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Son’s massive relief after his mum, 86, gets anti-covid jab

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The son of an 86-year-old care home resident has spoken of his massive relief after his mum was among the first in Wales to be given the Oxford-AstroZeneca vaccine to protect her against the deadly Coronavirus.

Mary Willis, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, was vaccinated this morning (Wednesday) along with 47 other residents of Crosfield House, in Rhayader, Powys, which was the first home in the county to receive the jab produced in Wrexham at the CP Pharmaceuticals factory.

Her son, Matthew, an NHS manager from Rhos y Garth, near Llanilar, said: “My mum went into Crosfield after a fall and the care home have been brilliant.

“She’s almost back to her old self and we’re just so relieved she’s been vaccinated.

“She’s been very keen to have the vaccine and is a firm believer in its benefits and hopefully it will provide some protection for everyone from this deadly virus.

“She is making a good recovery from her fall but because of lockdown restrictions she can’t be measured for a wheelchair or have tests on her hearing or eyesight but hopefully this vaccine will allow that to happen.

“It also means that we can maybe look forward now to her being able to come out for the day and hopefully next December we’ll all be able to sit round the table to a Christmas dinner.

“That’s down to the vaccine and I’m absolutely delighted that my mum has received it this week and I very much hope and believe it will allow us to get back to something like normal.

“It will be nice to plan ahead for the future and the vaccine is key to that – it gives us all something to look forward to.”

The vaccine was administered by a team of six nurses from Powys Teaching Health Board and the manager of Crosfield House, former paramedic Wayne Rees, said: “It’s been a very difficult time for everyone on a rollercoaster road but this is the glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

“The team from Powys Health Board were here at 8.30am to set up and the first vaccine was delivered at about 9.30am and working in pairs they have vaccinated 48 of the residents this morning.

“Some of the residents are not suitable for vaccination because of their condition but we have been very fortunate here and have stayed free of the virus.

“Our staff here have been fantastic because it isn’t easy coming in to work every day to do a 12-hour shift in full PPE.  It’s very pressurised.

“We’ve all got lives outside work, but they have been abiding by the rules and that’s what is helping get us through this difficult time.”

Care home residents are especially vulnerable to the virus because of their age and infirmity.

Care workers have also been among those most at risk but Crosfield House’s 98 staff received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December and the home was chosen to receive the Oxford vaccine as one of Wales’s Pathfinder homes.

They were also one of only eight homes in Wales involved in the Lateral Flow Testing programme designed to identify symptom-free carriers of the virus.

The home has been able to convert the former library into a visiting room complete with floor to ceiling and wall to wall partition screen with apertures to allow special gloves to be used for contact between residents and visitors.

Wayne Rees added: “We’ve used the communal areas of the home for administering the vaccines to residents apart from those who can’t leave their rooms and there will be nurses there to monitor them for 15 minutes to ensure there are no ill effects.

“Powys Health Board and the local authority have been great during the pandemic and our staff were all vaccinated in early December.

“These last 12 months have been very challenging.  It’s taught me a lot and it’s taught the staff a lot and I really can’t praise them highly enough.  They’ve all really pulled together.”

Mary Wimbury, Chief Executive of Care Forum Wales, which represents nearly 500 independent social care providers, welcomed the roll-out of the vaccination to the sector.

She said: “Our care home residents and the people who look after them are right in the firing line especially with a new, rampant form of the virus on the loose.

“We’re in a race against time and it’s vital we protect these most vulnerable people and I welcome the fact that this vaccine roll-out is happening quickly because we are facing a health catastrophe.

“The pressure is on and many care homes throughout Wales are at crisis point so now we have the vaccine it is critical that we get it out to those who need it most.”

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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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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