Pictures: More pets from across Gwent South Wales Argus
HERE is your weekly fix of pets from around Gwent.
Each week we bring you a selection of pictures which readers have sent in of their beloved pets.
If you want to be part of this just to go www.southwalesargus.co.uk/pets/ and fill in the quick and easy Q&A.
Ellie Davies, eight, of Blaenavon, shared this picture of her sausage dog Buddy, who loves sitting in the sunshine on the garden table.
Lloyd Miller, of Newport, sent in this picture of Grace, who was bred from his parents’ dog. He said: “Grace likes to keep busy going on long walks, meeting new dogs and making friends while on a walk. Grace likes to explore new areas by travelling on the train. Grace loves to splash and get wet to cool off on a hot day.”
Jacqui Hill sent in this picture of Charlie, a Welsh sheepdog loving the beach.
Melanie Samuel shared this picture of her bunnies, Ben and Holly.
Beckie Price sent in this picture of her two-year-old rescue dog Nala.
A police officer who used to catch criminals now finds himself living among them after he was jailed for perverting the course of justice. Disgraced PC Abubakar Masum rang Crimestoppers and made a false report that a woman had shot a drug dealer – which resulted in armed police turning up to her place of work.
His trial heard that he made up the bogus claim after becoming “obsessed” with the 21-year-old Mia Pitman. Masum, who has since been booted out from South Wales Police, denied he’d done anything wrong but was convicted following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
The 24-year-old was found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of gaining unauthorised access to the police computer system. He was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment and made subject to an indefinite restraining order.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Fitton QC said Masum’s offences were “substantially aggravated” because it was committed while serving as a police officer. He added: “It’s quite clear you are a deeply complex and troubled man. One side of you presents a genuine wish to help others and other side of was suggested by the Crown at trial to be motivated or influenced in what was termed as an obsession with Mia Pitman.
“I don’t think that’s at the heart of the trial, I think at the heart of this is not an obsession with Mia Pitman but yourself. You are so wrapped up in your own feelings about yourself, your personality, you background and your own desires that you do not comprehend the harm you have done to Mia Pitman and others….
“As a course of conduct committed by a police officer, you have done harm not just to your victim and her associates but to your family and for that you should hang your head in shame. You have also done huge harm to the police whose reputation suffers every time an officer breaks the law and ends up in prison.”
The trial previously heard Masum, of Page Street, Swansea, invented claims about Tesco worker and university student Ms Pitman, and lied to a Crimestoppers operator that she had shot an Albanian. He made a number of anonymous calls one of which resulted in armed police attending Ms Pitman’s workplace.
Criminology graduate Ms Pitman told the jury she had trusted Masum and thought he was her friend. She said she felt “scared and upset” when she repeatedly faced questions from police because the defendant had accused her of criminality. Masum told the jury he was “absolutely” attracted to the then-21-year-old Ms Pitman but denied being obsessed with her, as the prosecution claimed. Though the officer admitted lying to Ms Pitman that he was single, he claimed he did not tell lies about her.
Ms Pitman met the defendant in a nightclub and began exchanging on social media, but around Christmas 2019 the messages became more frequent and flirty. The court heard she was concerned Masum had a girlfriend at the time and he would not answer her when asked directly about it.
There was a confrontation at Fiction nightclub in Swansea when the defendant happened to be there at the same time as Ms Pitman and her ex-boyfriend Thomas Evans. Masum had remarked the pair were “obviously back together”, the court heard. In a clash between the two men Mr Evans “clipped” the chin of Masum and left the club before he could be ejected, said prosecutor William Hughes QC. Masum went to Ms Pitman’s home with her and stayed the night. The next morning he was speaking about the Fiction incident and repeatedly said: “I’ll have him done”, according to Ms Pitman.
