Monday 23 November 2009

Fans and players come out in support of McPhail

Cardiff City’s Stephen McPhail has been diagnosed with stage one malt lymphoma.

The midfielder will undergo treatment, expected to last for three weeks, with the hope of a return to football by January.

Malt lymphoma is a relatively rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and develops in lymphatic tissue such as the stomach, thyroid glands, lungs or the eyes. It is mostly caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori and can be treated by a course of intensive antibiotics.

McPhail has made 10 appearances for Cardiff this season, but was sidelined at the start of the month in the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest with a thigh injury that required surgery.

Bluebirds legend Andy Legg is also cancer survivor. He said: “If he needs me, I’m here. He’s a fit lad; they’ve caught it in the early stages so that’s good news. I wish him all the luck in the world."

McPhail’s midfield teammate Gavin Rae also offered his support, saying: "He’s got everyone’s support here. It certainly puts football into perspective; all the players and staff at the club are rooting for him."

The club have requested that Stephen's privacy is respected during his treatment and recovery but supporters have been pouring in their get-well-soon messages on the club’s message board:

By Alex Winter

Alex is a journalism student and the editor of the Gloucestershire cricket blog, The Shire Blog
read more... “Fans and players come out in support of McPhail”

Scots' win makes Aussies tougher proposition says Roberts

Jamie Roberts has warned his Wales team-mates that Australia will fight back like a 'wounded animal' in Cardiff.

The Wallabies suffered a shock 9-8 defeat to Andy Robinson’s Scotland at Murrayfield.
But the British Lions star centre, who fractured his skull in a clash with Stirling Mortlock in last season's 21-18 triumph, admits he expects another battle royale next Saturday.

Roberts, 23, said: "It was a huge win for Scottish rugby and the weather conditions suited them down to the ground. But that result will make it tougher for us. It’s always harder to play a side who have just lost.

"Australia will come here like a wounded animal and play with extra fire. It’s a challenge we are looking forward to."

After a Shane Williams-inspired 33-16 win over Argentina, head coach Warren Gatland has also admitted his side need to raise their game for the showdown with Robbie Deans' men at the Millennium Stadium.

Gatland said: "We will definitely have to step up a level next week. Last year we beat Australia and we deserved the victory. But, having dealt with Australians before, I know they will be smarting from that defeat. It will make them even more determined to win.

"It will be nice to show another level of work in training and in our performance next weekend to make sure we improve from game to game."
read more... “Scots' win makes Aussies tougher proposition says Roberts”

Give me more says 50-try Shane

Shane Williams claims his 50th international try against Argentina has simply made him hungrier for more.

Wales’ record try-scorer bagged a brace of tries in the drubbing of the Pumas in Cardiff.

The landmark strike at the Millennium Stadium puts Williams ahead of All Blacks great Doug Howlett and into joint-third place alongside former England flying wing Rory Underwood on the all-time try-scoring list.

But deadly wing wizard Williams, who has struck 48 times for Wales and twice for the British Lions, insists there is plenty more to come.

Williams, 32, said: "It’s a great honour and I’m really pleased to score 50 tries.

"It will be great to tell the children and grandchildren when I hang the boots up but I am just as happy when I scored my first try for

"The accolade of scoring the number of tries is just a bonus to me and I won’t let the feat affect me. I never expected it would happen and it still feels mad. I don’t want to get carried away because I feel there is more tries in me.

"Hopefully I get picked to face Australia next weekend and if I score to become the greatest in the northern hemisphere, then I’ll be a happy man."

Only Japan’s Daisuke Ohata with 69 tries and Australian legend David Campese stand in the way of
Williams becoming the greatest finisher of all-time.

And the Ospreys ace admits he has Campese, on 64 touchdowns, in his sights ahead of the mouth-watering clash with the Wallabies next Saturday.

Williams added: “When you look back in history to the likes of Campese, it’s a massive honour for me to be mentioned alongside quality players like him.

“I’m still enjoying my rugby and believe I’m capable of scoring even more – it’s my job.

“I want to get up to David Campese one day and I hope number 50 wasn’t the last of my tries. I want people to be talking about my 51st and 52nd tries and so on.”

Fly-half Stephen Jones set Warren Gatland’s men on their way with an opportunist first-half touchdown in a 17-point haul while Argentina centre Martin Rodriguez scored all the visitors’ points as
Wales eased home.

read more... “Give me more says 50-try Shane”

Police witness appeal after A48 Newport collision

Gwent Police is again appealing for information following a collision between a pedestrian and a Black VW Bora car at approximately 8.12pm on Wednesday, November 18.

The collision occurred at the A48 Usk Way SDR Newport, adjacent to the Transporter Bridge. The car was travelling toward Spytty Road when the collision occurred.

