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Enjoy pirates, dragons and dark sky spectacles this half term

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PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority’s three visitor attractions will all be hosting a variety of half term fun this February, offering family-friendly experiences and a flavour of the area’s culture and heritage.

At Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, pirates of the high seas will be coming ashore just in time for the school holidays. Younger visitors will be able take part in The Pirate Trail around the Castle between Saturday 10 February and Sunday 25 February for a small fee. Those successful in locating the pillaged treasure hidden by Pembrokeshire’s most notorious pirate can expect a hearty reward for their efforts.

There will also be an opportunity to join Captain Jan Sparrow for a fun free pirate session, featuring songs, silliness, games and the chance to develop swashbuckling sword skills. Pirates Ahoy! will take place on Monday 12 February, Thursday 15 February and Monday 19 February. Sessions last roughly 30 minutes and are scheduled for 11am, 12noon and 2pm. Normal admission fees apply and there is no need to book.

Carew Castle, which was named Visitor Attraction of the Year in Visit Pembrokeshire’s Croeso Awards, will be open between 10.30am and 3.30pm during the English and Welsh half-term holidays, with Nest Tearoom serving a delectable range of homemade cakes and light refreshments during opening hours.

As the countdown begins for Oriel y Parc’s iconic Dragon Parade on Saturday 2 March, there will be plenty of opportunities this half term to fire up your creative side and join in with the fun.

A Dragon Hunt Trail will run in the grounds of the gallery and visitor centre between Saturday 10 February and Friday 1 March. For a small fee, children will be invited to brave the dragon’s lair and complete the challenges to find the dragon’s egg and collect a medal for their efforts.

Free drop-in Art and Craft Days will take place every day at Oriel y Parc between Saturday 10 February and Sunday 18 February (excluding Wednesday 14), offering the chance to use the centre’s art materials and space to explore your artistic talents – and perhaps even make your own dragon for the Dragon Parade.

The Wednesday Club! Cariad Craft Workshop on Wednesday 14 February presents an opportunity for younger visitors to join in with the Valentine’s Day festivities and create a felt heart to give to a loved one. The drop-in workshop will take place between 11am-3pm and costs £4 per child.

As part of the Welsh Dark Skies Week, the Park Authority has organised two events to celebrate the beauty of Pembrokeshire’s dark skies and explore their relationship with the natural world.

An unforgettable Biofluorescent Night Walk will take place at Pengelli Wood Nature Reserve on Monday 12 February between 6pm-7.30pm. Led by Reveal Nature, the walk offers an insight into the secret world of communication taking place right under our noses and the opportunity to see a variety of biofluorescent organisms.

If you’ve ever wondered what our ancestors might have thought when they gazed up at the cosmos, The Wonders of the Night Sky at Castell Henllys on Wednesday 14 February might provide you with some answers. Gather around the warmth of a roundhouse fire, while storyteller Alice Courvoisier explores various constellations and their associated tales, myths and legends from different cultural traditions. The event will take place on Wednesday 14 February, between 6.15pm-7.45pm.

Booking is essential for both Dark Skies Week events. Further information about these and events taking place at Carew Castle, Castell Henllys and Oriel y Parc can be found at https://pembrokeshirecoast.bookinglive.com/.

In addition to all this, you can also explore the National Park’s great outdoors for free on foot. For inspiration on which routes to follow, visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/web-walks.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is also trialling an e-bike rental scheme in St Davids. E-bikes can now be hired from Oriel y Parc and used to explore the local area with the aid of an electric motor. Perfect for conquering steep hills, or cycling a little bit further than you usually would, more information about the e-bikes can be found at www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/oriel-y-parc/e-bike-hire.

For those in need of additional mobility support, a range of equipment is also available to help you on your way, including mobility scooters and beach wheelchairs, some of which are available to hire now for free. For further details visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/beach-wheelchairs.

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Community

Leading hospitality company Loungers announced for Western Quayside development

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Loungers, one of the UK’s leading hospitality companies, are pleased to announce they have agreed headline terms for Loungers to become the first tenant of the fantastic Western Quayside development in Haverfordwest.

Loungers intend to occupy the ground floor of the building which is an important element of the Council’s long-term regeneration plan for the County Town. 

Loungers was founded in 2002 and is famous for its family-friendly, welcoming atmosphere, eccentric and spectacular interiors and great food and drink offers.

The company runs Lounge café bars across the UK – including the Cofio Lounge at the Guildhall, Carmarthen – combining elements of coffee shop culture, the British pub and dining. 

Cllr Paul Miller, Pembrokeshire County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, said: “I’m really pleased to be in a position to announce the first tenancy for Western Quayside. Loungers shares our ambition and potential for the Western Quayside development in the centre of Haverfordwest.

“Western Quayside will play a key role in improving footfall and vibrancy in Haverfordwest and Loungers fits perfectly into that vision.

“An important part of Loungers’ ethos is the community element of its neighbourhood café bars and commitment to work with local groups, charities, organisations and businesses and we look forward to that continuing in Haverfordwest.

“As a Council we have been clear that we will not just sit back and let our town centres decline and this is an important step forward. 