Mr Hughes said Masum’s first malicious call came on February 16, 2020, when the defendant told Crimestoppers he had been assaulted at Fiction by Thomas Evans. Masum said Mr Evans was planning to come back to Swansea soon to “throw acid” in his face. Mr Evans had already admitted to police that he had assaulted Masum. The incident was being dealt with by a community resolution rather than a prosecution. But when Crimestoppers passed their notes to police, Mr Evans was arrested. He spent nine hours in police custody before being released and accepting a caution. He denied making any threats to Masum and found the experience upsetting.
“[Masum and Ms Pitman] remained in contact and at some point Mr Masum asked her go out to coffee with him but she refused as she thought he was still involved with his girlfriend,” said Mr Hughes. One of Ms Pitman’s Tesco colleagues was Leon Croucher. The court heard Ms Pitman had a “blossoming friendship” with him. Masum used a South Wales Police computer to search for details about him on March 18, 2020, typing the words “Croucher” and “Swansea”.
In a call to Crimestoppers on March 20 Masum said Ms Pitman was “storing a handgun on behalf of Leon Croucher”. He told the operator: “Croucher is a known Class A drug dealer who is also a student. Tomorrow night they are planning to shoot Ellis Lewis in a nightclub in Swansea. It is not known which club but they frequent Peppermint and Fiction… it is understood Lewis owes Croucher money for drugs.”
Ms Pitman was working in Tesco on March 20 when armed officers attended. She was told police had searched her home looking for a firearm. Ms Pitman was asked questions about Mr Croucher before she was allowed to return home. In the search of Ms Pitman’s home armed officers handcuffed her housemate and placed him in a South Wales Police van. Nothing was found to suggest Ms Pitman or Mr Croucher were involved in criminality, said the prosecutor.
Ms Pitman went to her parents’ home for a few days. She continued to post on Snapchat and exchanged messages with Masum. When she asked if he knew what had happened Masum said he did not and when she told him about the police incident he offered her another premises to stay at. She had no inkling he was involved.
Masum made another anonymous call to Crimestoppers on May 17. The notes read: “Mia is holding a firearm for her partner Leon Croucher. The weapon is buried in the garden and will be dug up tonight for a planned murder tomorrow.”
He alleged there would be a “drug drop” and the recipient of the drugs would be shot. Ms Pitman would be driving to the location in a car with false plates, he claimed. Two officers attended Ms Pitman’s home as a result of the call and asked if there was a firearm in the garden. She became “very upset”, the court heard. The officers found nothing suspicious in the home.
Ms Pitman decided to block Mr Croucher on social media and stop speaking to him at work because she thought he was involved. She messaged Masum on Snapchat to say police had questioned her again. This time she felt his attitude was different, “quite cold and shrugging off what he was told”, the court heard.
Masum then called Crimestoppers on May 27 to say: “Leon Croucher is living with Mia Pitman and keeping a 9mm Glock handgun at the property and posting images of the gun on Instagram.” Ms Pitman later decided to block Masum on Snapchat after learning from a coworker that the defendant was still in a relationship with someone else. The day after Masum was blocked he called Crimestoppers again and said: “Mia Pitman is selling large amounts of cocaine and in possession of a black Glock gun… buried in the garden.”
Masum told the tip-off line that Ms Pitman had “relinquished ties” to an Albanian drug gang and was now affiliated with “their enemies, the Harris brothers”. He claimed Ms Pitman had a gun linked to a raid on an Albanian-linked property in Birchgrove. This information could only have been known by a police officer or one of the criminals involved, the court heard.
The defendant called the line twice on June 22 saying Ms Pitman had posted a video on Snapchat “threatening an unknown male on a hillside with a firearm”. The caller described Ms Pitman as “an attractive girl who will play innocent”.
There were two more calls on July 11, claiming there had been a murder in Swansea and the body had not yet been found but it was linked to “an ongoing feud between the Harris twins and Albanian drug dealers”. Masum alleged Ms Pitman had posted on Snapchat about shooting an Albanian drug dealer in the leg and putting him in a van before his body was “dumped” in Rhossili Bay.
