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Trailblazing plan for Ysgol Bancffosfelen

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An exciting new development

CYMDEITHAS YR IAITH has called on a Council Scrutiny Committee in Carmarthenshire to instruct officers to: “work in partnership with the Governors of a local school to develop a new model which could give new hope for other communities.”

Governors and the local community in Bancffosfelen have fought hard for 12 years to keep their school open since the County Council placed the school, with dozens of others, on its hit-list for closure under ‘modernisation’ plans in 2004.

On Wednesday (Mar 9) Carmarthenshire’s Education and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee will discuss the future of the school.

The draft recommendation before the Committee is to close the school and transfer its catchment to Pontyberem primary school in September 2017.

The report supporting that recommendation claims that there are 98 pupil places available at the school of which only 35 are taken.

Bancffosfelen Governors are presenting the Committee with a strategy to set up a Community Trust to take over responsibility for the running of the building, developing it both as a school and as a community asset. This would involve changing the status of the school into a Voluntary Assisted School.

The Governors’ submission takes a radical new approach to the school’s future and highlights its importance within the tight-knit rural community it services. Their plan, which they describe as ‘a truly innovative model – a trailblazing plan which may be of interest to communities and education authorities throughout Wales and further afield’.

The Governors have submitted that as the County Council has a policy of offering the assets for use by the local community if a school closes, then provided the community is willing and able to maintain the location, it should be given the opportunity to do so.

In implementing this proposal, the transfer of the building and campus of Ysgol Bancffosfelen to a community charitable organization would occur without closing the school, and with the aim of maintaining the school at the heart of the plan.

The community organization would take responsibility for developing the site in a manner that would provide suitable space for the running of a 21st Century school alongside wider community use.

The Governing Body claims to have already made contact with several possible patrons and sources of annual grant funding. Using this, the school believe they would satisfy requirements under the Schools Organisation Code.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has thrown its support behind the plan and Ffred Ffransis, on behalf of the Society’s Carmarthen Region, said: “This exciting development has the potential of being a Pilot Scheme which could hope to countless other Welshspeaking village communities as the way forward. This is the big chance for the Council leadership to show their willingness now to work in partnership with local communities to ensure a living future.”

In his letter to Cllr Eirwyn Davies, Chair of the Education and Children’s Scrutiny Committee, Mr Ffransis writes: “Please convey to the meeting of the Education and Children’s Scrutiny Committee next Wednesday the fact that Cymdeithas yr Iaith fully supports the plan of the Governors of Ysgol Bancffosfelen to set up a Community Trust which would involve running the school on a Voluntary Assisted basis and developing it as a community asset.

“This is an exciting new development which could act as a Pilot Scheme for the renewal of our Welshspeaking village communities and ensure education for the children within the security of their communities. ”

Through this scheme, the Council has the real chance to break the Vicious Cycle of putting a School on a closure hit-list, which causes parents to move their children, which then closes the school, which in turn means that young families no longer want to live in the village and it declines. Children are hit the hardest in that parents and communities no longer feel then ownership of their children’s education.

“Instead of going for the bureaucratic soft option of proposing to close yet another school, Council officers now have the prospect of working in partnership with enthusiastic Governors and a supportive community to develop a new model which could offer hope for other communities. We urge you to seize the opportunity.”

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Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend

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WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.

Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.

A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*. 

Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses. 

Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.

Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.

“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”

Top tips for creating your own sensory garden

If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses. 

Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.” 

Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:

Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.

Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.

Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.

Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.

Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.

Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.

“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”

Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo

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A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.

The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.

Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive. 

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