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Fun and educational bird book released

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‘The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs’: Available from February 15

FINE FEATHER PRESS is bringing out their next bird-inspired book, ‘The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs’, which will include a number of birds from the Carmarthenshire area. 

Nostalgia for a bygone time, and a desire for 21st-century children to capture the essence of those days, is the driving force behind Fine Feather Press, a specialist natural history publishing company.

Established by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham, the business has been trading for three years. Their bestseller has been ‘The Little Book of Garden Bird Songs’, which sold out last year within three weeks, has already reprinted three times and has gained widespread acclaim from reviewers and parents alike.

Following the success of ‘The Little Book of Garden Bird Songs’, the newest release from Fine Feather Press features twelve songs from some of Britain’s best-loved feathered friends who inhabit the forests and woodlands throughout the UK.

Originally designed for young children, these sound books turn out to be popular with the whole family and especially among parents and grandparents who have fun learning with their offspring.

The solid board pages are chunky enough for the smallest of hands to manage, and include beautifully illustrated information about each featured bird.

As well as describing their habitat, feeding habits and physical appearance, there is also a little known fact about each bird – did you know that pheasants occasionally launch territorial attacks on people, animals and even cars?

What brings these books to life is the sound bar, which enables you to identify each different bird by its song.

The newest book features twelve wonderful birds; the long-tailed tit, the great spotted woodpecker, the cuckoo, the nuthatch, the willow warbler, the goldcrest, the buzzard, the jay, the woodpigeon, the coal tit, the pheasant, and the tawny owl.

Commenting on ‘The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs’, Andrea Pinnington of Fine Feather Press said: “We were delighted with the response to our first book. Chris Evans called it ‘genius’ on his BBC Radio 2 Show; parents and grandparents raved about it with comments on Amazon such as, ‘It’s the sort of book which children have to plead with the adults to let them have a look and, as of this afternoon, my granddaughter was still out in the garden trying to identify various birds and their calls. Everything about it is superb.”’

Both Andrea and Caz of Fine Feather Press have significant experience in publishing, having worked for a number of well-established publishers. Before setting up Fine Feather Press, Andrea had authored numerous children’s non-fiction books and had worked as an editor on many more. Caz’s background is in art direction and book design and, having forged a friendship while working together, the pair realised that they had the skills to set up business and produce their own titles on a subject that they are passionate about: nature.

“Both of us spent significant amounts of our childhood in the countryside during an era when you could leave the house in the morning, roam free all day and return when your stomach told you it was time to go home for tea,” says Caz.

“Very few children these days have that sort of freedom, plus the lure of virtual worlds seen via a computer and from a warm, comfy chair makes it less likely that children would want to spend lots of time outside.”

Both Andrea and Caz have teenage children, so they know, first-hand, the challenges of getting youngsters engaged with the great outdoors.

The realisation that many children are growing up without even a basic knowledge and appreciation of the natural world provides the driving force for Fine Feather Press. They’re not alone in their concern, with organisations such as the National Trust promoting the growth of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term used to describe children’s disconnection with the natural world.

“We regard what we do as having two benefits: our titles help to bring the natural world to young children in a fun and educational way, plus they provide the tools for parents to interact with their children in a way that costs little yet is extremely rewarding,” says Andrea.

Although publishing can provide challenging business models, they are encouraged by the way their work is being received.

“We could see that there was a gap in the market for good quality, highly visual, nature-based titles so we were optimistic we could make a success of the business if we went about it in the right way,” says Andrea. We have now produced 28 titles, sold over 65,000 books with many more in production, and we are rapidly being seen as the number one children’s nature publisher in the UK.

“We produce all the written, photographic and design content ourselves and juggling this with the business side can, at times, be challenging. It can seem indulgent to go for a walk on a crisp winter morning, camera in hand, rather than sit in front of our computer screens, but if we didn’t get out we’d have nothing to publish. It’s certainly a world away from the nine-to-five careers we used to have and we wouldn’t swap it for the world.”

At £12.99, ‘The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs’ is a real keepsake that will be enjoyed by children and everyone young at heart. Available from February 15, it’s suitable for children and grown-ups aged 3 and up.

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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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