Police were by now investigating malicious calls to Crimestoppers. They interviewed Ms Pitman, who mentioned her connection to Masum. He was arrested on July 21. Mr Hughes said the reports to Crimestoppers led to 200 hours of police time being used up while “innocent members of the public have been subject to upsetting, humiliating and ultimately frightening intrusions into their lives by South Wales Police – all as a result, we say, of malicious calls from this defendant”.
In a victim personal statement read out to the court, Ms Pitman said she found visits made by the police at workplace as “frightening and embarrassing”. She added: “I hadn’t done anything in my life to warrant the police coming to see me and I found it hard to deal with.” She said she was left feeling “paranoid” and lost her self-confidence as she did not know who had fabricated the false reports.
She did not return to university but remained at her home with her parents, feeling “suspicious and wary”. She also said her family had been affected and were constantly worried about her, with Ms Pitman required to share her location with them. She said she also suffered nightmares about the defendant and found it hard to concentrate on her university work.
Ms Pitman said: “To find out it was someone I knew and had only been nice to me was very sad. Once I discovered it was Mas I became a different kind of paranoid. I was afraid and worried about bumping into him, if he would say anything to me or do anything. I thought he was a lovely person but thankfully I have not seen him and I hope it stays that way.
In mitigation, defence barrister Graham Trembath said his client had lost his job and a long-term relationship of six-years as a result of his offending. He said what made the case “so bizarre” was the fact Masum and Ms Pitman had only met in person three times and he described the defendant as a “Walter Mitty” character who made “wild and florid” accusations against his victims.
The barrister also described Masum as a “complex young male” who had experienced a number of adverse experiences including abuse, poverty, parental death, racial bullying, and mental health issues. He also said there were traits of personality disorder which needed to be considered.
Following the hearing, John Griffiths of the CPS said: “Abubakar Masum deliberately abused his position of power as a police officer. The potential consequences of his actions were extremely serious. Having heard the strength of evidence presented by the CPS the jury convicted Masum and he has been brought to justice for his grave breach of trust.”
Tribute paid to crash victim Sean Buffin from Ebbw Vale South Wales Argus
TRIBUTES have been paid to a “big friendly giant” who died in a crash on the A449.
The man who died in a crash on the A449 between Usk and Newport on Thursday, May 5, has been named as 49-year-old Sean Buffin from Ebbw Vale.
His next of kin have been informed and are receiving support from Gwent Police’s specialist officers.
Paying tribute to Mr Buffin, his family said:
“We’ve been so shocked and deeply saddened by the death of our beloved son and brother Sean.
“He was our big friendly giant, who always had time for everyone. He leaves a huge hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him and will be missed more than we can say.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the emergency service personnel that attended the scene and tried to help Sean on that morning.”
The crash, which occurred at around 5.30am on May 5 involved a car (a Vauxhall Astra) and a lorry.
Emergency services – including Welsh Ambulance Service, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and Gwent Police (who assisted with traffic management) – were at the scene.
A spokesman for Gwent Police said:
“The driver of the Vauxhall Astra, a 49-year-old man from the Ebbw Vale area, was pronounced dead at the scene by personnel from the Welsh Air Ambulance.
“We’re asking for anyone who may have witnessed the collision or any motorists with dashcam footage that were using the A449 between 5.15am and 5.45am and between Usk and Newport to contact us.”
You can call Gwnet Police on 101 or send them a direct message on Facebook or Twitter, quoting log reference 2200148254, with any details.
Alternatively, people can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A former team-mate once described him as phenomenal, while another called him a freak athlete, but Ollie Griffiths still has only one Wales cap in his locker and the years are ticking by.
Injuries have checked him whenever he seems poised to make a breakthrough.
But 27-year-old has the remarkable ability to engage top form immediately after returning from time on the sidelines and he did so for the Dragons against the Ospreys in Swansea last Sunday, with a whale of a performance that saw him make 19 tackles without a single miss, pass the ball 15 times and contribute nine carries for 34 metres. Griffiths was also strong over the ball.
