Western Mail

Cryptocurr­ency first for watch firm

- ALEX BYWATER Reporter newdesk@walesonlin­e.co.uk

AWELSH watch seller says it has become the first company in the world to use a form of payment technology which allows customers to purchase goods with cryptocurr­ency.

Family-owned business Watches of Wales, founded by Paul Hornblow, is a leading name in buying and selling luxury watches both in Wales and around the globe.

Wales sporting stars Aaron Ramsey, George North and Brett Johns and Hollywood actors are among the famous people to have used the Cardiff-based specialist.

Partly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but also due to a desire to move with the times, Watches of Wales says it has become the first company on the Shopify platform to use the Utrust payment technology which allows customers to purchase goods with cryptocurr­ency.

Watches of Wales’ technology partner Reach Studios were instrument­al in helping integratin­g the solution with Shaun Preece who has been with Watches of Wales from day one.

It means Hornblow’s company is leading the way both in Wales and the world by accepting cryptocurr­encies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment method.

“We are a proud Welsh company and equally proud of the fact we are the first company not only in Wales, but the world, to use this form of cryptocurr­ency payment,” said Mr Hornblow, 48.

“We have been focused on providing customers with a VIP experience since we started this business over seven years ago.

“What better way to start accepting digital currencies than with a customised experience created by the best in the business?

“As a company we want to move with the times. We have a client base from around the world who are already flocking to digital currencies.

“The price of Bitcoin has risen by 500% in the last year. At the moment, it is trading at roughly £40,000 and you’ve seen huge companies such as Tesla already accept it as payment.

“This is the future for online retailers, especially after a year when many companies have had to close down their high street stores and move online due to the coronaviru­s pandemic.

“We were already looking into the cryptocurr­ency market before Covid struck, but it has certainly speeded up our move into this area.

“We have already had customers paying for our products with cryptocurr­ency which shows we are right to head in this direction. I can only see it growing in the next few years.”

Watches of Wales says it is the first company on the planet to benefit.

Mr Hornblow added: “Over 100 million people worldwide are using digital currencies. The value of Bitcoin has risen by more than 90% since January alone.

“Our system makes it very, very simple to pay online using cryptocurr­ency and we are offering anyone who buys one of our products through Utrust a free WOLF cub watch winder.

“We truly believe this is the start of what will be an exciting period for our business and that other companies in Wales will follow us in joining the cryptocurr­ency market.”

Based in the capital’s Morgan Arcade, Watches of Wales was founded by Mr Hornblow in 2013 and has an annual turnover of just under £7m.

They specialise in the buying and selling of the world’s finest watches and stock brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet,

Omega, Panerai and Cartier.

Utrust chief executive Sanja Kon said: “We are entering a huge market like Shopify and we are doing it with a new programme that adds value for merchants and for customers.

“Our first merchant to deploy this solution, Watches of Wales, is a perfect example of how we can help any kind of business, regardless of their specificit­y.”

THE Prison Service has denied claims that an inmate at a Welsh prison was attacked after raising concerns over the treatment of Welshspeak­ers.

The allegation­s were brought to light this week by North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd, who said the alleged assault occurred after the prisoner’s complaints appeared in the media.

Speaking in the Senedd, the Plaid Cymru politician said it showed Welshspeak­ers at Wrexham’s HMP Berwyn on the town’s industrial estate were being “treated as second-class citizens”.

However, a spokesman for HM Prison Service said there was “absolutely no truth” to the accusation­s.

The claims were made after a report was published last year highlighti­ng complaints that inmates had been threatened with sanctions for speaking Welsh.

The Independen­t Monitoring Board’s annual review also detailed reports that guards could not understand Welsh-speakers.

Raising the matter with First Minister Mark Drakeford, Mr Gruffydd said: “You will be aware that Berwyn prison has been harshly criticised by the independen­t monitoring board last year for failing to provide for Welsh-speaking prisoners, and had denied certain rights to those prisoners because they were Welsh speaking.

“Six months later, the prison has confirmed, in correspond­ence with me, that they don’t even know how many of their own staff are able to communicat­e through the medium of

Welsh, so how can they claim that they are securing the necessary provision, I’m not sure.

“There’s been a serious allegation too that one prisoner had suffered an attack because of the coverage given to his case in the media in relation to the Welsh language.

“This whole situation highlights a fundamenta­l failure in meeting the rights of Welsh-speakers.”

He added: “I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to ensure that this situation changes. “The fundamenta­l question is: why are we still seeing Welsh-speakers being treated as second-class citizens here in Wales?”

Mr Drakeford said Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan had written to the Ministry of Justice earlier this month to express concern about the monitoring board’s findings.

He also called for changes to be made to improve the situation as soon as possible.

The Welsh Labour leader said: “It is entirely unacceptab­le to me if people in Berwyn are not being treated according to the laws that we have in place here in Wales.

“I have seen the annual report of the Independen­t Monitoring Board in Berwyn, which does raise concerns about the use of the Welsh language within the prison.

“That’s why Eluned Morgan has written to the UK Government seeking assurances that the Welsh-language scheme at Berwyn is being implemente­d.

“I’m sure that Llyr Gruffydd will be aware that the Welsh Language Commission­er has a meeting on the 2 March with representa­tives of Berwyn prison to discuss this very issue.”

He added: “The authoritie­s at Berwyn prison have outlined steps that they’re taking to ensure that rights to use the Welsh language are supported, and we now need to see those steps being taken. “We don’t just want to see them on paper, but we want to see them having an impact on the lives of those in the prison.”

The Prison Service said measures had been taken to support Welsh-speaking prisoners at HMP Berwyn, including the implementa­tion of an action plan and the appointmen­t of a dedicated Welsh-language lead.

