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Saturday, February 13, 2016

West End singing star heads for Llangollen

The singer dubbed the First Lady of the West End is heading for Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod this summer.

Organisers of the iconic festival have signed up Kerry Ellis who has starred in smash hit musicals in London's West End and Broadway in New York and is a long-term collaborator of Queen guitarist Brian May.

She will be topping the bill in the Voices of Musical Theatre concert on Wednesday, July 6, when she'll be sharing the stage with Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro, the classical and musical theatre boy band.

* Kerry Ellis. 
Kerry, 36, made her name in productions like Wicked, Cats, Les Misérables, My Fair Lady and We Will Rock You.

She is the latest top name to be announced for the landmark 70th festival.

Classical singing sensation Katherine Jenkins will be bringing the curtain up on opening night, Tuesday, July 5, which is being sponsored by care organisation Pendine Park.

The popular mezzo soprano will be treating the audience to a concert version of Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.

Opera superstar Bryn Terfel will be sharing the stage on Thursday, July 7, with a good friend who's also a world class tenor, supremely talented Maltese opera colleague, Joseph Calleja, in a concert that's also being supported by Pendine Park
Meanwhile, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are returning to Llangollen to bring the curtain down on the festival with a foot stomping party on Sunday, July 10, sponsored by the Village Bakery.
According to Kerry, performing at Llangollen in the concert sponsored by Kronospan will be something very special as it means she will get to sing many of her favourite songs all on one magical evening.

She and Collabro will be joined by talented Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre, the CBC Voices from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Welsh National Opera Orchestra under the direction of John Quirk.
Mother-of-two Kerry said: “It’s without doubt a very special and wonderful event.

“I’m so looking forward to what will be a special evening in such a magical place. And as I have such amazing people, such as Collabro, joining me on stage, it’s going to be an evening to remember.

“Recently, have been concentrating more on my concert work with Queen’s Brian May. We have been working together for 13 years now. I landed the role of Meat in the original We Will Rock You cast and we have worked together ever since.

“It’s an unlikely collaboration and we come from two very different worlds but it works and the exciting part for me is I get to perform some very different songs.”

Kerry, who won the 2015 award for Best Featured Actress in a new production of a musical for her portrayal of Grizabella in the new production of Cats at the London Palladium, says the programme will include many of her personal favourites.

She said: “I love Memory from Cats and Anthem from Chess. Actually, Anthem is normally a guy’s song but Brian May wrote a new arrangement for me and I absolutely love it.

“It’s really different and means something. I think it’s a song that everyone seems to know and love anyway.

“It’s going to be an exciting and very different year and Llangollen is definitely going to be a big highlight. I try and take my boys with me where ever I’m performing and it sounds like they are going to really enjoy Llangollen."

Eilir Owen Griffiths, the festival's musical director, said: “To celebrate our 70th festival we really wanted to treat our Eisteddfod supporters to a concert highlighting the very best of musical theatre.

“We are delighted to be welcoming Kerry Ellis, a performer who is the First Lady of West End theatre, to Llangollen for the first time.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing Collabro, the Welsh National Opera and CBC Voices, Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre and the Arts, who will also be appearing and adding to what will be a magical night celebrating the very best of musical theatre.”

He added: “I think everyone has a favourite musical theatre production and song that means something to them. This will be a wonderful evening of music and one I’m sure everyone is going to really enjoy.”

To learn more about the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and for tickets which can be booked on line, please visit

