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A town’s farewell to Eric Harries, ‘Mr Milford Haven’

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ST KATHERINE’S CHURCH in Milford Haven was filled to near capacity on Saturday morning, February 3rd, as the community gathered to pay their last respects to Eric Ronald Harries, a pivotal figure in the town’s history who passed away last month.

The funeral drew a diverse congregation, including family, friends, mayors, councillors, and representatives from various clubs, sports clubs, associations, and charities that Eric was involved with throughout his life.

The Milford Haven Sea Cadets, whose officers served as pallbearers – along with Cllr Colin Sharp – were in attendance, marking the ceremony with a distinctive nautical theme—a fitting tribute to a man whose life was deeply intertwined with the coastal town. In keeping with this the first hymn was ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’.

The eulogy, by the officiating minister retired Parish Priest John Davies, captured the essence of Eric Ronald Harries’ indelible mark on Milford Haven, celebrating his lifetime of dedication to the town.

“Eric was such an important person to the town, and there was not a pie in Milford Haven that he did not have his hand in,” it was said.

His numerous accomplishments were listed, highlighting his involvement in a myriad of community activities, local politics and initiatives.

It was noted with admiration that despite his extensive contributions, “it’s surprising he had time for a wife and a family,” yet he did, leaving behind a loving family that includes children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The tribute painted a picture of a man whose life was interwoven with the fabric of Milford Haven, earning him the affectionate nick name “Mr Milford Haven.”

His legacy was celebrated not just for his public service but for his role as a cornerstone of the community, touching the lives of many and leaving a void that will be deeply felt.

As the Mr Harries’ coffin was led out of the church, heading for cremation at Parc Gwyn in Narberth, the orchestral version of the well known song “I am the music man” was played over the church speakers.

Mr Harries’ involvement in the community went beyond political office, touching various groups and organisations. He was a staunch supporter of the Milford Haven Museum, Waterloo Club, and the Milford Haven Sea Cadets & Royal Marines Cadets, among others.

Tributes poured in from all corners of the community, reflecting the profound impact Eric had on Milford Haven. Dan Mills, Chair of Milford Haven Round Table, likened Eric’s motivational speeches to those of Churchill, highlighting his ability to inspire community contribution. Milford historian Jeff Dunn and town councillors Colin Sharp and Terry Davies shared their condolences, acknowledging Eric’s invaluable guidance and fatherly presence within the community.

Eric’s political career was remarkable, beginning as a town councillor in 1964 and serving as mayor in five different decades. His tenure saw him work with 40 different mayors and extend his service to Preseli Pembrokeshire District Council, Dyfed County Council, and Pembrokeshire County Council, where he held several leadership positions, including chair of planning and housing.

Beyond his political endeavors, Eric was instrumental in cultural and community initiatives. He was a founder and long-time chair of the Milford Haven Museum, where he played a crucial role in preserving the town’s heritage. His leadership also benefited the Milford Haven Rugby Football Club and the Sea Cadets, among others.

Reflecting on Eric’s retirement in 2022, Cllr Kathy Gray described him as an iconic figure who embraced change while valuing tradition. His enthusiasm for the town’s development was evident in his participation in significant events, such as the opening of the Ty Hotel.

Eric Harries’ passing is felt deeply within the Milford Haven community. His life and work, characterised by unwavering community service and dedication, leave a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire and guide future generations. As Milford Haven bids farewell to this remarkable individual, his contributions to the town’s history and development will not be forgotten.

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Miracle pup finds her forever home after heart-wrenching journey

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AERIAL, a remarkable six-legged spaniel, has captured hearts worldwide, culminating in her adoption this week. Found abandoned in a Pembrokeshire car park and famously nicknamed after Disney’s Little Mermaid due to her unique condition, Ariel’s journey from despair to joy is nothing short of miraculous.

In September 2023, the then 11-week-old puppy was discovered outside a B&M store in a neglected state. Suffering from severe physical anomalies including two extra hind limbs and an additional vulva, Ariel faced daunting challenges. A subsequent medical examination revealed a more complicated internal scenario: a missing kidney and a malformed pelvis that jeopardised her mobility.