THE departing chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has said he believes the force is in “a really, really strong place” compared to when he arrived.

Mark Collins began his role in December 2016, and is stepping down after more than 30 years of police service to take up a role in the British Virgin Islands.

He reflected on the last four years at a meeting of the Dyfed-Powys police and crime panel, who thanked him for his service.

Mr Collins said his strapline from the outset as chief constable – doing things brilliantl­y, and getting things right first time – had remained throughout.

He said he’d wanted people to know who he was, to know his name, and for Dyfed-Powys Police to be restored to its “rightful place” in national gradings and rankings.

There had been “some steps forward and steps back” with Her Majesty’s Inspectora­te of Constabula­ry (HMIC) inspection­s, but Mr Collins said he expected the current inspection’s outcome “will show tremendous progress”.

“When I took over as chief I would say the workforce was disengaged, the community was disengaged, and partnershi­p working was almost non-existent,” said Mr Collins.

HMIC had never graded the force above “needs improvemen­t”, he said, while accreditat­ion body Investors in People assessed Dyfed-Powys Police as “upgradeabl­e”.

Mr Collins added that rural sections of the community in 2016 didn’t feel they were getting a service.

He said the force now had an Investors in People gold award, rural crime teams, a restructur­ed neighbourh­ood policing service, and a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

He added: “I am proud that under my leadership we have exported two chief constables and one assistant chief constable.

“I think you would agree that if I was a horse trainer, people would regard me as having a good stable.”

Mr Collins said the force had more senior female officers than previously, and that its ethnic minority recruitmen­t was “absolutely first class”.

He said: “I believe we could be the first force in the country to be truly representa­tive of our communitie­s.”

He thanked the panel for supporting him in requests for additional funding, via the police precept, which had helped pay for an additional 100 officers.

An HMIC inspection in 2018 judged Dyfed-Powys Police as “good” for effectiven­ess and “requires improvemen­t” in efficiency and in legitimacy.

The previous year it was judged “good” for effectiven­ess and legitimacy and “requires improvemen­t” in efficiency.

A separate inspection of the force’s custody service published in 2018 said progress since the previous one in 2013 had been mixed, although most recommenda­tions had been fully or partially achieved.

Police and Crime Commission­er Dafydd Llywelyn, who appointed Mr Collins as chief constable in 2016, said he felt there had been significan­t improvemen­ts in Dyfed-Powys Police and its performanc­e. Mr Collins, he said, had done “fantastic work”.

He added: “Mark has been very visible in the force area and a visible leader.”

Panel chairman Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones thanked the departing chief constable on behalf of the panel for his work, adding that everyone he spoke to spoke very highly of him.

Mr Collins, who started as a special constable in 1987 and has a new police role in the British Virgin Islands, said he believed his replacemen­t, Deputy Chief Constable Claire Parmenter, was the right person to take Dyfed-Powys Police to “the next level”.

A“MUCH-LOVED son and brother” died after falling from a balcony in Vietnam after suffering with severe social anxiety for some time, an inquest heard.

Gethin Roberts, 31, from Bonvilston, Vale of Glamorgan, was found unconsciou­s on May 8, 2020, at a hotel in Da Nang city in Vietnam after spending the preceding three months travelling the country on a motorbike.

An inquest at Pontypridd Coroners’ Court yesterday heard there was no evidence of any third-party involvemen­t in his death and it was agreed he had jumped.

Assistant coroner Rachel Knight told the hearing that a note was found in his hotel room, which he had booked for one night.

A note was also found on Mr Roberts’ phone for his family which outlined his intention and expressed his love for them.

Reading a statement following the inquest, Mr Roberts’ father, John Roberts, said: “The family are devastated to lose a much-loved son and brother.

“Despite his anxiety he had many successes through his life, including a first-class honours degree.

“Sadly mental health and suicide result in too many lives lost. We would urge anyone struggling to reach out and seek support.”

The court heard that Mr Roberts, who was born in Haverfordw­est and was unemployed at the time of his death, had suffered with severe social anxiety for some time.

Coroner Ms Knight told the inquest that prior to his trip to Vietnam Mr Roberts was living in Manchester and worked as a supermarke­t delivery driver in the summer of 2019. While living in Manchester Mr Roberts sought help from his GP and expressed that he had been feeling anxious and had a low mood.

In a letter from his GP read to the court Mr Roberts was described as having been diagnosed with severe social anxiety and low self-esteem.

He was referred to psychiatri­st Dr Howard Waring and was offered cognitive behaviour therapy in September. It was noted there were no suicidal thoughts or intention and that Mr Roberts had a supportive family.

Mr Roberts decided not to go ahead with the therapy but Dr Waring was later contacted by Mr Roberts’

father to express that his son was developing paranoia.

Mr Roberts was seen by Dr Waring again on February 12 and was advised to delay his trip in order to start treatment. He said Mr Roberts showed no intention of self-harm.

A post-mortem examinatio­n was carried out in both Vietnam and the UK and found there were no drugs in his system and a small amount of alcohol. The cause of death was multiple traumas. Ms Knight recorded a conclusion of death by suicide.

For confidenti­al support the Samaritans can be contacted free 24/7 365 days a year on 116 123.

 ??  ?? Paul Hornblow, left, and Shaun Preece
Paul Hornblow, left, and Shaun Preece
 ??  ?? > North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd
> North Wales MS Llyr Gruffydd
 ??  ?? Departing Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins
Departing Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins
 ?? Lquang2410 ?? Da Nang city inVietnam where Gethin Roberts died after falling from a hotel balcony
Lquang2410 Da Nang city inVietnam where Gethin Roberts died after falling from a hotel balcony

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