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Charity

Marloes Mere restoration ‘will benefit both nature and people’

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ON WORLD WETLANDS DAY (Feb 2), National Trust Cymru celebrated a significant project milestone in the restoration of Marloes Mere wetlands to benefit nature and people.

This recent phase of the ongoing Pembrokeshire based project has seen 1.5 hectares, or an area about three times as big as a football field, of precious habitat restored. With deep-water reservoirs reconnected to surrounding shallower wetlands and improvements made to path networks.

This phase builds on over 20 years of habitat enhancement work carried out by the Trust’s tenant farmers at Trehill Farm on the Mere. Previous works have included the creation of scrapes and pools, cutting management of rushes and conservation grazing with traditional cattle to improve the wetlands condition.

The Marloes Peninsula is nestled on the very western edge of Wales. Overlooking the Celtic Sea, the area offers dramatic coastal landscapes and habitats, with expanses of coastal heathland and the hidden gem of Marloes Mere.

Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the Mere is vital to a diverse range of wetland birds and wildlife and home to some particularly rare plants such as the three-lobed crowfoot as well as ten different sedges grasses and marsh orchids.

The winter months bring an array of wildfowl including mallard and teal ducks, declining species such as lapwings and golden plover and other migratory waterbirds. Whilst in the summer resident insects such as dragonflies, including the emperor dragonfly, damselflies, beetles and the great green bush-cricket fill the marshland.

However, agricultural reservoirs dug in the 1970’s had left their mark on the landscape. Now, with support from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the tenant farmers at Trehill Farm work continues to improve wetland habitats at Marloes Mere.

Mark Underhill, National Trust Cymru’s Countryside Manager for Pembrokeshire said: “In this first phase of restoration work on the Mere we have removed a large amount of natural material that was placed there when the reservoirs were excavated in the 1970s.  This has opened up the landscape and the views across the mere are now fantastic.

It has also revealed nearly 1.5ha of wetland that has been buried for the last 50 years and reconnected the shallows of the Mere to the deeper waters of the reservoir. This will improve the wetland habitats and boost a wide range of flora and fauna.”

But it’s not just nature that will benefit from this recent work, visitors now have new and improved access to the reformed wetlands.

The relocation of 500m of wet and muddy footpaths onto higher, drier, ground has improved links to the Mere and popular Wales Coastal Path. In addition to this access routes from Marloes Sands car park are now suitable for all-terrain mobility scooters (trampers), connecting to Runwayskiln and places to view impressive wetland vistas and wildlife watch.

Mark Underhill adds: “Access to nature and beauty has proved to be essential to our health and wellbeing. By improving the network of footpaths at Marloes Mere we are increasing access to this wonderful wetland on the edge of Wales for everyone to enjoy.”

An additional 5 hectares of wetlands restoration is planned with the addition new permissive paths to create circular routes and new bird hides.

Donations towards the restoration of Marloes Mere Wetlands were received from the Waterloo Foundation, Natural Resources Wales, The Langdale Trust and private donations.

To find out more about how National Trust Cymru care for Marloes Mere and the wider peninsula visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marloes-sands-and-mere.

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Communities in the west are some of the best – according to Ogi

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WEST is definitely best, according to Ogi, Wales’s leading alternative broadband provider.

Since starting its ambitious full fibre broadband rollout back in 2021, Ogi has quickly built a strong reputation for investing in its communities. Recent research by the challenger Internet Service Provider (ISP) has shown that Pembrokeshire has received around £30m of its investment so far.

From Haverfordwest and Milford Haven to Johnston, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, the provider can now serve over a third of the county – and soon to be planned, Tenby will increase coverage even further. With an economic impact worth around five times the investment made, Ogi’s ambitious rollout is keeping Pembrokeshire well and truly up to speed.

Community groups across the region have also benefited from thousands of pounds in grants and volunteering from the providers Cefnogi fund, supporting projects like Give the Boys a Lift, local businesses HaverHub – providing everything from defibrillators and first aid training and sports equipment.

Kicking off their presence in the west, Ogi secured stadium rights for Haverfordwest County AFC’s home with the infamous ground being renamed the Ogi Bridge Meadow Stadium in 2021. Supporting the team at all home games – and even drawing an Ogi crowd to the Cardiff City Stadium for the European qualifiers – the team remains an important fixture in the Ogi calendar.

Away from sports – and the internet – Ogi has brought art to Haverfordwest’s streets in partnership with Breakout Gallery; caught carnival fever in Milford Haven and celebrated Christmas in style witching on Neyland’s Christmas tree at the end of last year.

Now, with businesses like the Mariners Hotel able to access its services right to the doorstep, and customers able to buy from Get Connected stores, the challenger broadband brand is gearing up for its next phase in the west – surveying places in the south of the county.

Speaking about Ogi’s work in Pembrokeshire, Community Engagement Lead, Louise Clement, said: “The community team are lucky to work in some of the most beautiful places Wales has to offer. We say we put community at the heart of all we do here at Ogi – and that’s never been more true than in places like Pembrokeshire.