Despite the grim prognosis, Ariel’s plight touched many, leading to a worldwide fundraising campaign that raised approximately £15,000. These funds enabled her to undergo critical surgeries at Langford Vets Small Animal Referral Hospital, Somerset, where surgeons successfully removed the surplus limbs and preserved her four functional ones.

“Both procedures went well, and remarkably, Ariel was walking and eating by the next day,” explained Mikey Lawlor, founder of Greenacres Rescue, where Ariel was rehabilitated. “It was crucial that we avoided any post-operative infections, but she’s been in the best hands,” he added, reflecting on the complexities of her care.

Ariel’s recovery was supported by numerous vet visits, specialised surgeries, and extensive physiotherapy. Her resilience and endearing character garnered media attention globally, from radio and television appearances to newspaper features, highlighting her inspirational battle for a normal life.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Ariel has been officially adopted,” announced a recent post by Greenacres Rescue. “Her journey of transformation from a discarded pup to a beloved family pet has been extraordinary.”

The post also extended a heartfelt thank you to June, Ariel’s dedicated foster mother, whose relentless support was pivotal during the rehabilitation process. “June’s care and energy have been instrumental in Ariel’s recovery,” the rescue centre noted.

Surgeon Aaron Lutchman, who led Ariel’s medical team, remarked on her progress, “She’s bounced back and is a happy little dog. We hope she goes on to lead a fabulous life.”

As Ariel embarks on this new chapter with her adoptive family, her story remains a profound testament to the power of community support and the unwavering spirit of animals overcoming adversity. Greenacres Rescue encapsulates this sentiment in their message, “Ariel is symbolic of everything we stand for—love, hope, and the chance for a new beginning.”

For further updates on Ariel and other rescue stories, follow Greenacres Rescue on their social media platforms.

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Burned down hotel to be used for social housing

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A SCHEME to build 38 affordable and social housing units on the site of the fire-ravaged former Cleddau Bridge Hotel, Pembroke Dock is expected to be backed by senior Pembrokeshire councillors next week.

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, meeting on April 22, are recommended to support a contract with developer Castell Group Ltd for the mix of affordable homes and social housing units at the site, with the actual contract details expected to be discussed in a private and confidential session.

A report for members ahead of the meeting says: “The potential development site on the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel site, Pembroke Dock has been up for sale for some time, and its purchase by Castell Group Ltd (‘Castell’) is now imminent.

“Following completion of their purchase, Castell will submit an application for planning consent to develop the land for affordable and social housing. It would see the development of a high-profile site with visual impact on surrounding areas that has sat dormant for many years.”

Castell has approached the housing service to determine whether there is an interest in working with them to bring forward the development as a housing site, the report says.

Castell Construction Ltd, the delivery arm of Castell, specialises in the construction of affordable / social housing, typically for registered social landlords across south Wales.

An initial proposal says the development, if backed, would see 12 one-bedroom flats, 15 two-bed houses, five three-bed, two four-bed, and four two-bed bungalows, the report adding: “This site would help towards both the council’s 300 new home target and also Welsh Government’s 20,000 new homes target.”

It adds: “The proposal by Castell Construction Ltd is for a development programme of 18 months following planning permission being secured. Castell Construction Ltd estimate commencing the development in March 2025, which would mean completion in autumn 2026.”

Delegation of the decision to enter into the works contract to the Director for Social Services and Housing is sought, and Cabinet is also being asked to delegate the decision to proceed with the land acquisition to the Assistant Chief Executive.

The development package would be part-funded from the housing revenue account, the remainder from the Social Housing Grant and/or second homes premium for affordable housing if it becomes available for the Housing Service to use in this manner.

The proposals would be subjected to an as-yet unsubmitted planning application; if granted Castell Construction Ltd hopes to start the development in March 2025, finishing in autumn 2026.

In 2023, an unrelated application by a different applicant, to demolish the remnants of the hotel and replace it with a care home was approved.

In a prime location at one of the entrances to Pembroke Dock the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel has been derelict since a fire in March 2019, which brought emergency services from as far afield as Ammanford, Aberystwyth and Swansea.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service previously said the fire was started by a deliberate act.