The pedestrian, a 12 year old local girl, was seriously injured and remains in a critical condition. She has now been transferred to the University Hospital, Cardiff.

Anyone who witnessed the collision or who saw children playing around the Transporter Bridge at around 8.00pm is asked to call
Gwent Police by ringing 101 or the Collision Investigation witness line 01633 642 404.

read more... “Police witness appeal after A48 Newport collision”

Mongolian ambassador gets warm Welsh welcome

Pupils at Prendergast School made a special effort when they received a VIP recently.

They took the trouble to find out the spelling of the world ‘welcome' in Mongolian so that they could offer a friendly greeting to that country's Ambassador when he visited the school.

His Excellency Bulgaa Altangerel was in Pembrokeshire with his wife, Mrs Erdenee Chuluuntsetseg, to attend a concert organised by Soroptimists International (SI) of Fishguard and District.

One of the organisation's members, Sally Francis - a former headteacher at Mount Airey School in Haverfordwest - is working as an educational advisor with Voluntary Services Overseas in Mongolia.

Her Soroptimist colleagues in Fishguard offered to organise the concert as part of an International Evening to raise funds for the children of the Twelfth School in Darkhan - Mongolia's second city.

Aged between six to 16, their parents are nomadic herders whom they only see a few times a year. Some are orphans and they all live at the school where conditions are basic in the extreme with little or no play equipment.

Both His Excellency and his wife were delighted to visit Prendergast School and meet the pupils.

Earlier they had been guests of
Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, Councillor Anne Hughes, in County Hall.

There they met the Mayor of
Fishguard, Councillor Gwilym Price and Mrs Price, and the President of the SI Fishguard and District, Pat Roblin and her Soroptimist colleagues. Jordan Evans, chairman of the Pembrokeshire Youth Assembly, was also present.

read more... “Mongolian ambassador gets warm Welsh welcome”

Charteris: Still work to do to match the best

Luke Charteris admits Wales must improve if they are to complete the Invesco Perpetual Series with a victory over Australia.

Charteris played an integral role in the 33-16 win over Argentina at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday which saw the hosts run in three opportunistic tries.

Now the Newport Gwent Dragons lock believes Wales will need to be better against the Wallabies in Cardiff this weekend.

Charteris, 26, said: "I felt we did well. I enjoyed it and I certainly want to go out there again. It's been a tough month, we've all worked hard and everyone in the squad wants to be involved against the Wallabies.

"We managed to get a good win against a very good team, but we know we need to get better. If we want to beat the likes of New Zealand and Australia we have to improve.

"We're happy with the performance, we played well and dominated the game but there are still more gears we can go to and we hope we can show that against Australia next week."

Charteris was also keen to praise the Welsh front row, who were expected to struggle against the Pumas.

He added: "The front row was outstanding. I thought Paul James, Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees did really well. There was a lot of talk in the week about how they were going to run us backwards but we held our own.

Charteris put in a notable performance himself and made use of all of his 6ft 9ins frame to make the charge down which led to Shane Williams' first try.

Charteris added: "I did all the hard work and Shane just had to run it in! But it's something Ive been working on and lucky enough it came off.

"Shane is a quality player and world class. For the first try he could have run straight to the corner but he decided to beat four or five people just for fun. He's probably the only person in world rugby who could do that."

read more... “Charteris: Still work to do to match the best”

Welsh volunteers return from Cumbria rescue work

Rob Schoffield and Gareth Protheroe, volunteer lifeboat crew members from Flint, were part of the 40 strong RNLI National Flood team drawn from North Wales and the North of England dealing with flood relief in Cockermouth.

Rob and Gareth only signed up to the team on Wednesday night, and Thursday morning found themselves en route to Cumbria with other volunteer crew members from Criccieth, Conwy, Llandudno, Moelfre, Rhyl, Beaumaris and Pwllheli.

RNLI teams arrived on scene at 10pm on Thursday, November 19. They worked through the night in horrendous conditions, evacuating people from their homes in Cockermouth, where flood water was surging through the streets at speeds up to 25 knots; in the centre of the town water levels had reached 2.5 metres (8ft 2in).

RNLI inshore lifeboats are capable of operating in the current conditions as they have engines strong enough to cope with the speed of the water. Other craft had to be grounded due to the severe conditions.

Members of the volunteer crew at Flint are no strangers to inland flood rescue, having been involved in Towyn and Kinmel Bay in 1990, and Mold in 2000. They have also been deployed to Ruthin, Wrexham, and the upper reaches of the River Dee on several other occasions.

Alan Forrester volunteer lifeboat operations manager at Flint lifeboat station said: "We only had the meeting on Wednesday to set up RNLI National Flood Rescue Team, I was really pleased that both Gareth and Rob signed up as they are both RNLI ‘Swift Water Trained Volunteers’ but somewhat shell-shocked when they were both deployed to Cockermouth the following day."

