To mark the Day of Defenders, a public holiday in Ukraine honouring veterans and fallen members of the Ukrainian armed forces, I was delighted to attend the ‘Together We Stand’ event at the Chepstow Drill Hall on Sunday afternoon. 

Hosted by the Monmouthshire Ukrainian Group in Chepstow and Monmouthshire County Council, we were treated to a packed programme featuring Ukrainian singing, inspiring speeches, talent showcases and a presentation of the Ukrainian community’s journey. 

Chepstow Male Voice Choir provided a Welsh twist with a rousing performance and there was a fantastic buffet offering traditional Ukrainian food. 

My thanks to Kateryna Khodzhaieva, the organisers and everyone who participated for their wonderful hospitality. 

It was an absolute pleasure to support Ukrainians who have been so warmly welcomed by Monmouthshire residents.

THIRTY five years ago, I served as a solider in the Territorial Army and was based at Raglan Barracks in Newport. 

I didn’t go anywhere or do anything dangerous. In fact, the bulk of my time was spent learning how to iron shirts rather than firing a weapon.

But I was taught valuable life lessons that stood me in good stead for the future.

On Monday, I went back to visit the Military Preparation College for Training. This unique academy helps young people develop their fitness, vocational qualifications and skills to prepare for employment. 

While not everyone will join the British Armed Forces, they come away with a solid foundation for all sorts of careers. 

I was expecting a presentation but relished the opportunity to put on a tracksuit and join in with some fitness training. I can still keep up – just!

WORK is due to get underway soon on upgrading Abergavenny train station with the installation of a brand-new fully accessible footbridge and lifts. 

Funded by the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme, this exciting project has been a long time in the making and will allow all passengers – especially those with limited mobility, carrying heavy luggage or families with pushchairs – to have a step-free route to and between platforms. 

Contractors are aiming to start on site in December, which means certain areas around the station will be fenced off to store materials and machinery.

I am told this will reduce the availability of nearby parking spaces for the duration of the improvement works, but it is important to stress the station will remain open to passengers. 

The work is planned to be finished by autumn 2024. 

I understand Network Rail will be sharing more information over the coming weeks, including a date for a community drop-in session to allow neighbouring residents to discuss the plans