Friday, 21 October 2016

Celebrating lifelong learning success in Aberystwyth

The annual Lifelong Learning and Welsh for Adults Awards held at Aberystwyth University provided an opportunity to reward excellence in learning and teaching.
The successes and achievements of individuals and groups were celebrated in the special ceremony, which offered an opportunity to congratulate both students and tutors.
Speaking during the event, the Director of the Institute of Professional Development, Professor Judy Broady-Preston, said: “Aberystwyth University takes great pride in the success of adults who are learning new skills. Our learners have demonstrated great commitment, and their efforts are rewarding for themselves, their families and their communities.”
The Welsh in the Family Award, an award for Welsh learners who have increased the use of Welsh within the family, was awarded to Vicky Thomas and family of Maesymeillion, Llandysul.
Vicky has been learning Welsh for five years. She, her husband, and their four young children moved to Ceredigion in August 2015. Vicky and her husband got to know each other in English, and Vicky spoke English with their two older children before starting to learn Welsh. Now the whole family speak Welsh with each other. Vicky is also comfortable to speak Welsh in the community. “I hope my children pass on their Welsh to the next generation as we have and that I can speak Welsh to my granchildren,” said Vicky.
Learning Welsh whilst raising a young family was challenging, but speaking Welsh is now an integral part of family life.
Welsh Group of the Year Award
The Welsh Group of the Year Award, which celebrates the success of a group that has brought Welsh speakers and learners together in activities to use and promote Welsh, was won by Clonc a Chinio (meaning Chat and Dinner) of Llanandras (Presteigne), Powys.
Clonc a Chinio began in September 2015 in the border town of Presteigne. Beginning as an informal lunchtime meeting between two classes, the group soon attracted other learners, and in time a community of Welsh learners developed. The group organises a number of activities and events - a particular highlight of this year’s calendar was a concert to celebrate St David's Day. Members from the group also competed at the National Eisteddfod in Meifod in 2015 and in Abergavenny in 2016, and they won the sketch competition at the Learners’ Eisteddfod in Brecon in April 2016.
Welsh in the Workplace Award
The winner of the Welsh in the Workplace Award, for employers who support their staff to learn Welsh with Aberystwyth University, was Natural Resources Wales.
Twenty-two staff from Natural Resources Wales were released during working hours to attend Welsh learning courses with Aberystwyth University in 2015/16. At Natural Resources Wales, Welsh learners are supported to use Welsh in the workplace through a mentoring scheme, where students can chat informally with fluent Welsh speakers. A number of Natural Resources Wales offices also arrange informal 'chat over coffee' events where learners can practice speaking Welsh. Others hold lunchtime walks where Welsh is spoken. Staff who are learning Welsh gain confidence to use the language in their day-to-day lives, including in their dealings with the public.
Certificates were also presented to Welsh learners who have succeeded in WJEC Use of Welsh examinations at Intermediate and Advanced levels, and the Language Skills Certificate by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Lifelong Learning certificates were presented to students who have gained 120 credits in a range of subjects in the areas of modern languages, creative writing, art and design, field ecology, genealogical studies and psychology.
Efa Gruffudd Jones, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Learning Welsh, said: “I’d like to congratulate the Welsh learners and their tutors who have worked so hard to reach an extremely high standard. We’re pleased that their achievements are being celebrated at this ceremony and would like to wish them continued success and enjoyment as they further develop their Welsh language skills."
Lifelong Learning Awards
In the Aberystwyth University Lifelong Learning Awards, the title of Lifelong Learning Student of the Year was awarded to Judie Christie.
“Judie learns with infectious enthusiasm, she works hard and is conscientious with all her work,” describes her tutor Angharad Taris. “She shares her wealth of knowledge of art history and visual culture with the class in sensitive and stimulating ways. She encourages other students and is always pertinent with her helpful and supportive comments”.
For the first year ever, the Lifelong Learning Tutor of the Year was awarded to four tutors, as the panel were unable to separate the nominations of the top four. Congratulations go to the winners: Margaret Howells (Ecology), Anne Kelly (Modern Languages), Judy Macklin (Art) and Jill Rolfe (Up-cycled Clothing).
One of the students of Margaret Howells (Ecology) writes: “You mention Margaret's name and everyone smiles; it’s her dedication and patience in wanting to teach students about plants and her love of the subject that shines through. I know people who took her courses 10 years ago and now are working in leading organisations in the conservation sector”.
Anne Kelly’s (Modern Languages) qualities are celebrated with: “When has 'education' been such fun! The knowledge of her subject comes through when she is teaching. Outstanding in all respects and engaging all the time. Brilliant!”
The nomination for Judy Macklin (Art) stated: “She encourages us to make discoveries for ourselves. Her teaching is proactive but not spoon-feeding. She remains curious about her subject and is delighted to make and share new discoveries herself, fostering a sense of peer group sharing.”
Jill Rolfe’s (Up-cycled clothing) enthusiastic teaching is endorsed with a statement from an appreciative student: “She has knowledge of many years of working in theatre and in the fashion industry. She has brought to the class costumes of her own that have inspired students to adapt to work with on their own projects. Jill always makes the sewing days fun and uses stories of her own experience in costume making in an entertaining way and this helps us all to remember the pitfalls to avoid.”
Finally, an award was presented in memory of mammal ecologist and conservationist, Rob Strachan, who taught on the Lifelong Learning Ecology courses from 2009-2013.
Rob, who was renowned for his beautifully illustrated field notebooks, passed away after a short illness in May 2014. The Rob Strachan Memorial Prize was awarded to the student who produced the best field notebook on the Mammals course, Louisa Haywood-Samuel.
Aberystwyth University boasts the oldest continuing education department in Wales, which delivers outreach courses across six Welsh counties and strives to build on innovative teaching practices.

