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Join Love Island’s Liam Reardon in walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

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FORMER Love Island winner Liam Reardon is walking part of the Wales Coast Path in a bid to raise £1 million to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales.

The Season 7 star, from Merthyr Tydfil, is one of several Welsh celebrities signed up to support former Welsh Rugby Union commercial director Craig Maxwell, who was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR lung and bone cancer in 2022.

Craig has launched the Wales Coast Path Cancer Challenge to raise £1 million for the Maxwell Family Genomics Fund, a fund as part of Velindre Cancer Centre.

The 26-day challenge will see people from across Wales walk 780 miles of the coast path, to represent the 78 days it took him to receive his diagnosis from the point of finding his tumour. It is being done in 26 days to mirror the QuicDNA project, a genomics research project to reduce diagnosis time for lung cancer patients to a maximum of 26 days.

Craig is hoping to sign-up 30 people to each day of the walk and Liam Reardon is encouraging people to join him on his leg on 27th February from Cardigan to Goodwick.

A rugby match ball will be relayed the entire distance of the challenge, symbolising Wales’ collective fight against cancer and it will culminate at the national stadium of Wales, the Principality Stadium, on 10th March for the Wales vs. France Guinness Six Nations match, where Craig accompanied by his children, Isla and Zach, will carry the match ball onto the pitch.

Acknowledging the unpredictable nature of his ongoing treatments, Craig will be joined by a different Welsh celebrity every day of the walk, so that regardless of his ability to walk, he will have a representative to take on the challenge. A number of Welsh celebrities are signed up to take part, including TV presenters Gethin Jones, Derek Brockway and Wynne Evans, together with former rugby players Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Josh Navidi, Tom Shanklin, Ieuan Evans, Shane Williams, Martyn Williams, Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies, Rupert Moon and former referee Nigel Owens.

Maxwell says: “We are embarking on a monumental challenge to symbolise hope, resilience, and unity, and raise over £1 million for the research and development of new and innovate cancer testing and treatments in Wales. Having surpassed our initial fundraising goals of £300,000 for QuicDNA, we really hope people will join us in taking on the Wales Coast Path Challenge. It will be our most ambitious journey yet as we strive to create a community united against cancer across the length and breadth of Wales.

“Cancer has touched our lives, challenged our resilience, but it will not define our future. This event will see people from all over Wales stand united, not just as individuals but as a formidable force against cancer.”

Craig, who most recently was the former chief commercial officer of Six Nations Rugby, was just 40 when he was diagnosed with incurable and inoperable EGFR lung and bone cancer. In the face of adversity, having told he had a limited time to live, he has thrown himself into raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to help others detect cancer earlier.

Over the last year, he has run the London Marathon, taken part in CARTEN, cycled 320 miles from Cardiff to Paris, cycled over 420 miles from Paris to Bordeaux and taken on the Welsh 3000s – climbing over 10 mountains, all over 3,000ft in 24 hours. Earlier this year, he was crowned Cycling Plus’ Rider of the Year for his efforts.

His story has touched the hearts of many, rallying support that surpassed all expectations. His efforts to date have seen him raise £430,000 to support the QuicDNA project, which aims to shorten the time it takes to diagnose lung cancer in patients in Wales.

With a further £500,000 donated by The Moondance Foundation, set up by Henry and Diane Engelhardt, Craig has now launched his own charity fund.

The Maxwell Family Genomics Fund aims to enhance, improve and develop the cancer pathway in Wales. Administered and supported by Velindre, with support from the Moondance Foundation and All Wales Genomics, the fund will aim to make a lasting difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families in Wales.

He says: “I’m proud to launch the Maxwell Family Genomics Fund, where hope, courage, and community converge in the fight against cancer in Wales. This is the start of my family and friends creating a legacy and showing my children that even at the worst time possible, you can still rise up and be positive and make a difference.”

Professor Tom Crosby OBE, consultant oncologist in Velindre Cancer Centre, says: “Craig is one of the most inspirational people I have met. His drive to improve the outcome for others who experience cancer is just phenomenal. That together with his ability to articulate the issues to the wider public, and his experience and expertise at improving how systems work, is amazing, yet humbling at the same time. We are just so grateful to him and his choice to partner with Velindre in delivering his vision, now through QuicDNA but also in the future through a legacy fund.”

To see the route and sign-up visit https://maxwell.foundation. For those unable to walk, but still keen to support, you can text WALK24 to 70191 to donate £10.

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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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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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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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