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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dee Valley gets share of £6M funding boost

Three of Wales’s most distinctive landscapes, including the Dee Valley, are set to benefit from more than £6m worth of investment, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced.

Clwydian Range and Dee Valley along with the Elan Valley and The Gwent Levels are the three funding recipients.

All are recognised as areas of great beauty – and they all have the potential to use their natural landscapes and wildlife, distinctive buildings, local traditions and stories and even industrial archaeology to increase tourism and boost jobs through carefully planned conservation and renovation activity.

Visitors, on an annual basis, flock to the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Project, many to see the iconic Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site.

The project will concentrate on ensuring the visitors’ experience can be enhanced while, at the same time, preserving the area’s unique landscape to inspire future generations.

The funding for all three areas aims to give people at the heart of these rural communities the power to play an active role in deciding how these extraordinary places will be looked after and managed for their benefit in the future.

The latest investment will see 3,000 training opportunities created, as well as a similar amount of volunteering opportunities.

Making the announcement, Richard Bellamy, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, said: “Our stunning landscapes define the very character of Wales and are as much a part of who we are as our castles, language and rugby. They are as much loved by the people who call Wales home as by tens of thousands of tourists who visit them.

“These fragile places must be conserved. However, if carefully managed, our landscape and countryside can also play a vital role in growing our nation’s economy.

“Thanks to National Lottery players we now have the chance to support three stunning areas, each with their own individual character and rich man-made heritage. They will now be looked after in a holistic and appropriate manner, harnessing their economic potential to the benefit of everyone who lives and works there.”

Welcoming the announcement today, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, said: “These areas are being rightly recognised, not only for their beauty but for the significant role they play in representing the Wales people think of and love – and come to visit."

Plaid leader speaks of her vision for Wales


* Leanne Wood with Mabon ap Gwynfor.
No maternity unit will be downgraded in north Wales under a Plaid Cymru – The Party Of Wales Government next year.
 
That was one of the key messages delivered by the party’s leader, Leanne Wood AM, at a packed meeting in Llangollen on Thursday night. 
 
Addressing a packed conference room at the Hand Hotel, Leanne Wood said: “We are committed to long-term investment in our medical schools to train home-grown doctors.
 
"This is because 95% of doctors who complete their training in Wales stay in Wales. Through seriously addressing the recruitment crisis, Plaid Cymru can pledge that we will not centralise or downgrade any service where safe levels of staffing can be secured.
 
“Furthermore, Plaid Cymru will end Labour’s plans to close maternity services in the north Wales.”
 
Leanne Wood visited the town as part of her leadership tour of Wales. In her address Ms Wood outlined a detailed programme of what a Plaid Cymru Government would do to improve the lives of people in Wales after the Assembly elections next May.
 
She said: “People are crying out for better outcomes in their schools, hospitals, their workplaces and their communities and Plaid Cymru is ready to deliver in those matters.
 
“Our key pledges at this election are in health, education and job creation.”
 
Mabon ap Gwynfor, the Party’s Assembly Candidate in Clwyd South, said: “This was a really positive meeting and it was great to see so many new faces come along and join.
 
"We increased the vote at the last election by 20% and there is a real sense of momentum in this area. The context of the Assembly election is different to an UK election. The focus is on Wales and delivering our local services.
 
"Leanne painted a positive picture of how Wales will improve under a Plaid Cymru Government, which matched the aspirations of all those who attended the meeting.”
 
Anne Morris, who was attending her first Plaid Cymru meeting, said: “This was the first time for me to meet any political leader in the flesh. Leanne is very likeable, knowledgeable and ‘ordinary’, and by that I mean just like one of us. I’m tired of being ruled by the privileged classes.
 
"Go Leanne! Let’s make a difference and take hold of Wales.”

Llanblogger exhumes some spooky tales ...


* Plas Newydd, home of the Ladies of Llangollen, features in the list of spooky tales. 
As today is Halloween, llanblogger has been digging through the Paranormal Database for spooky tales from Llangollen, and here is what we exhumed ...

