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Horse and owner whose lives have been changed by brain tumours take on marathon trot to help find a cure

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A WOMAN from Monmouthshire and her beloved horse are taking on a marathon challenge for a charity helping to find a cure for brain tumours after BOTH their lives were changed forever by the disease.

Shire sports horse Bertie who, at just three years old is already 17 hands tall, was taken in by Rose McRae Equine Services in Monmouthshire and is now on permanent loan with Jenny Jones, 57, from Usk, after his owner died from a brain tumour. 

Jenny’s son Calum was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 after suffering from headaches. Now the pair are stepping out to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research by taking part in its Jog 26.2 Miles in May Challenge.

Calum was 19 when he was diagnosed with a grade 1 glioma in January 2013 whilst studying motor mechanics at Brecon Beacons College. Doctors initially thought he was suffering from migraines. Calum, who is now 28, was referred to Evans and Jones opticians in Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Wales, after he began to suffer visual disturbances. 

The optometrist sent him to A&E at Hereford County Hospital after noticing his optic discs were full of fluid which was a result of intracranial pressure.

Mum-of-two, Jenny, who has worked in nursing for 39 years said: “Being in the healthcare profession helped me understand Calum’s diagnosis but it didn’t make it any easier to accept. It’s a tricky balance trying to remain his mum, but also knowing the medical side of things too.”

Following a lumbar puncture and CT scan, which came back clear, Calum’s condition worsened and a second opinion saw him referred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where an MRI scan revealed the devastating news of a mass on Calum’s brain.

He had a second operation to save his eyesight and relieve the build-up of pressure on his brain, however due to its location, the tumour itself is inoperable.

Calum has since completed his motor mechanic course and is nearing the end of his first year studying engineering at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Technium (UWTSD) in Swansea.

Jenny said: “Following his diagnosis, Calum suffered from low mood and on his 25th birthday he had three grand mal seizures. From that point, something in him changed and he decided to go back to college; his outlook became much more positive.”

Calum now has three-yearly MRI scans to monitor the tumour and his last scan in October showed it is stable.

Jenny said: “I know that Calum’s tumour can change and become more aggressive, it’s something we live with every day. I want this disease to be gone.”

Jenny, who has been a horse owner for 46 years, has clocked up eight miles already through a combination of riding and in-hand, taking to the lanes of Gwehelog with young Bertie, who despite his young age is already 17 hands high, to raise awareness and fundraise to help fund the fight and find a cure for brain tumours.

She added: “I’ve now got Bertie on permanent loan and I have since found out that his owner died from a brain tumour – doing the challenge with him feels even more special now.

“Until March Bertie was feral. He’s come on so far since then and the plan is to jog up the hills and trot down them. I’m excited for the challenge and really hope that together, Bertie and I can help other families who may be living with their own diagnosis.”

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “Calum’s story is a stark reminder of how indiscriminate brain tumours are, affecting anyone at any age, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. We’re determined to change this and are so grateful for the support of people like Jenny whose fundraising efforts enable us to continue funding vital research and to, ultimately, find a cure.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. 

The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

You can donate to Jenny’s fundraiser by visiting this link:  www.facebook.com/donate/674470717190224

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Driver jailed for head-on crash that caused life-changing injuries

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A DRIVER who caused a head-on collision with a car being driven by a pregnant woman told police officers at the scene he had drunk 13 cans of strong lager the night before.

Rhodri Rees, aged 36, of Llandysul, admitted his drinking had gone into the early hours before he got behind the wheel and caused the crash on the A476 in Llannon, near Llanelli, by overtaking another car on a bend at around 7.40am on December 11, 2020.

The severe impact meant both drivers were trapped in their cars and had to be cut free by firefighters.

Thankfully the baby was unharmed in the collision, however, its mother suffered serious, life-changing injuries. She had a number of operations to repair the damage and was unable to walk for a year and still suffers the effects of the accident today.

