Today we were all impressed by the address by Mrs Katie Macro, who is the Community Co-ordinator for our Air Ambulance Service Charity and works from the head office in Llanelli.
Our Air Ambulance Service covers the whole of Wales from 8am-8pm every day. Last year they covered 3,600 missions. Since 2001 they have operated 34,211 missions and 20% were in S & W Wales. (Sounds like the missions that Spitfires & Mosquitoes completed in WW2). They work closely with the other emergency services and it costs about £6.5 million a year to keep one fully equipped and operational. The aim is to have a 24 hour service, and this would be possible but would need an additional injection of about £6m.
There are 5 Helicopters in all – the H145 Airbus which can travel at 150 mph and which is fully equipped for emergency transfer to the nearest appropriate hospital and which can include a NHS doctor and also H135 which is especially equipped for children and young people, pregnant mums with problems etc. There have been occasions where the patient has been in Theatre before the family could arrive.
What is most impressive is that the helicopters can reach everyone in Wales, after take off time, in 20 minutes. All they need is a site about the size of a tennis court to land – which we know all about at Withybush Hospital.
Katie illustrated the help they were able to give for a 4yr old boy who had two hours to be taken to London for an emergency liver transplant, and who received the surgery far quicker from any one here could get to London, and also for someone who had driven off a cliff at St Davids. (I am still puzzling about this one!)
Katie is charged with Community Fund Raising and welcomes volunteers and fund raising events to help with the running of the Wales Air Ambulance Service. She can be contacted on e-mail: email@example.com or 07817 961 207.
The Chairman thanked Katie for joining us and presented her with a voluntary collection of £120.15p from our members towards her fundraising
Carol Matthews (helped by Bob) talks about Growing up in Merlin’s Bridge
In 2010 when Bob & I were planning our move back to Pembrokeshire our friends in Owlsmoor were intrigued by our address i.e. Merlin’s Bridge. Although growing up here I’d never given it a thought but after arriving here we began looking into the meaning which we discovered had nothing whatsoever to do with a wizard but was just a derivation of ‘Maudlin.’ We also started looking at the old postcards which my parents had inherited from my great aunts – they were my maternal grandmother’s sisters who had been ‘in service’ all their lives & as I said if my Great Aunt Polly had been alive today she would have been constantly on social media because she was a prolific sender of postcards & therefore also received many postcards! Many of these were views throughout Pembrokeshire which inspired us to go out & try & take the exact modern day views – not always easy as trees had grown up or access was barred due to buildings etc. However, it seems that we all enjoy nostalgia & we still have more postcards to match up with today’s views so when we have time we could possibly do another ‘Memories of Pembrokeshire’!
A most enjoyable, amusing and illuminating talk was given by Mr Mark Fowler at our meeting on 5th February on the history of the coracle. Martin is the owner/manager of the Cenarth Coracle Museum by the Mill. (I remember buying flour from that mill many, many years ago). With a collection of old historic photographs displayed on the screen, Mark took us though the ages of the craft of coracle making. It is hard for us now to realise that this industry was first recorded about 1800 BC when it was necessary to move people and animals across rivers.There is evidence that Noah’s Ark (which would have been about half the size of a football pitch by today’s standards) was built in this traditional way, and especially the ‘Moses’ basket which features in our Bible.Martin illustrated (with his caricature friend Dai) how the coracle was developed and built to cope with the different waterways and needs; but always with the flat bottom for stability but evolved with a square front for steering safely. Basically, they are of wood and bitumen, however in some countries they were lined with animal skins and in Dakota they were traditionally covered with the pelts of bison. When you think that a man rowed a coracle many years ago from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and also a man rowed a Coracle across the English Channel it proves the design and strength they are famous for.
Back to the UK – coracles were used on the Rivers Severn, Towy and many others, but we have our own on the Teifi. Martin’s cartoon pictures of Dai were wonderful with great captions, I think the one we liked best was the Dai-li-Lama and Dai from Wales!