Alan continued, "As part of the RNLI team that dealt with flood relief in
Towyn and Kinmel Bay in 1990 I am well aware of the difficulties for both rescued and rescuers, and our thoughts are with the people of the affected areas."

read more... “Welsh volunteers return from Cumbria rescue work”

Mumbles lifeboat rescues surfer in trouble

Mumbles inshore lifeboat was launched Friday afternoon amid the stormy seas which have battered South Wales over the last few days. Following reports of a surfer in difficulty near Langland Bay just before sunset Swansea Coastguard requested the launch to a man seen drifting out to see by witness’s walking the cliffs.

This is just one of many calls the RNLI have received over the past few days following the strong winds and heavy rain which have had such a dramatic effect on the UK.

James Bolter who was at the helm of the inshore lifeboat said:

‘We experienced very rough seas and luckily the people who reported the surfer in danger directed us to him via Swansea Coastguard, he’d been caught by a very strong riptide off Langland which had rapidly taken him almost a mile offshore.’

Tim Conway, RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at The
Mumbles says:

‘These are just the kind of conditions this boat was designed for and its crew trained for, the 28 yr old casualty had endured strong tides and suffered cramp in very big surf. Within minutes we were able to locate him and return him safely to the beach at Langland.'

The RNLI has set a £150,000 fundraising target over the next three years towards a new £2.7m Tamar class boat for
Mumbles. The Tamar lifeboats are the most advanced vessels operated by the RNLI, providing all weather rescue capabilities and will replace the current Tyne class rescue boat that currently serves Mumbles. The new boat will carry an inshore lifeboat onboard in addition to the one located on station.

read more... “Mumbles lifeboat rescues surfer in trouble”

Gladstone's in the bag at Flintshire Record Office

Flintshire Record Office in Hawarden is holding a Victorian Evening to mark the bicentennial of W. E. Gladstone.

The event will take place on Wednesday, 9 December at 7.00pm. The evening is free but tickets are required and are available from the Record Office on 01244 532364.

Victorian dress is optional and refreshments will be served.
read more... “Gladstone's in the bag at Flintshire Record Office”

Queensferry Library open again

Queensferry Library reopened today, November 23 at 2 pm.

The opening hours are:
Monday 2pm -5pm
Tuesday 10am -1pm and 2pm -7pm
Wednesday 2am – 5pm
Thursday 10am -1pm and 2pm -7pm
Friday 2pm -5pm
Saturday 9.30am -12.30pm

Public access computers will be available and normal lending services will be resumed.

For any enquiries please ring 01244 812544 or your nearest library.
read more... “Queensferry Library open again”

Fighting high business rates in Narberth

An action plan to fight the 200%+ business rates hike in Narberth is beginning to take shape.

South Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns has now met local government minister Brian Gibbons and been told that he is considering raising the rates threshold.

"However he was extremely adamant that there was no way they would postpone the rates review," she said.

"He made it clear that businesses have got until April to try to renegotiate their levels and then after that date they can appeal. But by then they should have paid the first instalment and I know that businesses are extremely worried about their cash flow while any appeals go through.

"I had a meeting last week with a business owner in the town who said he was going to close after Christmas because he cannot afford his enormous rate rise."

Two weeks ago Mrs Burns called a public meeting in the town at which the Valuation Agency Office (VAO), which set the rates, promised to review the situation.

A working party made up of representatives from different types of businesses from the town is now being set up by
Narberth Chamber of Trade. It aims to collect evidence to show that the increase is disproportionate to present to the VAO.

A petition for concerned traders to sign is being drawn up and it will then be sent to the Welsh Assembly’s petitions committee.

"Every petition is carefully considered by the committee so it is vital that we get the wording right as they only look into exactly what is petitioned for," added Mrs Burns.

“Now that I have had a chance to talk to Mr Gibbons we can ensure that we do.”

Pembrokeshire’s Conservative parliamentary candidate Simon Hart, who lives near Narberth, is also helping to collate the petition.

"In almost every shop you go into in town the traders are talking about the rates situation and I have heard of at least one that says it will close if the situation isn’t remedied," he said.

"Everyone is keen to work together to fight this increase."

read more... “Fighting high business rates in Narberth”

Warning on council tax phone scam

Flintshire County Council is asking residents to be on their guard following reports of a phone scam targeting Council Tax payers across North Wales.

Bogus callers are telephoning tax payers advising that they can help them claim a refund of overpaid Council Tax and to arrange a refund into their bank account.

David Barnes, Council Tax Manager said, "I would like to stress that this is a scam designed to obtain peoples bank account details. We would advise residents never to give their personal banking details over the phone, unless they are totally sure that they are speaking to a genuine caller.

If you are in any doubt, take the caller's number and check that they are genuine, before calling back."