It was an eye-popping effort from a player who’d been out since late March with a groin problem resulting from a collision against the Bulls in Pretoria which Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan described as a truck smash.
Really, a player who’d been inactive for seven weeks shouldn’t be able to perform like Griffiths did on his return.
But the former Newport RFC captain breezed it, and Ryan believes the versatile forward who can play across the back row is someone whose name will figure in Wales discussions for the summer tour of South Africa, with the squad announced next Tuesday.
Asked if he was pleased with Griffiths’ effort against the Ospreys, the team boss said: “I’m always pleased with Ollie Griffiths — his ability to come back and perform immediately. He’s had a lot of practice at it, sadly.
“I certainly think he’s somebody who’d be forcing his name into discussions for the summer.
“In any discussion I’ve ever had, everybody’s a great advocate of Ollie’s.
“What we have to do is keep him on the field week-in, week-out more often.
“I think he’s done that this year.
“He’s returned very quickly and he’s returned straight in form.”
Ahead of the Dragons hosting Cardiff in Friday’s United Rugby Championship derby at Rodney Parade, Ryan added: “If he puts in a performance like he did last week in another derby, then I see it as hard for him not to be discussed at the top level.”
It was Richard Hibbard who once classed Griffiths as phenomenal, while Ed Jackson described him as a freak athlete. Ex-Dragons coach Lyn Jones is also a fan, previously going on record to WalesOnline to sing the Newbridge-born player’s praises. “Ollie was as hard-working and fit as any player I’ve had the privilege to coach,” said Jones, who guided the Dragons between 2013 and 2016.
“His standards were equal to anyone in Wales at the time. He did things in the contact area that were special for his size, he could bump tackles and get over the ball to either slow possession or simply take it from opponents.
“When he came into the side at the age of 19, he raised our standard of play. Wales are blessed with significant competition at seven but Ollie will add to it and better it when given his chance.”
Griffiths’ problem on the Wales front is the abundance of back-row options available to Wayne Pivac, despite multiple injuries. Morgan Morris and James Botham have also been playing well, offering Pivac options at No. 8 and on the flanks, while Jac Morgan has been outstanding and Tommy Reffell not far behind. Pivac is an admirer of Josh Macleod , with Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faletau sure to travel. You can read more about Griffiths here.
Taine Basham is also still in the hunt to make the trip, having shown his quality during the autumn series and against Ireland in the Six Nations, but the Dragons opt to leave him on the bench for the game with Cardiff, with Ben Fry starting. They are led by the ultra-consistent Harri Keddie, a largely unsung player outside the region but one who has been performing consistently well.
Ryan is close to being head of the Harri Keddie Appreciation Society, and feels, as with Griffiths, the hard-working blindside or No. 8 should be in contention for the South Africa tour.
“If you want to look at numbers around work, he’s the highest performer in our squad week-in, week-out,” said Ryan.
“He’s clearly resilient, he’s hit consistent form and is really physical.
“There are lots of back-rowers in Wales, but Harrison Keddie’s name would definitely be part of their (the national selectors) discussions.”
The derby in Newport could be revealing, with Cardiff boasting a back-row made up of Botham, Navidi and Ratti, all in Wales contention themselves.
Pivac will be watching the audition closely.
Ammanford surfer snaps major win in National Championships South Wales Guardian
When it comes to the waves, little Elijah Jones is a force to be reckoned with.
Despite being two years younger than some of the strongest young surfers that Wales has to offer, Elijah scooped third prize in the Welsh National Surfing Championships for under 14s at Freshwater West this weekend.
The slightly-statured 12-year-old lined up alongside two dozen towering 14-year-olds to surf his way to glory through one heat, a semi-final and the overall final.
“It was incredible to see him,” said proud dad Jonathan Jones. “He may be smaller than the rest, but his commitment and love for surfing is something else.”
Elijah spent his early years in Cape Verde on the west Coast of Africa.
