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Carmarthen pork producer celebrating being shortlisted as having Wales’s best banger

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Winner of the Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021 competition will be announced in the next month

Red Valley Farm in Carmarthen is celebrating being shortlisted in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s ‘Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021’ competition, with their Wild Boar and Apple Sausages having been selected as amongst the very best bangers in Wales.

Rearing their very own wild boar, Red Valley Farm is owned and run by friends and business partners Andy and Graeme and producing quality pork products has been their passion ever since they took over the farm from Andy’s parents a few years ago.

Andy said: “My parents kept a range of animals, but as they grew older they weren’t able to manage the farm anymore so it was down to me. We actually got into specialising in pig keeping by accident, as we were gifted one boar to help clear the ground following some tree planting. Everything on this farm today has literally grown from there, from our two breeding boars Minnie and Mouse and one other pig.”

Wales is home to many small scale, artisan pork producers specialising in creating a unique, hand-reared product. Their products are often only available to buy directly from the producer or in equally small scale local independent shops, like butchers, making it a more sustainable food product and generating fewer food miles.

On being shortlisted in the competition, Graeme said: “We are genuinely really delighted to have our sausages shortlisted as amongst the best sausages in Wales this year. We came second in the Put Your Best Sausage Forward competition in 2019, so this year I’m hoping we make it to the top spot!

“We make a number of different flavoured sausages but overall our biggest selling, which happens to be an absolutely outrageous seller, is our boar and apple burgers and sausages. They have a really unique flavour – they’re certainly different to your everyday banger – and we find that people love to try something different while knowing they are also getting a top quality, traceable product.

“We feed our boars and pigs on the best produce available, including brewers’ grain from two local brewers, and this year we are becoming self-sufficient for the first time by producing our own hay for our pigs – they eat better than us sometimes!

“At the end of the day, this is our business, the pigs are our future, and that is what is securing us to Red Valley Farm and making sure that this place is still here for our kids, and hopefully even their kids.”

Also shortlisted in the Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021 competition is Cwm Farm Charcuterie in the Swansea Valley, with their Cheese and Chilli Traffic Light Sausages, and Daniel Morris Butchers in Mold and Denbigh, with their Denbigh Plum Chutney and Ginger Beer Sausages.

The winner of the Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021 competition will be announced on the brand new Porc Blasus website and social media channels in the next month, following judging by rugby player and sausage enthusiast Scott Quinnell and Hybu Cig Cymru representative Elwen Roberts.

The winner will automatically qualify for the UK and Ireland Champion of Champions Sausage competition, which will take place at the virtual Butcher Shop of the Year 2021 Awards in February 2022.

Philippa Gill, Brand Marketing Executive at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, said: “Picking a shortlist of just three sausages is always a difficult but hugely enjoyable task, and this year was no exception thanks to our fantastic Porc Blasus family of producers. We had lots of great entries to choose from, from producers from right across Wales – so a massive thank you to everyone who took part.

“We’ll be profiling the shortlisted entrants, and announcing the winner, in special films shared via our new Porc Blasus website and social media channels in the coming weeks so follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out more.”

You can buy burgers, sausages and other products directly from Andy and Graeme at Red Valley Farm via their on site shop, on the A40 between Carmarthen and St Clears near the showground, on Fridays and Saturdays 10am until 1pm. They are also in the process of setting up a website with online ordering and courier delivery.

For more information on pork produced in Wales, and where you can buy it, please visit www.porcblasus.cymru.

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Kickstart job placement scheme – changing lives and benefiting businesses

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Kornelia Charkiewicz

A YOUNG woman from Carmarthenshire who spent up to four hours a day searching for employment has spoken of her delight at finally landing a job thanks to a new Kickstart scheme.

Kornelia Charkiewicz said her life was ‘stressful and frustrating’ spending hours a day trying for jobs which amounted to nothing.

But all that changed when she was put on the Kickstart scheme, run locally by Carmarthenshire County Council on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre.

