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Tŷ Hafan thanks supporters as £1m refurbishment fundraiser nears target

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“THANKS to you, our incredible supporters across Wales and beyond, we’ve almost done it. We’re so nearly there – now we need just one last push.” 

That’s the message from Tŷ Hafan CEO Maria Timon Samra, as the appeal by the charity to raise £1m to refurbish its hospice in Sully enters its final few weeks. 

“In January 2020, just before the world – and our charity – was blighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Tŷ Hafan launched a much needed £1m project to upgrade our children’s hospice facility in Wales,” said Maria, who took over as Interim CEO at Tŷ Hafan in May 2020. 

“Against all the odds, and thanks to the generosity of our loyal local, national and international supporters, we are now in the final stages of this refurbishment.  

“One month ago we updated our stakeholders on Tŷ Hafan’s ‘fit for the future’ fundraising appeal and at that point we were £170k short of our £1m target. 

“Today, with just a few weeks to go until our appeal closes, we have nearly reached our £1m target. 

“So we’re asking our supporters to show their love for Tŷ Hafan once more and to give whatever they can afford to help us over the finish line.  Every penny will make a huge difference to the unfairly difficult lives of the children and families whom we support with much needed respite, crisis and end-of-life care.” 

Tŷ Hafan opened its doors 22 years ago and has been a lifeline for children with life-limiting conditions and their families ever since. 

After more than two decades of being used 365 days a year and providing essential around-the-clock care to more than 1,000 children and families in Wales, including 24 in Monmouthshire, Tŷ Hafan’s hospice in Sully, South Wales, needed essential refurbishment to ensure that it can continue to help families for the next 20 years and beyond.  

As well as providing a more bright and cheerful ‘beach hut’ theme throughout which fits with our peaceful location on the Bristol Channel, Tŷ Hafan’s £1m fit for the future refurbishment programme includes essential clinical adaptations to the hospice, which has remained open and operational for crisis and end of life care throughout the pandemic. 

Key features include infection-control flooring, optimising space from top to bottom, providing more purpose-built space for nurses to prepare medicines for children, and ensuring facilities are as accessible as possible for children with various complex conditions. 

Mum Becca and Harley, seven, from Llanelli, benefited from their first stay at Tŷ Hafan last summer during the early months of the pandemic. 

Harley has Adenylosuccinase deficiency (ADSL), a rare, complex and progressive disorder which also means that Harley is at high risk of sudden death through epilepsy. 

Becca said: “I never thought Tŷ Hafan was right for us because I thought it was for end of life only and that wasn’t us. But when we went to the hospice to stay, it gave the doctors a chance to see what was going on. 

“We have too much to pack to go away for long, so holidays are impossible. Going to Tŷ Hafan is different because they are used to it and it’s normal for them. It makes it easy to fit in there. You can talk to people about things, but to meet other parents in the same position as you is good, as you feel less self-conscious with a Tŷ Hafan group. 

“All the staff were amazing. I wasn’t ready to leave Harley, I’m still not, so I stayed with him the whole time, but I saw other children and was amazed at how the staff were with the kids. I’ve never met such nice people. The one time I left him was to go for a shower for an hour. I’ve never done that before, but I felt able to as I knew he was being looked after.” 

Already hundreds of individuals, groups, businesses and organisations have donated generously to Tŷ Hafan fit for the future appeal, including: 

  • Employees of Circle IT and partners who are taking on the challenge of travelling the distance of the Earth – 40,075km by walking, running, and cycling the cumulative distance within seven weeks 
  • 100 employees of Admiral Group who have pledged to complete one million press ups with a fundraising target of £10,000 
  • Taylor Wimpey who have pledged £12,000 to help fund the creation of a Den which will feature a cinema and games room which will enable peer to peer support 
  • Machen teenagers Ben, Lewis and Ollie who together ran 100km in all winds and weathers throughout January, raising more than £3,000 

“I cannot thank enough everyone who has donated so generously so far, but if you have not already donated, it’s not too late,” continued CEO Maria Timon Samra. 

“There are still a few weeks to go until our ‘fit for the future’ appeal ends and it goes without saying that we really appreciate every single donation we receive, however big or small.  Every donation represents a step closer to us completing this project so we can provide these children, young people and their families with the support they so urgently need.” 

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Charity

Co op helps out two Llandeilo community volunteer groups

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LLANDEILO Co op store manager Chris Rees and Member Pioneer Christoph Fischer successfully secured Co op funding for two Llandeilo community groups: “Friends of Llandyfeisant Church” and the “Dinefwr Orchadeers”.

Friends of Llandyfeisant Church was set up to restore the beautiful Llandyfeisant Church on the Dinefwr Park estate. The volunteers want to bring this unused building back into use for the community. “We’re currently restoring the floor according to the Listed Buildings specification, which is costly and labour intense,” explains Dafydd Thomas from the group. 

“The church is no longer consecrated but it would be wonderful for many other events.”

The group has a busy Facebook page and many supporters, locally and from further afield.

The Dinefwr Orchardeers are a community volunteer group based at Dinefwr Home Farm, looking after a 3-acre orchard of heritage apple and pear trees. They hire out fruit milling and pressing equipment to local fruit tree / orchard owners, run a cider club and recently built a juicing room. The money will be spent on aprons and juicing equipment.

