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The Herald Interview s Dave Hurford

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DaveHurfordSOME OF the greats of radio started out on hospital radio.

Also, former Radio One DJs Mike Smith, Chris Moyles and Scott Mills – to name but a few – started their broadcasting careers in what were little more than spare hospital cupboards with rudimentary soundproofing and Heath Robinson set ups.

There is a somewhat stereotypical view that hospital radio is not ‘real’ radio because it just caters for the people in the hospital the cupboard happens to be in.

However, hospital radio has joined the 21st century at the Prince Phillip Hospital in Llanelli, as Radio BGM takes to the airwaves and streams live online across the internet.

The Herald paid a visit to what still looks like a cupboard just inside the entrance to the hospital. On opening the door, we were met by Danny, a cheerful, bearded, and zesty soul. There was no sign of a cassette recorder or vinyl – and no sign of bland oldies churned out hour after hour to a captive audience. Danny was playing it all digital and all current music. He had his iPhone linked up to something he called ‘Periscope’, which he explained was streaming video of himself presenting the show to a much wider audience.

The Herald wanted to know what exactly was going on in this thoroughly modern cupboard /studio. Who better to ask than one of the driving forces behind the set-up, Dave Hurford. Dave is a Llanelli man born and bred and attended Old Road Primary School before heading for the posh end of town and enrolling at St Michaels School on the Bryn. We began by asking Dave how he had become involved in radio.

He said: “St Michaels was focussed on learning and it taught you to not just sit down and accept things. It gave you a kick to go out and get what you wanted. I never really looked at it as being a posh school – it

was just a good education. It was a strict upbringing and the school was ruled by a headmaster with a rod of iron. I used to do radio shows and the technical stuff. I always wanted to go into broadcasting but at that time your career path was mapped out – you either went down the mines or into the steelworks. I left school and began a career at Theatre Elli followed by work at a TV company and eventually a stint at Swansea Sound.”

Dave gave The Herald the low down on how Hospital Radio had started. He said, “It started back in the early 1970s in Bryntyrion Hospital. There was a small team of like-minded people interested in getting a hospital radio station together. It was meant to improve people’s time in hospital, helping them to relax. There were a lot of valves and vinyl at that time. The early beginnings were held together on a wing and a prayer. It is not an idea that was unique to Llanelli – it had been trialled in a number of hospitals. It was popular and gained support.”

Dave eventually went to work at the BBC where he works to this day. He is also a sound engineer at the Llanelli Talking Newspaper. Speaking about the early days in radio, he said: “There were a lot of people involved back then who had backgrounds in media. I was self-taught and learned as I went along. I used to do the presenting and the technical stuff. Like all kids, I had practiced in my bedroom with a microphone and cassette player. It was the ‘in thing’ to do to listen to the top forty and record it with your voiceover.”

There is no doubt that hospital radio plays an important part in serving the community. We asked Dave if there was still a future for hospital radio.

He told us: “Hospital Radio is one of these strange mediums which seems to have battled on for many years. Some are approaching 50th anniversaries. It is an amazing milestone when you think how much digital media is available. It is testament to the fact that it has found its own little niche.

“It is so local that you can almost touch it. We get volunteers coming in and we have to ground them to the notion that this is a very local service.

“It is easy to misconstrue hospital radio. It is a huge opportunity for people who are interested in developing a career in radio. There are people looking to change careers and this offers them a chance to learn something new.”

Dave continued: “The Llanelli Talking Newspaper is also important to me and I am very pleased to be associated with that. We take a copy of the talking news and import that onto our system and we play that out on the radio. We are always looking for volunteers. The youngsters we have here move on to university and some go on to work in the industry.”

Dave explained how the programming worked and offered some advice to anyone looking to go into a career in broadcasting.

“We have several programmes that go out through the week. We have a professional play-out system, which helps make it a very professional seamless play-out. It can actually run on autopilot, which means that the people coming in don’t have to have an intensive level of training. The programmes vary depending on the age of the people presenting them.

“I would recommend starting with Hospital Radio if you are thinking of going into broadcasting. It gives you a great chance to hone your skills. We are always looking for volunteers so if anyone is interested, they can pop in or contact us via our website : radiobgm.org. uk.”

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Health

Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award

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STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care. 

The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.

Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.   

The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good. 

In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.   

The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community. 

In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.  

In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.   

The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.   

As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.   

At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.  

 Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said:  “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”  

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News

Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Education

Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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