Fairey Dance

Location: Llangollen (Clwyd) - Castell Dinas Bran Type: Fairy Date / Time: Unknown

An innocent shepherd here was caught up in a fairy dance - he couldn't stop 'strutting his funky stuff' until the following day, when his master found him in a field. The location is also a contender for the resting place of the Holy Grail.

Man in Apron

Location: Llangollen (Clwyd) - Hand Hotel Type: Haunting Manifestation Date / Time: 1980s

A former worker at the hotel reported seeing a man wearing a leather apron in the cellar. The figure was tapping on a barrel, and the witness thought him to be a real person, until told that he was the only person down there. The building is also reported to be haunted by a woman in grey and another figure that stands by the organ.

Ladies of Llangollen

Location: (Clwyd) - Plas Newydd Type: Haunting Manifestation Date / Time: Unknown

Well known for their love of traditional Welsh dress and entertaining the Gothic poets, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby are reported to drift around their shared former home.

Flying Pigs

Location: Llangollen (Clwyd) - Skies over area Type: Cryptozoology Date / Time: 2 September 1905

Witnesses reported a large flying creature over the town; it resembled a pig of tremendous size, with stumpy webbed feet.

Owain Glyndwr

Location: Llangollen (Clwyd) - Valle Crucis Abbey
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Owain reports unknown, golden figures in the 1930s
Owain Glyndwr, the last native Welsh person to hold the title Prince of Wales, is said to be one of the phantoms reported at the abbey. Another story is that during the 1930s, one person spotted the front of the ruins bathed in a circle of light, with figures wearing golden clothing and helmets. The witness was with their aunt, who could not see anything. Finally, religious chanting has been heard in the area, though no source of the song can be found.

* http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/wales

Friday, October 30, 2015

Bryn Terfel to star in Eisteddfod evening concert

 
* Opera legend Bryn Terfel.
 
Opera superstar Bryn Terfel is planning to celebrate the 70th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in style - sharing the bill with a good friend who's also a world class tenor.
 
The popular bass-baritone will be the star of the evening concert on Thursday, July 7, alongside his supremely talented Maltese opera colleague, Joseph Calleja whose voice has been compared to the legendary Caruso.
 
Tickets will be going on sale on Monday, November 2.
 

* Joseph Calleja 
The show is being sponsored by the award-winning care organisation, Pendine Park, who are also backing the opening Tuesday night when mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins will be performing a concert adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.
 
It's already been announced that Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are returning to Llangollen next year to bring the curtain down on the festival with a foot stomping party on Sunday, July 10, sponsored by the Village Bakery.
 
The Wednesday night concert will be a celebration of musical theatre featuring the Kerry Ellis, dubbed the First Lady of the West End, and the musical theatre boy band Collabro who won Britain's Got Talent in 2014.
 
They 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.
 
The Friday night concert, Heart Of Llangollen, will showcase the best of the international competitors. It will also include the Dance Champions competition and a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza.
 
The competitions draw to a close on Saturday night with the famous Choir of the World contest with the prestigious Pavarotti Trophy up for grabs. The audience will be entertained by the popular vocal group, the Swingle Singers, while the judges deliberate.
 
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: "As the Arts and Business Cymru Business of the Year, we're delighted to be sponsoring the Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins concerts in what promises to be a fantastic programme next year.
 
"The festival is one of the jewels of our cultural crown in Wales and the message of promoting peace and harmony in a troubled world is more relevant than ever."
 
According to Bryn, who took to the Llangollen stage to celebrate the Eisteddfod’s 60th anniversary as well as starring in Sweeney Todd two years ago, he always looks forward to appearing at what he describes as a unique festival.
 
This time Bryn and Joseph Calleja will be accompanied by the Sinfonia Cymru orchestra conducted by Gareth Jones.
 