Photo: Winner of the Welsh in the Family Award – Vicky Thomas, her husband Huw and their four children.

Flickr album:

Get ready for winter advice for older people in Wales

‘GET ready for winter’ – that’s the advice today for over 65s from an older people’s charity and the Welsh Government’s warm homes scheme.
Age Cymru and Nest are teaming up to give away handy ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guides which contain advice on preparing for winter.
The ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guide has information about issues including:
· Getting your central heating system serviced by a Gas Safe-registered engineer
· Insulating and draught-proofing your home
· Making sure your smoke alarms are working properly
· Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home
It’s part of Age Cymru’s annual ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign to help keep older people across Wales warm, safe and well over the winter.
“With winter just around the corner it’s a good time to plan ahead to make sure we are able to keep ourselves warm, safe and well over the colder months” said Age Cymru’s Spread the Warmth coordinator Angharad Phillips.
“Working with Nest, we have put together our ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guide which is full of handy tips and advice about simple jobs to get done around our homes before the wintery weather arrives.”
The Welsh Government warm homes Nest scheme helps to make people’s homes warmer and more fuel efficient.
“Nest offers a wide range of support and advice to help people who are struggling to heat their homes and we’re very happy to be working with Age Cymru to help make sure that older people across Wales are ready for the coming winter months” said Lee Parry Head of Nest.
“Nest is open to all householders in Wales and provides advice on saving energy, money management, energy tariffs and benefit entitlement to help reduce the cost of energy bills.”
The Age Cymru and Nest ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guides are available for free from:
  • Age Cymru’s free, confidential and impartial advice service, Age Cymru Advice by calling freephone 08000 223 444
  • Age Cymru Sir Gâr, Unit 5-11, LEC Workshops, 100 Trostre Road, Llanelli, SA15 2EA. Telephone: 01554 784080. Email:
For more information about Age Cymru’s ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, visit
Age Cymru works nationally and locally through its network of independent local Age Cymru partners.
Age Cymru is committed to achieving an age friendly Wales where older people have equal rights to respect, opportunities and the same access to services as the rest of the population.

About Age Cymru
· Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales
· We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales.
· Age affects us all in different ways. We cannot promise good health, but we should be able to ensure good care for all of us. When we find loneliness, we will reach out. When age becomes a burden, we will lighten the load.
· Age Cymru will campaign. We will fundraise. We will research. We will make the powers that be listen.
· Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436.
· Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284.
· Registered office address: Tŷ John Pathy, 13/14 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ.
· We work with local Age Cymru Partners across Wales to improve life for older people.
· Age Cymru is funded by donations from the public, corporate partners, our retail and trading enterprises and the Welsh Government.
Advice films -

Winter Celebration Grants
As part of our national Spread the Warmth campaign, we're encouraging applications for a ‘Winter Celebration’ grant of up to £150 from new and established groups, so that older people can come together for a social occasion between 1 November 2016 and 28 February 2017.
Social connections give us the opportunity for emotional support, material help, and information that we need to thrive and enjoy quality of life and good health. For more information about our grant, please visit our website

About Age Cymru Sir Gar
We are a local charity that has been supporting older people living in Carmarthenshire for 20 years. The support we offer is wide ranging and much of it can be accessed for free.
For example, we offer an advocacy for the over 50s in Carmarthenshire.
Do you have a problem you can’t resolve and need some help and guidance? We have advocates that can help you and others to understand the problem, look for a solution and get it resolved.
Find out more on our website, or get in touch.
Website -
Age Cymru Sir Gâr
Unit 5-11
LEC Workshops
100 Trostre Road
SA15 2EA
01554 784080