Any suspicious calls of this nature should be reported to the police.
read more... “Warning on council tax phone scam”

Chuck Berry gig postponed until the spring

Chuck Berry fans will have to wait until the spring to see the rock and roll legend live in Swansea.

A gig that had been arranged for the Brangwyn Hall on Wednesday December 2 has now been postponed until March 2010.

Promoters of the Chuck Berry tour have announced similar postponements throughout the UK.

Tickets already purchased will be valid for the new gig but anybody who would like to have a refund can do so at their original point of purchase.

Details of the new concert date will be confirmed as soon as possible.

read more... “Chuck Berry gig postponed until the spring”

Dafydd Wyn wins the 2009 John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry

The 2009 John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry came to a head on Thursday 19 November as Academi hosted the much anticipated Grand Final in Cardiff. An unprecedented number of supporters, writers, literary enthusiasts and those who were just curious flocked to The Wharf to see who would be named Wales’ best performance poet. Following a dash for extra chairs, stools and with people almost literally hanging from the rafters the scene was finally set, the finalists chosen, the judges poised and the bar, luckily, fully stocked.

MC Ifor Thomas led what proved to be an evening full of diverse and original poetry performances from 16 new and familiar faces to the performance scene. Judging the competition were 2009 Wales Book of the Year winner Deborah Kay Davies, poet and Editor of New Welsh Review, Kathryn Gray, and Wiard Sterk Executive Director of independent public art consultancy Safle.

The competition was intense but only one poet could walk away with the title and the First Prize of £500. It was experience and a traditional approach to performance poetry however which won out in the end as the judges picked Dafydd Wyn from Ammanford as the overall winner. Dafydd Wyn, who performed a series of three heartfelt poems about his nephew, has published two novels including a children’s book The M4 Cats (Lolfa 2008). As well as teaching English in London, Bala and at Ystalyfera he is also a former Mayor of Cwmaman and a former runner-up in the John Tripp Award.

It was the “verbal pyrotechnics” of the Grand Final’s youngest competitor Liam Johnson, though, which landed him both the judges’ Runner-up prize and the coveted Audience Prize voted for on the night by the throng of literary enthusiasts in attendance. 19 year-old Liam, who is currently studying English and Creative Writing at UWIC University, started writing poems and lyrics at fifteen and states the Beat Generation as his most significant influence. After making such an impression in his first performance poetry competition Liam is definitely one to watch for the future.

read more... “Dafydd Wyn wins the 2009 John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry”

Exiles march on in FA Trophy

NEWPORT COUNTY squeezed themselves into the first round proper of the FA Trophy with a narrow 2-1 win over Braintree Town at Spytty Park.

The game was played in miserable conditions but County made the best of them, building a two-goal first-half lead with the wind at their backs. The second-half was always going to be a test, but the Exiles held on to progress.

With quality football at a premium it was two set piece goals that put
County into Monday’s draw, when teams from the Blue Square Premier enter the competition.

The opening goal, midway through the first-half, was fortuitous. Kerry Morgan swung a free-kick from the left into a crowded penalty area and the inswinging delivery completely deceived Braintree goalkeeper Dave Blackmore to curl into the bottom right-hand corner.

It wasn't long before Morgan turned provider with another free-kick from the left. He floated the ball into the penalty area where Dave Gilroy - returning from a profitable loan spell with Weston-super-mare - rose well to place a glancing header into the bottom-right hand corner from six yards.

However, County were made to battle for their victory as Braintree used their turn with the wind behind them to pile on the pressure throughout the second-half. An early goal for the visitors was the last thing
County needed, but they failed to deal with a long throw-in from the right and George Purcell slid in to finish with a firm left-footed drive.

The home fans’ nerves reflected their side’s backs-to-the-wall performance as the game went on.
County were defending deeper and inviting the visitors forward But Braintree lacked the incisiveness to profit and despite several shots couldn't find the equaliser.

By Alex Winter

read more... “Exiles march on in FA Trophy”

Sunday 22 November 2009

Merthyr project up for People's Millions

The 3G's Development Trust in Merthyr Tydfil have been chosen as a finalist in the Big Lottery's - People's Millions project. The 3G's Portable Media project will go head to head on Thursday 26th November 2009 on ITV Wales News The 'Streets Ahead' Project run by Prestatyn and Meliden Community Action Group.

The telephone number you have to phone to vote for the project won't get released until 9am on the 26th November 2009. Please note that everybody can vote up to a maximum of 10 times, and each call will cost 10p.

Click on the below link and go to the the Welsh Region, you will then see the project there. Please register and leave messages to show your support of the project, it will only take a minute or 2...


The project, based in Merthyr Tydfil, will provide media training for young people to increase their skills and raise self-confidence. The portable media centre will enable us to hold and deliver classes to the community, schools, adult centres, etc. This equipment will enable us to deliver structured learning which will involve community members making their own works such as films, music, graphic design and animation.

