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Best and worst Christmas presents and a little careers advice

Rob Shelley takes a look back at some of the stories making Wales tick this fortnight

A little careers advice…

The public toilet is under threat - but one community is fighting back

If you work hard at school, do enough to vault the hurdles that are GCSE’s and A levels, spend three years avoiding lectures in somewhere which looks like a film set and gives you a degree and then hurtle towards the world of work, then you too may end up filming in a ladies lavatory in Llansannan.

No-one told me this at the careers advice place at university. But then they never seem to steer you towards being a careers advisor, either.

Watch Rob’s report: Saving the public loo

Actually, it was my first visit to a ladies lavatory (apart from one French farce style mix up at Wrexham football club, and enough said about that the better) – but we were there to tell the story of how many public loos have vanished over the past decade and how the good people of Llansannan thought that instead of seeing theirs boarded up, a small army – well, platoon – of volunteers decided that they’d retile the cracked tiles, replumb the old plumbing, add net curtains and a nice seascape in the gents and make theirs a loo that’s not only open but also rather wonderful.

The very kind landlady from the Red Lion across the road cleans the toilets for nothing. And thus, as Shakespeare said, shines a good deed in a weary world.

The worst Christmas present ever

Would seem to be a live owl.

The sanctuary say Harry Potter films create a massive demand for Owls as presents

For one thing, they’re creatures of nature. But apparently – according to the North Wales Bird Trust, who have over 40 owls in their pens up on a hillside above Llandudno, every time Harry Potter comes out with a new instalment, so they end up with more owls who are unwanted Christmas presents being dumped upon them.

Watch Rob’s report: Sanctuary’s owl concerns

Apparently, a section of the cinematic public quite fancy being Hagrid *, and owls look cute – so a couple of clicks on the internet later and you can buy yourself one. The only thing is that owls don’t make the most pettable pets, they like to sleep for a long time, and as the centre’s quick to point out, you’re much better off sponsoring an abandoned owl and going to visit it from time to time.

Actually, I’ve started something here: the worst Christmas present of all time…..there was an uncle who sent me, as a very bouncy little seven year old, an alarm clock. That’s up there with the worst of them. I have a very good friend whose mother bought her a shredder for Christmas. And nothing says Christmas more than a shredder….. anyone who can beat that, get in touch – we’ll create a sort of reverse Christmas list

*not being a Harry Potter fan, I’m presuming Hagrid is the bloke with the owl. I’m more of a Sweeney man, myself….

One of the best Christmas presents ever

For one family I met in Mid Wales would cost £5,000 and transform a life.

Watch Rob’s report: a new voice for a Newtown man

Mervyn Humphreys who lives in Newtown was involved in a horrendous road accident in Africa three years ago. It cost him his baby son, who died of his injuries. It also cost Mervyn the ability to communicate: a stroke and the shock means that the only word he can say is yes. Meeting up with him and his family, you can tell the intense frustration that a lack of communication causes.

They’ve found an answer – a computer speech package: the compensation due from the accident would easily cover the cost of it, but the legal side of things is dragging on. So Mervyn’s family are starting to fundraise and trying to give their son his voice back.

And finally

Well, for this year anyway: to all the people I’ve met in the course of 2010, to the kindness that seems to cover Wales; to the friendliness and tolerance of the people who’ve helped us, whether its being stopped for a quick vox pop on a cold corner or those people who’ve allowed us a real look into their lives – to the viewers who’ve said hello in the street and even to the old lady who told me I look taller on T.V. (I am five feet nine and a half, by the way, and it’s a very important half – but I get much bigger on a fifty inch set) – a very happy Christmas.

As the song goes, may all your troubles be far away.

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