RISCA business woman Beth Trevett is hardly likely to forget her working trip to Panama last month at the global Tribal Gathering Festival - and her dramatic early exit to get home.

The director of The Wonder Bar, a pop-up drinks business in Caerphilly, was told she had to get out of the country, as border control feared for their population amid the Covid-19 virus outbreak, and Panama looked to go into lockdown.

So it was a case of get out or face being stuck in the wilderness of Central America for the foreseeable future.

Beth managed to leave but not without a few strokes of luck thrown into a mammoth three-day journey from Central America to her base in Risca, Wales.

Hundreds of people from around the world were at the Tribal Gathering Festival at Playa Chiquita in the Panamanian wilderness, alongside one of Central America's most beautiful beach locations.

Beth was the one of the bars co-ordinators at the Festival, running the bars for the three week duration.

The Festival was a mixture of electronic, trance and global music featuring ceremonies from native tribes.

Beth said: “The Festival site was paradise - in the middle of nowhere, where the jungle meets the ocean.”

However, two days before the festival was due to end, and Beth was to help out with the closure of the site, there were rumours that the authorities were going to close the festival and everyone had to get out.

The owner of the Festival then rebranded the site as a ‘hotel,’ making the Festival one of the last social gatherings on earth.

Two days later, Panamanian Health Minister, Rosario Turner, then declared a state of emergency and ordered festival-goers to remain on site because the country had been hit by its' first Covid-19 virus death.

Beth said: “There were about three hundred people left on site at this point and we were all in quarantine.”

The Festival organisers held an emergency meeting and had been given new information again: anyone who had been there for two weeks – like Beth – could leave. If not, then you had to stay an extra week until March 23. She heard everything had been closed down in the UK and her original flight home had been cancelled. 

The next set of news was the turning point: “The borders were closing on March 23 and we needed to leave the country or stay on lockdown in Panama for at least 30 days.”

Like many others, she had to book another flight home, and was lucky that it cost £450 when other people trying to get out of Panama were being charged thousands. Sometimes even then, these flights were cancelled.

Beth added: “Days later, the British Embassy put on three buses to pick up the British citizens from the site. Telling us to be ready by 10am, we waited in the heat until they arrived at 2pm.

“They only gave us water after we begged, when we asked 'where are we going?' we were told ‘somewhere in Panama City.’ We were stopped at least six times at military checkpoints.”

“There was a curfew in Panama City which started at 9pm. We got there at 8.45pm so there was no chance to stop and get any food after our journey.”

But it did not end there. After a day of frantically applying for visas, she had to fly to Miami, then onto Toronto before a connection to London Gatwick airport.

She added: “When we got to the airport, all the flights to the USA had been cancelled except ours. We had to leave two of our group behind because they hadn’t been out of Europe for more than two weeks, meaning they couldn’t fly through the States.”

And she said: “We definitely had good fortune that we got back - a lot of people didn't. There are still fifty crew on site derigging the festival, but there are also many crew that got out of the festival, but didn’t manage to get a flight home before the borders closed.”

Thankfully, Beth managed to make it back amid the UK's own lockdown. But she said: “It's nice to be back safe with my family but I would not mind being out there on lockdown in paradise!”

HOT-shot Andrew Pagett has regained his World Snooker professional tour card for the next two years after taking a chance and jetting off to Portugal to compete in the European Amateur Championships before the coronavirus lockdown.

The Caerphilly-based 37-year-old, who practices at Darren Morgan's Red Triangle Club in Cross Keys, believes he is hitting his peak in the game after a successful campaign on the second-tier Challenge Tour.

Dozens of players withdrew from the European Billiards and Snooker Association's world tournament as the virus began to take hold in the third week of March.

But, with this being one of the few sporting events going ahead at the time and after a phone call to Morgan, who was out at the tournament, father-of-two Pagett decided to go.

His victory in Portugal means the end of a five-year exile from the main professional tour.

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NEWPORT High School Old Boys Youth have won the cup and league double in a glorious unbeaten season.

The club’s teenagers won the Dragons A League and also took the Dragons Youth Cup at Newport’s Rodney Parade ground when beating Brynmawr in the final by five tries to one and in a convincing 30-11 final score.

And among the Old Boys Youth backroom staff, they have had the help of one big coaching name who has been in charge at international level and played alongside the greatest Welsh player of all time, Gareth Edwards.

The Old Boys Youth topped the Dragons A League table after beating top opposition including Pontypool, Newbridge, Senghenydd and St Julian’s Old Boys during the season.

It was the first time in the team’s history that they have done the double and it has helped that they have had a joint coaching team of former Newport RFC hooker Gary Hicks, who looks after the pack, and ex-Newbridge, Newport and Wales U21s coach Paul Evans, the backs coach.

Hicks and Evans took over the NHSOB Youth side this season, and Hicks, with the help of club chairman Geraint Bowden, fitness guru Mike Burke and team manager Kay Bird has seen the teenage side thrive.

But Hicks said it could not have been achieved without the influence of long-time  coaching legend Evans.

“He was my former Wales U21s and Newport RFC coach. He has also coached the Welsh Academicals, Newbridge and East Wales senior teams so to have him on board with our youth side has been something exceptional,” said the forwards boss.

