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Three Welsh icons discover their roots

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THREE Welsh celebrities have discovered new information about their backgrounds as a result of ancestral DNA tests carried out as part of the ground-breaking project CymruDNAWales. On St David’s Day, S4C set out on an epic journey with the programme DNA Cymru, a curtain-raiser to a series which will set out to answer questions such as ‘Who are the Welsh?’ and ‘Where did we come from?’ by using DNA samples from the people of Wales today. The programme can be seen again on Clic for 35 days after the first transmission. In the programme Gareth Edwards, Siân Lloyd and Bryn Terfel discovered their roots in the longdistant past by taking part in the DNA tests. The programme and the series DNA Cymru are part of the exciting project CymruDNAWales set up in a partnership between S4C, CymruDNAWales, Trinity Mirror and production company Green Bay Media.

Wales rugby legend Gareth Edwards got the ‘surprise of his life’ when he received the results of his ancestral DNA test. Gareth, a famous son of Gwaun Cae Gurwen, had always thought himself as being of pure Welsh stock but genetic markers on his father’s side take the story much, much further back, and much further away – to Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia and as far east as the Volga. Because the result is most common nowadays in Northern Europe, scientists associated with the project have given it the label ‘Teutonic’. It belongs to a larger genetic group who may have been the first modern humans to colonise Europe. So Gareth has found himself having to re-think his idea of himself as a Celt through and through: “I’ve never thought of myself as anything but Welsh,” said Gareth. “I’ve always been proud of it and have tended to let everyone know.

This has come as a shock but I’m intrigued knowing now that, on my father’s side, I have a result which is common in places like Scandinavia. After all, I’m not tall and blond, I’m dark and swarthy, typical Welsh stock.” Finding she belongs to a genetic group which includes Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and members of the British Royal Family was a result television presenter, Siân Lloyd never expected: “It came as a huge surprise to discover I have any connections with Tsar Nicholas II and English Royalty. But my husband, Jonathan is not surprised at all, he knows I never get up in the morning until he’s brought me a cup of tea,” joked Siân, who’s originally from Neath. “I find it all intriguing. I now plan to do more research on Tsar Nicholas II and my middle-eastern connections.” Genetic markers on Siân’s mother’s side are what has set her in the same genetic group as the last Emperor of Russia and English Kings.

The research has shown her maternal line is one that’s very rare in Wales but common in parts of Italy and Iran. It also reveals a strong marker for red hair and Siân pointed out that at school she was known as ‘Cochen’ (Ginger). Scientists associated with the CymruDNAWales project have labelled Siân’s genetic group ‘Foragers.’ It’s common in the Near East and Southern Europe with sub-groups probably coming further into Europe after the Ice Age but before the spread of farming: “That label doesn’t surprise me,” admitted Siân. “I am a forager and just love my food.” Genetic markers on Bryn Terfel’s father’s side showed links with a sub-group, labelled ‘Rhineland’ by scientists working on the project, part of a much larger group probably present in the first modern humans ever to reach Europe.

Bryn’s sub-group is common in Germany and was found in ancient DNA taken from 3,000 year old skeletons found in the Lichtenstein Cave in Germany in 1972. It is also present in Scandinavia, the south of Scotland and Ulster. Asked about the possible German connection and his love of singing Wagner, he said: “I am particularly comfortable singing in the German language. There are links with the Welsh language in that I’ve always been led to believe that the Celts from northern Spain went through Austria,” said Bryn. “It’s intriguing to imagine that my predecessors were breaking new ground, because it’s always fascinated me trying to work out how one had the talent to perform and sing coming from a farming background. I find that very interesting.”

The results are based on analysis of the three celebrities’ ancestral DNA – just 2% of their total DNA. It can be used to trace their family lines back into the distant past. Many other ancestors will have contributed to their total genetic make-up. In the series, presenters Beti George, Dr Anwen Jones and Jason Mohammad will be explaining how the science of DNA can reveal genetic blueprints that stretch back beyond recorded history. The project’s aim is to conduct the biggest survey ever of ancestral DNA present in today’s Welsh population. This is done through samples of saliva. The series will use ancestral DNA to try to answer historical questions. The series producers are Green Bay Media. Series editor, John Geraint says: “This is an epic story of a people’s journey through history. We’ll have revelations about the genetic heritage of some real Welsh icons such as Gareth, Bryn and Siân as we trace the amazing story of who the Welsh are and where we have come from.”

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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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Education

Carmarthenshire Council offers career opportunities through new Care Academi 

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Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Social Care

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has launched a new Care Academi which offers exciting opportunities to those looking for a career in social work or social care.

Open to all ages, the Academi will provide training, support and guidance to successful applicants, enabling them to earn while they learn and choose a career path that suits them best.

With a blend of on-the-job training and education, there are various opportunities to explore the variety of social care and social work roles on offer.

All applicants must have a minimum of two GCSEs (grade A* – D) or equivalent in English, Welsh or Maths.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, Cabinet Member for Social Care said: “Our new Care Academi offers fantastic opportunities to those looking for a career in social work or care.

“Successful applicants could achieve a degree in social work or a level five management qualification, but there are also opportunities throughout the programme to find an alternative role that suits you best if completing a degree isn’t for you.

“If you are motivated, have a positive attitude and are looking for the first exciting step in a new career then we want to hear from you and welcome your application.”

For more information or to apply please visit www.Carmarthenshire.gov.wales/careacademi 

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