Following a fire investigation, Dyfed-Powys Police said they found there to be insufficient evidence to identify a suspect.

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Tesco shoppers in Pembs called to help raise funds for food allergy charity

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SHOPPERS in Pembrokeshire are being encouraged to help an in-store fundraising campaign from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th April to support medical research into food allergies.

For the fifth year running, Tesco is working with The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, the UK’s food allergy charity, to help raise awareness and support clinical research into food allergies by contributing 10p from every own brand Free From product bought in stores and online, as well as providing customers with the opportunity to round up their shopping at self-service tills throughout the week.

All money raised will help Natasha’s Foundation to continue its research into reducing the risks of food allergies and further developments into the management of allergies.

In addition to the funds being raised, the campaign aims to increase awareness in Pembrokeshire about the importance of understanding food allergies and clearly highlighting ingredients in food which can cause allergic reactions.

Natasha’s Foundation was founded in 2019 by Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse following the tragic loss of their daughter Natasha who had a fatal allergic reaction to a baguette that contained sesame seeds that were not listed on the packaging.

Tanya Ednan-Laperouse OBE, said: “We’re thrilled that Tesco is supporting us for the fifth year running. Allergen awareness is so important, and money raised in previous years has helped to fund clinical research exploring the management of food allergies.”

Oonagh Turnbull, Head of Health Campaigns at Tesco, said: “The work that Natasha’s Foundation has done to date has been fantastic and we are delighted to be able to support this for a fifth year.

“There are now 175 products in our Free From range, from meals and desserts to snacks, all created with great taste but without any of the allergens. We welcome any shoppers in Pembrokeshire to try these products or kindly round up their shopping at the self-service tills to help raise money for a fantastic cause.”

Natasha’s Foundation is committed to raising awareness and funds for critical food allergy research. But the real impact of the charity’s work lies in the lives it can change.

Millions of people live with food allergies in the UK and must navigate a world where seemingly simple acts, like grabbing a quick bite to eat, can become fraught with danger. It can affect anyone, at any age.

Billie Hoque, a commercial manager for a maritime security company, from Luton, has three allergic children – Jess, aged 7, Jude, 4, and Jayde, three months.

Billie, 35, said: “Food allergies first entered our lives when my son Jess was born in February 2017. From birth, Jess was presenting symptoms of allergies, yet I didn’t know it at the time. His constant discomfort and breathing troubles led to numerous doctor visits only to be dismissed as new-mum worries, and I felt unheard and alone.

“The switch from breastmilk to formula was a turning point. After initial acceptance, Jess refused all feeds for three days. When he finally ate, he became violently ill and struggled to breathe. Calls to an emergency doctor offered little help, and when he was prescribed “thicker milk” it triggered a terrifying reaction. This was his first anaphylactic reaction, and the first time the doctor diagnosed him as having a severe milk protein allergy.

“The loneliness and isolation I felt from becoming an allergy parent were all-consuming. The family and friends who I had been closest to, quickly became the ones who made me feel the most alone. They didn’t understand or seem to take seriously what I was going through.

Billie continued: “Life changed for me in June 2021 when I found The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. I found a community – parents united by the fight for awareness. Meeting Nadim and Tanya, who lost their daughter Natasha to allergies, laid bare the heartbreaking truth of this condition. Yet, their strength resonated deeply.

“Though every single allergy story and experience shared through Natasha’s Foundation was different, the community all had one thing in common; we understood the fear, the loneliness, and the exhaustion of the continuous battling needed to keep our children alive. This community transformed me. No longer alone, I found strength and inspiration among these incredible people.

“Today, my purpose is clear. With this supportive network and a collective voice, we can raise awareness and fight for a future free from food allergies. This journey not only saved my sons, but it has also saved me too. I’d urge everyone to support the fantastic work of The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation and their goal of making food allergies history through research and raising awareness of food allergies.

“Tesco’s Free From range offers my children a chance to be included in all the tasty treats other children enjoy. Their clear labelling on the front of the packaging is not only helpful to me but is easy enough for my 7-year-old to clearly see that a food is safe for him. This limits the anxiety he has around eating new foods.”

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