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Walking in the footsteps of royalty at Dinefwr

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THE NATIONAL TRUST in South Wales is inviting Welsh history lovers to uncover the fascinating story of the powerful Princes of Deheubarth at Dinefwr Park in Llandeilo.

The National Trust Heritage Conservation Charity, with its partners of Cadw and Carmarthenshire County Council recently benefitted from grant funding to enhance the story of the Welsh rulers via Cadw’s £19m Heritage Tourism Project.

The work has been funded through the Heritage Tourism Project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and led by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

The story of the Welsh princes is one of battles, law making and a passion for the arts that shaped our culture and language. It began after the Roman army abandoned Britain, leaving native British leaders struggling for control.

After several centuries, three main princedoms emerged in Wales: Gwynedd, Powys and in south west Wales, Deheubarth.

T he emerging Welsh princes carved a great legacy for themselves and one of the most important, Hywel Dda, championed Welsh laws. More compassionate and forward thinking than those of England, they included rights for women.

One of the last great princes of Deheubarth was Rhys ap Gruffydd, ‘The Lord Rhys’. He was a fearless warrior, an able diplomat and a cunning politician who ruled Deheubarth between 1155 and 1197.

“The Princes of Deheubarth had their seat of power here at Dinefwr Park”, said Sophie Thomas, Marketing Officer for National Trust Carmarthenshire.

“The imposing Dinefwr Castle, owned by the South Wales Wildlife Trust and joint managed by Cadw and the National Trust, still stands on top of the hill overlooking the National Trust’s 800 acre parkland estate and the rest of the Tywi Valley. With the help of the Heritage Tourism Project we’ve been able to really showcase this story for the first time and to link the parkland with the castle.

“We’ve created a brand new audio trail allowing visitors to walk to Dinefwr Castle with characters from centuries past as their guide. You can listen to what life was like for a humble farmer or even The Lord Rhys himself. Archaeology enthusiasts could also choose to listen to our own on site archaeologist for a different view point on this incredible story and of course these tours are available in Welsh as well”.

The aim of the Princes of Deheubarth project was to explain this important medieval history and to use Dinefwr Park and the castle as a heritage tourism focal point of the story, providing connections between other places in the area linked as partners under the project. The story continues at the Hywel Dda Centre in Whitland, at Talley Abbey and then links with Lord of the Southern Marches story based around Pembroke Castle.

This Medieval history is not available today as all we see are the ruins of castle so we wanted to widen the understanding of our visitors and local to how important in Welsh history the story of the Princes of Deheubarth were. The hope is that people will be inspired to learn more and to follow the journey as the historical story unfolds across South Wales by visiting the key sites.

Under this project there are lots of different ways you can learn about this fascinating Welsh history. “We were aware that not everyone likes an App or modern media so we have tried to provide a range of interpretation tools that mean the widest access for our visitors “said Jacqui Kedward, General Manager.

The interpretation includes a free App called “Castles & Princes” that can be downloaded for all types of mobile devices. The audio tours are available at the Dinefwr Visitor Information Centre and can be listened to in both English and Welsh, with dramatization of the story in the words of the characters who would have experienced them. We have improved the interpretative signage on site so the story can be followed using a s self-led map of the walk to the castle so families can take their own time to follow the story. “I was most impressed with the waterproof paper that the self-led map is printed on” said Jacqui Kedward, “essential for the Welsh weather and a little rain has never stopped our visitors from enjoying the parkland walks”.

The start of your journey for learning the story of the Princes of Deheubarth starts at Dinefwr where Carreg Cennen Castle can be viewed from up on top of the castle walls. Also part of the Castles and Princes story are Carmarthen Castle, Swansea Castle, Pembroke Castle and Laugharne Castle which all contribute to the story of the princes of Deuheubarth as history unfolds itself across the landscape of South Wales.

 

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Education

School decisions on hold as Cabinet asks for extended review of council’s Modernising Education Programme

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The council will also prioritise plans for a new school to replace Llanelli’s Ysgol Dewi Sant and for new primary schools in Ammanford and Llandeilo.

PROPOSALS to discontinue primary schools in Mynyddygarreg and Blaenau have been put on hold pending the outcome of an extended review of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme.

Cllr Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, has asked his education team to enhance a review of the MEP which is currently underway to ensure it continues to meet the needs of children and communities.

It means proposals due to be agreed today (Monday December 6, 2021), will not proceed at this time.

The extended review will seek to ensure that the MEP can adapt to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and climate change, which has changed the way people are living and making choices, how the education system has been affected and the rising costs of construction.

Cllr Davies said the review should look at how parents’ choices for their children’s education might change following the last 20 months.

The council has already noticed a shift in parental choice following the most recent annual admission of pupils during the pandemic.

With the construction industry having been hugely affected by the pandemic, with increased demand and rising costs for labour and materials, Cllr Davies said it is important to look at the knock-on effect this could have on the delivery and budgeting for school regeneration projects.

Cllr Glynog Davies

“We want to be able to factor these considerations in as we review the MEP, to have the time to properly consider how society is changing and how this will affect education services,” he said.

“Across the authority, several other departmental reviews are also underway. It would be prudent to ensure the MEP continues to align with the council’s priorities and objectives, and therefore it makes sense to take the outcome of these reviews into consideration also.

“I am asking officers to do this piece of work for me urgently.”

