Saturday, 31 December 2011


May I wish all who visit this blog a Happy and Healthy New Year.
I am already stocked up with varieties of minty toothpaste, mouth wash and inter dental brushes and lovely scented soaps everywhere. I intend letting no bugs in and the spin off will  be lovely scents and a sparkly smile, what a nice way to start the year !

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Clean your teeth to prevent pneumonia !

I have just read an article in the newspaper telling me that oral hygiene is directly connected to lung health. Also, commonsense tells me that what's on my fingers often gets into my mouth. So, I know what my New Year's resolution is going to be. 

Extra special care and attention to teeth cleaning, 
Wash my hands a few more times a day, 
Always use a mouth wash
And keep those bugs away.

I'll never make a poet !

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Catwg Bell Ringers

Today we welcomed the Catwg Bell Ringers for the second time, and once again they entertained us well. The costumes, the carols, the sound of the bells, the visitors from Swansea and Bridgend Breathe Easy Groups, not to mention Denise Williams and Chris Mulholland, all helped to make this a lovely festive occasion. It amazed me yet again, that I, who has not one musical note in my body, can manage to ring a bell at the right time. Great fun, not to be missed and we look forward to seeing the ladies another year.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Ystradgynlais Christmas Craft Fair

The Christmas Craft Fair was held in Ystradgynlais Miners Welfare Hall and was organised by Caroline from the Volunteer Centre - Lots of toys, tree decorations and hats and scarves bought ready for Christmas. The brass band played festive music and Santa came, much to the delight of all the children there.


What are The BOFFAs ? They are British Lung Foundation's answer to the OSCARs. We were really thrilled last Thursday. The BOFFAs - Breathe of Fresh Air Awards presentations were made by Patrick Flood Page, Chairman of British Lung Foundation Wales and chest consultant in Newport, at the Spectwm Centre in Cardiff. Breathe Easy Neath Valley won two awards, one for outstanding contribution to British Lung Foundation Projects and the other for outstanding group achievement in influencing the ways lung conditions are dealt with.
Margaret Barnard won two personal awards, one for outstanding service to Breathe Easy and the local community and the national award for outstanding contribution to awareness raising and campaigning.
Margaret and the group won these awards in spite of having lung conditions themselves and are all very proud of their achievements and would like to thank everyone who has helped them in achieving these goals.

Breathe Easy groups from across south Wales gathered to celebrate the achievements this year and to celebrate Christmas with a cuppa, cakes, music and good company.
See more pictures on Flickr

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

VIPs and Big Money

Patrick Flood Page, Chairman of British Lung Foundation Wales, Suzy Davies AM and Peter Mannion, Public Health Service Manager ABM Health Board joined us for a lively discussion covering various topics.
We were all thrilled about the progress being made to protect children from smoking in cars. Patrick and Suzy expressed concern about long term sickness and lack of cover we are getting from our COPD team - not their fault at all, no one can help being ill. We all think long term illness should be covered so that we can get the service we are promised. For two years now we have had no self referrals as one or another of the team has been ill. This means hospital admissions in some cases because of a lack of home nursing.
Peter talked about the importance of continuing exercise after pulmonary rehab and the PACE programs are finished. We all know how true that is - exercise does you good and keeps you going. Healthy muscles use less oxygen.
Then, on a really happy note, it was great to be able to hand over a cheque for £4,620 to Patrick. British Lung Foundation Wales needs every penny it gets in order to carry out its much needed work supporting all people with lung conditions in Wales.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Wysgi and a cream tea

Last Wednesday we went to the Whiskey (Wisgi) Distillery in Penderyn to see how the only Welsh Wysgi is made and how different barrels used for storage give it three very distinctive flavours. We saw the oldest bottle of Welsh Wisgi - there are only two left, Penderyn has one and Prince Charles has the other one. At the end of the tour we were all given a taste of two different types of whisky or a miniature to take home.
When we left there we went just down the road to Ty Newydd for a cream tea with a distinctive Welsh flavour. Tasty sandwiches (crusts removed), Welsh cakes, Bara Brith and scones with jam and cream, all washed down with tea or coffee.
It was a lovely afternoon and we look forward to many more like it.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A sad and spooky tale

Lillian Bath told us the story of Sarah Winchester. After the loss of her husband and baby, when she was a young woman, Sarah went on to build a rambling mansion, in California. The building went on until her death aged eighty two. It was a strange house of hidden rooms, staircases and corridors which go nowhere - all this was supposed to appease the spirits of her dead family. It was all paid for with the money made by the Winchester Rifle company.

