Dementia Film Nominated For Award

“Seventy-five per cent of my life I can keep in a normal context. I have to confess that the 25 per cent is my bogey man… It’s the place where I don’t like to linger for long.”

Those were the words of Jim McWade in a Wales This Week film called ‘Living With Dementia’ which was broadcast last year.

The film followed Jim, who suffers with Alzheimer’s Disease, and his wife Maureen, and Peter Oldacre, who was looking after his wife Ann.

The programme was now been shortlisted for a Guild of Health Writers’ award. It is up against three items from BBC network news and a programme from BBC Radio 4 in the Best Broadcast Programme category.

You can read about the making of the programme on the ITV Wales blog and watch the film in two parts here.

Edgar Evans: Time to remember a forgotten Polar hero

He is one of Wales’ greatest explorers – but few remember his name and there is no national monument in his honour.

There is a story behind why Wales may have tried to forget Edgar Evans – but it concerns a sense of misplaced shame.

ITV Wales’ Wales This Week has turned the clock back 100 years, to 1912, when Evans stood at the South Pole with Captain Robert Scott.

Scott’s party was defeated first by the Norwegians and then by a terrible Antarctic winter which came in early and closed over them like a shroud.

Evans was the first of the five men to die. He was malnourished and a cut in his hand was festering.

On February 17, 1912, his exhausted body gave up.

The second to die, Captain Oates, had a leg wound which had turned gangrenous. His leg needed amputating. He crawled from the expedition tent in a blizzard around March 17th and was not seen again.

The remaining three – Scott, himself, Bowers and Wilson – died about 10 days later.

It took a year for the news of their deaths to reach Britain.

“People were initially very sad, then proud but then they had to try and find an explanation,” Dr Isobel Williams, author of a new biography on Edgar, called ‘Captain Scott’s Invaluable Assistant’, tells us.

“In some newspapers they focused on Edgar as not only failing and slowing them down but by his failure and slowing the party he caused the death of all the expedition.”

The men had left Britain in 1910, sailing from Cardiff on board the Terra Nova with South Wales’ coal lighting its boiler.

Two nights before they left, the crew had celebrated at the Royal Hotel in St Mary Street. A century later the Captain Scott Society still meets there. Its chairman, Dr Peter Lloyd Jones, says Wales contributed about half of the funds needed for the expedition.

But when news reached Britain of the men’s deaths, some began to feel a little ashamed of Evans.

Says Edgar’s grandson, John Evans, from Swansea: “I think it was based on snobbery a bit because they made him the scapegoat in the beginning.”

John is leading the campaign for a national memorial to Evans, who is described in the programme as “Wales’ leading Antarctic explorer”.

Evans had been on not only the mission to the South Pole but Scott’s 1901-1904 Discovery expedition which had helped prove Antarctica was a continent and not a massive pack of ice.

Scott’s expeditions to Antarctica, according to Tom Sharpe, curator of a new Terra Nova exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, “laid the foundations” of Antarctic science for a century to come.

And Roger Gale of Swansea Museum, where there is currently an exhibition dedicated to Evans, says: “Had Swansea had an astronaut who reached the moon and perished in the attempt I’m pretty sure there would be a commemoration of him. Edgar in his own way and his own time was journeying to the outer reaches of the world as we knew it.”

*There are currently two museum exhibitions in honour of the Terra Nova expedition in Wales. ‘South for Science’ runs at the National Museum of Wales until May 13.

Ninety Degrees South – Edgar Evans, Scott and the Journey to the Pole’ is at Swansea Museum until April 22.

Asbestos in schools a “national scandal”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health says the presence of lethal dust fibres in school buildings is a “national scandal”.

In a new report, it warns that 75 per cent of state schools are exposing children, teachers and other staff to the carcinogenic material.

Jim Sheridan MP, Chair of the All-Party Group, said: “This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal.”

The report comes after more than 140 teachers died from the rare asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in the past 10 years, with research in the US suggesting over 100 people will die every year in the UK because of exposure at school.

US researchers suggest that for every death of a teacher from asbestos-related diseases, nine children will die. Asbestos-related diseases can take many years to develop so children are more vulnerable over their lifetime.

