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RNLI partnership to protect dog-walkers

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Jan Godfrey-Coles and Blodwen: With crew and station representatives from Burry Port RNLI and Karlien Heyrman (right), Vet and Clinical Services Manager at Vets4Pets.

THE RNLI has launched a pilot partnership with national veterinary group Vets4Pets, to support its on-going Respect the Water campaign.

The partnership will initially focus on Wales and enable both organisations to support water safety messages, for local people and their pets.

As part of the pilot programme, Welsh lifeboat stations will work closely with Vets4Pets’ 22 practices, which includes two Companion Care surgeries, throughout the country, to focus on a key group of users which the RNLI has identified as being at risk when on or near the coast – dog walkers.

Helen Church, the RNLI’s community safety partner for Wales and West, said: ‘This pilot partnership is a brilliant opportunity to work with an organisation that in many ways is similar to the RNLI.

‘Vets4Pets practices are distributed throughout Wales, provide a vital service and are an intrinsic part of their local community.

‘We know dog walkers are an ‘at risk’ group when walking their pets around water and the coast, which means Vets4Pets is an ideal partner for us as we continue to deliver water safety messages.

‘Vets4Pets are experts in pet welfare and their strong relationships with pet owners will be a key asset in teaching dog walkers about our Respect the Water campaign.’

The partnership will see RNLI lifeboat stations joining forces with their local Vets4Pets practice, to provide support for work each other does in the local community.

This will include tailoring First Aid pet workshops to include water safety messages and vets and vet nurses advising RNLI volunteers on how best to handle pets they have rescued.

Karlien Heyrman, vet and clinical services manager at Vets4Pets, said: ‘The RNLI are a fantastic organisation whose volunteers work selflessly and tirelessly to keep people, and pets, safe around the waters of the UK.

‘We’re delighted to be launching this partnership to help the RNLI increase awareness of water safety to our clients and hopefully play a role in preventing unnecessary incidents involving pets and their owners getting into trouble in the water.

‘Vets4Pets practices are all locally owned and are passionate about being part of their local community and by partnering with their local RNLI lifeboat station, it can only add benefit to clients and their pets.’

Prevention is key for the RNLI – helping people by providing communities with the skills and knowledge to keep themselves and their pets safe around water and when they visit the coast.

‘Sadly more than 200 walkers have died since 2011 around our coast, many when walking their dog and our annual Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign helps us to focus on advising people to give water the healthy respect it deserves,’ added Helen.

‘While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking more about their safety before and during their visit to water and the coast.

‘A key message we’ll be working on with Vets4Pets, is to convey to pet owners that we would not encourage people to enter water to save pets. More often than not, the person themselves can get into danger, further escalating the jeopardy and the need for a rescue.

‘Instead, people should call the Coastguard on 112 or 999 when at coastal locations or 112 or 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when at any inland waterside location. The RNLI will attend a pet in distress.

‘As we move into the peak holiday season around the UK, this partnership with Vets4Pets will help deliver key water safety messages to a relevant group of people and hopefully help save lives.’

Dog owner Jan Godfrey-Coles knows all too well the importance of water safety when walking a dog on the coast.

Jan was taking her four-year-old Staffie cross Blodwen for her regular beach walk at Burry Port on a low tide last month (July). Blodwen loves splashing in and out of the water, but this time her exuberance got her into trouble as the strong currents off Burry Port on lower tides swept her out away from the shore.

Before Jan knew it Blodwen was swept a long way out and, unable to swim against the current, was getting further and further away from her desperate owner.

Jan immediately called 999 and asked for the Coastguard, who requested the launch of Burry Port RNLI’s D class inshore lifeboat Diane Hilary and its volunteer crew.

Jan said: ‘Panic had set in and by now Blodwen was a good 60-70m from the shore. I was considering swimming out to try and rescue her as I thought I was going to lose her. Then I saw the lifeboat crew racing towards Blodwen. It was only minutes after I made the 999 call and I was so glad they were on their way to get her.’

The charity’s lifeboat crew quickly reached Blodwen, who by this time was tired and cold, brought her on board the lifeboat and took her ashore to be reunited with a delighted Jan.

‘The lifeboat crew were fantastic,’ she added.

‘I was so well looked after and I can’t thank them enough. Not only did they save Blodwen but their presence also prevented me from trying to swim out to her and potentially putting myself at risk.

‘As a dog walker I take Blodwen to the beach all the time, but water safety never used to be a major consideration for me. I think it is fantastic that the RNLI is teaming up with Vets4Pets to promote vital safety tips to as many dog walkers as possible.’

Alun Wells, Deputy Launching Authority for Burry Port RNLI, said: ‘Jan did what we would encourage any dog walker to do if their animal gets into difficulty on or near the sea – call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

‘It can be tempting for dog walkers to enter the water and attempt to rescue their beloved animals, but by doing so they can put themselves in serious danger.’

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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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