“We would love you to join or observe our weekly orchard management sessions” says Philip James. “You can learn, amongst other activities, to prune, harvest and juice.”

“At the Co op we’re proud to support local initiatives and projects,” says store manager Chris Rees. “We have three local causes every year who get 2% of money spent by members in the store on co op products, but we also can help with ad hoc projects.”

“We encourage local groups to come forward if they wish to apply for either type of funds,” says Member Pioneer Christoph Fischer. “My role in the co op is to liaise with community groups and lend them our support.”

To join or meet the Orchadeers, please call Philip on 01558 685746.

To become a member or volunteer with Friends of Llandyfeisant Church, visit their Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/280218132732204 or email info@friendsofllandyfeisantchurch.org

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Education

St. Michaels School celebrates excellent A-Level results

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St. Michael’s pupils with their A-Level results

ST. MICHAEL’S School, Llanelli, is extremely pleased to announce another year of successful A-Level results, with 80.2% of all grades awarded either an A* or A grade.

The vast majority of pupils have earned a place at their chosen university to study courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Economics.

This is the first year that traditional exams have resumed since the Covid-19 pandemic began with the majority of lessons in the first part of the A-Level being delivered online rather than in a classroom environment. This makes the results even more of an achievement considering the circumstances.

Headmaster Mr Benson Ferrari said: “We offer our sincere congratulations to our outgoing Year 13 class on the publication of their A-Level results, demonstrating that our pupils have worked so hard despite the challenges of returning to a conventional assessment approach.

“They approached the situation with resilience and dedication, which has resulted in grades that are truly representative of their ability.  I am confident that they will all go onto achieve great things at university and in their working lives.  

“We wish them the best as they move to this new and exciting stage of their education.  The preparation which St. Michael’s has provided will be built upon, along with our values and principles providing a lasting framework to tackle the challenges ahead.”

In 2020, St. Michael’s School was awarded The Sunday Times Welsh Independent School of the Decade and this was in part due to the excellent exam results that the school receives each year. 

St. Michael’s was also ranked 13th in The Times 2019 Co Ed League Table for UK Independent Schools, which was the last time that the results were published. The school hopes that this year’s results will continue to secure their place in the 2022 league table which will be published later this year.

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News

Former Debenhams building to be used to bring together key public services all under one roof

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Former Debenhams store

LOCAL public service providers are working together on an exciting new venture to take over the former Debenhams building in Carmarthen.

The Carmarthen Hwb aims to bring health, wellbeing, learning and cultural services all under one roof.

Carmarthenshire County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council have secured £19.9million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to create town centre hubs in South West Wales.

The hubs will benefit local residents, businesses, and visitors, and create a more diverse and sustainable mix of uses for Carmarthen and Pembroke town centres.

The Carmarthen Hwb will be developed in the former Debenhams building in St Catherine’s Walk, in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David alongside other service providers.

It will be the first venture of its kind in Carmarthenshire, bringing together a range of key public services under one roof providing convenience and a space for people to relax and enjoy their leisure time.

The proposals include state-of-the-art leisure, culture and exhibition space alongside health and tourist information, customer services as well as access to further and higher education delivered by the UWTSD Group, which includes Coleg Sir Gâr.

The aim is to complement what is already on offer in the town centre and to increase footfall for local businesses.

The project will receive £3.5million match funding from the council’s capital budget.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism Cllr Gareth John said: “We are delighted to be working with our public sector partners on this ground-breaking project which will bring this prime commercial space back into use to help boost the local economy and transform the town centre.

“One of the main aims of our post-pandemic economic recovery plan is to strengthen the vitality and longevity of our town centres and by delivering a new mix of services to the traditional high street, we can attract more people and help to increase footfall for neighbouring shops and businesses.

“People will be able to call in to the Carmarthen Hwb to access health and social care services, a state-of-the-art town centre gym, access to employment support and public services, as well as university facilities and lifelong learning opportunities.

“It could also provide a more central home for some of our museum collections, with exhibition space, and act as a welcome point for visitors to the town.

“It is important that we work with local businesses on this project which will add value to the products and services already on offer in the town centre to encourage more people into town, and in turn increase trade for everyone.”

Lee Davies, Executive Director of Strategic Development and Operational Planning at Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We’re excited to be working with our partners on the Carmarthen Hwb development. The new facility is an important part of our strategy for a healthier mid and west Wales, bringing health and well-being closer to home for our communities. It will provide a range of health, well-being, learning and cultural services to help people of all ages access key services all in one place.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the UWTSD Group said: “The University is delighted to be part of this exciting project. It offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with partners to revitalise our town centres by offering a mix of leisure, cultural and education opportunities to benefit residents and businesses.  The University looks forward to working with Carmarthenshire County Council on realising the vision for the Carmarthen Hwb.”

The project is complementary to a similar scheme at South Quay, in Pembroke town centre, which formed part of the bid to the Levelling Up Fund.

Both projects aim to bring health and wellbeing into the centres of the two neighbouring towns, creating an inclusive public service offer that meets changing local needs and which helps drive footfall and environmental benefit.

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