Locals’ protest on footstep of polar bears

By Paul Francis

BBC News, Wales

People rely on their community for help during times of crisis

It was a winter wonderland with rain, sleet and a rare, blizzard-like snowfall in this rural county in Wales. But everything turned out OK for two enthusiastic footballers at the off-season Pro Cymru club. Their real game is not football, but hunting. They had ventured to a secluded redoubt nestled in the wind-swept moors of the Neath area. It is heavily wooded, hiding farmhouses, barns and beehives – and half as big as any he would normally be allowed to hunt for grouse. Together they travelled miles into the wilds and into the bowels of a rural pub. Disputed shooting site People filled the pub on a bitterly cold weekend in late September. Despite the near lack of services, including electricity, there was no electricity when the snow struck, but the electricity to warm the area where the two friends were staying stayed. They found shelter in the pub and are now feeling the cold for themselves and for their friends and families. Their pizza, pies and whisky were being enjoyed until one of the brothers struggled back into town. Pals Come next day they were lucky enough to find a sympathetic local, who told them of what was going on up above. The police helped to help them track down the lift. You’d do anything for a brother – make tea, bring him food and give him a leg- up on life.

Mathew Trimble

Aberystwyth gym teacher

They turned on their heating to reach a cosy 20 degrees – then set about finding a way back to the pub. They found a stalag complete with a mannequin, hung from a tree to keep the temperature steady and eventually returned by the next morning, grateful to have been sheltered. This is the scenario in a sunny country town in Wales that many youngsters know better than their own. Many are not used to hardship but some really have. The pair are the most public of the few. ‘Disputed shooting site’ The scruffy little patch of land where they were hiding is a disputed shooting site between two neighbouring families. They argue over the ownership of the land, who holds the license, who should build a boundary fence around it, and whether the shooting should go on there at all. The activists at Pro Cymru say it does not have to be this way. They are working towards a democratic solution with landowners which brings them a form of compensation from what would be the shooting concession. They insist there should be no gun-blazing in a close-knit community like this. The campaigners were there several months ago helping the drivers of the coach used to ferry around children from the Morpeth school. They acted to help someone, a former pupil of the school who was hurt in an accident, and they hope to continue to help people like this. The idea is that they will be there when people need their help. On the footstep They are clearly pleased that their gesture has found an audience with dozens of younger people who will one day become the coal-mine to the world’s challenges. To them, the work that the old activists have done and continue to do seems small by comparison with the scale of the threat that the world faces. Anyone trying to understand the extent of those threats would be in no doubt if they stayed long enough. The argument is harder for anyone trying to do something that moves the world off the path it is currently on. For this younger generation, the scruffy little patch of land is a big stage on which they will stand as they join the coal-mine to the world’s challenges in the future.

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