A remarkable story is emerging from Chepstow where an inspirational young woman has built a flourishing business. Abi Chamberlain’s journey has not been an easy one after dropping out of university due to a learning disability. But resilience and determination has seen Abi gain recognition for developing a hugely successful company that exports Welsh produce all over the world in beautiful hampers. Set up out of the back of a garage and now operating from a unit in Chepstow town centre, the Welsh Luxury Hamper Co. supports over 150 small food and drink businesses across Wales by championing their high-quality (and delicious!) products. It was an absolute pleasure to meet Abi on Friday and witness first-hand the impact and growth she has accomplished. As a young ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, Abi is a fantastic role model who strives to inspire other neuro-diverse entrepreneurs. I wish Abi all the very best and can see why her business has been voted Best Luxury Hamper Company in Wales. Thank you for letting me sample some of the products! You can view the collection of hampers online at www.welshluxuryhampercompany.co.uk
A commission set up by the Labour Welsh Government has published its long-awaited report on how Wales might be ruled in future. To nobody’s great surprise, the ‘independent’ commissioners traipsed around the country gathering evidence from people who are interested in constitutional matters and concluded (as they always do) that the Senedd needs more powers. They also failed to rule out the possibility of Wales leaving the United Kingdom completely. I must say I find all of this preposterous. The Senedd has got law making powers in many areas and so far as health and education are concerned, Wales is basically already a separate nation. Furthermore, the results have not been good. Instead of lobbying for extra powers and spending over £100m on increasing the number of Senedd members in a wildly exuberant vanity project, the Labour Welsh Government should set up a commission to examine why we are languishing at the bottom of education performance tables and suffer appalling NHS waiting lists. Once ministers in Cardiff Bay can demonstrate an improvement in services in the areas where they have full responsibility, then perhaps their arguments for having more powers will be a bit stronger. As for independence, it would be a complete disaster for Wales to walk away from the UK. I am amazed that not only Plaid Cymru but also members of Welsh Labour are giving this idea serious consideration.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon and Abergavenny Chronicle on 24 January 2024*