west*wales*news*review

West Wales News Review — analysis with a sustainability slant

‘Slow Down’ Plea from Porthyrhyd

Porthyrhyd — in this case the country village north of Llanwrda, not the Porthyrhyd near Cross Hands — suffers from excessive speed as traffic taking a short cut from the A482 to Llandovery whizzes through without the hindrance of any limits.

Siloh, on the same route, also has no speed restriction.

This could change in 2017-18, thanks to pressure from local people, led by county councillor Dafydd Tomos and community councillor Arwel Davies. Monday (January 23) served up a lunchtime surprise to John McEvoy, road safety and traffic manager with Carmarthenshire County Council, when he arrived to meet Dafydd Tomos.

Mr McEvoy found himself facing some two dozen residents of Porthyrhyd and Siloh assembled in the Beudy belonging to Dr Brinley and Mrs Stephanie Jones, Drovers Farm, prepared to state their case strongly. Mr McEvoy had good news, though — he agreed that a 30 mph speed limit is necessary, and said he hoped it would be in place before April 2018. He also promised to visit Siloh and look at the need for speed restriction there.

Heavy vehicles, and delivery vans rushing from drop to drop, are an important part of the traffic problems on minor roads, which generally lack pavements and so are shared with walkers. The closure of local services like schools, shops and post offices, and the scarcity of public transport, means that more people have to travel by private vehicle.

If just the financial costs of transport — let alone the road safety and environmental dangers — were included in calculations, the closure of public amenities in rural areas would make a lot less sense.

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John McEvoy, road safety and traffic manager with Carmarthenshire County Council, tells Porthyrhyd  residents that speed limits should be introduced in the coming financial year

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Dafydd Tomos, the Plaid Cymru county councillor for Cilycwm, who backs the campaign for speed limits 

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Arwel Davies, Cilycwm community councillor, who pressed for the meeting

 

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Residents of Porthyrhyd and Siloh in the Beudy at Drovers Farm on Monday (January 23) to press for 30 mph speed limits through both villages. Dr Brinley Jones of Drovers Farm is left in the second row 

Objections Blown Away on the Wind

Perspective on wind turbines from John of Pencader, Carmarthenshire, written in 2015 but just as relevant today. The turbine of which he writes received planning permission from Carmarthenshire County Council in January 2015. An attempt to have this reversed in the High Court failed in August 2015 when Mr Justice Cranston backed the permission.

The pros and cons of windpower are not straightforward at all…

“I am writing this letter regarding the acceptance and approval of more and more single wind turbine planning applications by Carmarthenshire County Council and my particular concerns about the ‘Wern’ turbine near my home at Pencader.

“My own ‘green’ credentials are deep and fundamental to our move to Blaencwm over 40 years ago. Inspired by E.F. Schumacher’s book, ‘Small is Beautiful’, I sold our town house in Brighton, Sussex, sold our car, resigned from a secure, well-paid job in telecommunications and borrowed money from relatives to buy a collapsing long-cottage and 8½ acres of Wales. This was to care for a small piece of the planet for its nature and wildlife, to grow our own food and reduce our impact on the earth’s resources.

“Why then would I not support a ‘green and clean’ source of alternative energy like a wind turbine? Like the vast majority of the population there was a time when I too briefly thought that they were probably a good idea. A few glimpses of clusters of huge swinging blades spied briefly in wild, empty landscapes while on holiday or a car journey permit the acceptance of them as rational and much needed technical solutions to the energy crisis. However, living in Pencader where the residents’ only local recreational upland spaces are being smothered with gigantic turbines, one begins to learn more about their adverse impact, especially on people. These people, by definition are in a tiny minority and yet, from the moment that they discover that they have been picked upon to have everything they value and appreciate about their environment destroyed for ever, they find themselves even more isolated and misunderstood. They feel lonely, abandoned and persecuted, but are generally regarded as stupid, self-interested ‘NIMBYs’.

“With a career background in electrical engineering and a lifelong interest in physics it didn’t take me long to realise that the attempt to catch the energy floating on the wind was not rational or reasonable, even disregarding the harmful effects on the environment, its ecology and human beings. Learning that someone is proposing to put up a large turbine in a small field close to your own house and land, accelerates massively the learning curve that confirms all your doubts and fears.