The media facility will provide an opportunity to support new initiatives that will have a substantial impact on the lives of community members in our area. Access to the arts, media, music and digital industries for our members through our activities will be created with the aim to provide a voice for local people, promoting learning and raising achievement in arts & media making for our members.

This project will have a massive impact on the local communities throughout South Wales, not only will it give local residents training opportunities, we will be able to gain access and engage with those who have so far been hard to reach. Many of these areas are high on the deprivation list and this project will give them the chance to access facilities that otherwise would not have been open to them, which could result in future job opportunities. Through other projects we have been involved in we know that projects such as these raise confidence & self esteem in the young people that are involved. It also gives withdrawn young people the chance to make new friends and gets them involved in team activities; it also gives them goals – something to look forward to.

read more... “Merthyr project up for People's Millions”

Road safety concern at Merthyr children's centre

More than 40,000 children are killed or injured each year as result of road accidents. Most of these accidents happen near homes and many as a result of school gate parking or parking illegally where large numbers of children gather.

Concern was raised recently due to the increased volume of traffic surrounding the ICC, a high number of cars parked on yellow lines and non-permit holders parking in disabled bays, so with this in mind staff at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s Cwm Golau Integrated Children’s Centre (ICC), Pentrebach decided to pilot a road safety campaign during November as part of the National Road Safety Awareness month.

The idea of the scheme was to highlight the dangers of parking dangerously and to raise awareness of road safety to parents/carers and centre users.

Staff wore high visible jackets and issued letters and road safety leaflets to all users encouraging them to be more aware of road safety. All persons found parking in non-designated areas were asked to move immediately.

Councillor Richard Thomas said: "I fully support the efforts of staff at Cwm Golau ICC in raising the profile of road safety. The safety of children and Centre users is of paramount importance to us, particularly in light of a recent accident in the Borough involving a child."

read more... “Road safety concern at Merthyr children's centre”

WAG proposals for more Welsh Olympic winners

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has outlined how the recommendations of an independent review into performance and excellence of sport in Wales will be taken forward at the debate in the National Assembly.

The report, which was produced by independent consultants and published in September, made an assessment of systems and processes that to support sport at the elite level in Wales. It also looked at the pathways in place to ensure that young talent is identified and brought forward in

Alun Ffred Jones said: "Sport is very important to very many people in Wales; to a degree our sense of national well-being rises and falls with the relative successes of our sports men and women, as if sporting success is a barometer for national spirit."

"This review acknowledges, that for a country our size, we are very successful and recognises the role that the Sport Council and our national sporting governing bodies have played in achieving that success"

"We have closely examined where the report says we can improve the systems and structures that are in place to support sport at the top-level in
Wales and, working closely with the Sports Council and others, we will restate our policy and targets for elite sport in Wales in the coming months"

Philip Carling - the Chair of the Sports Council for
Wales – looks forward to raising the bar:

"In 2008, we saw notable successes at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games. And this year, we’ve seen promising performances – we’re World Champions in rugby sevens, Becky Brewerton made her second Solheim Cup appearance and Nicole Cooke won her tenth British road race title.

"And what’s even more promising is that younger athletes have made their mark this year. Swimmer Jazz Carlin and cyclist Becky James are beginning to make a name for themselves and both look set to feature at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next year. It augurs well not only for London 2012 but also when the Commonwealth Games arrive in Glasgow in 2014.

"We welcome the opportunity to review the current position to ensure that investment is targeted smartly and we look forward to working with the Welsh Assembly Government to identify appropriate funding to sustain and build on our track record. It is particularly timely as the UK is attracting major sporting events – including The Ryder Cup in 2010 – and it is crucial that
Wales remains at the cutting edge of sporting excellence."

read more... “WAG proposals for more Welsh Olympic winners”

Free gyms for service men and women in the Vale

A scheme offering Service personnel, either living or staying in the area, free use of facilities at Vale of Glamorgan Council leisure and sports centres, has been extended until April 2011.

The council cabinet move follows a six-month trial during which members of the armed services were provided with access to the authority’s extensive and popular leisure facilities.

After hearing from cabinet member for leisure and tourism Cllr Anthony Ernest that a barrier to participation appeared to be difficulties for personnel in obtaining the required ‘formal leave letters,’ the cabinet agreed to accept proof of Armed Services ‘membership’ and the signing of an ‘honesty pledge.’

Cllr Ernest added: "By continuing this scheme, which provides an opportunity for individuals to remain active during leave periods, the council is showing its commitment to the highly valuable and dangerous work being carried out by our Service personnel. It is a small way of thanking them for their duty and dedication."