Bryn said: “The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is a wonderful event and I’m grateful to be given another chance to perform on stage there again - and the fact I will be joined by Joseph Calleja is an absolute dream come true.
 
"The last concert I appeared in with Joseph was in his homeland Malta, so it’s great that Joseph will be coming to my homeland this time around.”
 
Bryn, who has just celebrated his 50th birthday with a one off special concert at the Royal Albert Hall alongside special guests Sting, former royal harpists Catrin Finch and Hannah Stone and Only Men Aloud , added: “I’m sure this will be a concert that will live long in the memory; I’m certainly looking forward to it and obviously always enjoy performing in North Wales.
 
“The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is such an important festival and I'm honoured to have been asked to perform at the 70th festival.
 
“I have appeared at Llangollen four or five times now and I always find the Llangollen audience so knowledgeable and amazing. The dedicated staff and volunteers, who put so much hard work into making the festival the success it is, deserve so much credit.
 
“It’s going to be a special night and I can’t wait to see my good friend Joseph Calleja enjoy the experience of Llangollen. I know he will fall in love with the town, festival and the people who make it happen.
 
"It's appropriate that as I'm celebrating my 50th year I'll be appearing at the festival's 70th celebration. I always enjoy returning to Llangollen and I'm delighted that I'll be joined by Joseph Calleja.
 
"He is reciprocating in a way as I appeared at the wonderful festival Joseph organises every year in a town square in Malta which is attended by around 15,000 people. In fact we have a budding locker room collaboration as we are both booked for a concert in Beirut shortly after Llangollen at the end of July."
 
The festival's musical director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “We are so excited now we can confirm that Bryn Terfel and Joesph Calleja will star in our 70th festival gala concert. It will be a wonderful evening of music."
 
“In addition, the 2014 winner of the Eisteddfod’s 2014 Voice of the Future competition, mezzo-soprano Eirlys Myfanwy Davies, will be joining Bryn and Joseph on stage alongside Sinfonia Cymru.
 
“It’s fitting as the chamber orchestra will be celebrating their 25th anniversary as the Eisteddfod celebrates the 70th festival. It’s just going to be a very special evening.
“And my dream is that Bryn and Joseph will conclude the night with the Pearl Fishers duet. The audience and I really will be in heaven if that were to happen.”
 
To book tickets and for more details on the 2016 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

MP congratulates Chirk station friends

In the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday) Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones praised the work of the Friends of Chirk Station.

She said: "The Friends of Chirk Station are an outstanding group of people who have done so much to beautify Chirk Station through art work, lovely floral displays and keeping the station neat and tidy.

"It is terrific to have a group of local people prepared to take on the role as adopters of a railway station in the way that Christine Ashford and the other members of the Friends of Chirk Station have.

"I am delighted also that the Labour Welsh Government has awarded a massive grant to this project so that by the end of November, the footbridge will be open and the station will be fully accessible by people with disabilities."

Minister visits area's two new health centres


* The Minister with Ken Skates AM and Karen Sinclair meet the team at
Lllangollen's new health centre. 

A Welsh Government Minister got a first-hand look at two of the area's latest health facilities yesterday (Thursday).

Health Minister Mark Drakeford paid visits to new health centres in Llangollen and Chirk.

He was given a tour of the Castle Health Centre in Chirk with local Assembly Member Ken Skates, and also met staff and town council chairman Dewi Evans.

The Labour AMs then visited Llangollen Health Centre with Mr Skates’ predecessor Karen Sinclair, who was instrumental in bringing the state-of-the-art facility to the town at the old River Lodge Hotel site.

Mr Drakeford said: “Ken frequently tells me what fantastic facilities the Welsh Government has helped bring to Chirk and Llangollen, and it was wonderful to visit to see it for myself and to meet the teams.

“I was delighted to hear how the new health centres have greatly improves patients’ experiences. Chirk and Llangollen are just two examples of how our investment in the NHS in North Wales is paying dividends for people every day.”