At the meeting we agreed to give £3,000 to BLF Wales, for the brilliant work they do on behalf of all people in Wales who are living with lung conditions.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I am out and about most days with my portable LOX and love the freedom it gives me. However, this week, in this lovely autumn sunshine, I was out in my garden pruning the shrubs ready for winter. All went well for about half an hour until I suddenly felt very breathless. I realised I wasn't getting any oxygen so I stopped, fiddled with the control knob and tube connections, took my cannula out and checked it was clear and only then saw what I had done. I had grabbed my tubing in with a bunch of foliage and cut clean through it with my secateurs. Thanks to Air Products I had spare tubing so, after gasping then giggling I was able to continue my lovely afternoon in the sunshine

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A change of plan

Today we should have visited the Big Pit, the Welsh Mining Museum in Blaenavon, but when we woke up the wind was buffeting the back of the house and the rain was lashing against the windows. So I rang around all our members to cancel the outing and suggested lunch instead. What a sigh of relief I got from everyone and we had a lovely lunch in a pub in Neath - a much more sensible thing for a group of people with various lung conditions to do on a wet and windy day. Derek Brockway, our weather man, promises us better weather in ten days time, so we can always have another go at the Big Pit then. But we decided today that lunch was so enjoyable that we are going to make it a regular monthly thing.

AGM and a fascinating talk

I've been a bit remiss of late and forgot to make comment on our August meeting. Maureen Webster told us about her experiences nursing in Zimbabwe - Rhodesia as it was when she first went out there, complete with a husband and two small children. She really was, and still is, a very determined lady, who braved many dangers, had an altercation with Robert Mugabe on a plane and made many friends in the remote places she worked in. I could have listened to her for much longer.
That meeting was also our AGM and it felt good to be able to congratulate ourselves on a great year, exceptional fundraising, but sadly few new members joining our group. We really must try harder this year to spread the message and let all those people out there, in the Neath Valley, with lung conditions, know what a supportive group we are and also let them know how much fun we have.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Ladies (and men) who lunch !

Last Monday, ten of us met at The Dyffren Arms for lunch. A great time had by all, the food was lovely. Why don't we do this more often ? - must get organised on this.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Gwyl - Penrhos - Ystradgynlais

"Oh Dear " we thought, when we woke up on Saturday. The rain was falling heavily and it was windy. Not a good day for a families festival. But all was well. By the time we all had set our stalls up the sun had come out and the children were able to have fun in the circus tent.
Air Products very generously gave us a cylinder of helium so we gave away a lot of BLF balloons to all the children there - thank you Air Products.
Lots of people signed our petition to protect children from secondary smoke in cars and there was interest shown about sleep apnoea, it's causes, effects and treatments. We sold lots of dolls to children and adults alike.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Stop Press !!!

Many thanks to all who took part in our abseil earlier this year. You helped us raise the magnificent sum of £5,075. All of this will be spent in Wales for the benefit of people living with lung conditions

Friday, 8 July 2011

Meet the Patients

On 22nd June four of us went to the Welsh Assembly to talk to the members about lung issues, such as extending pulmonary rehab to cover the whole of Wales, raising awareness of sleep apnoea, it's causes and treatment and our campaign to protect children from smoke in cars
One of our members is talking to Peter Black about these concerns.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Charity Fiesta at Aberavon Shopping Centre

In spite of the wet and windy weather, lots of people came, read our information and took away leaflets. We are raising awareness of Sleep Apnoea, a little known condition which causes disturbed sleep. People with this condition often snore then actually stop breathing, which wakes them up. This goes on all night and so the person is always tired and prone to falling asleep in the daytime - very dangerous if driving or using machinery. It can be treated - so, if this is you, go to your doctor and ask for help. There is no need to put up with this.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sugar flowers and butterflies