The Westminster All-Party Group’s report recommends the UK government should start a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools, with priority given to those schools where the asbestos is considered to be most dangerous or damaged.

It also recommends a policy of openness in which parents, teachers and support staff are annually updated on the presence of asbestos in their schools and the measures that are being taken to manage it.

Welsh concerns about asbestos in schools were highlighted in April 2009 when occupational hygienist Robin Howie addressed a conference hosted by Nick Ramsey AM at the National Assembly for Wales.

Mr Howie claimed a hidden “horror story” was unfolding in UK schools with rates of mesothelioma “a factor of ten higher” in male teachers than in other people who do not work with asbestos. He said rates of mesothelioma in female teachers were “higher to a factor of two-and-a-half”. He added: “I think the teaching statistics are the tip of the iceberg. For every teacher exposed, then we have 20-30 children.”

Mr Howie repeated these concerns in an edition of the ITV Wales current affairs programme Wales This Week.

In the same programme Tim Cox, of the NASUWT, said the dangers of asbestos was “one of the most important issues we’ve ever had to deal with”.

He stated. “We are talking about the long-term health of the population of Wales. We are talking about the teachers and support staff in schools at the moment but we are also talking about the children, the children of Wales, over the next 10 to 20 years, who could be affected by this terrible, terrible disease.”

Mr Cox demanded the removal of all asbestos from school buildings.

So what is the latest from the Welsh Government?

In answers to written Assembly questions on January 18, 2012, Wales Education Minister Leighton Andrews, said: “Asbestos is safe if undisturbed and schools should work closely with their respective local authorities to have in place appropriate health and safety plans for staff, pupils and visitors.”

He added: “Locating and dealing with asbestos in schools, including the removal if appropriate is a health and safety matter for schools and local authorities. Local authorities as the building owner and employer have a legal duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 to manage the risks arising from asbestos.”

Councils should know whether “any of their schools contain asbestos in some form or another”, he stated, and are “required to have asbestos surveys undertaken on all premises under their control, and implement an asbestos management system”.

However, it appears unclear as to how many Welsh schools contain asbestos.

“The current and projected categories of condition of school buildings were requested, from local authorities, as part of the revised proposals submitted to the Welsh Government in November 2011,” said Mr Andrews. “However, the level of detail, in terms of schools that may have the presence of asbestos was not considered at this stage of the process, since the written statement  December 2010 related to overall outline programmes and not individual projects.”

“The Real Merthyr”

The town of Merthyr Tydfil has become a byword for poverty and deprivation.

The media and politicians have used the town to illustrate many negative aspects of society: crime, unemployment and sickness.

But do the facts support the reputation?

Earlier this year Wales This Week and ITV Wales reporter Hannah Thomas, who comes from the town, went in search of  ‘the real Merthyr Tydfil’.

The programme is still available on-line here.

The market stalls: a look at the Welsh housing market

When the credit crunch hit in 2008 the housing market was the first part of the economy to suffer.

Now, with talk of a second recession looming, Wales This Week looks ahead to ask what’s going to happen to Welsh house prices in 2012.

And the programme investigates how first time buyers – the engine of the property market – are finding new ways to get on the housing ladder.

See the programme here.

** “Great programme…thanks for a balanced and well informed look at the state of the sector.” Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru

‘Living With Dementia’ on You Tube

‘Living With Dementia’, a half-hour documentary following two couples who are dealing with dementia, is now available on You Tube. It is in two parts.

We filmed with the two couples for almost a year. There is more on their stories here.

The programme is now being used to help teach clinical psychology trainees at the Dementia Service Development Centre Wales.

 

Snowdonia At 60

Last month marked the 60th anniversary of the creation of Snowdonia National Park.

National Parks were created in the years when Britain was rebuilding after the Second World War.

The earliest were designated in 1951 and Snowdonia was among them.

This firstWelshNational Parkwas about conserving the past.

But, 60 years on, does it still have a role to play?

That’s the question Wales This Week asked on the night of the anniversary, October 18.

We filmed across the park with attractions such as the Welsh Highland Railway and the Pen-y-Gwryd pub where the Mount Everest team based themselves for their training ahead of their 1953 ascent.

We also visited Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue, Graig Wen on the Mawddach estuary and the couple behind the Baavet duvet.

The programme is now on You Tube.