“Another book, John Etherington’s ‘The Wind Farm Scam’ has an obviously contentious title, but is an honest and balanced analysis of the problems of seeking wind energy to power the national grid. Dr Etherington is an ecologist, and although in Chapter 6 he covers the way in which we are squandering the other irreplaceable capital to which Schumacher refers, the ‘tolerance margins’ of nature, his book provides information on the science, engineering and to some degree the politics and financing of wind turbines.

“Without the understanding that reading a book like this brings, the vast majority will assume the validity of wind turbines on the sort of basis that, ‘well, the experts and the leaders must know what they are doing so they must be alright’. Our experience of the planning process for the Wern turbine has opened our eyes to another vast layer of complicity, duplicity, connivance and manipulation, all of being essential to perpetuate this delusion if a wind turbine is ever to be built. It is easy to tell a convincing story if you can say what you like, but a different matter if you want to be honest and truthful.

“The application documents contain dozens of ‘desktop surveys’ prepared using specialist template software from online databases by people with qualifications in the relevant field. They may also have actually come here, often from England to spend a few hours driving about taking unflattering photographs and recording some details to help their report look more convincing. Self evidently, because all these surveys are all commissioned by the applicant they are inevitably skewed to present all information in a form favourable to the application, — otherwise they wouldn’t get paid.

“This can be achieved by omissions, either deliberate, or caused by the briefness or superficiality of their investigations. The ecology survey to detect bats is a glaring example in this application where the failure to meet the Natural England recommended distance from hedgerows by 50% is deliberately obfuscated.

Reasons to oppose the Wern turbine

“The 3 fields now called ‘land at Wern’ were subject to opportunistic acquisition in which a high price was paid denying the land from any of the adjacent farmers who were outbid. The owner was in collusion with a director of Seren Energy who lives near him about 5 miles away. So this proposal is purely commercial with no involvement of, or benefits to anyone who is affected adversely by it. This means that it is the antithesis of government on-shore wind energy policy which seeks community involvement and support and benefits to those affected.

“The developers were aggressively indifferent to the small group of rural neighbours who are being seriously affected by the proposal. Strongly supported by Welsh Planning law and the County Planning Authority the applications are virtually kept secret. The system assumes that no-one affected will find out about it, or if they do, be able to do anything about it. Many residents in the Welsh hills have disabilities, health and transport problems and do not have IT or good literacy skills. Because of this, the system does not expect to have to deal with valid objections and does not tolerate them. In our case a few residents had literacy, professional skills and qualifications and the vital internet access which enabled them to examine, analyse and interpret the claims in the documentation against their own knowledge and understanding of this location and its environment.

“This has resulted in an even more unbalanced and dismissive treatment of the critical issues that make this development totally unacceptable that have been raised repeatedly by, amongst many others, a retired Planning Inspector and two Environmental Health officers.

“It is this background story that makes this development (I believe) exceptional. The irrational and unreasonable behaviour of the Council in approving turbine after turbine across Carmarthenshire is creating a high level of opposition from the wider public. It is an abnegation of democratic principles and an assault on the Welsh heritage, landscape and the people who love and care about it.

“I hope and believe that the Wern turbine story could be a tipping point for Carmarthenshire County Council, resulting in greater awareness of the balance of issues for and against wind energy projects and higher standards in their treatment of the Welsh countryside and the people who live in it, who they are paid to support and protect.

Grounds for objections

“This turbine may have been instigated by two ‘local’ people, but its commercially exploitative methodology exposes all of Carmarthenshire to similar developments from agencies and investors who have no thoughts of Wales other than to abuse it for their own gain.

“The Council have duties and responsibilities of care for elderly people, for their health, mobility and physical and mental wellbeing. The pursuit of this application has already caused high levels of anxiety, depression, distress, anger and fear for at least three couples in their later years – 60s and 70s. We all have health issues. My wife had several emergency admissions to hospital in 2013.

“The erection of the turbine close to these homes will dramatically worsen their situation from the noise, visual intrusiveness and the way it would always represent the abuse of their rights and values for the remainder of their lives. The reduction in the market value their properties will certainly harm their chances of selling when the time comes for them to move into care homes or to a less demanding residential environment.

Local amenity

“The Pencader district is poor, and deficient in amenities. Its only asset is its surrounding countryside. It has no public or commercial amenity areas such as a village green, parks, gardens or parking areas. It lacks pavements along the main road, and has just had some rural grant funding turned down by the Council for an extension to its pavements in favour of Whitland. Very few footpaths (Rights of Way) in the area are usable or even open for use.