“From the creativity shown with the Breakout Gallery cabinets in Haverfordwest, to the important work supporting charities like 2Wish, PATCH and even a gunging or two with Pure West Radio for Comic Relief, I hope we’ve settled in well here in Pembrokeshire – and I’m excited for the next phase.”

Ogi’s community programme extends to volunteering opportunities and one-off grants and is open a few times a year for the likes of grassroots community groups, small charities and town councils to apply. For more information visit www.ogi.wales/cefnogi.

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Charity

Oxfam shop in faces closure over asbestos removal costs

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HAVERFORDWEST’S popular Oxfam shop, a feature on the high street since 1987, is threatened with closure due to the prohibitive costs of asbestos removal. The shop, known for its extensive range of quality donated items and as the largest second-hand bookshop in Pembrokeshire, may no longer be able to serve the local community.

Rosamund Aubrey, an Oxfam volunteer explained that the asbestos, found in the upper floors of the building, requires removal, estimated to cost over £60,000.

She added: “This expense, to be charged to the shop’s account within a single year, could render the operation unprofitable. Oxfam GB’s policy mandates each of its shops to generate a minimum profit of £25,000 annually, a target that the Haverfordwest shop, despite its success, will struggle to meet under these circumstances.”

It is well known in Haverfordwest that Derrick and Mark, the managers of the Haverfordwest shop, along with their dedicated team of volunteers, have been instrumental in creating an inviting atmosphere that extends beyond retail.

The shop offers valuable work experience and training opportunities, making it a vital community resource, especially for those on low incomes.

Rosamund Aubrey says that the decision to potentially close the shop has sparked criticism of Oxfam GB’s management, especially in light of comments made by Sarah Rees, Head of Oxfam Cymru, who has described Wales’ child poverty rate as a “national disgrace”.

Ms Aubrey said: “The juxtaposition of the charity’s mission to alleviate poverty and its willingness to close a shop that contributes significantly to this cause has raised questions about its priorities.”

Oxfam GB has been accused of neglecting a critical community asset in favour of financial metrics, without considering the broader impact of the shop’s closure on Haverfordwest and beyond. The shop not only raises funds for Oxfam’s global initiatives but also plays a key role in the local community by providing affordable goods, social networking opportunities, and support for those seeking to move into paid work.

As the deadline approaches for Derrick and Mark to submit a business plan demonstrating the shop’s viability, the community awaits a decision with bated breath. The potential closure of the Haverfordwest Oxfam shop underscores a critical debate on the balance between financial viability and social responsibility, challenging the charity to reassess its values and commitment to fighting poverty in Wales.

Oxfam GB has been contact by The Herald for a comment.

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Charity

Ascona’s new Partnership with Milford Haven Round Table

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PEMBROKESHIRE BASED Ascona Group has said it is delighted to announce an exciting new sponsorship partnership with Milford Haven Round Table for 2024.

Part of the Largest Voluntary Organisation for Young Men, Milford Haven Round Table is a charitable organisation committed to organising events that foster community spirit and support local causes.

In 2024, Ascona’s new sponsorship partnership with Milford Haven Round Table will ensure that many of the region’s cherished local events will continue to be hosted throughout the year.

Ascona will be the exclusive sponsor of the Milford Haven Round Table Fireworks Extravaganza on Bonfire Night, 5th November 2024. As with prior years, the event will see a brilliant fireworks display alongside live performances from some exciting musicians and will be free for anyone to attend. More information on this event will be announced later this year.

Other key events that Ascona will sponsor in 2024 include:

  • Charity Golf Day on Friday, 19th April 2024. As part of the day, there will be an exciting range of top prizes to be won by participants.
  • The Milford Haven Big Beer Festival 2024 on Saturday, 25th May 2024. Having been a sponsor for the last two years, the Beer Festival will be held in the Ascona Group Marquee and promises to be an amazing day that’s full of merriment and live music.
  • The Milford Haven Carnival on Saturday, 6th July 2024. The carnival promises to be a fun day for the whole family with a full line up of activities that everyone can enjoy, still to be announced.

Darren Briggs, Founder and CEO of Ascona Group, commented: “Our local communities benefit hugely from the many different local events that bring families and friends together each year. These events help everyone to enjoy themselves at different points during the year and we are thrilled to be working with the Milford Haven Round Table to ensure some of the great moments in the local calendar can be hosted again this year.

“At Ascona, we place a huge amount of importance on supporting the local communities where we operate so it’s with great excitement that we are entering into this new partnership and can support Milford Haven as we put on a series of brilliant events this year.”

Ascona boss: Darren Briggs

Rob Allen, Vice-Chairman of the Milford Haven Round Table, commented: “We are delighted to partner with Darren and his team at Ascona this year. We have a brilliant schedule for 2024 that culminates in our firework extravaganza in November. Their support not only ensures the continuation of our beloved events but it also means we can make sure they get better, more fun and more exciting for everyone every year. We are deeply thankful for their continued support and commitment to helping our local community.”

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