Kornelia is now enjoying her new role as an administrator for local construction firm Morganstone.

The Kickstart scheme funds job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment.

Local employers of any size can apply for funding to cover the cost of placements, training and employability support, National Insurance and pension contributions meaning the scheme is 100 per cent cost neutral to them.

Carmarthenshire County Council acts as the lead organisation for over 70 local employers.

It’s C4W+ (Communities for Work) team also works with eligible young people to help them gain work experience, write CVs and prepare them for job interviews.

“When I was fist told about Kickstart it sounded a bit too good to be true but when I was put into contact with them I honestly felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” said Kornelia.

“Life before was very stressful and frustrating. A typical day would include disappointment from the failure to get a response or interview from the day before, then spending three-four hours combing through job ads and filling out applications which would end with me getting an email back saying I was unsuccessful.

“This whole cycle lasted about a year and a half and it felt like my chances of actually getting an interview, much less a job, were nearly impossible.”

Kornelia was told about Kickstart by her local Jobcentre.

“It finally felt like someone was fighting in my corner – that help meant the world to me. Their help and encouragement never stopped, from the moment I first spoke to them to the moment I finally got my placement. They were always patient and willing to hear me out even if it was just to vent my frustrations on job hunting.”

She added: “One of the aspects which really helped was preparation for interviews – I’ve only ever had one interview so I felt a little overwhelmed, but thanks to the help of C4W+ I went on a course that was all about getting ready for employment and preparing for interviews. I was also able to do a mock interview with feedback from one of the mentors.

“This whole experience has made a massive difference to me. If not for this scheme I would most definitely still be looking for a job and feeling the negative emotions connected to it.

“Kickstart and C4W+ have really impacted my life in the best way possible and I will be forever grateful for the people I have met and the amazing opportunity I have been given.”

Kornelia’s placement employer Morganstone has also benefited from the Kickstart scheme.

Hannah Breen, Corporate Social Responsibility and Training Manager for Morganstone, said: “The future of construction lies with the generations to come but skills shortages have been a worry in the industry for many years. At Morganstone we’ve always had a passion for promoting the industry to young people and providing them with the skills and opportunities to succeed – they have so much to offer and due to the current climate many have been unable to realise their full potential, that’s why as a company we were so keen to be involved in the Kickstart scheme.

“Our Kickstart experience has been a great success already, it has allowed us to welcome great young talent into the organisation. We’d really like to thank Carmarthenshire County Council for guiding us through the Kickstart process and helping us in recruiting Kornelia – their support has been invaluable.

“Our team were so impressed with Kornelia. Right from her interview she was really enthusiastic and had a passion to succeed and make a difference. It has been great to see her grow in confidence over the past few weeks. She has fitted into the team so well and we’re excited to see how her career develops.”

Local employers and those aged 16-24 and looking for work can get information about the Kickstart scheme at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/kickstart

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Wiltshire Farm Foods Carmarthen Unites Customers with World’s First Closed Loop Recycling Scheme

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Paul Freeston, Chair & CEO, apetito UK & North America holding a week’s worth of Wiltshire Farm Foods film lids next to a week’s worth of ready meals from other suppliers.

LOCAL business Wiltshire Farm Foods Carmarthen has always pledged to make a difference to its customers, with its good old fashioned delivery service and delicious ready meals. Now, it’s making a difference to the planet with a trailblazing recycling scheme – the first of its kind in the world.

The company has introduced 100% recyclable trays, alongside a recycling collection service for its customers, which involves collecting washed, used trays directly from customers and sending them back to a specialist recycling facility in Durham.

Here, they are broken down to create brand new trays which are then redistributed to customers. It is this closed loop nature of the recycling process which makes Wiltshire Farm Foods the first company in the world to adopt the scheme on an industrial scale.

