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Urdd to improve Eisteddfod’s accessibility ensuring ‘a festival for all’

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URDD Gobaith Cymru is committed to ensuring that the National Urdd Eisteddfod will be a more accessible festival for competitors and visitors in future.

As a result of a new partnership with Disability Arts Cymru and theatre company Taking Flight, the Urdd strives to improve the accessibility of its artistic events, including the Urdd Eisteddfod festival’s site, which attracts 76,000 competitors every year.

To help put improvements in place, the Urdd is searching for young members to join its new Accessibility Forum, with support from the Arts Council of Wales. The aim is to attract individuals between 16 and 25 who can share experiences or expertise in the field of disability and accessibility to the arts, to work with Urdd Eisteddfod Organisers, gain work experience in organising events, and ensure that the festival’s site and activities are accessible and inclusive, in line with the ‘Urdd for All’ strategy.

To kickstart the partnership, the Urdd Eisteddfod’s staff have received disability access and inclusion training by DAC and will receive BSL and inclusion training from Taking Flight. In collaboration with partners, the Urdd will create resources and information packs for blind and D/deaf visitors. The Urdd will also be working closely with ‘Attitude is Everything’, an organisation that helps improve disabled people’s access to live music events.

Llio Maddocks, the Urdd’s Director of the Arts says: “As a part of our partnership with Disability Arts Cymru and Taking Flight, we are committed to improving accessibility and access to our arts events, including the Urdd Eisteddfod site.

“The Urdd Eisteddfod is a cultural highlight of our Welsh calendar, and festivals deserve to be enjoyed by all. As well as developing and adapting the Eisteddfod Maes, we also want to ensure opportunities for disabled, D/deaf, and neurodiverse artists to perform and lead in our arts provision.

“We encourage everyone who wants to be part of the Accessibility Forum to join us and look forward to working together to ensure the Urdd’s arts experiences continue to evolve and grow.”

Owain Gwilym, Disability Arts Cymru’s Executive Director: “We are very proud to be part of this important partnership and look forward to seeing one of Wales’ most important cultural organisations and events work with young disabled and/or Deaf voices to develop accessibility and inclusion.”

Steph Bailey-Scott, Taking Flight’s Access, Inclusion and Participation Manager: “At Taking Flight access and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do, and we’re very much looking forward to working with the Urdd to engrain access into its Eisteddfod. It’s vital for young people, whether Deaf, disabled, neurodivergent or non-disabled, to start expecting access as the norm, to be prioritised, and to have those equal opportunities without any barriers.”

Information about the new Accessibility Forum can be found on the Urdd Eisteddfod’s website, where there’s also a form for individuals aged 16-25 to fill to be a member of the Forum.

The 2024 Urdd National Eisteddfod will be held in Maldwyn (Montgomeryshire) between 27 May and 1 June. It will be the first time since 1988 that the Urdd Eisteddfod has visited the area, and it will be held on the fields of Mathrafal Farm by Meifod.

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Community

Redstone Bridge opens as part of A40 improvements scheme

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TRAFFIC is now flowing across a key element of the A40 improvements scheme following the grand opening of Redstone Bridge, north of Narberth. This milestone was celebrated on Friday, May 17, with a ceremony that highlighted the involvement and spirit of the local community.

The honour of declaring the bridge open was bestowed upon pupils of Narberth CP School, symbolising the younger generation of the community. Accompanied by their headteacher, Mrs Moore, and assistant headteacher, Mr Noble, the pupils were joined by residents and staff of Blaenmarlais Care Home in Redstone Road.

The A40 project, extending from Llanddewi Velfrey to west of Redstone Cross, is being delivered by Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd for the Welsh Government. The opening ceremony featured a short speech from Project Manager David Noblett, who expressed gratitude to the pupils, residents, and the workforce from Griffiths and Trueform Civils Limited. The crowd applauded as the pupils cut the ribbon, officially opening the bridge and walking across it for the very first time.

A spokesperson for Griffiths commented, “Griffiths would like to thank residents, businesses, and the community for their co-operation during the closure, which allowed the final phase of bridge construction to be completed on time. A particular thank you to the residents of Northfield Road who experienced parking restrictions throughout this period. They were admirably supported in the parking of their vehicles by Janine Perkins from Bloomfield Community Centre, and Narberth Health Centre, which allowed a family with a baby to use their car park during the closure period.”

The Narberth children were specially chosen to do the honours, representing the future of the community and underscoring the project’s significance for upcoming generations.

The completion of Redstone Bridge marks a significant step in the A40 improvements scheme, promising enhanced connectivity and infrastructure for the region. The community’s involvement in the ceremony highlights the collaborative effort behind this essential project, reflecting a shared commitment to progress and development in Pembrokeshire.