Speaking to fellow Cabinet members he said: “I hope that you will agree that no decision can be made today without this work taking place. I am asking that the Cabinet does not push ahead with proposals for Ysgol Mynyddygarreg and Ysgol Blaenau at this point in time, and I will not be announcing the statutory notice for these schools – we have to give full consideration to these proposals.”

Whilst Cabinet agreed to postpone these decisions, Cllr Davies confirmed the council’s commitment to continuing the delivery of a number of projects already in development.

These include a new state of the art specialist school to replace Ysgol Heol Goffa, a new primary school to replace Ysgol Pen-bre, and planned improvements at Ysgol Bryngwyn in Llanelli and Ysgol Bro Myrddin in Carmarthen.

He said the council will also prioritise plans for a new school to replace Llanelli’s Ysgol Dewi Sant and for new primary schools in Ammanford and Llandeilo.

Carmarthenshire’s Modernising Education Programme, in collaboration with the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme, is about transforming the network of nursery, primary and secondary schools serving the county into strategically and operationally effective resources that meets current and future need for a school based and community focused education.

This is achieved through developing and improving buildings, infrastructure and spaces that are appropriately located, designed, constructed or adapted to foster the sustainable development of the people and communities of Carmarthenshire.

By the end of 2020/21 financial year, £295million has been invested in accommodation and facilities at schools across the county and it includes building 12 new primary schools and two new secondary schools, plus remodelling and refurbishment in a number of other schools. 

Further information about this programme and individual school programmes can be found at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/education.

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Specialist contractors brought in for A484 storm damage clearance

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Specialist equipment is being used to clear and make the area safe.

WORK is ongoing to clear a trail of destruction left in the wake of Storm Arwen along the A484 at Cynwyl Elfed.

Carmarthenshire County Council has had to bring in specialist contractors to help with the removal of over 60 large trees damaged during the storm on November 27.

A section of road between Bronwydd and Cynwyl Elfed will remain closed until next week whilst the clearance work continues.

Specialist equipment is being used to clear and make the area safe.

It is the largest tree clearance operation the council has faced in the wake of a high-wind storm event.

It is thought the northerly direction of the strong 60mph gusts of wind is to blame for the extensive damage which left trees on the hillside unusually exposed.

Over 60 large trees were damaged during the storm

The road closure has meant a lengthy diversion for drivers passing through from Carmarthen to Newcastle Emlyn.

The council is working closely with contractors to minimise the disruption and to maintain safe access for residents living within the stretch of road closed off.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Storm Arwen resulted in a number of trees being brought down onto our roads throughout the county, but the A484 was particularly affected and a section south of Cynwyl Elfed had to be closed for safety reasons.

“We have two specialist contractors working on site to clear the road and make it safe to reopen as soon as possible, but this will take some time.

“This is a challenging situation and we are working hard to ensure the road is safe to open as soon as possible but please bear with us if there are any delays. We will provide an update as soon as we can.”

Carmarthenshire County Council’s highways team recorded 150 fallen trees – and 30 other weather related incidents in just 24 hours during the storm.

The council’s out of hours staff dealt with hundreds of calls and staff were mobilised throughout the night and day to deal with the damage caused by the high winds.

Further information about highway problems, and how to report an emergency, can be found at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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Community

Vet completes epic 980 mile cycle challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of charities

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A CARMARTHENSHIRE vet has raised over £8,000 by taking on the mammoth challenge of cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance and The DPJ

Foundation.

Cath Tudor a farm vet at ProStock Vets, Carmarthen set herself the task of cycling nearly 1,000 miles as a challenge to do before she was 50 and to mark the ten year anniversary of ProStock Vets.

Cath, 50, from Llangynog, has always enjoyed cycling and raised £5,076 for the Wales Air Ambulance and £3,000 for the mental health farming charity – The DPJ Foundation.

Reflecting on why she decided to raise funds for the charities, she said: “I picked Wales Air Ambulance as it is an essential service for us living and working in rural communities, and as a family the Wales Air Ambulance came out when my brother, Richard Tudor, died in a tractor accident on the family farm in Mid Wales in April 2020. My brother was killed when the tractor rolled on a steep slope when spreading fertiliser. 

“I chose DPJ Foundation as well due to it being a local charity which helps farmers struggling with mental health.”

The vet is no stranger to getting on her bike for charity, in 2016 Cath cycled the length of Wales for The Stroke Association and in 2018 she also completed a charity ride around Montgomeryshire for the Royal Welsh Show and a bowel cancer charity.

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.

The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.

Cath at Land’s End

A delighted Cath is extremely grateful to everyone who donated to the fundraiser, she said: “A massive thanks to everyone who has sponsored me and encouraged me to do the challenge. The support and reactions from everyone has been overwhelming.”

Despite having days when the fundraiser was challenging, Cath experience many highlights including seeing every area of the country and making friends for life.

She added: “There was a fabulous group of us, with everyone helping one another and I made friends for life.”

Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Cath has raised an incredible £8,000 for two essential charities. It is heart-warming to hear the reason behind Cath’s fundraiser, sadly she knows first-hand the importance of the Wales Air Ambulance, especially in rural Wales.

“Cath set herself the challenge of cycling nearly 1,000miles and her determination to raise funds for both charities is evident. Thank you to everyone who has supported Cath and donated to the Wales Air Ambulance, you’re all helping us be there for the people of Wales when they need us most.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.

These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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