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Rowing challenge for Millenium Centre Anniversary

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Maggy Clarke: ‘Its going to be tough’

Maggy Clarke: ‘Its going to be tough’

AN INTREPID team of oarsmen (and women) will be rowing arund the west coast of Wales over the coming fortnight, as part of a programme of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of Wales’ Millenium Centre.

Among the rowers will be 71-year-old Maggy Clarke from Porthmadog. She will be aiming to complete the first five legs of the ‘Cob to Cardiff’ challenge – a 230 mile row in a Celtic longboat from Porthmadog to Cardiff Bay.

The sea journey will form part of an array of celebrations for the Millenium Centre’s Ar Waith Ar Daith event, planned by world-renowned outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank.

The Porthmadog boat will stop over in Aberdyfi, New Quay, Fishguard, Whitesands Bay, Dale, Tenby, Mumbles, Porthcawl, and Barry before arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September, accompanied by a flotilla of Celtic longboats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast.

Setting out on 2 September, Ms Clarke, along with a 20 strong rowing team from Madoc Yacht Club Rowing Porthmadog, will attempt the club’s most ambitious challenge to date. On board their Celtic longboat, they’ll also be carrying an engraved slate plaque – as a gift to Wales Millennium Centre – brought down from Llechwedd Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog, by zip wire, mountain bike and finally the Ffestiniog railway, mirroring the journey taken by the piece of slate that formed the foundation stone for the Wales Millennium Centre, put in place by opera star Bryn Terfel. In Porthmadog the engraved plaque will be met by local MP Liz Saville Roberts, who will pass the plaque on to Maggy and the team in their Celtic longboat, ready to be rowed down to Cardiff.

Working in relays, the Porthmadog boat will be averaging around 20 – 30 miles of arduous rowing per day to complete the journey down the west coast of Wales to Cardiff Bay, facing the challenges of unfamiliar waters, unpredictable weather and high seas. As they progress on their journey, they will be joined by around 25 boats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast, arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September to take part in Wales Millennium Centre’s breath-taking 10th Anniversary outdoor spectacular, the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event.

Maggy Clarke said: “It’s going to be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s wonderful that the Celtic longboats get to play a part in the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale and it will be a beautiful sight to see so many of them rowing into Cardiff Bay together.”

Co-organiser of the Cob to Cardiff Challenge, Richard Aherne from Madoc Yaught Club rowing Porthmadog said: “We’ve crossed the Irish Sea in the Celtic Challenge, rowed a marathon up the Thames in London’s Great River Race, and we regularly race at clubs along the coast, but this will be a spectacular challenge of endurance and determination in potentially tough conditions, a marathon every day, and the club is looking forward to rising to this exciting challenge.”

“We were inspired by watching Celtic longboats racing off Aberdyfi, echoing the race to get a pilot out to sailing ships to help them navigate into port” said John Wassell, Producer for Walk the Plank and originally a boatbuilder himself. “Realising that many ports and harbours around the coast of Wales are connected by a network of rowing clubs, we contacted the Welsh Sea Rowing Association, and we were delighted when 15 clubs responded. The Porthmadog boat is making the longest voyage: 230 miles through some treacherous waters…a tough challenge in a rowing boat! “

The flotilla of Celtic longboats will form a striking part of the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event, in Cardiff Bay on 12 September. Taking place on an immense scale, with over 700 participants from across Wales, this unforgettable event will celebrate Wales’ rich cultural heritage and history with a breathtaking display of procession, dance, aerial artistry, projection, storytelling, music and pyrotechnics.

“More than 150 rowers will accompany the Riches of the Sea procession into the Roald Dahl Plas, and at the end of the event, the boats will set off back across the Bay, a flame blazing in each boat, symbolising the return of the fires of creative inspiration which nourish the Wales Millennium Centre to their communities “ added Liz Pugh, Artistic Director.

Danielle Milliner from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association commented: “When John Wassell of Walk the Plank and Wales Millennium Centre first approached the Welsh Sea Rowing Association with the idea that they wanted our Celtic longboat rowers to form part of the Wales Millennium Centre 10th Anniversary celebration event we were delighted. I am really pleased that so many of our clubs will be taking part in this event and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all in the WSRA that we are proud of ‘MYC rowing Porthmadog’ for taking on such an arduous challenge of rowing all the way to Cardiff. We are all excited and looking forward to forming part of the grand finale procession of Ar Waith Ar Daith at Cardiff Bay. This sensational sea spectacle will surely be a memorable event for all our sea rowing community and we thank you for inviting us.

Towy rowing club will be involved in the finale of the event, which will be shown live on S4C. Rowing coach Nicola Thomas told The Herald that it would be a fantastic display:

“There are two boats going up from the club – our junior rowers, who won the Welsh Championships, and our lady rowers in another boat,” she said.

“We’re meeting just outside Cardiff, for three days of rehearsals. All the boats will be rowing into the festival, coming together in a choreographed display.”

The Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event will take place in Roald Dahl Plas on Saturday 12 September at 7.30pm. Audiences are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage position to watch the show, and to dress appropriately for an outdoor show. The event is free to attend and suitable for all ages.

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Environment hero helps to keep Carmarthenshire clean

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A young volunteer has been praised by Carmarthenshire County Council for his environmental work in the Whitland area. 

10-year-old Leon litter picks his local area every day, helping to keep the area clean and tidy. As a reward for his fantastic work Leon was invited on a behind the scenes tour of Nantycaws recycling centre and Canolfan Eto.

During the visit, Leon saw the different processes that Carmarthenshire’s household recycling goes through as well as seeing the transformation of items at Canolfan Eto re-use project.

