School uniforms

Some delegates at an annual teachers’ conference have reportedly drawn attention to evidence of poverty among the schoolchildren they teach.

The evidence relates to occasional lack of decent breakfasts before their coming to school in the mornings.

I am inclined to think that that case is well made, as has been recognised by the occasional provision of food at the schools. It is surely shocking that that should be necessary, however.

Where I might wish to deviate from the teachers’ critique is a reference to school uniforms being worn out of school hours, perhaps at weekends or during school holidays.

So what?

There were no uniforms at my primary school, in Penarth, but at my secondary (grammar) school, in Cardiff, there were. Some of us would wear our school uniforms out of school hours, and did not at all see this as a badge of poverty. But the problem of lack of food, where it is identified, is a serious one.

As an undergraduate in the 1950s, most of us wore blazers, badges, ties and college scarves, and they would often be worn outside teaching hours, unlike our academic gowns, worn for lectures, especially in the low faculty (which I attended in year one).

Michael, O’Neill

Railway Terrace


Society in rude health

An article in a recent edition of the Penarth Times (March 29) somehow managed to give a completely false impression that the Penarth Civic Society was in difficulties and was ‘fighting to preserve its existence’.

In fact, the reverse is true.

The society is going from strength to strength and the request by our committee member, Anne Evans, for people with secretarial and/or legal skills to join us is to support the expanding range of activities the society is engaged in.

We always welcome applications from new members, whether to assist with the work of the committee or to just support the work we do and enjoy the other benefits of membership.

But the society is not, as the article suggested, fighting to avoid an early demise and we remain in the best of health.

Chris Wyatt

Honorary Treasurer

Penarth Civic Society

Heroes of the sky

People have heard of Barnes Wallis

And Guy Gibson, who traversed the streets of Penarth,

But this poem is a tribute to Gordon Yeo

Who grew up in old Barry town.

He flew with the famous Dambusters,

Shot down when only twenty,

Such a tragedy that he was killed

With so many of his dreams unfulfilled

In Lancasters they must have felt like gods,

Mortal gods with flimsy flesh.

Three dams were attacked with bouncing balls

And the Moehne and Eder were breached,

Water gushing into the valley below

But claiming civilians and forced labourers too

For war is brutal causing fear and pain,

Eight bombers never came home again.

I picture empty seats the next day

And surviving airmen eating breakfast

With sad thoughts about fallen comrades.

There is a portrait of the Welsh Dambuster,

I can’t imagine the terror he felt

As deadly flak raced towards his plane

So here’s to you, hero of the sky,

A man of courage, far too young to die.

Guy Fletcher




Cuts to youth services

Just when you thought that the Vale Council couldn’t sink any further they just keep on surprising us.

The Vale Council are now looking to cut Vale Youth Services by more than half, this includes cutting front line staff from 48 to a massive nine,and also cutting council funded staff from 53 to 25 for the ages 11 to 25.

This could also affect youth clubs and holiday schemes. Unison has hit out at this as a wrong headed decision.

How on earth can just nine staff carry on giving a service to these young people, some of whom are special needs.

What I find quite astonishing is the comments from Cllr Bob Penrose who states that the plans would enhance support for young people,and it will provide a sustainable service in the future.

All this to save a miserly £63,000. It has to be said that this Vale council haven’t got one clue what they’re doing.

Cllr Penrose should resign now, the way this has been handled is a shocking example of incompetence.

One other point, these councillors should now look at themselves. The time has come now for you councillors to trim the cloth, and reduce your numbers by at least half.

I despair for the people of the Vale if this Tory administration runs for the full term.

The politicians of this country from Westminster right down to the Vale are elected to serve and protect the people not the other way around.

DJ Radford


Evolution explained

THE letter of Dr John F Harvey (Penarth Times, April 5) discusses what he calls the ‘myth of the theory of evolution’. I read his previous letter (March 22) and managed to ignore its nonsense, this letter is so full of false premise I cannot do this again.

The paragraph covering DNA is so wrong in so many respects, so blatantly false that it is difficult in a short letter to properly cover the writer’s non-scientific interpretation of just what DNA is all about.

His two statements, ‘it is genetically impossible for one kind to change – even over billions of years – into a completely different kind of creature’, and the next paragraph telling us that the ‘self-editing’ mechanism of DNA does ‘not allow new information to be added that could supposedly, facilitate some kind of “evolutionary process” – even by genetic mutation’ is so far from the true science of DNA that I must conclude that the doctorate held by John Harvey cannot be medical – or indeed any of those in the fields of ‘natural’ science.

His further sneer on the ‘musings of the amateur naturalist Charles Darwin, in the 1859 book, On the Origin of Species’, is again meant to mislead any reader.

In the world of creationists one of the most abused words in the English language is ‘theory’.

The word ‘theory’, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty.

It’s dictionary meaning used in science is, “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena.”

In the case of the theory of evolution, the following are some of the phenomena involved.

All are facts: Life appeared on earth more than two billion years ago; Life forms have changed and diversified over life’s history; Species are related via common descent from one or a few common ancestors; Natural selection is a significant factor affecting how species change. Many other facts are explained by the theory of evolution as well.

The theory of evolution has proved itself in practice. Besides the theory, there is the fact of evolution, the observation that life has changed greatly over time. The fact of evolution was recognized even before Darwin’s theory. The theory of evolution explains the fact.

Even the theory of gravity still receives serious challenges. Yet the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is still a fact. Creationism is neither theory nor fact; it is, at best, only an opinion, a belief. Since it explains nothing, it is useless.

Harvey’s totally untrue depiction of what Darwin stated about fossils in his book is typical of this type of creationist argument, Darwin did not ‘admit’ that his theory depended on future fossil discoveries, he discussed the possibility of future findings answering the many questions then remaining.

Summarising someone’s work, rather than quoting it, shows whether you understand it. Many creationists are limited to quoting because they have no idea what the author really means.

In fact, most creationists probably repeat quotes without even having read the original author’s work. I suspect that Harvey is one of these.

The last paragraph of Harvey’s letter quotes a chapter from the bible.

Again I have no idea of his doctorate, it is obviously not any of the natural sciences, if it is in theology then he must know that the Old Testament is the original book of the Jewish faith, from this he has to be aware of the fact that the stories of this testament are based on Old Babylonian ‘myths’ and their belief in the many gods ‘known’ to them.

The multiple gods of the Babylonians and their individual areas of responsibility were simply squashed down to the One True God.

Harvey’s ‘proof’ of the modern, scientific fact of evolution is the 4,000 plus year old myths supposedly written by Moses and others as the ‘word of God’ some 3,500 years ago.

Michael Godfrey


Parkinson’s awareness

This month we mark World Parkinson’s Day.

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Stephanie Stone