Full details of the scheme are available on 01446 744770.

read more... “Free gyms for service men and women in the Vale”

Awards for Vale guiders

Guiders from the area have been presented with a series of awards at a special reception hosted by Vale of Glamorgan Mayor Cllr Emlyn Williams.

Paying tribute to the work of the movement, Cllr Williams said: "These awards recognise the tremendous achievements of the trained volunteers who do so much to deliver a stimulating and enjoyable programme for our enthusiastic youngsters."

The evening was organised in conjunction with Girlguiding Cardiff and East Glamorgan, and recipients of long service awards were: 50 years, Pat Edwards (South East Glamorgan Division), Norah Kendall (Penarth) and Fran Mitchell (
Vale of Glamorgan); 30 years, Susan Leverton (Dinas Powys and Llandough); 20 years, Jane Rudd (Vale of Glamorgan), and 10 years, Amy Germon (Barry East) and Jane Prigg (Penarth). There was a Baden Powell Award for Rosemary Tuthill (Penarth).

read more... “Awards for Vale guiders”

Barry school kids get gold for going green

Pupils and staff at St Helen’s RC Junior School in Barry are enjoying a new green accolade - Yellow Pages Recycling Champions for Wales 2009.

St Helen’s, who came top in the medium schools category, are also looking forward to spending a well-earned £1,000 prize money.

The environmental campaign for schools is run by Yellow Pages working in partnership with the Woodland Trust and, locally, the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

The school’s 202 pupils recycled a massive 1,831 Yellow Pages directories when the new ones were delivered last year - equivalent to an impressive 9.06 old directories per pupil.

Fourteen local authorities across Wales ran the Yellow Woods Challenge, involving a total of 495 schools and 99,156 pupils. The recycling scores from local heats were entered into the Wales finals and resulted in success for St Helen’s.

St Helen’s headteacher Gavin Russ said: "We are so proud to be Welsh winners in this competition. I’d like to thank our local community who helped us collect so many Yellow Pages. The school eco-committee is currently helping to decide how to spend the prize money."

Congratulating the school on their achievement, Vale councillor Geoff Cox, cabinet member for visible and building services, said: "Taking the national title is a fantastic achievement for St Helen’s Junior School. The council’s ‘What’s in your bin?’ campaign aims to get us all reducing, reusing and recycling. The pupils and staff at this school, and their community, are shining examples of great local action."

For every pound awarded to schools in prize money, Yellow Pages has donated a matching pound to the Woodland Trust’s children’s tree planting campaign, ‘Trees For All.’

Kimberley Watts-Fitzsimmons, corporate responsibility manager at Yell, the publisher of Yellow Pages directories, said: "It’s a great pleasure to reward the winning schools for their outstanding achievements. I’d also like to thank all the schools and councils in Wales who always take the competition to heart. Together they’ve made a massive contribution towards the environment."

The Yellow Woods Challenge is undergoing a major strategic review and will relaunch in summer 2010 - for more information visit

read more... “Barry school kids get gold for going green”

Awards for Barry young film makers

A team of young film makers from Barry Comprehensive School have lifted a top award.

The students’ success came in the best regional film (Vale of Glamorgan) category of this year’s media4schools film awards, sponsored by Sony UK.

The group, whose film was entitled Year Seven Cross Country, were George Crowther, Sam Adamson and Jack Williams (Year 12) and Alex Parker (Year 9).

They received their award from
Vale of Glamorgan councillor Tony Hampton, the cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, who is also a Barry Comprehensive School governor. He said: "I was delighted to present the talented lads with a prize and certificate. It was also great that they had the opportunity to see their production on a big screen."

Now in their sixth year, the awards are a culmination of all the hard work schools put into their films and a great way of showcasing the talents of the budding film makers.

Schools from across South Wales competed to scoop top prizes in categories such as best edited film, best animation and the coveted best overall film.

Based in Cardiff, media4schools is a vocational learning-based media training initiative, which introduces a combination of TV programme production and enterprise for primary and secondary schools.

read more... “Awards for Barry young film makers”

Consultation on Blaenavon World Heritage site

A six-week consultation has begun in Blaenavon, asking residents' views on studies relating to the World Heritage Site.

The studies include design guidance for development and conservation area appraisals of
Blaenavon and Cwmavon conservation areas and it is proposed the documents will eventually be adopted as supplementary planning guidance.

The executive member for housing, planning and public protection, councillor Gwyneira Clark, said: "We urge residents to contact us and let us know their views on these studies, as they will assist in ensuring the continued protection and enhancement of the historic character of the World Heritage Site.

"The guide provides design and maintenance advice for buildings within the Torfaen boundaries of the site, including advice for the construction of new buildings, and guidance on alterations, repairs or extensions to existing buildings.

Blaenavon and Cwmavon conservation area appraisals identify the key assets, issues and outline recommendations for the management and enhancement of the areas in the future.

