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The Herald Interview – Richie Powell

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wheelchair1FOLLOWING a motorcycle accident on June 30, 1989, at the age of 18, Richard ‘Richie’ Powell became paralysed from the chest down. He took up sports when he spent a year at the in Cardiff, as the TW3 Spinal unit had a sports club. He represented Great Britain at the 1992 Summer Paralympics in the. the men’s 100m and 200m. He has taken part in the 1994 Commonwealth Games and the 1998 IPC World Championships. He is a popular local athlete, musician and fundraiser who now lives in Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire. Richie will be representing the newly formed Llanelli First Party who aim to have a voice for people of the Llanelli area in Carmarthen’s County Hall. We began by asking Richie why he was getting involved in local politics.

He said : “It is because of the amount of work I have done over the past 25 years in disabled and able body sports. I have been to a lot of different countries and experienced a lot of cultures. I believe that I have a lot to bring to the local community. I am an ambassador for disabled sport in Wales and I am an active coach. These are just some of the skills I can bring to my work in the community.” Given that the County Council are on the brink of transferring assets like parks and playgrounds with uncertainty remaining over whether or not they will remain open at all, we asked Richie for his thoughts. He said : “I see so many cases of people trying to start up in sport and I want to help people by sharing my experiences and knowledge. Grass roots sport is where it all starts. I deal with a lot of athletes but without these youngsters coming through we would not have any elite athletes. “ The Olympic Legacy has remained in London. There isn’t much sign of it in Trimsaran. It was a great event and it opened people’s eyes to sport but there is a serious lack of facilities in this area. If you want to train in the winter you have to go to Cardiff.” Richie grew up like most children playing sport wherever he could. He says that that is no longer possible as the streets and roads are not as safe as they once were. We asked Richie what could be done to help children get involved and stay involved in sport.

He said : “ Within a year or so of the torch passing through Wales with all the celebrations and the hope we are now hearing the County Council saying that they are making cuts to sports grounds and to children’s services and services for the disabled. “ You can’t just go and kick the ball on the streets like you used too. The roads are far too dangerous. Parks are such important places for the people of Carmarthenshire. We have had support for disabled people in the U.K. Over the years but since the Conservatives came in they have wielded the axe and there is no empathy from them. “ People need to make a stand and speak out about the lack of access to public buildings, the state of the pavements and the roads even in the town centres. We need to get children back into doing something. Getting them from in front of the TV and off the Xbox and getting fit. “ There is very little representation of disabled people in Carmarthenshire County Council. I work for a company providing for disabled people and I have a wealth of knowledge about the needs of disabled people.” The Herald asked Richie what issues he would be focusing on if he were to be elected as a County Councillor for Trimsaran. He said : “I am not just focusing on disability issues.

“ I want to focus on affordable housing, tackling drug and alcohol related issues and making sure that the people of Trimsaran and Carmarthenshire get a fair share of any pot that is available for community use. “ We can’t keep asking parents to dig deep in their pockets when we see so many people in power taking the cream from the top. We don’t have the representation for the Llanelli side of Carmarthenshire. How can an executive board member who visits Llanelli once a year know anything about the needs of the people East of Carmarthen town. Richie has led a very interesting and varied life having overcome many obstacles and he is upbeat about his future and the future for Carmarthenshire. He told The Herald : “People have given me so much over the years and I just want to give something back. “ I would be a strong voice for the county and a strong voice for Trimsaran. I will be standing for County Councillor at the next election and I am beginning my campaign now. If anyone would like to contact me with any issues I am more than happy to talk with them. “ We can’t just sit around with things staying as they are for the next 5 years. Just because someone has been a County Councillor for so many years, it doesn’t mean that they should take the people for granted. “ I will be launching a very strong challenge in Trimsaran and I hope the people will back me.” Summing up his passion for representing the people of Carmarthenshire he said : “I want to represent the people of Trimsaran and the Llanelli area. I want to air their concerns and needs in County Hall as I believe they are being sold short at the moment. “ I have represented Wales in athletics at the Commonwealth Games and Great Britain in the Paralympics and I have a keen interest in all sports. “ As such I am appalled at Carmarthenshire County Council stating that they can’t afford to maintain the County’s parks, playgrounds and playing fields anymore. Theses areas are crucial for current and future generations, especially in times of austerity and the growing problem of childhood obesity. “ It is vital we keep these areas to enhance the wellbeing of our communities.”

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Business

Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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