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There is a brand new visitor attraction in cool Carmarthenshire

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IN a dreamy, wooded valley with water all around, there’s a very special experience waiting to be discovered.

Paid for with the fruits of a remarkable fundraising effort, the Regency Restoration project is the largest piece of work undertaken by the National Botanic Garden of Wales since it opened in May 2000.

More than 200 years ago, it was one of the UK’s finest waterparks. It has taken five years and more than £7 million. It’s seen the restoration of a 1.5km lake, a waterfall and a cascade; a new 350-metre-long dam built, six new bridges. . . but now it’s restored and ready for all to see.

Fancy a walk? There are miles of perfect paths that take in all of the amazing features.

Love wildlife? Come and luxuriate in nature’s bounty, where kingfishers, brimstone butterflies, otters and wild trout thrive.

Looking for the perfect family day out? Here’s a place for adventure. To explore. Look under rocks, turn back the clocks and play at being children once more where there is freedom and space and beauty into which you can be loosed on a wondrous journey of discovery and delight. For children of all ages.

This is just part of what’s on offer at the national garden, of course.

The Botanic Garden is also now home the British Bird of Prey Centre – a unique collection of raptors and the only place in the UK you can see a golden eagle and a European sea eagle fly, with stunning flying displays every day. It provides awesome encounters with remarkable creatures and a guaranteed, never-to-be-forgotten, up-close-and-personal experiences with owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, kestrels and red kites.

The Botanic Garden’s centrepiece is the awesome glass dome that is Lord Foster’s Great Glasshouse, home to one of the finest collections of Mediterranean climate-zone plants in the world.

Cardiff-based writer and broadcaster Charles Williams said of this amazing building: “The world’s biggest single-span glasshouse looks like an alien mothership has crash-landed into the middle of some rural idyll (but in a good way).”

All around the Great Glasshouse you will find plenty of paths to take and around every corner is something to savour, enjoy and marvel at.

Why not take a tranquil lakeside walk?

A little further and you will find the ambitious Arboretum, where we are growing trees and shrubs from around the world with wild collected seed – planted for the future and growing fast.

Further still and you are on the wider estate where specially planned out and clearly-marked routes will transport you to new and amazing revelations – wild waxcap meadows where brightly coloured red, green and yellow fungi nestle like improbable gems in the tufty grass of the sheep-chewed pasture; and where the trees and hedgerows throng with whitethroats and flycatchers.

Not far from here, our carefully managed hay meadows reveal a treasury of orchids and other almost forgotten, stunning countryside wildflowers like ragged robin, yellow rattle, knapweed, greater burnet, eyebright and an abundance of orchids.

Make sure you include in your itinerary the unique and historic Double-Walled Garden, a steamy Tropical House, the busy Bee Garden, our Welsh heritage orchard and a newly-planted grove of more than 100 cherry trees.

For more information about the Botanic Garden, please visit our website.

If you want admission or booking info, contact our Admissions team on 01558 667149 or via gatehouse@gardenofwales.org.uk

For more details about the British Bird of Prey Centre, please take a look at their website

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South West Wales enters a state of Drought as dry weather continues

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FOLLOWING the extended period of dry weather, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that the trigger thresholds have been met to move South West Wales into drought status from Friday, August 19.

NRW’s decision to move from prolonged dry weather status to drought for the area was agreed and shared with a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Drought Liaison Group and after consideration of the exacerbated pressures the high temperatures and lack of significant rainfall have had on the environment in this area.

The rest of Wales remains in prolonged dry weather status but concerns still remain. While essential supplies of water remain safe, the public and businesses in drought affected areas should be very mindful of the pressures on water resources and should use water wisely.  NRW continues to closely monitor the situation across Wales, working with partners and will take action as required.  

Natalie Hall, Sustainable Water Manager for NRW, said: “Prolonged dry weather can lead to drought when rainfall remains low. This can impact some of our most precious habitats and species as well as systems we often take for granted, such as our water supplies.