"They recommend extensions to the
Blaenavon conservation area, and consider the potential designation of conservation areas at Forgeside and Glantorfaen."

The public consultation runs until Wednesday 30 December and a public drop-in session will be held on December 9 at the World Heritage Centre.

All documents and full details of the consultation are available to view in the Environment and Planning| area of the council website.

read more... “Consultation on Blaenavon World Heritage site”

Rural grants on offer from Torfaen council

A local charity is the second Torfaen organisation to benefit from the Branching Out Fund.

All Creatures Great and Small Animal Sanctuary in Llanfrechfa has received a grant through the
Torfaen Rural Development Plan (RDP) - a project delivered through a strategic partnership and a local action group, creaTe.

Val Taylor, a trustee of All Creatures Great and Small Animal Sanctuary, said: "We specialise in the care of unwanted and often abandoned or abused animals, with the aim of providing a caring service of the highest quality to help all animals in need.

"We are delighted to receive this funding as it will help us restore an old barn into a training and visitor facility. This new facility will eventually enable us to become more sustainable and will improve the standard of care we provide."

Local farmers, businesses and community groups can apply to creaTe for grants up to £5,000 to help develop enterprise through diversification activities.

In addition to the grant, the RDP team will work with All Creatures Great and Small Animal Sanctuary to help it through the planning process and access additional external funding to make the project a reality.

The RDP, which runs until 2013, is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and aims to:
  • Improve the quality of life in rural communities
  • Strengthen the farming and forestry industries
  • Safeguard and enhance Torfaen's environment and rural heritage
  • Foster competitive, sustainable businesses and thriving rural communities.

There are seven wards in
Torfaen classed as rural and rural-based business in these areas could be eligible for grant from the Branching Out Fund. The wards are Llanyrafon South, Blaenavon, Abersychan, Cwmynyscoy, Llantarnam, Two Locks and Wainfelin.

For more information on the RDP, contact 01495 742146.

read more... “Rural grants on offer from Torfaen council”

Family trees and more for free at RCT libraries

Ever thought about researching your family tree - but don’t know where to start? Why not make the library your first port of call?

Rhondda Cynon Taf libraries offer a wide variety of resources to help people in their local and family history research. Resources include books, newspapers and periodicals, photographs, maps and plans, illustrations, directories, electoral registers, records and census returns.

There is also free internet access to the whole host of websites aimed at helping people discover their roots, including This is available in libraries free of charge and the latest addition to this database includes a searchable list of all British Prisoners of War captured in Europe during World War II.

Libraries in
Aberdare, Pontypridd and Treorchy have dedicated Local History sections with experienced staff on hand to offer assistance and advice. Each Local History section contains microfilm/microfiche readers and family history related resources including:

· Census returns

· Historical Ordnance Survey and Tithe maps

· Local newspapers

· Electoral registers

· Trade directories

· Burial records

If you are a beginner or simply wish to learn more about family history, why not join family history classes at
Aberdare and Pontypridd Libraries?

Cllr Robert Bevan,
Rhondda Cynon Taf Cabinet Member for Culture and Recreation, said: "Our libraries are a fantastic resource for people interested in finding out more about their family history. All of our libraries have books that can get you started by explaining the methods you should use and the places you should look to find out about your ancestors."

Welsh Libraries Champion Ruth Jones and celebrity genealogist Cat Whiteaway are currently spearheading a campaign to encourage more people to use their local libraries when researching their family trees or local area.

Cat, who studies the history of families and the line of descent from their ancestors, said: "I wouldn’t be able to produce my radio and television programmes without the help of libraries."

To see a detailed list of family history sources held at Aberdare, Pontypridd and Treorchy library please visit:

For more information email:

Membership of all Rhondda Cynon Taf’s libraries is free and everyone living or working within the county borough is welcome to join. Find out more by visiting

read more... “Family trees and more for free at RCT libraries”

Get in shape for Christmas at Abedare gym

If you’re aiming to get slim and trim in time for Christmas, then the Zenith Health and Fitness studio at Michael Sobell Sports Centre, Aberdare, can help you on your way.

Staff at the fitness studio have launched the ‘Christmas calorie countdown’ - a challenge for people to burn off as many calories as possible in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Councillor Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Cabinet Member for Culture and Recreation, said: “This time of year, people usually want to lose a few inches so they can enjoy the indulgences of the festive season without feeling too guilty!

"Our Christmas calorie countdown is a good way to help people get motivated to lose weight and feel fitter."

Controls are set on the measured sessions, so that a maximum of 1,000 calories are burnt in each class. Participants are advised that they must not reduce their normal calories intake.

Cardiovascular machines, weight machines, body weight exercises, circuit training routines, fitball, abdominal exercises and free weight exercises can all be used during the sessions.