“And this probably explains his love of water sports, as neither myself nor my wife know the first thing about surfing,” laughs Jonathan.
“But water sports is a big thing along the west coast of Africa so naturally this was something that Elijah was encouraged to do from a very young age.”
And needless to say, Elijah and his surfboard took to the Atlantic Ocean like a duck to water.
When his parents, Jonathan and Alison, decided to leave Cape Verde and return to their former home in Tycroes, Ammanford, the surfboard remained an essential item in Elijah’s luggage.
Despite living a fair distance away from the coast, he regularly travels to the Pembrokeshire Surf School at Newgale and has additional training sessions all over the country whenever time allows.
His main coach is Phil Sadler. Elijah is also a member of the RNLI surf club at Porthmawr Surf Lifesaving Club in Whitesands.
“I’m his glorified taxi driver,” continued Jonathan. “But seeing how much Elijah gets back from it, and watching him spend so much time outdoors makes it all worthwhile.”
Meanwhile Elijah is learning to juggle life as a Year 7 student at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman with the surfing competition calendar.
Later this summer he will be competing in New Quay Cornwall however, if the weather conditions are favourable, his surfing season will continue well into the winter.
“As long as the enthusiasm is there, we’ll continue supporting him all the way,” added Jonathan.
Part of Bridgend town centre has reopened after an incident late on Wednesday night. South Wales Police initially said it expected the area remain closed “for some time”.
In a tweet, police said an area between the Bridgend County Borough Council Offices and the Rhiw Multi-storey car park has been closed and drivers are being asked to avoid the area. No details about the nature of the incident have been released at this stage, but police said motorists should use alternative routes where possible.
In a tweet at 11.15pm, South Wales Police said: “The road is currently closed between Water Street and Angel Street – Bridgend (near the Council Offices and The Rhiw car park) It is expected to remain closed for some time. Motorists are advised to avoid the area and use alternative routes where possible.”
However, 30 minutes later at 11.45pm police said the road had reopened.
Scroll down for updates as we get them.
For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.
The Welsh full-back jersey seems in secure hands this summer, with Liam Williams set to retain his spot in Wayne Pivac’s squad next week.
However, it might just be a little too secure – with little in the way of competition. Hallam Amos has retired, while Jonah Holmes isn’t eligible for Test selection after signing a deal with Ealing Trailfinders.
Leigh Halfpenny won’t be touring as he recovers from a bad knee injury, while there’s no guarantee Johnny McNicholl – who started in the 15 jersey in the defeat to Italy last time out – will be fit.
So right now, it could well be Williams and A. N. Others when Pivac names his squad next week. But who will the next cab, or cabs, off the rank be? Significant, because what happens if Williams joins Wales’ extensive injury list? Who would fill in at 15 then against the world champions?
These are the men Pivac will be pondering ahead of his squad announcement next week.
At 28, Collins is hardly one for the future. But with the World Cup a year out, Pivac likely won’t care too much if he feels Collins could do a job.
Capable of playing in midfield and at full-back, the Ospreys man’s versatility could be a tempting proposition for the Wales coach. Perhaps lacking in top-end pace for Test rugby, he counters that with a multi-faceted game and a true rugby intelligence.
His eye for a line is a useful trait either in midfield or at full-back, with his braces of tries against the Dragons at the start of the season the perfect example of this.
In the reverse fixture on the weekend, he showed his ability to cut through the line, stepping inside Josh Lewis to put Reuben Morgan Williams over for a try.
Only the week before, he’d shown his vision on transition ball, picking out Keelan Giles with a long, looping pass after the Ospreys had turned over the Scarlets. He’d be on hand to support Giles and receive the scoring pass from the wing moment later.
But that vision to spot an attacking opportunity is something Wales have lacked on turnover ball under Pivac so far. Given how crucial that was for Pivac at the Scarlets, it wouldn’t hurt to have more players who can take advantage of the opportunities present immediately after possession changes hands.