Friday, February 12, 2016

Crystallised flower company to showcase at Pavilion event

* Sarah Hughes with one of her crystallised flowers. 
A Denbighshire company that makes crystallised edible flowers has landed an order from one of the world's most famous hotels.
As well as supplying London's luxury five star Dorchester Hotel, Corwen-based Eat My Flowers will be one of the star attractions of Denbighshire Business Month that’s being organised to promote the county as a foodie heaven and a great place to do business.
Company founder Sarah Hughes will be joining TV hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones at the A Taste for Local event that's being organised by Denbighshire County Council.
Anybody wanting to attend the event at the Royal International Pavilion in Llangollen on Wednesday, March 9, can do so via the website
Eat My Flowers will be supplying 3,000 crystallised blooms for the Dorchester Hotel’s lavish concession at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
Sarah who runs the business from her family farm in Corwen, is now working on an exclusive range to accompany the Dorchester’s afternoon teas during flower show.
She’s also secured a fresh order from existing customer Harrods, to create two exclusive new edible flower lollipops for their Easter 2016 collection.
Denbighshire's March for Business  events run from March 2 to March 22 and the Taste for Local forum will be dedicated to food and drink, giving those in the hospitality and tourism industry a chance to mingle with some of the county’s best local producers.
At the event Gareth Wyn Jones will issue a rallying cry for better networking between food suppliers and producers.
He said: “We’ve got some of the best produce in the world here in Wales, but as a country I don’t think we do enough to show it off.
“I want to see a system where a small farm can make a decent living selling local produce locally."
Father-of-three Gareth became a household name following BBC One Wales’ The Hill Farm documentary about life on his family farm above Llanfairfechan.
His most recent series, The Farmer and the Food Chain, focused on buying locally and now he is encouraging people to do their bit to keep money in the local economy.
“By supplying this food better locally, then more money stays in the area, he said: “But it’s up to us to work together to do that and lift the industry.”
“My message is that we have the produce here, and if we want to keep local producers, then local businesses have got to support them,” he said.
It was a sentiment echoed by Sarah Hughes who set up on her farm in 2011.
She secured her first major order with Harrods in 2013, followed by a similar contract to supply London shopping emporium Fortnum and Mason, in 2014.
Sarah is now working with the Dorchester’s Head Patisserie Chef, David Girard and Head Florist Designer Phillip Hammond, on a bespoke range to be served at the Chelsea Flower show.
She said: “We are delighted to be working with such a prestigious and top end hotel and patisserie chef, whose afternoon teas are world famous. 
“We are normally quieter at this time of year, but we are currently working at full capacity fulfilling our Harrods and other corporate orders for our lollipops. 
Sarah says being based in a “remote” location in Denbighshire has not been a barrier to where her products are sold, far from it.
She said: “We run the business from half way up a mountain in rural Denbighshire, but our products have travelled as far as Singapore and Australia. 
“They have been used at fashion events in London, to pop-up tearooms in Glastonbury. 
“The arrival of the internet really does allow you to sell all over the world.”
She urged rural producers and suppliers to attend A Taste for Local at Llangollen Pavilion so they can learn how to better support each other.
Sarah said: “It allows food producers to meet each other and share ideas and best practice, and also provides a showcase of the innovative and exciting food products on offer to potential new customers in the area.”
Carolyn Brindle, Denbighshire council’s lead officer for Business Support and Local Growth, said by embracing local produce, restaurants could make their businesses distinctive. 
“If a place wants to be chosen as a destination then it has to have a unique and distinct offer,” she said.
“Everything from edible flowers, through to bread, beer, meat, ice cream, cider, cheese, whole food bars and much, much more is made in Denbighshire.”
Carolyn said March for Business month was designed to help businesses help themselves.
"It features a mixture of speakers, workshops, one-to-one advice and networking covering subjects such as HR and employment and social media over the course of the month,” she said.
“One particular focus is on promoting our food and drink offer.
“We have a number of great producers in the county and we would like to see more B&Bs, retail and hotels using this produce when they refresh their menus, for example.”
“A Taste for Local” will start at 10.30am and finish at 1.30pm, at Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion, on Wednesday March 9.
People wanting to attend can book their place at or ring Janet Turner on 01824 706896.  Places are free but space is limited.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

AM calls for summit talks over bank closures

North Wales Lib Dem Assembly Member Aled Roberts has called on the Welsh Government to hold round-table meetings with the main retail banks to find out if community services can be set up to replace closing branches.
In an Individual Member Debate in the Assembly Mr Roberts (pictured) said: “Access to banking services is key, not only to small businesses and retailers, but to individuals, voluntary and charitable groups in communities throughout North Wales.
According to the Campaign for Community Banking Services, community banks and banking centres offer a cost effective way to sustain a branch presence in vulnerable communities, extend coverage and opening hours and reduce banks’ operating costs.
"The first step offered by the community banking model would be a shared banking franchise. For some very small rural communities with no banking presence, a limited shared branching franchise could sit alongside an existing post office franchise.”

Get a slice of Valentine's action on Saturday

If you would like to send a personalised Valentine’s Day card to someone close to you the  place to be is Llangollen Town Hall on Saturday February 13 between 10.30am and 1pm. 

Cards with  a specially commissioned verse can be purchased  from £1 to £2 depending on the message.

This is all part of a Coffee and Cupcake event organised by the Inner Wheel Club of Llangollen to support Parkinson’s UK both locally and nationally.