Derek Quinnell the guest speaker at Ammanford Rotary dinner

Ammanford Rotary Club members are hosting a special rugby-themed evening on Monday November 7 at Ammanford Civic Hall (7pm).
The evening will feature Llanelli, Wales and British Lions rugby legend Derek Quinnell 'And Friends'.
The evening is a fundraiser for the Ray Gravell and Friends Charitable Trust.
If you would like to support this event, tickets are £20 and, besides 'Derek And Friends', the evening consists of a two-course meal, raffle and secret auction.
If the Rotary Club is able to raise £500 on the night, Lloyds Bank have offered to cash-match the sum.

Tickets are available at ISmooth Community Cafe 8-10 College Street Ammanford 01269 597640.

Birds live longer with extra DNA, according to Aberystwyth study

An Aberystwyth PhD student has discovered that birds with additional DNA may live longer lives.
In research published in the journal 'Aging', IBERS PhD student Ilze Skujina screened hundreds of mitochondrial DNA sequences for the presence of duplications and demonstrated that they are found significantly more often in longer-lived bird species.
Ilze said “Understanding how ageing happens in different groups of species like birds may provide insights into ageing in humans.”
The mechanics of flight utilises a large amount of energy and results in higher body temperatures but despite this, birds live longer than mammals of equal size.
Mitochondria are the 'batteries' of cells and generate chemical energy that every cell in the body can use. Mitochondria play an essential dual role in maintaining a constant body temperature and in generating energy, which both link to expected lifespan.
Dr Rob Mc Mahon, Ilze’s PhD supervisor said “One theory of ageing is that the mitochondria accumulate DNA damage over time. Unlike mammals, some bird species have a duplicate copy of the part of the mitochondrial DNA that regulates its function.
It is not yet known if the presence of this duplication facilitates a longer lifespan or is a consequence of some other factor related to lifespan, but Ilze's PhD aims to investigate this further.”
Recent work in mammalian ageing has demonstrated that mitochondrial copy number and function decline with age in many species including humans.
Ilze said “To investigate whether the presence of this duplication may play a similar role in longevity to mitochondrial copy number in mammals, we correlated body mass and longevity in 92 avian families and demonstrate a significant association between the presence of the duplicated material and birds with above the expected lifespan.
Further research is required but these findings provide an intriguing hint of how mitochondrial sequences may be related to an extended lifespan.”
This research was partly funded by the award of the Dr Owen Price PhD studentship to Ilze, Fujitsu and HPC Wales to Dr. Vasileios Panagiotis Lenis (who assisted with the computational analysis) and BBSRC Institute Discretionary Funding to Drs. Rob McMahon and Matt Hegarty (Ilze's supervisors).

Photo: Ilze Skujina at work in the lab

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is an internationally recognised research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. IBERS scientists conduct basic, strategic and applied research from genes and molecules to organisms and the environment.
IBERS receives strategic research funding from the BBSRC to support long term mission driven research, and is a member of the National Institutes of Bioscience. IBERS also benefits from financial support from the Welsh Government, DEFRA and the European Union.

About Aberystwyth University
Established in 1872, Aberystwyth is a leading teaching and research university. In the 2016 National Student Survey, the University was ranked the best in Wales and one of the top ten higher education institutions in the UK for overall student satisfaction. It is one of the top 40 universities in the UK according to the Times Higher Education’s World Rankings 2015-16 and is 35th in the UK for ‘Research Quality’ (Sunday Times University Guide 2015). The University is a community of around 11,000 students and 2,000 staff and is about creating opportunities, research with excellence that makes an impact, teaching that inspires, engaging the world, working in partnership and investing in our future. Registered charity No 1145141.

