would cost £400 million for the extra beds needed in North Wales and £2.5 billion for the whole of Wales over the next 10 years.

Worryingly, Christie & Co also revealed in the report  that 40 elderly care homes in Wales closed and only four opened between 2020 and 2023 – with no new ones in North Wales.

Among the closures in North Wales were Trewythen Hall in Gresford, Bay Court in Kinmel Bay, Gwastad Hall in Cefn y Bedd and Morfa Newydd in Greenfield with the loss of more than 160 beds.

CFW Chair Mario Kreft MBE said: “The report from Christie & Co paints a bleak picture an illustrates how the existing crisis is going to get even worse, creating a double whammy for our overstretched hospitals which have rows of ambulances queuing outside and patients on trolleys in corridors.

“Instead of being able to build more care homes to meet growing demand, we are seeing more and more care home closures.

“The cost of building new care homes and replacing the beds we are losing now is absolutely eye-watering.

“Our public finances in Wales are already under pressure so where is this money coming from?

“The way care homes are funded in Wales is a total postcode lottery with 29 variations on a theme, with most of social care being commissioned by the 22 local authorities and seven health boards.

“Within that there is a gaping North-South divide with five of the six county councils in North Wales paying the lowest fees, arrived at by a fee-fixing cartel known as the North Wales Regional Fees Group.

“The one shining exception is Conwy Council where earlier this year announced inflation-busting plans to increase fees by up to 20% after warnings that care homes were at risk of financial meltdown and closure.

“Following a long-running campaign by Care Forum Wales they have introduced fairer fees which reflect the actual cost of providing care for vulnerable people in privately run homes, including those with dementia.

“That came about because Conwy broke away from the North Wales Regional Fees Group and took our advice by  commissioning leading healthcare economists Laing & Buisson to analyse the true costs of care providers for the current year.

“It’s and internationally recognised tool to ensure that and those living and working in care homes can receive the best care, while at the same time, ensuring that the

“This is something we have been calling for over many years. All we want is fairness in line with the Welsh Government’s ‘Let’s agree to agree’ guidance.

“The fundamental issue threatening the viability of care homes is the unrealistically low fees that the vast majority of councils and health boards pay, fees that come nowhere near covering the true cost of providing care.

“Economically, it would make a lot more sense to ensure the financial security of our existing care homes instead of just relying on the forlorn hope that somebody is going to magically build enough new ones to  meet current needs and the increasing demands for social care.

“We’ve had a generation of injustice and it’s a generation where the institutional prejudice and discrimination against the private care sector in Wales has meant that those living and working in these fantastic community assets have not been valued.

“The problems we have in social care lead to the pressures in the NHS which lead of course then to extra costs being placed on the NHS which would largely be alleviated if local authorities had a more enlightened approach to social care.

“If Conwy can do it, the other five local authorities in North Wales can and should do it and of course, the money has always been there. It’s how you politically choose to spend it.

“Across the famous Foryd Bridge, which links Kinmel Bay and Rhyl, Denbighshire County Council is budgeting announced  much smaller increases of around 8% on rock bottom fees which have been immediately wiped out by inflation and the cost of living crisis.

“The vastly differing rates mean that Denbighshire will be paying £9,224 a year less per person than Conwy towards the cost of giving exactly the same level of nursing care to residents.

“It is simply an outrage. It’s an affront to the families that that bridge spanning the mouth of the River Clwyd can mean such a massive difference for vulnerable people, including those with dementia.

“The families of those people, who will often be expected to make up the difference,  need to ask why and quite frankly, it is a bridge too far.

“This is undoubtedly a stealth tax on families and quite frankly, the people making these decisions in those authorities should be utterly ashamed of themselves in the way they are betraying vulnerable people including those with profound dementia and their families.

“What this demonstrates is that there is an urgent need for us to look again at the way social care is funded.

“We need a national approach to eliminate this iniquitous postcode lottery so that the people for whom we provide care and our staff are treated fairly.

”This is too important to be left to local authorities and health boards alone – it has to be driven by the Welsh Government.”

Pictured: Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales

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Entertainment

A toadi-tastic guest at the Torch! Poop! Poop!

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IT’S not every day the Torch Theatre is graced with the company of a living, breathing toad for one of its productions. But this July, as the Torch Youth Theatre performs Wind in the Willows, it’s only fitting that a Toad should make an appearance at the Torch Theatre Box Office for all to admire!

Borrowed from Dragon Reptiles and Aquatics in Pembroke Dock, our Toad will be in full view for those attending the Torch Youth Theatre production. This fascinating amphibian won’t make a stage appearance but Toad of Toad Hall will, along with his fellow riverside and woodland friends – Badger, Ratty and Mole.

We’re also providing a bilingual fact sheet for all explaining how to look after a toad, what he eats and where he likes to live.