When Lloyd made his Wales debut back in the autumn of 2020, the expectation was that many more caps would follow shortly after. That hasn’t been the case, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the versatile Lloyd tries to figure out which position is best for him.
Capable of playing fly-half, centre, wing or full-back, it was the latter where Lloyd won his two Welsh caps against Georgia and Italy – albeit off the bench. Those matches showed some promise – with most full-backs likely to have been proud of claiming any sort of high ball in Llanelli’s horizontal rain.
However, there were a few defensive issues which needed to be ironed out. Against Italy in his second cap, he was bumped off all too easily by Johan Meyer as the openside romped over for a try.
“One of the areas that he’s really improved is defence,” said Bristol Bears coach Pat Lam earlier this year. “That’s what Wayne asked for when he came back. Omar Mouneimne has done a great job on his tackle technique.”
However, as part of his development under Lam, the sense is that his future lies around the 10-12 axis. Saying that, most of his appearances this season have been in the back-three – with a fair few at 15.
His future still seems a little undecided in terms of a position then, but Pivac could certainly fancy bringing him to South Africa for another close look.
This time last year, Rogers was making a case for Test selection with a string of fine performances in a breakout season for the Scarlets. His efforts were rewarded, although stepping up to international rugby on the wing proved tricky.
Since then, he’s not been near a Welsh squad, but his performances under Dwayne Peel have remained promising. What’s more, it is his potential at full-back that has proven a real boost for Welsh rugby.
While Ryan Conbeer has become the standout wing at Parc y Scarlets, Rogers has looked like the man capable of filling Liam Williams’ boots in Llanelli when he departs for Cardiff next year. Out in South Africa, he showed his aerial prowess under the high ball with aplomb.
His link work was to the fore in the early stages of that matches, while his footwork is there for all to see.
He’s currently nursing an ankle injury, but if he can recover from that, there’s a chance Pivac would consider him. If not now, then certainly in years to come.
Perhaps the most exciting option, Protheroe is a fleet-footed player that gets people off their seats and on their feet.
The Ospreys full-back, also capable of playing fly-half and wing, has yet to get a call-up from Wales, despite being tipped on more than one occasion. Despite that, he’s been one of the region’s most devastating and dangerous runners.
Quite simply, you cannot kick loose to Protheroe. If so, he’ll almost always beat the first tackler. His elusive running style could be just what Wales need on the hard grounds of South Africa – with former Springbok fly-half Joel Stransky saying last week Wales would need something special in their backline.
“If you want to beat the Boks, you can’t play a standard game,” he said. “You have to battle hard, compete in the breakdown and set-piece and stand your ground. But you’ve got to have something special in the backs. I don’t think the Lions had that last year. I don’t think they made it their game to be a little special.
“I think they tried to win by beating the Boks at their own game and I don’t think there’s a team that can do that.”
The other plus point with Protheroe is his ability to step in at first-receiver. It’s an option Pivac likes in his back-three, with McNicholl and Halfpenny having done it before now. As Stransky says, Wales will “need a 10 who has great vision, can do something extraordinary” who also “doesn’t make mistakes as the Boks are excellent on capitalising on errors”.
Maybe you get around that by having them be the second playmaking option at full-back – dovetailing with the starting fly-half.
However, if the upside is understandably exciting, the downside is equally concerning. Against the Scarlets, Ryan Conbeer managed to bump off two poor tackle attempts from Protheroe – one of which resulted in a try.
Iron those kinks out and a player of his talent should be in contention. Just maybe that could be this summer.
WRU proposal to cut rugby region would damage Newport South Wales Argus
A PROPOSAL which could see one of Welsh rugby’s four regions disbanded have been branded as “short-sighted”.
Ahead of that meeting, city leaders and businesses – and the Argus – have called for the idea to be scrapped because it would be damaging both to Newport and to rugby.
The board commissioned a report which put forward a number of proposals, one of which included cutting one of Wales’ professional regions from the start of the 2023/24 season.