Aberystwyth law students help run free legal advice clinic

A pioneering module at the Aberystwyth Law School will offer free advice on family law to local people.
The monthly drop-in sessions will be led by leading family law expert Emma Williams who graduated with a degree in Law from Aberystwyth University in 1996.
Ms Williams has specialised in family law for the past 20 years in the UK as well as internationally, and now has her own practice in Llandeilo.
From October 2016, she will be in the Elystan Morgan building of Aberystwyth’s School of Law on Llanbadarn Campus between 4-6pm every fourth Wednesday of the month.
During the two-hour clinic, Ms Williams will be observed by third-year students on the Law and Social Justice In Practice module. Students will also assist with paperwork.
“Students face a very steep learning curve when they leave university and are exposed for the first time to law in practice,” said Ms Williams.
“This innovative module will allow them to observe real life clients with real life problems. It will also offer affordable legal advice to local people.
“Students will not be able to give advice to clients of course – that will be solely my responsibility. They will also have had lectures on client confidentiality. However, if a client does not want a student present when they discuss their case, then their wishes will be respected.”
The module has been developed by Dr Ola Olusanya, a lecturer in Law and Criminology at Aberystwyth University.
“This is a unique chance for students to see law in action whilst they’re still studying at Aberystwyth University. Further, the interdisciplinary nature of this module will deepen the ability of our law students to learn transferable skills and to gain authentic work experience which will stand them in good stead when they enter the world of employment.
“We are very grateful to Emma Williams for her readiness to work with us and to share her vast knowledge of family law with our students and the wider community.”
Dr Olusanya is also working with other external organisations such as Citizens Advice to allow students to undertake law and social justice placements in their final year.

Photo: Emma Williams and Dr Ola Olusanya outside the Elystan Morgan building, Aberystwth Law School

Aberystwyth Law School:
Emma Williams:

Fundraising Curry Night for Goods Shed project raises more than £1000

A fundraising Curry Night for the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed project raised more than £1000.
The evening at the Ali Raj restaurant in Trinity Road, Llanelli, saw a fundraising auction which included artwork focussed on the Llanelli coastline and souvenirs from the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“It was a very successful evening and the total raised hit £1074,” said Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust project officer Robert Lloyd.
“Everyone enjoyed the occasion and our trustee the Rev Eldon Phillips dressed up as Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the occasion.
“It was very appropriate to have the event at the Ali Raj, which is just the other side of the tracks to the Goods Shed site in Marsh Street.”
The Goods Shed project aims to save and restore the derelict Grade II Listed railway station building (built in the Brunel style in 1875) and bring it back into life as a dynamic multi-purpose hub for the community.
“The project is moving on at some pace now as we have completed a whole series of development works, thanks to grant funding from the Big Lottery Wales CAT2 (capital asset transfer) scheme and the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales,” Mr Lloyd said
“We had a pot of more than £110,000 to spend on everything from structural reports, architectural plans, ecological and ground surveys, archaeological reports and traffic and highways proposals.
“A planning application for the site has been lodged with Carmarthenshire Council and we expect a decision before the end of November.
“The hard graft has now started on a variety of further grant applications for the capital funds needed for the building work. We will also be applying for revenue funding to employ people on site.
“The key message we want to get across is that this is a project designed to breathe new life into what is an historic building. Getting the support of the community and tapping into everyone’s ideas for the project is crucially important as the plans for the future use of the building take shape.”
The Goods Shed plan is the biggest independently-organised project of its kind in West Wales.
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith, chairman of the trustees, said: “The Shed is deceptively spacious, with an office block the size of a small community centre at one end, a vast cathedral-like main space, a full-height basement running the length of the building, and plenty of land outside to provide both off-street parking and activity areas.
“Currently, our plans include space for business start-ups, community café, heritage area with a real locomotive in situ, arts rehearsal and workshop space, video-making facilities, exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, training and work opportunities and community garden.
“But we appreciate we do not have a monopoly on ideas and still want to hear from members of the public and interested community groups and businesses about the types of activities they would like to see in the building.”

If you would like to find out more, or have suggestions to make, please see our website or contact our project officer on Robert Lloyd on email on or phone 07777 683637

The chain gang: representatives of Carmarthenshire Council, Llanelli Town Council and Llanelli Rural Council attended the Curry Night.
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith with guests at the Curry Night held at the Ali Raj restaurant in Trinity Road, Llanelli.
Rev Eldon Phillips, a Goods Shed Trust Trustee, dressed up as Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Curry Night.

The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column from the Carmarthenshire Herald

The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column from the Carmarthenshire Herald.
By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants.

