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Sweet success for local crafters

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A Journey Through Coal Mining: The trophy-winning table display

A Journey Through Coal Mining:
The trophy-winning table display

AN AWARD-WINNING display created by members of the local sugarcraft club appeared on television this week.

S4C visited The Ivy Bush in Carmarthen on Thursday , June 23, to film a coal mining-themed table display made by members of the Carmarthen and District branch of the British Sugarcraft Guild for popular daytime show Prynhawn Da. The episode was screened on Wednesday (Jun 29).

The table display, titled ‘A Journey Through Coal Mining’, won Gold and a trophy at the British Sugarcraft Guild’s International Sugarcraft Exhibition which was held in the Telford International Centre on May 21-22. The Exhibition, which is held every four years, features competitors from countries across the globe.

Branch Chair Tracey Catterson told The Herald that the display was ‘a team effort’.

“Different members worked on individual pieces along with a combined effort on everything else like logs, coal, baskets, and making the railway tracks,” she added.

Individual members also shone at the Exhibition, with Kathleen King winning Highly Commended for her beautiful doll cake complete with rice paper and pastillage parasol, and Tracey Catterson from Pembroke also achieving Highly Commended for a jug of spring flowers made out of sugarpaste and Commended for her headdress for a bridesmaid.

Sugarcraft, a creative art in which sugar is used as the medium to create masterpieces, has grown in popularity recently after featuring in a number of TV programmes and magazines, and the Carmarthen and District Branch welcomes new members.

Their members hail from all over west Wales, including Pembroke, Cardigan and Swansea, and new members are encouraged to attend their monthly meetings, held in Carmarthen’s Yr Aelwyd on the first Thursday of the month, where the group gather for a sugarcraft demonstration, followed by a raffle, tea and coffee, and a chat.

Their next meeting is on Thursday (Jul 7) at 7.30pm.

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‘People are booking the test when they’re not ready, and the pass rate is actually declining’

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THE CEO of one of the UK’s biggest driving schools has revealed that learner drivers are still facing massive driving test delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to GB News presenters Esther Vey and Philip Davies, Seb Goldin said: “It depends where you are in the country, but the backlog is really not being got through at any rate from Covid. We’re hearing six, seven, eight and nine months now.

“It’s made worse because people are just trying to book a test when they’re perhaps not even test ready. And then the pass rate is actually declining at the moment, so then tests are just not available for those who would be ready, which is exacerbating the problem.

“We’d say take your lessons, book the test but only when your instructor tells you that you’re test ready.”

Discussing the possible introduction of self driving cars on UK roads and into driving lessons, Goldin explained: “I think with all technology, where there’s such a step-change from human behaviour to machine behaviour, if we could flick a switch overnight and say everyone’s driving autonomous cars then it would be a very easy segway and move on through. But when you’re gonna have human behaviour on the road with semi or fully autonomous cars, that’s where the challenge is gonna be. We expect to be very busy for the next few years at least.”

He added: “Your car even now compared to what you had ten years ago has so much more technology. One of the challenges that we think is that people are not given instruction or coaching in what a car can do and what it can’t do.

“So for example, if you got a new car with cruise control with a radar at the front which manages the distance which is fine if you get used to it. But if you get a bit of road grime on the front of the car it packs up and then suddenly you have to drive normally again, and if you’re not ready for it or not used to it it can be a challenge. So we’re really excited about integrating technology into driving lessons and we’re working with the government and DVSA to help improve and change the curriculum as technology comes through.”

Whilst self driving cars are not fully on the roads, Goldin explained a driver would still be needed behind the wheel: “There are various steps of autonomy. So at the moment, we have cars on what we call Level 1 and Level 2. What the government is taking about is Level 3, where the car can actually be fully in control of the vehicle without the driver needing to have hands on the wheel or control.

“An analogy is if you think of pilots in big ships or aeroplanes, they still have to be trained in how to manually control them if the technology fails. It’s exactly the same with driving.

