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St John Lloyd teams win debating contest

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Enjoying the event: The audience at the debate

Enjoying the event: The audience at the debate

SHOULD Britain accept migrants from Syria? Is there a place for school uniform in 21st Century education? Should the voting age be lowered to 16?

These were among the topics debated in the annual Llanelli Rotary Club Youth Speaks competition held at Llanelli Town Hall.

“The competitors were wonderful ambassadors for their schools and parents,” the chairman of the judging panel Lt Colonel David Mathias said.

“The quality of the arguments presented was outstanding. The pupils had prepared well, done their research and did well coping with the demands of speaking in a public arena.

“It was also very impressive to see the way the children handled the questions on their chosen topics. It’s not easy thinking on your feet and they did that admirably.”

The competition saw the teams from St John Lloyd School in Llanelli win both the senior and intermediate categories.

Both teams will now progress to the next round of the Rotary competition – an area final against Bishop Gore School in Swansea. The winners have the opportunity of progressing all the way to national UK finals.

The competition attracted entries from Glanymor, Ysgol y Strade, St John Lloyd, Coedcae and Brynwgyn schools.

Lt Col Mathias said: “As we have come to expect on an annual basis, the standard in the competition was exceptionally high and the competitors made the judging task a very difficult one.”

Llanelli Rotary Club president Susan Roberts explained that the Youth Speaks event offered an opportunity for Llanelli pupils to gain experience of speaking on a public platform.

She said: “It allows young people to form ideas on significant subjects and learn high standards of expression, presentation and appearance. It also gives pupils the experience of accepting impartial assessments and constructive criticism.”

The competition was run to a national Rotary format which included a question from the floor. The main speaker for each team faced the daunting task of fielding an unrehearsed question from Rotarian Past President JC Williams MBE.

Results:

Best Intermediate Team: St John Lloyd (who debated ‘is there a place for school uniform in 21st century education?’). Team members – Chair Sam Hartnoll, Speaker Rosie Bayliss, Vote of thanks proposer Mickey Williams.

Best Chair: Millie Senchal, Coedcae.

Best Speaker: Brooke James, Bryngwyn.

Best Proposer of Vote of Thanks: Sioned Williams, Ysgol y Strade.

Best Senior Team: St John Lloyd (who debated ‘Should Britain accept migrants from Syria?’). Team members – Chair Grace Francis, Speaker JosephToft, Vote of thanks proposer Hannah Short.

Best Chair: Grace Francis, St John Lloyd.

Best Speaker: Joseph Toft, St John Lloyd.

Best Proposer of Vote of Thanks: Vincent Howells, Ysgol y Strade.

The judging panel was: Lt Colonel David Mathias DL (chair), Ann Carlton, Pembrey-based journalist and former Government Opposition political advisor, and the Rev Howard Jones, former teacher and ordained chaplain and one of the stars of Llanelli’s Phoenix Theatre group.

The MC for the evening was Rotarian Past President Robert Lloyd and the timekeeper was Llanelli Rotary President Elect Mark Evans.

The event was organised by a team led by Rotarian Dr Kevin Jones. Prizes were handed out by Llanelli Rotary Club President Susan Roberts.

Llanelli Rotary organises many youth competitions, including Youth Speaks, Young Chef, Young Musician, Young Citizen, Young Photographer and Young Writer.

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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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