Merle had us all fascinated as she made sugar flowers and butterflies as she sat and chatted about her hobby of cake decorating. It looked so simple as she rolled, cut and shaped the pieces of sugar icing, stuck them together with vodka, a quick tweak, and a rose, carnation or butterfly was made. They looked good enough for a buttonhole - far too good to eat.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Craft Fair in St David's Church

We had a lovely day at the Craft and Charity Fair in Neath yesterday, meeting up with old friends representing other charities.
Lots of people asked about various aspects of lung conditions and hopefully we have some new Breathe easy members.
We always welcome new members to our group. Support from others with the same condition is always a good thing to have.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Abseil at Dinas Rock

Well, what can I say, yet another great day. The sun shone, the crowds came, people abseiled, children too. Call of the Wild ran the abseil, Bob Grainger took the photographs, and Dan from Imbex was our first aider - thankfully not needed. They all gave their time at no charge to us and deserve a big thank you. Look at the pictures on flickr. They are quite awe inspiring.

We have already banked £2,050 and there is a lot more sponsorhip to be collected. Watch this space for the final amount.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Neath Communities First and NHS Services

Donna Roberts is so full of energy and enthusiasm. She told us all about the Communities First scheme, funded by the Welsh Assembly, for areas of deprivation and then went on to describe all the activities she and her colleagues have started in Neath. Sadly funding ends for this next year, but some of the schemes are now well established and will hopefully continue and, with luck, so will funding from the Welsh Assembly. I must say, Neath sounds far from deprived with all these activities going on. It's a very lively place to live. Call Donna on 01639 640670 or or check out the website There is so much going on over Easter for the children and adults. I have promised to make fancy cakes for the Spring Cookery competition, knitted ones of course, just to be different. Maybe I will do sausage, egg and chips too. Keep up the good work Donna. Then Vicky Broad and Maria led a discussion on our COPD Care in the Community team and how we valued the work they do. The general consensus is that we can't do without them and if the service is reduced in any way more of us would be going into hospital with acute exacerbations because we couldn't cope at home on our own without their support and care. We have a wonderful service here in Neath and we would like to see the COPD patients in the rest of the ABM area getting a service as good as the one we have.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The work of the Red Cross and the Expert Patients Programme

Well, there was an awful lot we didn't know about the work of the Red Cross in the Neath Port Talbot area. The Neath Port Talbot Hospital Discharge Service is invaluable in helping people get home from hospital early, knowing that they will have support for six weeks with shopping, cleaning, personal hygeine, companionship and a host of other things.
They also have the Practical Aids to Living Servive - PALS - which offers trials, advice and sales of many gadgets which make life easier for those living with a disability, from wheelchairs, to pencil grips to commodes - and all things inbetween. There is also a Mobile Medical Loans Service. There are many items for loan or for sale. These are available from the Neath Branch of the British Red Cross, The Ropewalk Neath, 01639 643818, or Carmarthen 01554 749374
or check out their website

Then we had an informative chat from Donna about the Expert Patients Programme (EPP) which is funded by the Welsh Assembly. It is a six week programme, free to anyone who is living with a chronic condition and well worth taking part. As well as teaching techniques to combat stress, pain etc it is a wonderful social opportunity to meet other people with different problems, which can often put your own into perspective, or give you another angle to look at and tackle your own difficulties.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Breathing easy in Baglan

Donations from our Breathe Easy Group have helped purchase new exercise equipment for the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Team in the Medical Resource Centre at Baglan Moors.

The group spent £1,500 on the equipment. The money was raised by holding a sponsored abseil event, when seventy people, adults and children, abseiled down the spectacular 130ft Dinas Rock in the Neath Valley.

The new equipment which consists of a treadmill, two bikes, set of pedals, a set of weights and a tea urn for that important cuppa will help the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Team in delivering a valuable service.

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme helps treat patients with Chronic Lung Disease. Specialist Physiotherapist, Cath Harper who is based at the Baglan Resource Centre said:

“I just want to say a big thank you to the Breath Easy Neath Valley for all their hard work and to everyone who took part in last years abseil.