Men and women are invited to join the challenge, which ends on December 14, 2009. For more information, please call the Zenith studio at Michael Sobell Sports Centre, The Ynys,
Aberdare, on 01685 874323

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s leisure centres and pools offer a huge range of classes for all ages this winter. To find your nearest centre, go to and click on leisure facilities, or call Leisure Services on 01443 400563

read more... “Get in shape for Christmas at Abedare gym”

Care for young carers in RCT

Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr Robert Smith was delighted to be asked to judge a competition to find the eye-catching artwork that will be used on the publicity and information material distributed by Cynon Valley Young Carers.

The material is being updated and given a fresh new look thanks to a Big Lottery Fund grant, ensuring information is up to date and relevant for the 75 young carers the scheme looks after.

Leanne Lemonheigh, 17, of Penrhiwceiber was chosen as the winner. She is a well-known carer within the groups and looks after her mother, who has mental health issues.

Selina Bunny, 14, of Penywaun, was the runner-up, she cares for her siblings, who have a range of learning difficulties.

The successful
Cynon Valley Young Carers is based in the Hirwaun YMCA and offers support and information for some 75 people aged between eight and 18.

As well as practical support on issues such as financial issues and budget planning, the scheme also organises respite care and social events for the young people to give them the break they need.

Mayor Cllr Smith said: "I was honoured to be asked to judge the competition and look forward to seeing the new, improved information material when it is completed.

"It is essential our young carers have access to a wide range of information and support to assist them as they carry out their difficult roles. We are also committed to giving them the respite and social activities they need so they do not forget they are young people, as well as young carers.

"Schemes such as
Cynon Valley Young Carers allows this and I am pleased to be able to show my support."

read more... “Care for young carers in RCT”

Warning on council tax phone scam

Powys residents are being warned of a potential scam involving people claiming to be from the local council tax office.

Powys County Council is issuing the warning following reports from other parts of Wales where people are making unsolicited telephone calls to householders asking for their bank account details. Householders were asked to hand over their details under the pretence they were due a council tax refund.

Tony Price from
Powys County Council, explains: "This scam has now been reported in other parts of the Wales and UK so we want to ensure residents are aware of it.

"We do not make unsolicited calls to householders to ask for their bank account details. Only
Powys County Council has the ability to arrange a council tax refund and we ask people to fill in specific forms in order to arrange this.

"Don’t give out your personal or private details unless you have instigated the call and are sure that the person you are speaking to is completely genuine."

The council advises that if you are uncertain if any caller is genuine, ask for the person's name and extension number, then call the council tax switchboard on 01597 827463 or 0845 602 7033 and ask to be put through to them.

read more... “Warning on council tax phone scam”

SPecial measures for Powys primary

Penycae Community Primary School, near Ystradgynlais, has been placed in special measures by Estyn following its inspection in July 2009.

The Estyn report acknowledges that the school has many good features, but there are shortcomings in important areas and it does not provide value for money. Estyn have come up with nine recommendations in order for the school to improve in the areas inspected.

Senior officers from Powys County Council will be working in close partnership with the school in order to secure this improvement.

The school and the council will produce action plans, detailing steps to be taken to address the shortcomings identified by Estyn.

Alun Thomas, Chair of Governors for
Penycae C.P.School, said: "Estyn has identified a number of shortcomings that we have to address if we are to improve the standard of education for our pupils. We have a lot of hard work in front of us, but with the support of staff, pupils, parents, governors and the council, I am confident that we will succeed.

"The governing body has already recognised the shortcomings and has acted proactively. A change in strategic leadership was implemented at the beginning of the academic year.

"This has resulted in immediate and significant improvements of opportunities for our children at
Penycae School and this will continue until we are removed from special measures."

Cllr David Jones, Board Member for Schools and Inclusion, said: "We know what needs to be done to ensure that Penycae C.P. School is removed from the category of special measures as soon as possible and we will be working closely with the school and governing body to secure improvements.

"A project team of senior officers, school staff and the governing body has been established in order for this to happen."

Estyn will monitor the school on a termly basis until it is satisfied that the category of special measures no longer applies.

A copy of the inspection report can be found at
read more... “SPecial measures for Powys primary”

Free Christmas parking in Newport

Newport City Council will be offering free parking in all council-owned car parks across the city every Saturday from now until Saturday 19 December.

Leader of
Newport City Council, Councillor Matthew Evans said: "Car parking fees can certainly add up for shoppers over the festive season, so Newport City Council has introduced this initiative to ease the financial pressures for shoppers and encourage them to use the facilities we have on offer in our city centre. This is a win-win situation to boost footfall and assist traders."

Participating City Council car parks include Cambrian Multi-storey, Park Square, Emlyn Street, Faulkner Road, Hill Street, Maindee and Stow Hill.
read more... “Free Christmas parking in Newport”

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