* Ken Skates, left, with Mark Drakeford
a the Chirk health centre.  
After the visit Mr Skates, Labour AM for Clwyd South, said: “I’m extremely grateful to the Minister for taking the time to come to Clwyd South, and the staff at Chirk and Llangollen were delighted to host him. He was very impressed with what he saw.

“I was also able to take the opportunity to raise a number of other local issues with the Minister on behalf of my constituents.”

Mr Skates added: “I would once again like to pay tribute to Karen for the major role she played in bringing Llangollen Health Centre to fruition. It would not have been possible without the phenomenal amount of hard work she put in.”

Mrs Sinclair said she was ‘delighted and proud’ to join the Minister.

The Chirk centre, on Colliery Road, opened last year and has a range of eco-friendly features including solar panels as well as a minor operations facility and pharmacy.

Llangollen Health Centre opened its doors to the public in September.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Nightmare on Castle Street this Saturday


What's being billed as the ultimate Halloween fancy dress party comes to Llangollen Town hall on Saturday night.

Nightmare on Castle Street features Captain Zed, an Alice Cooper tribute band and a Halloween disco.

Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

The event has been organised by the Llangollen Women’s Festival in aid of The Friends of Llangollen Town Hall. 

* Tickets, priced at £6, are available from Bailey’s Delicatessen in Castle Street.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Over 500 caught using mobiles at wheel

Traffic _car2

571 motorists were caught using their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel during the 2015 All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone While Driving Campaign - 59 of them in North Wales

The enforcement campaign, which ran between September 24 and October 7, involved road safety partners and urged all road users to ‘keep their eyes on the road’ and not be distracted by answering their mobile phone, reading a text or going online.

Studies show that drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.

Led by Dyfed Powys Police, officers from all four Welsh police forces and GoSafe carried out proactive patrols to target motorists who endangered other road users through this behaviour and educated drivers on the penalties they faced if caught.

During the campaign, officers detected a total of 571 mobile phone driving offences throughout Wales and issued 177 warnings.

North Wales Police caught and dealt with 59 offenders, in the Gwent area a total of 67 were caught, Dyfed Powys Police caught 388, and in South Wales Police 57 law breakers were dealt with.

T/Chief Inspector Martin Best from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit said: “Although fewer motorists were caught in this year’s campaign throughout Wales, it remains a serious concern that so many drivers choose to risk becoming involved in a serious or fatal collision due to using a mobile phone whilst driving. Our warning is clear, even the most experienced or competent of drivers can be easily distracted and a slight lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences.

“Taking such a risk is totally unacceptable, and this is why officers from all four Welsh forces will continue to carry out proactive patrols to target motorists who endanger themselves and other road users. No call, text, app, or email is that important – they must all wait until you’ve stopped driving.”

Susan Storch, Chair of Road Safety Wales added: "Driving while using a mobile phone is not only illegal but dangerous. It doesn’t just put your own life at risk but also the lives of your passengers and other road users who may not have a say in your actions behind the wheel.

"While it’s saddening to see that so many motorists got caught using a mobile phone whilst driving it has also demonstrated the resolve of all the Road Safety Wales partners in tackling this issue and we will continue to work together to drive home the message that no call or text is that important."

During the campaign officers also detected 200 other offences whilst carrying out checks – they included offences known to contribute to fatal and serious collisions, such as drink and drug driving, speed, not wearing a seat belt, carelessness, no insurance, drugs and construction and use offences.

Friends of the Earth plan a pub crawl

The next meeting of Llangollen and District’s Friends of the Earth (FoE) group could be something to write home about.

That’s because they’re staging a pub crawl to kick off a campaign to write letters about the possible affects of climate change.
The letters will then be posted off to the area’s elected representatives.

The meeting, tomorrow (Thursday October 29), starts at Gales Wine Bar at 7.30pm.
FoE member Warren Davies said: “Our members are concerned about the possible affects of climate change.