For several years we have enjoyed entertainment as part of the Annual General Meeting this year this was provided by The Ukulele Pirates. Ten enthusiastic musicians who played Ukuleles of varying sizes, guitars, and piano accordion it was an absolute treat. There were songs of past eras, to which many of our members were able join in and our Chairman took to the floor with a gentleman who had been brave enough to dance alone (caught on camera!) , well done to both of them. The Venue had been changed so we were warm and the buffet lunch was outstanding a truly memorable morning
The speaker was Frank Harries BEM whose talk was entitled “Through the years, a full life” and what a full life he led. His father began his working life as a wheelwright in Pembroke Dock. He subsequently joining the army and taking his family to Gibraltar. Whilst on holiday in the Spanish City of Seville the Spanish Civil War broke out and Frank watched as bombs fell from the sky finding the experience exciting, but not realising how many people were being maimed and killed. Frank showed photographs of his family, Ration Books and Identity Cards issued at the beginning of the Second World War. Living in Pembroke Dock at this time he became an Altar boy and remembered the American Soldiers billeted in the area. Joining the army at the age of 18 Frank found himself in the Malayan Jungle searching out communists. It appears our hero was something of a footballer and played as goal keeper for Llanelli but in the days when footballers had a “day job” this proved too much for him. In his later days Frank became a referee and in retirement he joined the Rotary and became something of a fundraiser in fact he raised the staggering sum of £200,000.00. Indeed a very full life and still going at the ripe age of 90 it could make one’s own life seem somewhat dull!
Eleanor Parker gave a most interesting and enlightening insight into the work carried out by the Royal Voluntary Service. It is difficult to move away from wishing to refer to the Service as the WRVS, perhaps because that was how it was known until 2013 when it was decided, because of the number of male volunteers, it should simply be known as the Royal Voluntary Service.
Founded in 1938 by Lady Stella Reading, and then known as the Women’s Voluntary Services for Air Raid Precautions, it is now the largest volunteering organisation in British history. The Queen granted the organisation Royal status in 1966 in recognition of the work undertaken by the Service. There was a time when each Hospital had a WRVS tea bar sadly now replaced by Costa!
Eleanor spoke in the main on the subject of befriending. The Service has become a leading organisation in the field of social care, and has around 20,000 volunteers who give of their time to help make communities stronger particularly providing support for older people to remain active.
The popular workshop ‘Interest Groups Matter’ is coming to Carmarthen on the 21st October 2019. Interest groups are the lifeblood of the U3A. How do you keep them vibrant and accessible and encourage people to lead? This workshop will help to provide an opportunity to discuss some of the challenges and how to respond. It will also provide opportunities for networking and learning from each other’s experiences.
The workshop is free to attend. Come along group leaders (or those interested in becoming a group leader) and group coordinators as well as committee members. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Click on the “Book Now” link below for further information and booking details.
Barry Vaughan was brought up on a farm near Clarbeston Road and attended Haverfordwest Grammar School so he is a familiar figure with many of our members.
Barry was employed as general manager at Withybush Hospital and when this job folded he found work in a very large, modern, high-tech hospital in the Royal Commission hospital Jubail, Saudi Arabia. There are two directorates of the Royal Commission, Jubail is on the east coast near Kuwait and Bahrain and Yanbu, is on the west coast near Jeddah and the Holy City of Mecca.
There are very distinct rules which foreigners have to follow when living in Saudi Arabia. Because he was in overall charge of the hospital he was the person who had to mediate with the authorities when a member of his staff knowingly or more often or not unknowingly broke one of these rules. Some of the problems that he encountered had the audience in fits of laughter but the way he dealt with the problems was imaginative and could have had serious consequences if he hadn’t been so diplomatic. He was in post during the first Gulf War and he vividly described the terror when the oil tanks at Kuwait were set alight, apparently the smoke was so dense that day was turned to night and the once prestine white hospital was turned black.
A big thank you is in order because Barry came to talk to us at very short notice, nevertheless, he gave us a fascinating insight into living and working in a country with such a different culture.