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Welsh tuition wrangle rolls on

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ARRANGEMENTS for the provision of Welsh language learners courses across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Powys remain uncertain, The Herald has confirmed. 

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was selected by the Welsh Government to lead Canolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol – the new National Centre for Learning Welsh.

That new Centre was supposed to be based in Carmarthen, but The Herald understands that many of its operational decisions will instead be taken in Cardiff.

The organisation of the Centre’s management structure and senior staff appointments have been criticised for being Cardiff-centric and not being representative of the Welsh language community in West and North Wales.

Aberystwyth University was successful in its application to the new national centre to run courses in West Wales.

It now appears as though Aberystwyth University is trying to get out of the terms of a contract for which it tendered successfully, or at least to vary that contract’s terms in its own favour. A dispute has since arisen between Aberystwyth University and local authorities regarding the transfer of staff to it as the tuition provider.

The situation has caused anger and dismay both to staff who do not know whether or not they will have a job, and amongst students who do not know whether and when courses will be delivered.

Speaking to The Herald, Adam Price, AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation: “The priority has to be the availability and continuity of Welsh for Adult courses for learners in Carmarthenshire so that residents can continue to study and learn in their local communities.

“The National Centre was hailed by the Welsh government as a means to improve the provision of Welsh for Adult courses in Wales, yet it seems in practice a lot is left to be desired.

“On the basis of the information with which I have been provided, I am not content with the situation that seems to be unfolding here in Carmarthenshire.

“As a consequence, I have made urgent representations to the Welsh Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language to ask that he intervenes in this matter and ensures that the long-term arrangements for courses in Carmarthenshire are secured.”

It appears, however, that the University is now engaged in an exercise to reduce its commitment to provide all Welsh language tuition in the area for which it tendered.

Having been alerted to a potential change, The Herald asked Carmarthenshire County Council to comment.

A spokesperson for the Council told us: ‘It is confirmed that Carmarthenshire County Council will continue to provide a range of Welsh for Adults courses within Carmarthenshire. Another provider will be responsible for the courses previously provided by Higher Education establishments.

“The National Centre for Learning Welsh will be overseeing these arrangements. Collectively, this will ensure a comprehensive range of courses for learners for the next academic year.”

We asked the National Centre to update us on the position, and apprised them of the information we had received.

A spokesperson for the National Centre for Learning Welsh said: “The National Centre for Learning Welsh has invited Aberystwyth University to take responsibility for Welsh for Adults courses in Ceredigion and Powys from September 2016 onwards.

“Furthermore, the University has been invited to deliver intensive courses and blended learning courses at all Levels, and Higher and Proficiency Level courses, in Carmarthenshire.

“Carmarthenshire County Council has been invited to deliver weekly courses at Entry, Foundation and Intermediate Levels in Carmarthenshire.”

That position not only confirms the rejigging of the Carmarthenshire contract, but opens questions about why it is at this stage that the University is being ‘invited to deliver courses’ for which it has already successfully tendered.

A suggestion has been by one source involved in the saga that the University had underestimated the resolve of Ceredigion County Council and the determination of the National Centre not to let it wriggle off the hook of its obligations to those staff who previously provided tuition in the Welsh language.

A spokesperson for Ceredigion Council told The Herald: “Officers from the Council have held constructive talks with Aberystwyth University and the National Centre for Learning Welsh in relation to Welsh for Adults. We are working through the details of these talks and are optimistic that a satisfactory solution can now emerge. Once the arrangements have been confirmed and details shared with staff, further information will be shared in due course.”

We asked Aberystwyth University to confirm its position and put Adam Price’s statement to them. In response we were told: “We hope to be in a position to confirm our decision in the coming days.”

We asked Adam Price’s office for a further statement in light of the developments. A spokesperson for Assembly Member Adam Price confirmed that Mr Price has made written representations to the Welsh Government’s Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language on the matter of the provision of Welsh for Adults courses, and was still awaiting a response.

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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