"Many are concerned that less predictable and extreme weather coupled with sea level rises are likely to cause food shortages and mass migration.

"Some of the world's largest cities like New York in danger, and entire low-lying countries such as the Philippines could be lost forever.

"We want to ensure that our elected representatives know how concerned we are about climate change.

"Writing to local representatives like our AMs and MPs can be a little daunting, so we have planned this event to help new and existing members write informative letters expressing their concerns.

"2015 is a crucial year to change our course on climate change. In December governments will come together in Paris to strike a new deal for the climate. But on the ground locally it is our local
representatives that will drive change, and we want to make sure that they are well informed."

* Llangollen & District Friends of the Earth are organising a coach from Llangollen to London to join the climate change march on November 29.

Places on the coach can be booked at:
http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/peoples-march-2015-north-wales-coach. A £25 pledge secures a place on the coach.

FoE says it is using Crowdfunder so that if it is not able to fill the coach by November 20, no money will be taken from anyone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

County consults on future of bus services

Denbighshire County Council is asking for passenger and community views on the bus services it supports financially. 
 
The council says it is likely that further financial pressures in 2016/17 could potentially lead to further savings being needed through some bus services in the county.
However, it stresses this is a consultation and no decisions have been made.

A series of drop-in sessions are being arranged at three locations on November 13 where a member of Denbighshire’s Public Transport team and a member of Bus Users Cymru staff will be on hand to answer questions.

The sessions will take place at the following locations:
 
·       9.30am-11am  Corwen Library
·       12pm-1.30pm County Hall Reception, Ruthin
·       2.30pm-4.30pm  Denbigh Library
 
Passengers and communities are asked to comment on the options by visiting www.denbighshire.gov.uk/consultations   

Those passengers wishing to find out more may also contact the service by e-mail:  passengertransport@denbighshire.gov.uk or by phoning 01824 706964.

The closing date for the consultation is December 11.

Suggestions for services involving Llangollen are:

72 Betws GG-Ruthin
73 Ruthin Town Service
77 Llanelidan-Ruthin
91 Melin y Wig-Llangollen
95 Melin y Wig-Wrexham
98 Llangollen –Llantysilio/Pentredwr

Revisions by reducing the number of vehicles on these services from two to one.

Option 1

Offering a service six days a week by reducing the number of departures to Ruthin
on service 72 and operating a connecting service from Melin y Wig to Corwen for
Llangollen and Wrexham.

Ruthin Town Service reduced to two return journeys.

Ruthin-Llanelidan sees minor changes.

Services between Llangollen & Llantysilio/Pentredwr replaced by taxi on two days a
week.

Bryneglwys-Wrexham service replaced by taxi to Llandegla for X50 on two days a
week.

Option 2

Offering a direct service, as now, from Melin y Wig to Llangollen and Wrexham and
from Betws GG to Ruthin but only on certain days of the week.

Ruthin town service withdrawn on all but two days a week.

Option 3

As option 2 but withdrawing the twice a week journey at 1715 from Ruthin Leisure
Centre (1720 from Market Street).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Plaid leader to visit Llan

A political leader will be making a visit to Llangollen this week to talk about her hopes and aspirations for Wales following the Assembly elections next year.
 
Leanne Wood, who heads Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales, is to hold a special evening for the public at the Hand Hotel on Thursday at 7pm.

The 'What Next For Wales?' meeting will be chaired by Mabon ap Gwynfor,  the party's candidate for the area next year.
 
Mabon ap Gwynfor said: "The Welsh election next May is of vital importance for our families and communities. People want to know what direction our country is going in. How can we improve our health services? How can we improve educational achievements? How can we get more investment in north Wales to create more jobs?
 
"Leanne Wood will visit Llangollen so that people here have the opportunity to see how Wales could improve under a Plaid Cymru Government.
 
"Leanne Wood is a widely recognised and well liked politician, and people trust her. This is a rare quality in a politician.
 