“The B4459 right through the village carries heavy traffic especially in commuting hours. The lane leaving the village to the west through the historic part known as Pentre Draw, past the Hen Gapel, over Nant Gwen, past the Pencader Castle, old primary school, and St Mary’s church represents the only direction in which residents can go to escape the creeping urbanisation, enjoy the peace and views of the countryside. As they climb the hill the view is dominated by the 10 Altwalis turbines, with another 28 to be added shortly. To have another large turbine confronting them at the top of the hill would be an insult.

“Not enough people take enough exercise these days, but the three lanes that meet at this point are used by Pencader residents walking their dogs, by visitors, riders from the kennels and half a dozen other properties, a local fitness club for jogging, tractor runs, pony carting etc. This is a vital amenity which incurs no special expenditure by the Council (and receives little maintenance) but to which this turbine would a significant detriment.”

 

 

Welcome to the Patch Work Farm

The innovative Black Mountain Food Hub, initiated by Sara Tommerup and James Scrivens, is inviting gardeners and growers in the Tywi Valley to form a ‘patch work farm’, in which individuals grow one or two types of organic vegetables for the Hub’s vegetable box scheme.

If you are interested in taking part, go to the Station Hub at Llandeilo Station at 10am on Saturday February 4th. The wooden hub building is on the left as you approach the station by road.

Sara and James are looking initially for tomatoes, peppers, chillies, artichokes, aubergines, garlic, head cabbages, sweetcorn and soft fruits — from gardens large and small.

“Running the Food Hub has shown us that there is a need for more local good quality organic veg production, but in the current climate of high land prices, flood risk and lack of professional growing skills in the area, a patch work farm is much more plausible,” they say.

Currently, subscribers to the Black Mountain veg box scheme receive produce from Ed Revill on the Gower Peninsula. The vegetables he sends arrive in Llandeilo via train on the Heart of Wales line — now carrying goods as well as passengers.

Eventually, Sara and James hope that Tywi Valley growers will be able to supply a full range of organic vegetables for local customers.

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Sara and James: starting a patch work farm 

 

Christmas Holiday

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and New Year.

West Wales News Review will be taking a break until January. Thank you to everyone who has read posts and commented during 2016.

The Dangerous Power of Stories

Elections for county councillors are coming up.  On May 4th 2017 we will be off to the polling stations once again, to choose our councillors.

How will the vote go in Carmarthenshire? I’m not going to guess, but do think that the coalition in power, trying to implement deep financial cuts, has an especially tough job. Their councillors have a record which electors can vote against, while the opposition has only had to oppose.

Plaid Cymru are the dominant force by numbers in the county, with 29 councillors, followed by Labour (22), the Independent group (20), People First (1) and unaffiliated (2).  The Executive Board, which does much of the decision making, is a coalition with five Plaid members and five from the Independent group. The leader of the Board is Plaid’s Emlyn Dole (Lannon), and he has two deputies – David Jenkins (Plaid, Glanaman) and Pam Palmer (Independent, Abergwili).

Labour was in power, with the Independents, until May 2015, and so come the elections, will have been in opposition for two years – long enough for some of their more questionable decisions to be relegated to the back of voters’ minds.

Plaid, though, will be completing two years in the media spotlight, and has to answer to the electorate for decisions made when they were the opposition, decisions such as rural school closures, small town parking charges, the expensive stadium for the Scarlets at Trostre, and legal adventures involving the chief executive and top staff officer, Mr Mark James CBE.

Mr James’ clash with local blogger Jacqui Thompson has been documented in detail – on this blog here, herehere and here. Mr James won. To obtain the damages he was awarded, he could force the sale of Jacqui’s bungalow home, which is also the base for her husband Kerry’s forestry work.

The Thompson v. James and James v. Thompson libel cases still carry a big risk for the councillors in power. Private Eye commented in its November 11th issue that Mark James “persuaded the council to indemnify his legal costs, contrary to guidance from both the Welsh and UK governments”.  The Wales Audit Office said Mr James’ indemnity was unlawful.  It doesn’t take much imagination to guess how national media would present the story – highly paid local government boss got taxpayers’ cash to back libel action against housewife critic. Or similar. It wouldn’t be pretty, and almost certainly the county council would be presented as the Big Bad Wolf, with Mrs Thompson in the role of Red Riding Hood.

Voters tend to remember stories with emotional appeal more than intricate factual detail, whether or not the facts are correct.