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Community

Tenby to mark D-Day 80 with Beacon Lighting Ceremony

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PLANS are well underway for Tenby to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a special beacon lighting ceremony on Castle Hill. This significant event will honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in Operation Overlord, the largest naval, air, and land operation in history.

His Majesty, The King, has requested that instead of lighting beacons for his coronation last year, they be lit on June 6 to commemorate the anniversary of this pivotal World War Two operation. The Normandy landings in 1944 opened Europe’s Second Front, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hitler’s Nazi regime 11 months later.

The commemoration will begin with a procession led by the Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Dai Morgan. Accompanied by fellow councillors, representatives of the Tenby Royal British Legion, and local cadet units, the procession will leave Castle Square at Tenby Harbour at approximately 8:50 pm on Thursday, June 6. The procession will then make its way up to Castle Hill.

Upon reaching Castle Hill, the International D-Day Tribute will be read, after which Cllr. Morgan will light Tenby’s beacon at 9:15 pm. This beacon will form part of a UK-wide chain of beacons and Lamp Lights of Peace, symbolising unity and remembrance across the nation. All members of the public are welcome to join in this solemn and significant commemoration.

Earlier in the day, at 11 am, the Mayor will lay a wreath at Tenby’s war memorial. This act of remembrance will honour all those who gave their lives during the D-Day landings, ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten.

This special beacon lighting ceremony and the wreath-laying are poignant reminders of the courage and determination of the Allied forces. The events planned in Tenby offer an opportunity for the community to come together to reflect on the historic significance of D-Day and to pay tribute to the heroes of Operation Overlord.

Tenby’s commemoration is part of a larger national effort to mark this historic anniversary, ensuring that the legacy of those who fought and died continues to be honoured and remembered for generations to come.

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Community

First electric mobile post office tested in Pembrokeshire

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THE FIRST full-electric Post Office vehicle has been successfully trialled in the UK, and it has all happened in Pembrokeshire.

The pioneering effort is being led by Pembroke Postmaster, Mark Wilson, who, along with his team, has been serving 11 rural communities in Pembrokeshire with a new electric Mobile Post Office.

Replacing the traditional diesel vehicle, this new electric model has demonstrated its capability over the past several weeks, navigating the hilly terrain of the region without issue. The environmentally friendly vehicle can travel over 100 miles on a single charge, comfortably exceeding the longest 60-mile route covered by the Pembroke Mobile Post Office. This ample range alleviates any concerns about “range anxiety” and eliminates the need for mid-route recharging, as the vehicle is conveniently charged overnight.

Mark Wilson highlighted the positive reception from the community, stating, “Our electric Mobile Post Office is turning heads with its distinctive signage. People are used to the typical Post Office red vehicles, but the design on this vehicle emphasises its environmental benefits. It’s exciting to have the first of these in the UK. Customers have praised our new vehicle for being less polluting and visually appealing.”

The new electric vehicle maintains the same height as its predecessor but offers a slightly wider build, which has proven manageable on country lanes. Its interior design provides better layout and increased space, allowing for more retail offerings and greater storage capacity for parcels, accommodating the rising trend of home shopping returns and online sales.

Wilson added, “Colleagues working on the Mobile are pleased with its road handling and the smoother driving experience thanks to the automatic transmission.”

The Mobile Post Office has long been a vital service for maintaining Post Office access in smaller, rural communities. It offers a full range of Post Office services, including mail, pre-ordered foreign currencies, banking for all major high street banks, bill payments, and vehicle tax.

The 11 communities currently served by the electric Mobile Post Office include:

  1. Cosheston
  2. Milton
  3. Carew
  4. St Florence
  5. Broadmoor
  6. Lawrenny
  7. Angle
  8. Herbrandston
  9. St Ishmaels
  10. Marloes
  11. Dale.

Nigel Parry, owner of the Post Office National Outreach Model, which includes Mobile Post Offices, underscored the environmental and economic benefits of these electric vehicles. “We know the green credentials of these vehicles; they are better for the environment as there are no emissions polluting communities. These vehicles are also cheaper to run and maintain.”

Parry emphasised the importance of real-world testing to ensure the vehicles’ fitness for purpose. “We want to see how they perform in real-life conditions. Hilly terrain, cold weather, traffic jams, and the age and condition of the battery all affect the vehicle’s range, so it’s crucial to ensure there is spare capacity to serve outlying communities throughout the year.”

An additional advantage of electric vehicles is their quicker maintenance turnaround, reducing downtime compared to the biannual servicing required for diesel vehicles.

Following this successful trial in Pembrokeshire, another electric Mobile Post Office will be introduced in East Anglia next month, with a third location yet to be determined. This rollout aims to further test the suitability and cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles for rural locations. Currently, there are 67 diesel Mobile Post Offices operating across Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

This move marks a significant milestone in the Post Office’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, ensuring that even the most remote communities can benefit from modern, eco-friendly services.

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