“This equipment has a huge benefit for patients who attend the six week rehabilitation programme. It is very important that patients with a respiratory disease try and exercise a little bit more; which will help expand the lungs and improve breathing for the patient.”

Patients attending the programme have already seen health changes by using the new equipment.

Giving the thumbs up to the new equipment and programme is Philip Jones from Port Talbot, who is just completing his fifth week. Philip said:

“The new equipment is fantastic and having this facility locally is brilliant.

“I’m doing really well, feel great and everyone is very helpful.”

Linda Davis, also from Port Talbot is just starting her first week and added: “Sometimes I panic when I can’t get my breath and the team have been teaching me how to control my breathing. Everyone is very supportive and helpful.

“I don’t think I’ll be using the treadmill, but I am very happy with the small floor pedals that I use when sitting on the chair.”

The Breathe Easy Neath Valley are a group of people who are all living with lung conditions, mainly COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which can be debilitating.

Secretary for the group Margaret Barnard said: “Pulmonary rehab is an important part of our treatment and understanding of our condition.

“It teaches us a new way of tackling life with a chronic condition and enables people like us to live full and active lives. As well as the information we receive during the programme, we learn the value of exercise in maintaining muscle tone and keeping our lungs working as well as possible. All this helps to keep us out of hospitals as exacerbations are reduced.

“It's thanks to the generosity of the people who take part and give, that we are able to present this equipment. Thank you to all of you.”

The group are setting up the 2011 abseil event, if you would like to support them or give a donation visit For more information on British Lung Foundation Wales visit - helpline 08458 50 50 20
Wales Office 01792 455764

Friday, 18 February 2011

Briton Ferry Health and Wellbeing Group.

Well, the ladies of Briton Ferry certainly put us through our paces and raised a lot of laughter. Gentle exercise really can be a lot of fun as well as being really good for you. Sorry, everyone was having such a good time no photos were taken. Must be better organised in future.

New equipment for pulmonary rehab

This month we bought equipment for the Pulmonary Rehab team at the Primary Resource Centre in Baglan Moors. They were delighted to take delivery of a treadmill, two exercise bikes, a set of pedals, a set of weights and the all important tea urn, for that relaxing cuppa when all the hard work is done. On Thursday this week we went to see it all in use and what a lovely time we had. We had our usual chat with the people in rehab, telling them all about our Breathe Easy group, all the fun we have, and we do hope they will come along to join us.

Pictures to follow

A big get together

Some of us went down to Bridgend on Tuesday to meet up the Breathe Easy group there along with some of Swansea Bay group. We chatted about this and that, drank a lot of tea and coffee and made a good job of demolishing the lovely cake kindly provided by the Bridgend group.
We had a lively exchange of ideas about how our groups are doing and what we should be doing. There was interest in joining our abseil in April, which would be great.
Bridgend group asked us to join them for ice cream and a paddle in Porthcawl in the summer, and we have asked them all to visit us in September for a knees up with the Neath Bees Knees group.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Terrific Support

Local support has been wonderful for our annual fundraising event - Abseil at Dinas Rock.
The abseil will be run by Call of the Wild, a professional company, based locally in Seven Sisters, who have plenty of experience running these events. They are winners of the Welsh Tourist Board Team Building Company of the Year and current National Small Business of the Year. Once again the company is generously giving it’s time and expertise free of charge to help our fundraising. So, again, a huge thanks to Call of the Wild.
This year Bob Granger, a local photographer has kindly offered to be our official photographer at no cost to us, another generous gesture.
Then today, Imbex Services have said they will provide first aid cover free of charge.
The generosity of these people, and those who sponsor our brave abseilers are what makes this event such a success
A huge thank you to them all.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Abseil at Dinas Rock Easter Sunday 24th April 2011

Once again we are preparing for our abseil, which takes place on Easter Sunday, 24th April this year. So far we have raised £22,500 over the last four years and we have bought exercise and medical equipment for the COPD Team in Neath and we have given money to British Lung Foundation Wales for their invaluable work for people like me who are living with a lung condition. Please look at our Justgiving page and make a donation
Thank you