And emotional appeals before elections can have far-reaching impact.

Just think Trump. ‘Make America Great Again’ struck an emotional chord. It had nothing to do with facts.

PDR

Over-ambitious investment promises fail at Laugharne’s Corran Resort

When bank base rate is 0.25%, investments offering up to 15% a year, and an uplift in capital, look too good to be true.

In the case of the Corran Resort and Spa near Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, the promised returns were too hot, and have evaporated into the air above Carmarthen Bay.

Kayboo Ltd, the company owning the freehold of the resort property — currently a 21-room hotel with a spa – was forced into administration on October 18th.  Creditors were kicking up a fuss because, they claimed, they had not received the advertised returns, and they could not withdraw their capital.

Comments from unhappy investors  on the website ‘question.com’ include:

“I invested in a glitzy hotel scheme called Corran Resort and Spa. The hotel is still operating in Wales and hundreds of investors have put money in that scheme. I have been asking for buy back of my investment for more than a month but no reply from them.”

“It is not clear to me where all the funds of the investors went.”

“They were paying quarterly till Q3 2015. Then they stopped and I understand they stopped for everyone.”

During the final quarter of 2015, the Corran had to digest Carmarthenshire County Council’s decision to refuse a planning application (reference W/31936) for 200 lodges, a swimming pool and additional restaurant, because of the proposed location in a flood plan, and fears of significant ecological damage. Kayboo said it had a deal agreed with the US-based resorts, hotels and self-catering multinational Wyndham Worldwide to partner it in the lodges venture – but no permission, no well-heeled partner either, and disappointment for Kayboo’s directors Keith Stiles and Peter Burnett.

West Wales News Review’s previous concerns about the investment model were aired here in December 2015,

Investments in the Corran are still being advertised, for example on buytoletinvest.com and quantaxinternational.com. Buytoletinvest.com advertises annual returns of 10% net from years 1 to 10, and 15% between years 11 and 15, with assured resale at 125% of the original investment after year 5, rising to 150%. The promotion claims “Customers can also sell their property on the open market, typically for far greater capital returns.”

Buyers were offered fractions of a room, such as one-twenty-sixth of a ‘boutique suite’ for £18,000 in 2015, as well as whole suites, but the formula relied on high occupancy at very high room rates, such as £340 a night for dinner, bed and breakfast in a top-notch suite at a weekend.

Kayboo’s most recent annual accounts, for the year to March 31st 2015, show tangible assets of £14.5 million, up from £11.5 million the year before, and net assets of £867,092, more than double the year before. £1.572 million had to be paid to creditors within one year, and £14.167 million more after that — an excessively heavy obligation, especially if the physical assets had been optimistically valued.

The message? Mega returns might occasionally materialise, but they don’t come without mammoth risks.

PDR

Lloyds Bank to close in Llandovery

Lloyds Bank in Llandovery is to close completely on March 7th 2017.

As recently as 2012, Llandovery was home to four banks — Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest. One by one, they have fallen victim to online banking.

HSBC, in Market Square, closed in 2012. Nat West, also in Market Square, shut its doors on June 1st 2015. Lloyds and Barclays soldiered on as part-time banks, Barclays open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Lloyds on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Now that Lloyds is to close, a part-time Barclays will be the only bank left in town.

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Lloyds Bank, Llandovery. Photo: Dyfed Family History Society, copyright Pauline Eccles, Creative Commons Licence 

The impending Lloyds closure is of more than commercial significance. The imposing building, Prospect House in High Street, was the final headquarters of the Bank of the Black Ox, the pioneering venture set up by successful drover David Jones in 1799, and taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1909.

Campaign to keep Lloyds open in Llandeilo

Llandeilo’s county councillor, Edward Thomas (Independent), started work at Lloyds in Llandovery in 1971, and regrets the ending of over 200 years of history. He is also worried about the future of Lloyds in Llandeilo, which has cut opening days from five a week to three – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday — and has written to Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.

The letter raises Cllr Thomas’s concern that “the Llandeilo Branch of Lloyds Bank has only a short amount, two years, left on its lease of 137 Rhosmaen Street” and that there is a strong indication that “with the reduction of hours, reduction of days from five to three, that Lloyds Bank are planning to close this branch”.

“I am sure you will realize that that will leave Lloyds customers in North Carmarthenshire with no coverage and effectively their nearest branches will be Brecon or Ammanford,” continued Cllr Thomas.