The taxman at HMRC has announced further details of the new Tax Free childcare scheme which is to be introduced in 2017.
To be eligible, families will have to have all parents in work and each expecting to earn at least £115 per week and less than £100,000 a year and not be already receiving support through Tax Credits or Universal Credit.
The government will top up the account with 20% of childcare costs up to a total of £10,000 - the equivalent of up to £2,000 support per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).
HMRC are asking childcare providers to register for the scheme as soon as possible.
Tax-Free Childcare will be launched from early 2017.
The scheme will be rolled out gradually to families, with parents of the youngest children able to apply first.
Parents will be able to apply for all their children at the same time, when their youngest child becomes eligible.
All eligible parents will be able to join the scheme by the end of 2017.
The current system of employer supported childcare will continue to be available for current members if they wish to remain in it or they can switch to the new scheme.
Employer supported childcare will continue to be open to new joiners until April 2018.
The existing system of employer supported childcare provides an income tax and national insurance contributions (NIC) relief.
The maximum relief is an exemption from income tax and NIC on £55 a week.
This relief is per employee so if both parents are in employment the maximum exemption is £110 per week. In the new scheme the limit is per child.
Throughout the last few months of 2016, letters are being sent to regulated and approved childcare providers asking them to sign up online for Tax-Free Childcare.
Only childcare providers registered with a regulator (such as Ofsted) can receive Tax-Free Childcare payments.
The government will make more information available, including details of how parents can sign up, later this year.
In other news, some tax reminders -
PAYE quarterly payments are due for small employers for the pay periods 6th July 2016 to 5th October 2016
This deadline is relevant to small employers only.
As a small employer with income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions of less than £1,500 a month you are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions on a quarterly basis.
Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is Friday 21st October 2016 unless you are able to arrange a 'Faster Payment' to clear on or by Saturday 22nd October.
In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.
PAYE, Student loan and CIS deductions are due for the month to 5th October 2016
This deadline is relevant to employers who have made PAYE deductions from their employees' salaries and to contractors who have paid subcontractors under the CIS.
Employers are required to make payment to HMRC of the income tax, national insurance and student loan deductions. Contractors are required to make payment to HMRC of the tax deductions made from subcontractors under the CIS.
Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for receipt of cleared payment is Friday 21st October 2016 unless you are able to arrange a 'Faster Payment' to clear on or by 22nd October 2016. In year interest will be charged if payment is made late. Penalties also apply.
Tax and NI is due under a 2015/16 PAYE Settlement Agreement.
This deadline is relevant for employers who have entered into a PAYE settlement agreement to pay tax and national insurance in respect of benefits in kind for their employees for the year ended 5th April 2016.
Where the payment is made electronically the deadline for cleared receipt of cleared payment is Friday 21st October 2016 unless you are able to arrange a 'Faster Payment' to clear on or by Saturday 22nd October 2016.

You can find out more about money matters on the Clay Shaw Butler website (under our news for business section) -
We have a strong and experienced team with great local knowledge all geared-up to helping you get the very best from your finances – whether that is as an individual or as a business.
We stay ahead of the game by putting great store by continual professional development for our staff.
With Investors In People status at Clay Shaw Butler, we care passionately about making sure our staff have all the tools they need to serve you, our customers.

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The team at Clay Shaw Butler can be contacted on 01267 228500.
The team at Clay Shaw Butler are on Twitter. Look for @clayshawbutler.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Warning on Halloween costume materials

Parents are being urged to take care when dressing their children up in costumes for Halloween.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Trading Standards team and the Community Safety Partnership are warning parents to ensure flammable costume materials are kept well away from naked flames.
The flammability of costumes has featured in the media since a tragic accident involving the eight-year-old daughter of Strictly Come Dancing star Claudia Winkleman, who suffered severe burns when her witch costume caught fire after allegedly coming into contact with or close to a pumpkin candle on Halloween 2014.
Cllr Jim Jones, Executive Board Member for Public Protection, said: “We urge parents to take extra care when children are wearing costumes near candles and naked flames this Halloween.”
Cllr Pam Palmer, Chair of the Carmarthenshire Community Safety Partnership, added: “The tragic accident involving Claudia Winkleman’s daughter should serve as a reminder of the dangers of flammable materials. Enjoy the celebrations, but please take care."
Carmarthenshire County Council supports Operation BANG (Be. A. Nice. Guy), follow #OpBANG updates on Twitter

Ammanford man breached planning enforcement notice

An Ammanford man has been prosecuted for failing to obey a notice to stop living at his business premises.
Phillip Lewis pleaded guilty at Llanelli Magistrates Court on Monday to breaching an enforcement notice issued by Carmarthenshire County Council.
The court heard that Mr Lewis was living in a caravan at the commercial premises Enclosure Tec in Shands Road, Ammanford, without the benefit of planning permission.
In addition he had attached an extension to the caravan, created an amenity space with several dog kennels, and also converted an office building into two residential flats both without the benefit of planning permission.
Mr Lewis was served with an enforcement notice seeking removal of the caravan and extension and to cease residential use of the land with which he did not comply.
He was also required to revert the unauthorised residential flats to office space, with which he did comply.
He was fined £300, and ordered to pay £282.70 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.
Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member for planning enforcement Cllr Jim Jones said: “The local authority takes enforcement of planning rules seriously and we will investigate all breaches of planning control. We will prosecute when necessary.”