SOUTH WEST WALES was well-represented at a St David’s Day reception in Downing Street this week.
A celebration of Welsh culture, food, wine and of course people took place at No10 for a special reception to mark St David’s Day and to celebrate the huge contribution Wales makes to the UK and the world.
Representatives from business, the arts, the UK Armed Forces and sports world all attended the event, which had a particular focus on community heroes and inspirational charity fundraisers.
Guests included Llanelli couple Sherilyn and Anthony Hamilton- Shaw, who were given a Welsh Point of Light Award for their work in founding Cariad, a charity which has led communities to install over 200 defibrillators across Wales.
They work in partnership with the Mid and West Fire & Rescue Service and Welsh Ambulance Service, and lead a team of 15 other volunteers to speak to communities and schools about the importance of defibrillators.
Other inspirational Welsh Point of Light winners at the No10 event included: Lara Stevens from Dinas Powys who the PM presented with a Point of Light Award – which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
Lara, who had cancer as a child, was inspired by a talk from the Teenage Cancer Trust and has raised over £85,000 for the charity, as well as setting up a local youth committee to inspire others to raise money. In its first year Lara led the group to raise £40,000.
Other prominent Welsh guests included the actor Griff Rhys-Jones and the actress and singer Connie Fisher.
The reception showcased the great Welsh culture and industry, with a menu comprising of local dishes and products including a selection of cheeses from a cooperative of 20 organic farms in Pembrokeshire. Local food producers represented at the reception included Tan y Castell, Calon Wen and Nomnom,
Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister said: “There has never been a better time to celebrate St. David’s Day. There are so many great things about Wales we can be proud of this year. Wales is gaining an international reputation for innovation, manufacturing and research.
The Rough Guides have put Wales in their top 10 countries to visit in the world. And, in the past couple of years, Wales has produced world champions and gold medallists in cycling, swimming, gymnastics, boxing and taekwondo as well as hosting major events, like the Ryder Cup, Rugby World Cup and Ashes Test cricket.
“What better way to celebrate this day than with some amazing Welsh heroes such as the winners of the Points of Light Awards who have joined us along with people who have done extraordinary things in their communities and professions.
“So today we celebrate St David, we celebrate all that’s great about Wales, their historic past, influential present and the continued success of Wales’s future”.
Speaking before the event, Sherilyn and Anthony said: “We are extremely honoured to be invited to No.10 to celebrate St David’s Day with David Cameron and such inspirational and wonderful people.
Never did we dream that something so life-changing for ourselves would go on and grow to touch so many, many others by putting defibrillators into public places, training the public how to use them and ensuring they are continually maintained.
We are very humbled to have been recognised in this way, we are extremely passionate about our cause and will continue to bring awareness surrounding cardiac arrest. Also, seeing as it’s our Patron Saint’s day, maybe I can teach Mr Cameron a bit of our national anthem!”
Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule
“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”
A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”
“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”
“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”
Carmarthenshire County Council has launched its annual Christmas Toybox Appeal
The appeal, in its 12th year, helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy toys or gifts.
Last year saw us help more families than ever who were struggling financially with more than 7,700 gifts distributed to 1,287 children. This year during these unprecedented times we rely on support more than ever.
The appeal was launched online for the first time in 2020 following the coronavirus pandemic and people were asked to make a financial donation instead of buying gifts and toys.
This year people can either give a financial donation or drop off gifts from games, arts and craft items to toiletry gift sets for all ages – from 18 months up to teenagers, at one of a number of collection points around the county.
Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support and council staff will distribute them in the run-up to Christmas.
The council’s executive board member responsible for the Toybox Appeal, Cllr Linda Evans said:
“I am proud to be following on from the legacy of Cllr Mair Stephens who sadly passed away earlier this year. The Toybox appeal this year is going to be more important than ever. We have always had fantastic support and this year we hope this will continue to ensure that hundreds of children will receive a Christmas gift. We know times are hard, but if people are able to spare a gift or a donation no matter how big or small, it will make a great difference to those families less fortunate.”
You can make a donation of your choice online at the Christmas Toy Box Appeal website. If you have a cash or cheque donation please call 01267 246504.
To view the collection point locations please visit the council’s website
Donations are being taken up until November 30.
Council responds at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning Service
Audit Wales has carried out a Follow-up Review of Planning Services by Carmarthenshire County Council and concluded that the council has successfully addressed all its recommendations.
In July 2021, Audit Wales published a report following a review of the council’s planning services, with its findings identifying significant and long-standing performance issues in the planning service that needed to be urgently addressed to help support the delivery of the council’s ambitions.
A total of 17 recommendations were made by Audit Wales for the council to address. All of which the report has confirmed have been met.
In response to the recommendations of the report, Carmarthenshire County Council convened an Intervention Board to provide oversight of a 49 point action plan to respond to the Audit Wales findings that were published in July 2021. Over the past 15 months, progress against the plan has been monitored through the council’s governance framework to provide assurance of progress made against the recommendations.
Audit Wales has been following the council’s progress through regular catch-up meetings with the council, document reviews and observing governance and audit committee meetings. They have also interviewed key council officers during the audit process.
Within the follow up-review, which can be viewed on their website, Audit Wales states that:
“The Council is to be commended for the swift, decisive action it took in response to the findings of our 2021 report, and for the way it has driven improvements in its planning service.
“The constructive way in which the Council received our report and acted on the recommendations is a particularly positive example of a Council demonstrating its commitment to driving improvement in service delivery.
“The Council has learnt lessons from the review that it has also applied more widely, particularly in relation to performance management.
“Overall, we found that the Council has successfully addressed all our recommendations and has responded at pace to deliver significant improvements in its planning service.”
Cabinet member for rural affairs and planning policy, Cllr Ann Davies said:
“I am very pleased with the Audit Wales report which states that Carmarthenshire County Council has succeeded in overcoming challenges within our planning department.
“The report is excellent, it praises the work and the change in systems, procedures and leadership, recognising the significant improvement that has been achieved.
“The issues in question were not due to a lack of work ethic, as I know first-hand of the effort and commitment that is put in by a number of our officers. It was rather the processes which were to blame and needed to be adjusted, as it did not provide officers with the appropriate environment to carry out the work required.
“I would like to thank all council officers that have worked so hard since the Spring of 2021 to achieve the goal of meeting all 17 of the recommendations that were initially set out by Audit Wales.
“The next step, of course, is to keep going, keep moving forward to stay at the forefront as one of the most productive planning authorities in Wales. There is further work to be done and we are committed to continuous improvement, especially in the world of enforcement but we are moving in the right direction with over 1000 enforcement cases having already been resolved in the last year.”
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