“We have decided to declare a state of drought in South West Wales after it was clear the lack of rain and recent heat have put a huge strain on our rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.“

The areas affected are:

  • North Ceredigion (Rheidol, Aeron, Ystwyth)
  • Teifi
  • Pembrokeshire (Eastern and Western Cleddau)
  • Carmarthen (Tywi and Taf)
  • Swansea and Llanelli (Tawe and Loughor)
  • Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend (Neath, Afan, Ogmore)

South West Wales received just 65.5% of its average rainfall in July and all river levels in the area are lower than expected for this time of the year, with the Ewenny, Teifi and Taf exceptionally low.

Low groundwater levels coupled with record high temperatures, have also put a strain on the region’s ecosystems as well as public water supplies in Pembrokeshire and parts of Carmarthenshire.

The rest of the country continues to experience a period of prolonged dry weather, despite there being some recent rainfall.

Across the rest of Wales, the majority of rivers across Wales are lower than expected for the time of year, with many exceptionally low including the Alyn, Conwy, Clwyd, Taf, Teifi, Ewenny, Wye, Usk and Ebbw. 

Between March and July Wales received just 61% of its expected rainfall resulting in the driest five-month period in 40 years

NRW is advising the residents of Pembrokeshire to follow water conservation advice given by Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water, who have introduced a temporary use ban,  more commonly known as a hosepipe ban, which will also come into effect today (Friday 19 August).

NRW and Welsh Government (WG) also attend the national drought group for England to address any cross-border concerns.

Natalie added: “While certain parts of Wales may be experiencing rain, it can still take a long time to recover from drought, making water a precious resource.

“We’re urging the public to save water where possible; you can find the latest ad advice on water by visiting your water company’s website or Waterwise (www.waterwise.org.uk).

“Please report any incidents on the current dry weather on our 24-hour hotline on 0300 065 3000.”

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Llandeilo Youth Club Thrown a Lifeline 

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“A SUBSTANTIAL private donation has dramatically changed our position,” says Llandeilo Children and Youth Society chair Christoph Fischer. “The promise of £10,000 over a period of one year has changed the way we can run the club dramatically.”

The society has had a struggle over the last two years. Set up in response to minor vandalism in Llandeilo during the pandemic, the committee secured a large number of volunteers, support from the Wales Sports Association, CWWYS and secured a grant from the Fund for Wales – BIG scheme. 

Yet, further lockdowns delayed the projects, volunteers returned to work or moved away and buildings that were earmarked as locations for the club were demolished or sold.

“We found the most benevolent support from the Civic Hall where we will share space with the Box of Fists club,” explains Fischer.

“We can now look for a youth worker to run our sessions on Monday and Thursday afternoons,” says the society’s secretary Richard Lashley. “We’re looking for applicants as well as for a suitable partner organisation to take on the administrative sign of this.”

“This money couldn’t have come at a more perfect time,” says treasurer John Meredith Williams. “We almost completed the required training and bureaucratic procedures.”

“It is time there’s something new going on in town for kids,” says Fischer, “and we can’t wait to finally get started.”

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Carmarthenshire students celebrate A Level and A.S. results

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council wishes to congratulate all of the county’s students that are receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today, Thursday 18th August 2022.

Whilst this year has seen a return to exam-based results, following two years of assessment-based grading during the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have still had to contend with the ongoing impact of the last 2 years.

A total of 98.6% of A Level students in Carmarthenshire achieved A*-E, which is higher than the 97.3% in 2019 when exams were last sat.

Across Carmarthenshire, a total of 40.1% of A level students have received A or A* this year, which is vastly higher than the 24.9% when exams were last sat in 2019.

After 2 years without examinations, students at AS Level also had the opportunity this year to show what knowledge they had learned and skills they had developed, through a combination of exams and assessments, applicable to different courses. 91.8 % of AS students in Carmarthenshire achieved A-E grades which, again, is higher than in 2019.

Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said: “Congratulations to every single student receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today. These young people and their teachers have worked extremely hard, within the uncertain climate that exists due to the pandemic, and they should be very proud, as am I, of their fantastic achievements.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the students, teachers and support staff of Carmarthenshire as well as their families for their hard work over the last two years.”

In a joint statement, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters and Director of Education and Children’s Services, Gareth Morgans added: “Congratulations to our A-Level and A.S. students for their, well deserved, excellent results. The last two years have been very challenging for students, teachers, support staff, families and friends and we are grateful to everyone for their commitment and support to each other during this period.

“These young people are a credit to their schools and our county, and we wish them every success for the future.”

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