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Penybanc resident awarded Legion d’ Honneur

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Howard Francis and family: With Jonathan Edwards MP

Howard Francis and family: With Jonathan Edwards MP

A PENYBANC resident has been awarded France’s most prestigious military decoration, following urgent representations to the French Embassy and the MoD. 

Howard Francis was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, in recognition of his role in the invasion of Normandy in 1944, by Jonathan Edwards MP at Glangwili Hospital.

President Hollande announced on the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion to award the Legion d’Honneur, France’s most prestigious decoration, to all veterans who participated in the D-Day invasion which led to the liberation of France. Fighting in the campaign, Mr Howard Francis was injured on August 27, 1944, during combat fighting for the Worcestershire Regiment.

The Legion d’Honneur was established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest French order for military and civil merit.

Mr Francis Howard, who has been taken ill, and his family worked closely with Links, a Llanelli based charity that works closely with ex-service personnel across South West Wales, but were told that following a large number of requests there was a significant backlog in the distribution of the award.

Following a significant deterioration in Mr Francis’ health, his family and Links contacted Jonathan Edwards MP, who made urgent representations to the Secretary of State for Defence, and the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, and within hours, the French embassy confirmed that the medal would be fast-tracked.

The family of Mr Francis requested that Jonathan Edwards MP kindly presented the Medal to their father during a stay at hospital. The small personal presentation took place on Monday (Aug 8) on Towy Ward at West Wales General Hospital.

Jonathan Edwards MP said: “It is an absolute honour to present Mr Francis with the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration, in recognition of his role in D-Day as part of the liberation of France.

“Having read reports of Mr Francis’ role in the campaign, I find it almost impossible to fathom the sacrifice and courage of servicemen and women like Mr Francis in the war. Servicemen and women like Mr Francis fought to help create a better world for us all and we must never forget the sacrifices that they made to achieve this.

“I am delighted and truly privileged to be here with Mr Francis to share in this moment, and to have been able to assist Mr Francis in receiving the recognition that he deserves. I would like to thank Ambassador Bermann and the French embassy for their efforts and the speed with which the embassy assisted Mr Francis and his family, ensuring that Mr Francis received the recognition that he deserves.”

Links, a charity that works with ex-service personnel, added: “LINKS has been running for over 20 years and currently works with 120 people throughout the county. One of the newer pieces of work is the service provided for veterans, funded by the Big Lottery. This service alone works with around 50 individuals through a variety of ways including NAAFI mornings and activities such as fishing and bowling.

“The veterans’ service, Combined Forces, has just received a further award from the Big Lottery of £418,312 to further extend our services for veterans.

“We also have a buddy scheme, including a telephone service for those members who are housebound or live in remote parts of the county. This is how we met Mr Francis, who has been supported by LINKS volunteer Buddy Chris Hill.

“We are extremely grateful that Mr Francis has been able to receive this deserved honour and I am grateful for the help given by My Jonathan Edwards MP who ensured the medal’s safe passage to Wales.”

Accompanying the medal, Ambassador Bermann wrote: “I offer you my warmest congratulations on this high honour in recognition of your acknowledged military engagement and your steadfast involvement in the Liberation of France during the Second World War.

“As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.”

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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Business

Carmarthenshire cheese maker secures Co-op listing

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Caws Cenarth award

A CHEESEMAKER from Carmarthenshire has secured its first listing with the Co-op as part of the retailer’s continued focus on local and community sourcing.

Family-owned Caws Cenarth, which has cheese making in the family dating back to 1903, will now see two of its cheeses listed in more than 20 Co-op stores across the region.

Made on farm in Glyneithinog, Caws Cenarth will supply Co-op with its Organic Caerffili – which has a light and lemony taste with hints of sea salt – and, one of its best known cheeses the Organic Perl Las Mini – which is described as a blue cheese, golden in colour, with a creamy, gently salty taste that grows stronger with maturity.

Carwyn Adams, whose parents rekindled the family tradition for cheese making in 1987 with the creation of Caws Cenarth, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. I shop in our local Co-op and regularly thought how nice it would be to see our cheese on the shelf and, now that is to become a reality. Working with Co-op will support our business development, and raise awareness of our cheeses, not only across the region, but also further afield as visitors to the area often look for local produce to take back home with them as gifts or to remind them of their stay in the area.”

Jo Wadsworth, Co-op’s Community Buying Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Caws Cenarth onto our shelves. We know that our Members and customers value the quality and provenance of locally produced food and drink and, here at the Co-op we are focussed on supporting local suppliers as part of our commitment to creating value and making a difference in our local communities.”

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