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Prize for sheep search success

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Winner: Cari from Ysgol Dewi Sant

A NINE-YEAR-OLD Ysgol Dewi Sant pupil was the happy winner of a competition which ran alongside Llanelli town centre’s recent yarn-bombing extravaganza.

The yarn-bombing fortnight, courtesy of local knitting group crafty seniors, saw a variety of hand-crafted bunting, bollard covers and other items dressing u the centre of Llanelli courtesy of local knitting group Crafty Seniors. The decoration was such a hit for the town that it is expected to become an annual event.

Over the fortnight nine hand-made sheep were dotted around various shops and a ‘sheep search’ competition was run courtesy of the Wilkinson’s Store, which saw the winner receive a hamper full of back to school goodies worth £25.

The sheep were placed in Blodau Elli, The Fragrance Shop, Beauty 2 Bubbles, On Your Own Bike, British Heart Foundation, The Works, Garrett’s Fresh Seafood and Llanelli Town Council.

The Herald was invited to meet with local nine year old winner Cari Davies on Wednesday (Sept 20) as she received her prize. There were smiles all-round as Cari, her Mother Jane Davies, Andrew Stephens (Manager at the St Elli Shopping Centre), Mandy Jenkins (Ymlaen; The BID Project Manager), Tony (Wilko’s Store Manager) and a member of staff posed for a group photograph.

Cari told The Herald that she had been in town with her mother getting her bicycle fixed when she heard about the competition: “The lady in the bike shop told us about the ‘search’ for the sheep and gave us a leaflet with the questionnaire to complete. I loved all of the colours on the sheep and town looked so pretty​.​

“We had a phone call to say that I’d won the competition, I felt so excited. I didn’t tell my Mum until the evening when she got home that I’d won. I’m allowed to take my hamper into ‘show ​and tell’ on Monday to show all of my friends.​”​

Jane, Cari’s ​mother, added: “I thought that the competition ran was a good way to get to know the local shops and businesses. We live locally and weren’t that aware of the businesses taking part. We are aware now though and it’s been a good way to promote them. Everyone was helpful and it’s a productive way of boosting local business.”

Andrew Stephens (Manager at the St Elli Shopping Centre) said: ​”​It was a great competition from Wilko’s, and I was thankful for the donation of prizes. It was wonderful to see families walking around the town and working together, no doubt going into shops which they might not have normally visited.

“The benefit is that those shops are the ones that we’re promoting, we’re promoting town centre businesses, especially independents. To see people coming to town to support them is so positive. There was a lot of positive feedback with regards to the yarn bombing.

“Crafty Seniors has had an increase in avid knitters I’ve been told, people are happy to get involved.​”​

Tony Edwards, Manager at Wilko’s Llanelli store, said: “The competition went well and I feel that it drew people into town. There are a lot of stores moving over to Trostre, it’s about getting people back into the town and making it the heart of Llanelli once again. The feedback was good and we’re hoping to build on that next year with another competition. There’ll be competitions every month in the run-up to Christmas. Andrew and Mandy are working hard to bring people into the town which can only be a good thing.”

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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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