“I am concerned that this will leave customers with no choice. The bank no doubt will state that they no longer see the footfall in their branches as customers are switching to internet banking. I am sure you will agree this is just cynical and does not look after older customers who are not happy to deal with a faceless computer and appreciate the good service provided by our local branches.

“I hope you will raise this matter at the highest levels and whilst I am singling out Lloyds, the other banks are doing the same thing and we could be faced with our rural communities without bank representation.”

HSBC has closed in Llandeilo as well as in Llandovery, leaving customers in northern Carmarthenshire facing journeys to branches in Ammanford, Carmarthen or Lampeter. Lloyds customers could soon face the same travel demands.

Mobile Lloyds Bank coming soon

Lloyds says that mobile branches should be in the area soon.

The bank’s spokesperson said that the Llandovery branch “has been identified for closure because of the changing way customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in customers using it less often.  The majority of customers also now regularly use alternative branches or use other ways to bank such as online and telephone banking to complete their banking needs. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and have informed customers of the closest alternative branches.

“We are also investing in a new fleet of mobile branches for Lloyds Bank to help customers in more rural communities, alongside other ways to access banking locally. One of the new mobile branches will visit Llandovery. Full details of the mobile branch service will be available in advance of the new service becoming operational.”

The bank said that around 80% of personal customers in Llandovery already use other branches, such as Llandeilo branch. In 2015, the number of personal customers using Llandovery branch fell about 36%, leaving only 35 regular weekly personal and business customers.

The Post Office is an option, says Lloyds. In Llandovery it is less than 200 metres away, and customers can deposit cash and cheques and withdraw money there. In addition there is an ATM outside Barclays Bank.

PDR

New build casts a long shadow

The right to light could do with some illumination.

Kidwelly accountant Tessa Finch used to live in 86 Station Road, but left when a new development of eco-friendly homes, in Llys y Foryd, shaded the ground floor of her home.

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The Llys y Foryd development in Kidwelly looms over Tessa Finch’s house and back yard. Her bathroom is on the left 

The new houses, built by Morgan Construction of Ferryside, won a building excellence award in 2012, but the nearest one to 86 Station Road is very close indeed. New builds can be as close as one metre from a boundary, and the boundary of no.86 is only inches from the back of the house, which has a side yard instead of a back garden. The law in cases like this allows development which many of us would call ‘unneighbourly’.

Planning law does not recognise a right to a view, either, so if a new estate replaces an outlook over open country, it’s just hard luck.

The right to light is different, though. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors publishes ‘A Clear Impartial Guide to Right to Light’, which summarises the law. It says: “A right to light may be acquired by ‘anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else’s land for 20 years without consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption for more than a year.’”

So, says the guide, “If a new building limits the amount of light coming in through a window and the level of light inside falls below the accepted level, then this constitutes an obstruction. Unless you waive your rights you are entitled to take legal action against your neighbour.”

The 20-year rule is quite a barrier, but for those in residence for that long, it is a right worth understanding.

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Tessa: her home lost light

Tessa moved out of the four-bedroomed house with the newly shaded ground floor, and is aiming to sell it. Estate agents John Francis are advertising it for £99,950, about two-thirds of the asking price of the three-bedroomed semi-detached houses in Llys y Foryd, the development which darkened her threshold.

PDR

 

Solicitors’ ‘defamation highlight’ is low point for client Jacqui

The homelessness facing Llanwrda blogger Jacqui Thompson and her husband Kerry, reported in this week’s Private Eye (p.16), is not exactly a triumph for her legal team.

Yet Simons Muirhead and Burton, her solicitors in the 2013 libel court case in which she sued Carmarthenshire County Council’s chief executive Mark James and lost, and he counter-sued her and won, claim the litigation as one of their “defamation highlights”.

“Lucy Moorman and Jeffrey Smele represented award-winning blogger, Jacqui Thompson, in her libel action against Carmarthenshire County Council and its Chief Executive, Mark James, who also counterclaimed,” their website proclaims.

Lucy Moorman, a barrister, is now a pre-transmission advice lawyer at the BBC. Jeffrey Smele remains at Simons Muirhead and Burton, as a senior lawyer.

No mention on the web page, though, that the judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, found for Mr James both times, after deciding to accept his evidence and to reject Jacqui’s.

To be fair to the solicitors, so much of a libel trial heard by a single judge appears to depend on their personal interpretation of motives, which is hard to predict.