There will also be various stalls including cakes and scarves and tombola.

The main raffle prize will be a food hamper donated by AF Blakemore & Son Ltd - Spar Llangollen.

The hall will be decorated with red and pink hearts and there will be appropriate live piano music. 

Coffee and a cupcake costs £2.

This a great way to start off your Valentine weekend  and support a very worthy cause at the same time.    

Two local businesses in countryside honours

Two local businesses are celebrating reaching the finals of the Countryside Alliance Awards.
Llangollen Brewery reached the finals in the Local Food Category, and Glyn Ceiriog Post Office were finalists in the Village Shop category.
The awards, dubbed the Rural Oscars, are an annual celebration of Welsh rural business, produce and communities.

* Llyr Gruffydd with a representative of Llangollen Brewery
The awards ceremony was sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales' North Wales AM and his party's spokesperson on rural affairs.
He is also chair of the cross-party group on Rural Affairs at the National Assembly.

*Llyr Gruffydd with a representative of Glyn Ceidiog Post Office.   
Mr Gruffydd said: "It was a joy to see both businesses reaching the finals, and deservedly so. It is a recognition of the hard work that both businesses put in day in day out to make sure that they thrive. "But they also contribute significantly to their communities, either through employment, bringing in money or by providing much needed services."
Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales' candidate for Clwyd South nominated both businesses.
He said: "Llangollen Brewery do an excellent range of ales, and John and Gilly at Glyn Ceiriog Post Office provide an essential service always with a smile, and Gilly's home baking is something else. Both businesses represent what is best about our rural communities, doing what they do for the love of it and not for any great commercial or financial gain.
"Rural communities are more than just green hills and fresh air, they are living breathing communities and these businesses are a reminder of this. It would do well for those who provide services such as banking, health, education and others to remember this."
Steven Evans, from Llangollen Brewery said: “We’re very pleased to get this award. An increasing number of people are enquiring about our beer, and we’re selling it as far afield as Anglesey. We’re looking forward to another busy and successful year.”
John Keen from Glyn Ceiriog Post Office said: “This was a nice surprise, and timely considering the campaign we’ve had to keep the Post Office here. We wouldn’t have such a thriving little business if it wasn’t for the support of our fantastic customers. We’d like to thank them all for their continued support.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

AM launches free forces swimming scheme

Labour AM Ken Skates has launched a new national scheme to provide free swimming for veterans and Armed Forces personnel in Wales.  

Free Swimming for Armed Forces is the latest initiative to be launched by the Welsh Government as part of its package of support for the forces community.

The scheme is being delivered by all councils in Wales to enable and encourage veterans and serving Armed Forces personnel to enjoy swimming as a form of physical activity and in recognition of the service they have given to their country. 

Launching the £100,000 scheme, Mr Skates (pictured) said: “Like many residents in Clwyd South, I believe very strongly that we need to recognise the service of our Armed Forces personnel, both past and present.

“This scheme is another way in which the Welsh Labour Government is acknowledging their huge contribution.

“I hope serving members of the Armed Forces and veterans in Clwyd South will be able to make full use of this opportunity, and I call on Wrexham Council to ensure the scheme is offered at all public pools in the county borough.”

An Armed Forces spokesman described the scheme as ‘very pleasing and a further show of commitment from the Welsh Government towards Armed Forces personnel and veterans living in Wales’.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

41 people fined for littering in county

Denbighshire County Council’s tough stance on littering in the county continues with a further  41 people receiving fines through the courts for offences.
The council took action through the courts against 41 individuals.
The courts issued a total of £8,800 in fines and ordered individuals to pay £7,380 in costs (in total).
The cases against a further 19 individuals were withdrawn, mostly due to the fact they had paid their fixed penalty notices prior to the court appearance.
Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member for Public Realm, said: “Our residents have told us they want to live in a clean environment and that is why we have made cleaner, tidy streets one of our main priorities in Denbighshire.
“The majority of residents in our county treat the environment with complete respect and that leads to a better quality of life and improves the visual image of the area.
“However, there is a minority of people that are responsible for environmental crime such as dog fouling and don’t clean the mess.  Those are the people we are targeting as part of our on-going education campaign which has received support from local communities.
“We will not tolerate examples where people wilfully allow their dogs to foul in public.  Enforcement action is very much a last resort and we will continue to be vigilant and work with communities to try and rid our communities of any kind of environmental crimes."