“All technology that we work with, trust has to grow and we need to understand what it does, and there’s very much back to the point of teaching people and coaching people to drive. Even when people have passed the driving test, you’re not necessarily a ‘safe driver’ you’ve just passed the driving test. So there’s very much a coaching and a learning role as technology comes on.

“When you get a new car from a car dealer, a lot of them are very good at selling you on the finance but perhaps not so much on what the car can do and more importantly, what it can’t do.”

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Communities for Work Plus is on hand to assist with disability support

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CONGRATULATIONS to Tina Evans who has recently joined the BBC Wales presenting team and is currently covering the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In preparation for starting her new job, Tina sought the services of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Communities for Work Plus programme to help overcome multiple barriers such as access to work and communicating with social services.

Tina, who is from Pontyberem originally, faces numerous challenges, due to long-term health conditions and disabilities, and requires a lot of support in relation to mobility and everyday care, as she is a wheelchair user.

Writing ahead of starting her new role with the BBC, Tina said “I had been offered work with BBC Wales, as part of the presenting team, and needed to sort out support during my role. As I was tight against time, I accessed the Communities for Work Plus hub in Carmarthen with the hope to speed things up. This was the best decision I made. After speaking with their team, I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I, now, wasn’t sorting things alone.

“I would especially like to thank Desiree from the Communities for Work Plus team. She supported me through telephone calls with access to work and social services and liaised with them to make sure we met the deadlines required. There were a few barriers to overcome along the way, but with Desiree’s support and determination, we hurdled over them. I must admit, her support was invaluable in gaining access to work and without it, I would have given up.

“I can now look forward with excitement for this opportunity, knowing that I have the support I need.”

Desiree De Mouilpied, Community Employment Officer/Disability Specialist said “It’s been a privilege to assist Tina with her journey to accessing work. Her character and determination, to pursue her dreams and overcome complex barriers into employment, have been inspiring. We all wish her the best of luck in her new job.”

Communities for Work Plus provides the infrastructure to support the ongoing delivery of Communities for Work. The programme enhances the employment-focused support for those, often with complex barriers, who are furthest from the labour market into training and future employment with a holistic and person-centred approach.

Carmarthenshire County Council coordinate employment support from its Llanelli Hwb and office, which are based in the middle of Llanelli Town Centre.

For further information about the Communities For Work Plus programme, please visit https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/jobs-careers/help-to-find-a-job/ or email c4wplus@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or phone 01554 784847.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “We’re delighted for Tina and proud of her success in gaining employment with BBC Wales.

“I would urge people in our county, who are looking to get into work, to take advantage of the support that Carmarthenshire County Council can give to you. Our employment support teams can help you identify training opportunities, provide you with a personal mentor, work with you to develop a job action plan, help you to build your confidence and help with writing a CV and completing job applications.

We want to support more people, like Tina, to overcome barriers to get into work.”

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Community Shop holds Queen’s Volunteer Award ceremony

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ON AUGUST 12, at 10:30am the popular and successful Dryslwyn Community Shop will at last celebrate the Queens’ Award for Volunteers, which they received in 2021.

Sara Edwards, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, will present the award.

“There will be cake and light refreshments,” explains volunteer coordinator Michele Powell, “with speeches from directors and as always, everyone is welcome.”

“The shop and post office were due to close in 2009,” explains one of the directors of the shop, “ending a by then 157 years run of a post office in the location. However, the local community pulled together and took over the shop and post office by forming a non-for-profit company. This is run by 35 friendly volunteers on the counter and behind the scenes, for our community.”

The shop deservedly received recognition for its service to the community, saving the residents a 12m journey to the next shop or post office and reducing rural isolation by providing a community hub. The shop also aims to stock locally grown, healthy and environmentally friendly stock.

Last year land was donated for a new building for the shop, next to its current location, with more scope for seating and parking.

“Details of the planning application, which is about to be submitted, were presented to the public recently,” explains project chair Nigel Jones. “We look forward to providing more feedback and discussion with residents over this as well as efforts to gain funding, when we are able to.” The shop is also always keen to add to its pool of volunteers.

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