Jacqui’s double loss should have been covered by her legal insurance, but Temple Legal Protection Ltd  cancelled the cover (always read the small print) after hearing Mr Justice Tugendhat doubt Jacqui’s truthfulness.

Asked if she had been aware that her cover could disappear, Jacqui said yes, she knew, it had all been explained to her, but she never thought it could happen because she knew she was telling the truth.

That assumption, in the dangerous world of libel, was mistaken. The judge decided that Jacqui and her family had waged a “campaign of harassment, intimidation and defamation of Council staff and members for some considerable time”, and that Jacqui’s terms ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘slush fund’, applied to Mr James, were libellous.

Lacking insurance after losing, Jacqui found herself liable for costs and damages exceeding a quarter of a million pounds. Her only big asset is her share of the bungalow in which she and Kerry live. Mr James has applied for a court order to enable him to sell the bungalow to recoup damages.

Sudden withdrawal of insurance cover has left Jacqui and Kerry in a nightmare situation. Should it be allowed when, as here, Jacqui is not facing a criminal charge? At the behest of Mr James, Dyfed-Powys Police investigated Jacqui for perverting the course of justice but could not find evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution.

Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, where Jacqui lives, said he has never been lobbied about the withdrawal of insurance cover, but sees the injustice in its summary removal.

“A fair justice system is the foundation of our modern society which binds us together in our belief of fairness and accountability.  Part of our justice system is, of course, the principle of equal access to justice for all,” he said.

“This particular case, and the cancelling of legal insurance, is not an issue on which I’ve ever been lobbied and I am unaware of any widespread practice of policies being cancelled.

“If such a practice is indeed widespread then changing the law to prevent this would seem sensible in order to ensure justice is not reserved to only those who can afford it.”

Remembering that Mr James had the security of an indemnity from public funds, and Jacqui had only a (misplaced) confidence that she would be vindicated, and the extreme imbalance in the legal system is plain.

Insurance companies willing to cancel cover, although evidence does not reach the standard required for a criminal trial, tilts the scales of justice even more in favour of those with fat wallets or access to the public purse.

PDR

Help Jane’s Cancer Research Campaign

Jane and Steven Holmes, who live at Ffarmers near Lampeter, remind us that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

A very fit marathon runner, Jane was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 when she was 43 – a shock, because she did not have any symptoms. She happened to have an x-ray for another reason, and it revealed a shadow in the right upper lobe.

Jane was given the awful news that her cancer was too advanced for an operation, but she and Steven, who is also a long-distance runner, were not ready to give up, despite the Stage 3b Adenocarcinoma which had spread to two nodes in her neck. Four cycles of chemotherapy at West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, were followed by six weeks of radical radiotherapy at Cardiff’s Velindre Cancer Centre. In June 2015, a year after the shock diagnosis, the upper right lobe and some lymph nodes were surgically removed.

Five weeks later Jane – recipient of the 2015 Inspiration Award from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation — ran a five kilometre charity race.

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Jane Holmes — raising money for cancer research

“Our experience of the NHS was excellent,” said Steven. “The facilities are there, the staff are second to none and the system does work.”  Yet Steven realises that not all cancer sufferers have the resources or energy to push for and find the best treatment. “Luckily we were able to self-fund scans,” he said. “Jane spent a lot of time following NHS paper chains and finding the right treatment or specialist.”

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Steven Holmes — drawing attention to lung cancer

Wales is not exactly top of the league for treating lung cancer, which is the biggest cancer killer in the country, accounting for almost 2,000 deaths a year. “Historically, only one in 15 of people with lung cancer in Wales are alive five years after diagnosis,” said Dr Ian Williamson, consultant respiratory physician and Assistant Medical Director for Cancer Services with the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, speaking for the UK Lung Cancer Coalition. “Despite concerted efforts by the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to tackle inequalities and improve outcomes, five-year survival rates in Wales still lag behind our European counterparts and compare very poorly with other major common cancer types.”

There is sometimes a feeling that lung cancer sufferers are at least partly responsible for their illness because they have smoked – but according to the NHS, one person in every eight with the disease has never smoked.

So far, Jane and Steven have raised over £17,300 for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

And last month Jane, free of cancer, completed the demanding 26.2-mile Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri, climbing to over 1,200 feet, in 5 hours 28 minutes and 51 seconds.

She will continue to raise money for cancer research, and has a Just Giving page, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JaneHolmes-rclcf

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