“POOP POOP! We can’t wait to welcome this TOAD-ely fabulous amphibian to the Torch. We’re keeping our fingers cross that this one isn’t quite as untamed as the one on stage. Come and see if we’re proven right or if there ends up being two Toads on the loose!”

Toads, of all kinds, are very popular, especially here in Pembrokeshire. Thousands have been seen on Skomer Island and many can be seen at Whitesands Bay making a qwark-qwark-qwark sound.

And as Claire Morris owner of Dragon Reptiles and Aquatics explains, she was delighted that Toad could go on holiday to his local theatre.

“I think it’s a great idea. Children will be able to relate to the main character when they see Toad in his vivarium. They are such interesting and friendly amphibians and our Toad can’t wait to travel from Pembroke Dock to the Torch for his short stay,” explained Claire.

Wind in the Willows will be on the Torch Theatre stage on Monday 22 July, Tuesday 23 July and Wednesday 24 July at 6.30pm. Ticket price: £10 / £8 concessions. The Youth Theatre will be joined by The Torch Voices Community Choir. To book your tickets or for further information, contact the Box Office on01646 695267 or visit torchtheatre.co.uk.

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BBC Cymru Wales announces new line-up of sports content

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BBC Cymru Wales has announced an exciting new fixture list of content for the forthcoming sporting season. With sports fans looking for immediate coverage of their team, keeping up to date with the latest news and analysis, the broadcaster will be introducing new content on iPlayer, Sounds and online.

Under the Scrum V and Feast of Football brands BBC Cymru Wales will be launching two new digital first, multi-platform programmes – designed for audiences to watch or listen to on their phones, tablets and laptops as well as on television or BBC iPlayer.

The multi-platform Scrum V show will feature big names talking rugby in a relaxed and no holds barred environment, presented by Lauren Jenkins.

And of course there’ll be plenty of live action as Scrum V’s first URC game of the season kicks off on Friday, 20 September when Cardiff take on Zebre. Sarra Elgan will bring all the action from the Welsh clubs every Friday evening on BBC Two Wales, following all four Welsh regions in their quest for this year’s title.  

With audiences wanting their highlights quickly, Scrum V’s evening highlights show will no longer be on Sunday nights.  Instead, highlights will be available shortly after the final whistles of all Welsh regional matches online and on Scrum V’s social channels.  These highlights will also be combined and shown as one comprehensive package on BBC Wales TV and iPlayer. And the Scrum V Podcast continues weekly on BBC Sounds with Gareth Rhys Owen.

Other new shows under the Scrum V banner this season include Scrum V Top 5s which sees Mammoth star and diehard rugby fan Mike Bubbins inviting guests to choose iconic moments and characters from the game. Among those featured in this eight-part series is Sam Warburton who reveals some very unlikely choices for his Top 5 Teammates.

Football fans also have a new multi-platform show. With a bumper autumn of international football approaching, an eight part series of Feast of Football will have unparalleled access into the national squad – capturing all the excitement and the big talking points of the Welsh game.

Presented by former Wales captain Ashley Williams, this will be a must watch for football fans and will tap into the spirit and passion of the Red Wall.  Filmed at the Football Association of Wales’s headquarters on the eve of the men’s and women’s internationals, the show will feature interviews and exclusive access to players from both camps, as well as short films from around Wales.

Ashley Williams said: “I’m really excited to be presenting Feast of Football. We’ve got great access to the squads and we’ll be giving fans a brilliant insight into Welsh football and talking about the things that matter to them. We want them to feel they’re right at the heart of the camp and part of the story.”

BBC Cymru Wales is also increasing its online sports coverage with more team topic pages and live text pages while a new BBC Radio Wales and BBC Sounds series this autumn – Iconic: The Rise of the Women in Red – presented by Wales’s most capped footballer Jess Fishlock will chart the growth of women’s football.

Carolyn Hitt, Head of Sport at BBC Cymru Wales said: “Scrum V is our iconic rugby brand and will remain at the heart of our sports coverage, with content throughout the week offering analysis and predictions, timely highlights as well as marking the remarkable moments. BBC Wales is proud to have brought Scrum V to audiences for almost 30 years and our aim is to capture the interest and imagination of a new generation of rugby fans as well as rewarding our longstanding audiences with new content.”

“As the game evolves and the way we consume sport changes, we’re looking to provide more instant coverage, courtesy of our new digital formats. Rugby and football fans can rest assured that the new offer will bring the latest news, views and analysis to their laptop, smart phone and TV.

“I’m delighted that from next season we can bring more football to fans across Wales.  Feast of Football will expand with a podcast and iPlayer and TV versions. Feast of Football will talk Welsh football in all its glory and in the slightly less glorious times. 

“It’s also true that the BBC, like other broadcasters is having to cut its cloth in line with its budgets. Increased costs across the board, as well as our ambition to cover a broader range of sport means we’re having to focus where we spend our money and ensure we’re giving our audience the sport coverage they want in the places they want to enjoy it.”

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