Dyfed-Powys Police Sgt Nicholas Brookes said “When Rees was spoken to by our officers at the scene he told them he had drunk 13 cans of Stella Artois and that he had gone to bed after midnight.

“He failed a breath test at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving before being allowed to go to hospital for treatment.”

The following day he was interviewed at Carmarthen Police Station where he told officers he had consumed eight or nine cans of Foster’s before going to bed around 2am, before getting up at around 6.45am and setting off.

A sample of blood was taken just before 1pm on December 11 showed Rees had 39mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – the legal limit being 80.  A blood alcohol expert had calculated that at the time of the collision the level of alcohol would have been no less than 113mg and more likely 129mg.

PS Brookes added: “This was a serious case that could have been so much worse.

“Rees admitted drinking a considerable amount of alcohol and getting little sleep before getting behind the wheel. He was lucky no-one was killed.

“I would like to commend the officer in the case, PC Benjamin Stevenson, who conducted a thorough and meticulous investigation for the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”

On Tuesday, 17th May, Rees appeared before Swansea Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, and was sentenced to 18-months in prison.

He was also disqualified from driving for three years and 9 months, with a requirement for an extended test to regain his licence.

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No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials

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THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.

The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.

The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.

There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.

Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”

“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”

The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.

It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.

Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.

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New city of Wrexham gets big thumbs up from business leaders

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BUSINESS leaders have given a big thumbs up to news that Wrexham has been granted city status following a competition to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Wrexham Business Professionals have campaigned for more than a decade to help secure city status and say they are “cock-a-hoop” that the bid was successful, having previously failed last time around in 2012.

According to the group, made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and the enterprise and expertise in the region, becoming a city is a “fantastic once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Wrexham joins seven other winners from across Britain and the overseas territories – including Bangor in Northern Ireland, Stanley in the Falklands, and Colchester in England.

Pictured Ian Edwards, of Allington Hughes Solicitors,

The competition for city status has taken place in each of the last three jubilee years, with previous winners including Newport, which became a city in 2002.

Ian Edwards, a senior member of Wrexham Business Professionals and a director of Allington Hughes, said: “We have supported the idea of Wrexham becoming a city for many years. As far as we are concerned, this is a no-brainer and is one of the best things to have happened to Wrexham for a long time

“Even before the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic we’ve always thought that being a city would give Wrexham a lot of kudos and would provide a massive economic benefit for the whole of North Wales.

“During the pandemic some business in Wrexham have done well but others – notably in leisure, tourism and hospitality – have really suffered and we really have to get back on our feet economically.

“It’s not just about putting Wrexham on the map – being a city will provide an effective lever in attracting inward investment and new jobs which will help the whole area thrive and prosper.

“The benefits of city status transform the fortunes of the town and provide a better future for the people who live here.

“It feels like the stars have now aligned perfectly and that the time is now right to do our best to seize this opportunity.

“The fact that Wrexham AFC has been bought by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney helped add bit of magic and stardust to the bid.

“A lot of people across the world hadn’t heard of Wrexham before and now other Hollywood stars are embracing the story and putting on the club’s shirt.

“We’ve never had such a high profile – not just nationally but internationally.

“You really couldn’t script it better. There’s never going to be a better time to become Wales’s seventh city.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the group’s chair, chartered accountant Gill Kreft, co-owner of the Pendine Park care organisation.

She said: “City status will give Wrexham a huge fillip and provide the recognition it deserves as the commercial capital of North Wales.

“City status will undoubtedly help attract more inward investment and funding into the town and the surrounding area.

“It will also give us an enhanced reputation and status as well and raise awareness of what a great place this is and what a lot it has to offer. Wrexham has a lot going for it.

“It will be a massive boost for us and for North Wales and give the town more confidence about itself.

“Hopefully, we can now go for a hat-trick with Wrexham AFC finally winning promotion and being crowned as City of Culture 2025. Fingers crossed!”

Captions

Gill Kreft, chair of Wrexham Business Professionals

Ian Edwards., leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals

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