The Dragons have been seen as potentially being under threat should such a decision be made, and with just two wins in this year’s United Rugby Championship, the Rodney Parade outfit have offered the lowest return of any of the regions on the pitch.
After the news broke, Dragons chairman David Buttress Tweeted: “Worrying is a rubbish waste of time.
“Fighting, believing, building, backing ourselves and sticking together is what I will spent my energy on. We have a long way to go together yet.”
Ahead of the meeting, Newport East MS John Griffiths branded the proposal as “short-sighted”, and highlighted the impact that having a professional rugby side had on the city and local businesses.
“Our city has a proud sporting history and pedigree and having the Dragons at Rodney Parade is a big part of that,” he said.
“The businesses in the Maindee and city centre area also benefit from the increased footfall on matchdays.
“I know during the height of the pandemic, professional sport and especially the rugby was missed by many, including myself.
“Any proposals to cut the game in one of our Welsh regions, wherever that is, would be short-sighted and send the wrong message to our future stars of tomorrow.”
Newport West MP Ruth Jones also spoke about the impact the Dragons have on local businesses – both in boosting income on matchdays and through sponsorship opportunities.
“Having the Dragons here in Newport has been a huge boon for our city, they’ve played host to a range of Wales’ finest international players over the years and provide a great opportunity for young people to get involved and watch the game,” she said.
“As well as this, having regular high-level rugby played here in the city has benefited businesses of all kinds, both from trade on matchdays at Rodney Parade and from the sponsorship opportunities provided.
“I would expect the Dragons to remain a key part of any proposed changes made by the WRU, especially after repeated investments made in our region.
“The players, fans and staff deserve nothing less.”
Tony Cook, landlord of The Dodger, warned that some businesses would not survive without the matchday boost from the Dragons.
“Rodney Parade has a huge impact on local businesses in the area,” he said. “Some wouldn’t survive without it being there.
“We do well off the Dragons and Newport County.
“Newport needs to have a stadium in the town centre.”
And Sam Dabb, manager at Le Pub, said: “We’re not a sports pub but we do benefit [from the Dragons on matchdays].
“We’d definitely see a financial impact [if they were disbanded].”
Jayne Bryant, MS for Newport West, said that the looming threat of a region being disbanded was not healthy for Welsh rugby.
“Newport has a long and proud rugby tradition, both in the amateur and professional game,” she said. “However it seems that ever since the regions started we have always had the threats of being disbanded hanging over us.
“It is not healthy and the WRU need to produce a proper sustainable plan with a level playing field for all four of its regions.
“Dragons Rugby is an integral part of top-level Welsh rugby and, top-class rugby at Rodney Parade is an integral part of Newport.”
Welsh Business Heroes: Risca Solomon of Skybound Therapies | South Wales Guardian South Wales Guardian
Making a difference is what it’s all about for behaviour analyst Risca Solomon and her staff.
And since opening for business a little more than 10 years ago, Skybound Therapies has been there for those needing help time and time again.
Skybound, based on a working farm in west Wales, provides bespoke treatment for children, adolescents and adults with behavioural problems.
Wanting to use her knowledge to help four-year-old foster brother Dan was the catalyst for Skybound and since then hundreds of individuals have been by the centre’s employees.
And it’s not just those in the UK who have benefitted from their expertise, with clients from as far afield as the USA, Canada and Australia on the Skybound’s books.
“I knew from the age of 11 that I wanted to do something in the field of disabilities to help individuals,” said mum-of-two Risca.
“I got a place at university to do learning disability nursing but while I was waiting to go I got a part-time job as a behaviour analysis therapist and absolutely loved it.
“From giving people care and a good quality of life, I suddenly saw that behaviour analysis was a whole science that could help these individuals achieve more and I was fascinated.”
When Dan came into the family he was extremely aggressive, didn’t sleep and wasn’t toilet trained, but Risca realised what she was doing would help him.