Carmarthen office supervisor, Kirsty Davies, is delighted to be rolling out this initiative to her customers across Swansea, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Fishguard:

“Not only is the scheme easy for our customers to be a part of, as they simply hand their trays back to their drivers (just like the milkman used to take away empty bottles) we have also given them peace of mind that they know exactly where their trays are going. We are hopeful that our customers will embrace this initiative, so that together we can play a crucial role in helping the environment.”

Alarmingly, 61% of UK plastic recycling is exported, according to a survey conducted by RECOUP, which means there’s uncertainty around where our plastic actually ends up. Wiltshire Farm Foods guarantees that every tray collected from its customers in Carmarthenshire and right across the UK will be recycled into new trays, so embracing a system which keeps waste and products in use, as opposed to disposing of them.

This commitment to protecting the environment has always been something of a mission for the company, especially with its packaging. It’s one of the few food companies which doesn’t use any secondary packaging such as cardboard sleeves or wrap arounds on its meals, not wanting to create excessive and needless waste. Furthermore, the boxes that meals are delivered in, are taken away by the drivers and recycled. The only thing left behind are the film lids.

Brett Barnard, Delivery Driver collecting recycled trays from customer.

Chair & CEO, apetito UK & North America, Paul Freeston, says sister company, Wiltshire Farm Foods, is focused on targeting the ‘zero-packaging’ ready meal: 

“As a food company, we’ve taken a serious approach when it comes to reducing waste with our packaging.  It’s why we’ve never used cardboard sleeves for our meals, so the only thing we leave with the customer is the film lid.  We think it’s time for other retailers to ditch the cardboard sleeve completely, so that, together, we can minimise household recycling requirements and prevent unnecessary waste. We leave just 3% of the packaging behind, compared to a weeks’ worth of ready meals from other suppliers.”

Milford Haven-based Ann Walker, 88, has been a customer for three years and applauds the new recycling scheme:

“It’s fantastic to know that I’m doing my bit to help the environment and Wiltshire Farm Foods has made it so easy for me. I can just hand the used trays back to my lovely driver, Paul, and look forward to my meals the following week, safe in the knowledge that nothing has gone to landfill.

“Paul tells me that for every 100 trays recycled we’ll be saving the equivalent of boiling water for 175 cups of tea! When he put it like that, it made me feel very proud I was doing my bit for the environment.”

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Damaged pipe found to be the cause of the Afon Lliedi disappearance

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A DAMAGED sewer pipe is now thought to have halted the flow of the Afon Lliedi in the Llanerch area of Llanelli on 16 August.

Natural Resources Wales officers have been on site continuously in shift pattern monitoring the dam and the pumps they had installed to pump water around the hole and back into the river channel downstream.

Coal Authority officers attended the incident early on Tuesday (Aug 17) morning and found that the hole was not a sinkhole as had previously been suspected.

After receiving confirmation that the site was stable, NRW officers investigated and found that a damaged pipe was at the base of the hole that was taking the water flow. After working with Welsh Water colleagues, it was confirmed that the pipe is a sewer pipe.

Ioan Williams, NRW Duty Tactical Manager for South West Wales said: “By pumping the river flow downstream and beyond the hole, our officers on site have been able to restore a good level of flow to the Lliedi. I’m very grateful to them for their quick and effective work.

“We will carry out a fish assessment of the river see if further fish have died due to a lack of water flow. We know that approximately 50 fish had died before we installed the dam and pumping equipment, and we expect that our actions have limited further damage to fish and other aquatic life in the Lliedi.

“Although unusual, a pipe such as this could well be capable of removing a large majority of river flow when the river is in low flow as was the Lliedi. Once the repair is in place, we will monitor water levels in the river.”

Discussions are ongoing between NRW, Welsh Water and Carmarthenshire County Council on the best way to repair and protect the damaged pipe and on when the closed bridge can be reopened. Once repaired, the dam and pumping equipment will be dismantled which will allow the natural flow of the river to resume.

The pumps and lights are expected to be operating overnight and are due to be removed on Wednesday 18 August.

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