"She is also a real candidate to become Wales' next First Minister, and it is only right that people get the chance to see how Wales could improve under a Plaid Cymru Government.
 
"For instance this week she announced that a Plaid Cymru Government would stop the proposed downgrade of maternity services in north Wales immediately on its election in May. "

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fun event raises £1,000 in aid of Town Hall


* Mayor Mike Adams shares the floor with Julie Thomas and The Strictly Fun Dancers. 

A sell-out event has raised £1,000 towards the repair and refurbishment of Llangollen Town Hall.

Raising the Roof, which was staged at the Town Hall last Friday, was a supper party with music and dancing.

The evening featured Julie Thomas and The Strictly Fun Dancers, local singer Charlie Jones, who sang a sultry mix of jazz and blues, and Chris Burton with a  lively set of rock and roll from the 60s and 70s.

The event, which drew a full house, was organised by Llangollen Mayor, Cllr Mike Adams, in support of the Friends of Llangollen Town Hall, a group which is aiming to raise the funds to reroof and refurbish the building. 

Cllr Adams was particularly appreciative of support from local businesses.

He said: “I would like to thank all the businesses for their kind donations to the raffle that raised £448, and particular thanks to our two brilliant town grocers who provided the fruit bowls for the tables to complete the meal.”

Although the fabric of the building is reasonably sound, it is in need of refurbishment and a new roof and the cost of the necessary work has been estimated at £200,000.

Friday’s event was the first of several planned in the coming months to raise money for the building which is a focal point for many groups in town and a regular venue for a wide array of theatre, cinema and musical entertainment.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Village Bakery's early dough for Eisteddfod


 
* Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones, right, with Dr Rhys Davies, the chair of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
 
Bakery bosses have served up an early boost for the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
 
Earlier this year the festival launched a cash appeal because the 2015 event was heading for a financial loss.
 
The appeal raised £50,000 and now long-term sponsors the Village Bakery are paying next year's sponsorship money ahead of time.
 
The Village Bakery have supported the Eisteddfod for many years and for the past two years have increased their contribution by sponsoring the Sunday night concerts, featuring Status Quo in 2014 and UB40 this year.
 
They have also agreed to sponsor next year's finalĂ© starring Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and are making the payment in October instead of waiting until next year when the money is actually due.
 
It was music to the ears of the festival's new chairman, Dr Rhys Davies, who paid a visit to see Village Bakery managing director at their new £3 million Baking Academy and Innovation Centre on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
 
Dr Davies said: "Things are looking very positive and the appeal has raised in excess of £50,000 which is a wonderful demonstration of the popularity of the event and the affection in which it is held by so many people across the world.
 
"We’re always looking for sponsorship and we have some extremely good sponsors and some good friends like the Village Bakery who have supported us for many years.
 
"We have got out of the block very early in terms of organising the 2016 Eisteddfod as we have already announced two of the major concerts.
 
"We are kicking off this year with the popular classical singer, Katherine Jenkins, who will be singing the arias from the opera, Carmen, and Jools Holland will be the headline act for the closing concert.
 
"Next year is an extremely important milestone in the history of the Eisteddfod.
 
"Along with the Edinburgh Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival, we are celebrating our 70th Eisteddfod after everything started from a small beginning in 1947.
 
"We are aware that we cannot and must not rest on our laurels as we are competing against all the other festivals in the world and particularly in Europe.
 
"Every organisation has to evolve and that is true of the Eisteddfod so we are reconfiguring the week.
 
"The grand parade is now going to be the centrepiece of the whole week which will make it even more colourful and more spectacular.
 
"We are moving it from the Tuesday to the Friday when we will have a greater critical mass of competitors available to take part.
 
"We really want that at the heart of the whole Eisteddfod with the competitions on either side, and each day being themed with competitions followed by an evening concert and ending up with The Choir of the World competition like we had last year which was brilliant.
 
"We’ll also have a 70th party on the Sunday night with Jools Holland conducting the celebrations, and sponsored by the Village Bakery."
 