Cllr Edward Thomas, Cabinet Member for Transport, Waste and Infrastructure Services said: “Leon has done a wonderful job in helping to keep Whitland clean and tidy and I’m delighted that we were able to recognise his efforts with a visit to Nantycaws.

“Carmarthenshire is very lucky to have an excellent group of volunteers who are a real asset to the community, giving up their precious time to help keep Carmarthenshire clean. Thank you to everyone who dedicates their time to helping us.” 

Businesses can also support their local environment by becoming a custodian of a ‘2 minute clean’ board. These A-frame boards are equipped with everything needed to clean the area including litter pickers and bags.

For information on becoming a 2 minute clean board custodian or to organise a litter pick please e-mail prideinyourpatch@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

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‘People are booking the test when they’re not ready, and the pass rate is actually declining’

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THE CEO of one of the UK’s biggest driving schools has revealed that learner drivers are still facing massive driving test delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to GB News presenters Esther Vey and Philip Davies, Seb Goldin said: “It depends where you are in the country, but the backlog is really not being got through at any rate from Covid. We’re hearing six, seven, eight and nine months now.

“It’s made worse because people are just trying to book a test when they’re perhaps not even test ready. And then the pass rate is actually declining at the moment, so then tests are just not available for those who would be ready, which is exacerbating the problem.

“We’d say take your lessons, book the test but only when your instructor tells you that you’re test ready.”

Discussing the possible introduction of self driving cars on UK roads and into driving lessons, Goldin explained: “I think with all technology, where there’s such a step-change from human behaviour to machine behaviour, if we could flick a switch overnight and say everyone’s driving autonomous cars then it would be a very easy segway and move on through. But when you’re gonna have human behaviour on the road with semi or fully autonomous cars, that’s where the challenge is gonna be. We expect to be very busy for the next few years at least.”

He added: “Your car even now compared to what you had ten years ago has so much more technology. One of the challenges that we think is that people are not given instruction or coaching in what a car can do and what it can’t do.

“So for example, if you got a new car with cruise control with a radar at the front which manages the distance which is fine if you get used to it. But if you get a bit of road grime on the front of the car it packs up and then suddenly you have to drive normally again, and if you’re not ready for it or not used to it it can be a challenge. So we’re really excited about integrating technology into driving lessons and we’re working with the government and DVSA to help improve and change the curriculum as technology comes through.”

Whilst self driving cars are not fully on the roads, Goldin explained a driver would still be needed behind the wheel: “There are various steps of autonomy. So at the moment, we have cars on what we call Level 1 and Level 2. What the government is taking about is Level 3, where the car can actually be fully in control of the vehicle without the driver needing to have hands on the wheel or control.

“An analogy is if you think of pilots in big ships or aeroplanes, they still have to be trained in how to manually control them if the technology fails. It’s exactly the same with driving.

“All technology that we work with, trust has to grow and we need to understand what it does, and there’s very much back to the point of teaching people and coaching people to drive. Even when people have passed the driving test, you’re not necessarily a ‘safe driver’ you’ve just passed the driving test. So there’s very much a coaching and a learning role as technology comes on.

“When you get a new car from a car dealer, a lot of them are very good at selling you on the finance but perhaps not so much on what the car can do and more importantly, what it can’t do.”

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Communities for Work Plus is on hand to assist with disability support

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CONGRATULATIONS to Tina Evans who has recently joined the BBC Wales presenting team and is currently covering the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In preparation for starting her new job, Tina sought the services of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Communities for Work Plus programme to help overcome multiple barriers such as access to work and communicating with social services.

Tina, who is from Pontyberem originally, faces numerous challenges, due to long-term health conditions and disabilities, and requires a lot of support in relation to mobility and everyday care, as she is a wheelchair user.

Writing ahead of starting her new role with the BBC, Tina said “I had been offered work with BBC Wales, as part of the presenting team, and needed to sort out support during my role. As I was tight against time, I accessed the Communities for Work Plus hub in Carmarthen with the hope to speed things up. This was the best decision I made. After speaking with their team, I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I, now, wasn’t sorting things alone.

“I would especially like to thank Desiree from the Communities for Work Plus team. She supported me through telephone calls with access to work and social services and liaised with them to make sure we met the deadlines required. There were a few barriers to overcome along the way, but with Desiree’s support and determination, we hurdled over them. I must admit, her support was invaluable in gaining access to work and without it, I would have given up.

“I can now look forward with excitement for this opportunity, knowing that I have the support I need.”

Desiree De Mouilpied, Community Employment Officer/Disability Specialist said “It’s been a privilege to assist Tina with her journey to accessing work. Her character and determination, to pursue her dreams and overcome complex barriers into employment, have been inspiring. We all wish her the best of luck in her new job.”

Communities for Work Plus provides the infrastructure to support the ongoing delivery of Communities for Work. The programme enhances the employment-focused support for those, often with complex barriers, who are furthest from the labour market into training and future employment with a holistic and person-centred approach.

Carmarthenshire County Council coordinate employment support from its Llanelli Hwb and office, which are based in the middle of Llanelli Town Centre.

For further information about the Communities For Work Plus programme, please visit https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/jobs-careers/help-to-find-a-job/ or email c4wplus@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or phone 01554 784847.

Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “We’re delighted for Tina and proud of her success in gaining employment with BBC Wales.

“I would urge people in our county, who are looking to get into work, to take advantage of the support that Carmarthenshire County Council can give to you. Our employment support teams can help you identify training opportunities, provide you with a personal mentor, work with you to develop a job action plan, help you to build your confidence and help with writing a CV and completing job applications.

We want to support more people, like Tina, to overcome barriers to get into work.”

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