After switching to study through the Open University and then a masters at Cardiff University, she secured funding for Dan and began working with another child.
Risca decided to share her progress with Dan on YouTube, and it was from there that Skybound came to fruition.
She added: “I started helping a few families just to get more experience with a wider range of children, and from the staff I was working with, which were the teams around these children, Skybound grew.”
Risca continued: “I was constantly told Dan would not be toilet trained, ride a bike or talk and actually the research says the opposite.
“I just dived into the research and read as much as possible, went over to the US, took him over to get evaluations and brought some of them here to teach me and the team around him.
“We began developing individual interventions, everything is bespoke, you individualise it to the environment the child is in and to their needs. It makes a real difference.
“We take children and young adults who have been told they won’t do this or that and the research enables us to be able to do that.
“There are programmes that can teach these individuals to do a wide range of things that many people didn’t believe they would do.”
After taking a few years to find her feet as a businesswoman, Risca, through extensive training, has assembled a team of highly-skilled professionals around her.
And while Covid hit Skybound hard to start with, the firm has recovered and gone from strength to strength under Risca’s leadership.
“I didn’t set out to be a businesswoman, I set out to help children,” she said. “The most reward I get is from seeing the children grow.
“But if I help the staff grow and develop more staff, I can help more children.
“Establishing our mission, vision and values has been key. Everything we do has to be in line with those, and that’s all about improving the life quality for the individuals and families we work with.
“Getting that extra support from business professionals has been fundamental to our growth and development.
“It’s been great to use the science that I trained in to manage and run the business.
“We have chosen to stay smaller because we do such bespoke interventions. Many of the individuals we work with have already worked with many others in our field.
“They haven’t been able to make enough of a difference to help them.
“We wanted to grow with consistency and quality, so we purposely slowed our growth down at times when we felt we needed to spend more time wit our team to grow their skills and not lose that clinical power we have to change lives.
“We always set out to grow slowly because quality is the most important thing for us.”
She continued: “We were hit quite hard by Covid because we do a lot of work in schools and residential centres and they closed.
“The guidance then came out and said most of the individuals we worked with were classed as vulnerable and we quickly had a lot of local authorities asking what services we could put in.
“We experienced a significant period of growth because we were able to step into the breach and help by sending our staff teams into the homes. We came out of it a lot stronger.”
Having taken ownership of the farm, the aim is to incorporate it into their work.
Offering positive behaviour support, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy, Skybound approach what they do in a very different way to how some view behaviour analysis.
“The research in the 1970s was punishment based and it’s not like that now,” she said. “We tell people you do it with positive reinforcement.
“There’s still a lot of ignorance towards what behaviour analysis is. It’s all about what’s socially significant to the individual and their family.”
Risca Solomon was speaking as part of the Welsh Business Heroes webinar series, a joint venture between NatWest, Landsker Business Solutions and Newsquest.
You can watch the full episode here.
What Gwent Police found at Christchurch Cemetery in Newport South Wales Argus
GWENT Police has confirmed what ‘object’ was found at Christchurch Cemetery, almost two weeks after they were initially called to the site.
After a week of police investigations, officers found an “object” in an undeveloped area of land adjacent to the cemetery, and a “sensitive excavation of the area” was then launched on Wednesday, May 4 to identify the object.
The force worked alongside the Ministry of Justice and Newport City Council – which owns the cemetery – while the investigation was carried out.
With the investigation now completed, Gwent Police has confirmed what the ‘object’ was that sparked the excavation.
A Gwent Police spokesperson said: “We found a mixture of items below the ground – compacted soil, rubble, boulders and rocks.”
Officers were called to investigate as a precaution after initial scans from above ground showed what appeared to be an ‘object’ beneath the ground, the police spokesperson said.
“At that point we could not rule out it could have been something criminal,” said the spokesperson.
“When we were called we had to consider what the worst-case scenario could be.
“Fortunately there was nothing untoward that required a criminal investigation.”