“Paul was a first-class player in his day with Newport and Cardiff, forming a formidable half back partnership with a certain Gareth Edwards.

“He has coached for thirty-plus years, playing a big part in a lot of the careers of many players in both senior and youth teams, some of whom have gone on to play for the Welsh national sides.

“At NHSOB Youth, he has tremendous respect from the players, coaches and parents who are all fond of him. He is a straight-talking coach and I have learned a lot from him.

“If this is his last coaching role, I have valued my time alongside him. He is a family man through and through having watched his two sons Peter and Mathew playing for Newport RFC and now his grandson Ben, who plays in this NHSOB side, while Luke is a promising young footballer.

“All of us at the Old Boys appreciate his dedication and passion.”

Hicks has also been delighted with the way the young squad has developed through the superb season, which has resulted in some gaining age group honours and regional squad representation.

He said: “Captain Sam Taylor and vice-captain James Barrett are both very skilled players, leading the way on and off the field and setting the standards for the rest of this fine squad by helping along the youngsters of the team.

“Ollie Thomas, Aaron Dowse, Morgan Mohring and Callum Oliver are, to name a few, players who are coming through the squad and are among many of our side which have made it into the Dragons U18 squad.”

Indeed, exciting prospects Brodie Coghlan and Aneurin Owen have landed Academy contracts with the main Dragons squads, while Adam Young has been capped by the Wales Rugby League team at Under-19 level this season.

BRIDGEND business coach Paul Rees has expanded to the United States three years ahead of schedule thanks to working with one of the UK’s leading business success gurus, Dr Bridget Kirsop.

Mr Rees, who works in entrepreneurial and personal coaching from his base at Pyle Industrial Centre, flew to Ohio this month to deliver his programmes to senior State educationalists.

But he admitted he would not have been able to do it without the help of Dr Bridget Kirsop.

Mr Rees worked with Dr Bridget, who is an expert in self-sabotage, on an intensive two-day neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) weekend in August to increase his confidence.

And Mr Rees, founder of Accolade Academy based near Bridgend and who has also developed programmes in business role modelling, said: “Before we did the two days,

I would have naturally steered away from delivering these programmes to the education sector due to the confidence of going in and thinking ‘can I teach a teacher how to teach?’

“In my lifetime, I would never have thought that. I am somebody who will say ‘yes’ to anything and figure it out afterwards but I would never have allowed the attraction of this to come into my life. I feel I was struggling with just the role modelling programmes.

“It has been three months and I have now gone from struggling with the role modelling to now flying out to Ohio and introducing the programmes at State level which is anything between thirty to fifty teachers at a given time in a mentoring programme that I am having to make up, build and deliver.

“That confidence came from clearing out a trigger that I could not find or recognise because of the anxiety I felt. It is a complex thought process but very simple at the same time.

“I am a great believer that business becomes who you are. Before our two days of intensity but wonderfulness, my business was not this.

“If we are 18 months from now and my business become that, then I would say it was my hard work and my attention but the switch has been so quick that when you look at it, I would not have attracted this kind of opportunity in this space of time.

Mr Rees added: “I am three years ahead of plan for going to America.

“I have flown out to Ohio to present my programmes to the educational system out there at Principal and Superintendent level. That means we will be teaching the senior teachers and take our ‘Think Tank’ programmes and my coaching there.”

Dr Bridget, a former GP and expert in NLP Time Line Therapy, said: “I am very pleased to have made a difference for Paul and his business. To expand to the United States three years ahead of schedule is a superb achievement and I am proud to have played a part in helping him with this.

“Paul works across the globe already and is developing his business rapidly. I am sure that this new intiative in the United States will augment his world presence and I wish him well.”

For more information about Dr Bridget Kirsop, her NLP programmes and prescriptions, visit www.drbridgetnlp.com

Get your head out of the sand about modern PR – Action Business Club, Newport, have done it

Action Business Club. Thursday September 21.

Thoroughly enjoyable time presenting to the members of Action Business Club this morning to unlock part of the Public Relations world as it is in 2017.

The feedback was brilliant as I was able to distribute a few tools and show people the advantage of a little thing like this you are reading now - a LinkedIn blog post - and some tricks for getting your communications noticed by the media and directly to your clients and target audiences.

Because media relations is not at all about writing a press release, sending it off to a newspaper/website journalist or editor, who will have your release and a pile of others to decide who gets published and who doesn't, and hoping that they will print your story to satisfy your client.

Media relations - just one part of the Public Relations industry - is far more than that so come along to my PR For Professionals Introduction Half Day next month in South Wales to learn the way modern media relations (the industry term for dealing with journalists and editors and, broadly, about writing stories for them) works.

Email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ring 07803 974491 and you will find out how to improve your business communication strategies with the written word, video, podcasts and social media.

And if any other group would like me to give my presentation to them - about twenty minutes with five minutes Q&A - please give me a ring on 07803 974491.

It's free of charge so long as I can publicise my PR For Professionals Intro Days and my PR Workshops, which take place next year, at the end.


Gary Baker

It is with great sorrow that we have to report the death of the owner and creator of Wales and West Media, Gary Baker.

Gary passed away on Janury 5th 2021 following a serious head injury.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Gary's family and close friends.