“We look forward to announcing further tenants in due course and of course to opening Western Quayside later in 2024.”

Gemma Irwin, Community Manager at Loungers, says: “We’re so looking forward to opening our Lounge in Haverfordwest later this year.  We hope our family friendly environment and top-notch food and drink offering will prove popular with local residents. 

“We’re passionate about integrating genuinely into the communities we serve so we’re looking forward to meeting everyone and to playing our part at the heart of Haverfordwest’s food and drink scene.  

“Anyone looking for a space to host events or groups should pop in once we’re open, we’d love to hear from them and see what we can do to help.”

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Community

Ted’s medals and beret presented to Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre

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THE WARTIME story of D-Day Royal Marine Commando Veteran Ted Owens will always live on in his home town of Pembroke Dock.

This is thanks to his family who have gifted his medals, green Marines beret and Commando dagger to the town’s Heritage Centre.

The presentation was made on the opening day of the Centre’s new season and the framed display is a centrepiece of a new exhibition to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

One of Pembroke Dock’s best known characters, Ted Owens died last August at the age of 98. Over the years he was a big supporter of and a regular visitor to the Heritage Centre. It was his express wish that his medals and Commando items be displayed at the Centre.

Making the presentation were his brother Wyn, nieces Gloria Elford and Liz Halsted, cousin Margaret Black and close family friend Shobha Edgell. They were joined by Kevin Stanley of the VC Gallery, Pembroke Dock, with which Ted also had a special connection.

The Centre’s D-Day exhibition will run for the whole year. It features Ted’s wartime story and that of others who, like Ted, took part in the June 1944 landings in Normandy. It includes a mannequin of an airborne soldier in full equipment and many items of uniform and kit used by both Allied servicemen and their German opponents. Many of these items are from the personal collection of military historian Andrew Ludlow who was recently appointed a trustee of the Centre.

The Heritage Centre is open Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 4pm.

Pictured with the Ted Owens framed display are, left to right: Kevin Stanley of the VC Gallery, Liz Halsted, Margaret Black, Gloria Elford, Wyn Owens, Shobha Edgell, and Andrew Ludlow and John Evans, of the Heritage Trust. (Martin Cavaney Photography)

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Community

Saundersfoot Beach voted among world’s most sustainable shores

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SAUNDERSFOOT BEACH has been recognised among the world’s most sustainable beaches by TripAdvisor users. This Welsh treasure finds itself in prestigious company, sharing the spotlight with stunning sandy stretches from locations as diverse as Sicily, Australia, India, South Africa, and the UAE.

The announcement comes as part of TripAdvisor’s esteemed Best of the Best Beaches for 2024, unveiled within the framework of its annual Travellers’ Choice Awards. These awards, celebrated for highlighting the crème de la crème of global travel destinations, derive from an exhaustive analysis of tens of millions of reviews submitted by TripAdvisor’s vast community of international travellers over the past year. Specifically, this year’s rankings have been meticulously compiled based on both the quality and quantity of ratings for beach experiences, spanning several categories including the top beaches worldwide, the premier beaches in Europe, and, notably, a new subcategory dedicated to recognising the best in sustainable beach destinations.

This innovative sustainability category is evaluated through a combination of inputs from BeCause, via the renowned Blue Flag program, and TripAdvisor traveller feedback. It honours beaches that exemplify exceptional commitments to sustainability, with a focus on practices such as sustainable transport options, efficient waste disposal mechanisms, and superior water quality standards.

Although Welsh beaches were notably absent from the top 10 list overall, Saundersfoot Beach emerged as a beacon of sustainability, securing the third spot in its category. TripAdvisor lauds Saundersfoot as “a sandy beach with clear blue waters,” ideal for activities ranging from paddle boarding to rockpool exploration. The beach’s adjacent promenade, replete with an array of shops and cafes, further enhances its appeal.

Testimonials from recent visitors have been overwhelmingly positive, with one user praising the beach for its cleanliness and accessibility: “A really tidy beach with plenty of parking close by, we really enjoyed walking along the beach with some great views to see.” Another review highlighted its pristine condition: “Very lovely beach, nice and clean.”

Sarah Firshein, Head of Editorial at TripAdvisor, reflected on the significance of the 2024 awards, stating, “Last year, TripAdvisor received millions of reviews for beaches—it’s clear that our community absolutely loves them. But as our Travellers’ Choice lists reveal, there’s no one-size-fits-all ‘beach day’.” She also noted the dominance of European beaches in this year’s top rankings, a testament to the growing preference among travellers for the unique coastal experiences offered by the continent, over the traditionally favoured Caribbean destinations.

The list of the Top 10 Beaches in the World for 2024 showcases a diverse array of locations, with Europe’s shores leading the way, while the Top 10 sustainable beaches highlight global efforts towards maintaining the beauty and integrity of our planet’s coasts, with Saundersfoot Beach proudly representing the UK alongside Sandbanks Beach in Dorset.

This recognition not only celebrates Saundersfoot’s natural beauty and the community’s dedication to preserving it but also positions Pembrokeshire as a must-visit destination for eco-conscious travellers from around the globe.

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