"Our sponsors are very important to the Eisteddfod and we are extremely grateful to companies like the Village Bakery for not only supporting the Eisteddfod by also paying the money early which is an enormous help in terms of cash flow. A friend in need is a friend indeed."
 
According to Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones, the Llangollen Eisteddfod was a unique and important part of the global cultural calendar and just as relevant now as it was when in was established to promote peace and harmony after the Second World War.
 
Mr Jones said: "The Eisteddod has been an important part of my life since I can remember.
 
"When I was a child growing up, as a family we used to accept competitors into the house and we used to put them up so even since those early years, mum and dad have taken people in as did the rest of the community.
 
"My dad has always been a keen supporter over the years and we’ve been a small sponsor for many years and then two years ago, we decided to step it up and sponsor the Sunday night. 
 
"Our customers love it, we enjoy it as a family.  It’s good for staff and it’s good for the local community.
 
"The Llangollen International Eisteddfod is a great institution and we were aware of the financial difficulties surrounding this year's event so I asked if we could pay our sponsorship fee early which has gratefully been accepted.
 
"I am delighted we can help and give something back to the community by supporting this fantastic event."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Eisteddfod committee's Christmas concert

On Sunday 13th December the Music and Staging Committee of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will hold their annual Christmas Concert at the Pavilion, starting at 7.30pm.

Now in its third consecutive year, the concert has become a popular and eagerly anticipated date in the Eisteddfod calendar and with a programme bursting with a mix of seasoned performers and rising talent, this year’s event promises to be a real cracker. 

Hosted by sports commentator Nic Parry, who has become a familiar face on the main stage during Eisteddfod week, the concert will showcase several local groups including TRIO, a young, male ensemble from the heart of Snowdonia.

The threesome, who have recently released their debut album of the same name, describe themselves as a “new singing experience” and have a broad, bi-lingual repertoire of varying genres. 

A Christmas concert would not be the same without children and local pupils will also feature strongly in the form of the Flintshire Country String Orchestra and the Rhos Boys’ Choir.  

The String Orchestra, conducted by Aled Tudor Marshman, is part of the highly successful Flintshire County Youth Music School which was established in 1996.

In recent years, it has performed at a host of events across the UK and Europe and has also competed at the National Festival of Music for Youth, which is Europe’s largest youth music event.   

Now entering its third year, the Rhos Boys’ Choir, which is affiliated to the Rhos Male Voice Choir, has enjoyed a number of achievements during its relatively short existence.

These include performances alongside leading artists and a recording for a Christmas CD, which has been aired on both local and national radio stations. 

All of the performers say they are delighted to be taking part in this festive celebration of music and we look forward to welcoming them, and indeed our audience, in Llangollen.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit our website www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk. Tickets are priced at £10.00 (concessions £8.00) and can also be purchased directly from the box office at the Pavilion or from Llangollen Tourist Information Centre.   

 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Special event at RAFA Club


Health board stays in special measures

The BBC is reporting that the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will remain in special measures for two years.

They say the announcement has been made by Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething.

Betsi Cadwaladr health board's chief executive Prof Trevor Purt, suspended since June, is stepping down, adds the report.

For the full story, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-34602975

In a statement, the North Wales Health Alliance campaign group said: Trevor Purt’s departure is an opportunity for the health board to re-engage with both staff and the general public, who have grave concerns about the way health services in the North are being run.

"His time here will be remembered as one of centralising and downgrading services and failing to be open and transparent with the community.
 
“But the problem goes much deeper than just one man or one position. The health board and Welsh Government has to accept that their direction of travel has to change or we will see further problems emerge.”

                                                              

Tools stolen in Llangollen burglary

North Wales Police are appealing for information following a burglary in Llangollen.

Sometime between 5.45pm on October 8 and 6.30 on October 9  unknown offenders gained entry to a secure yard off the A5 in Llangollen.

The location is the Old Dobson and Crowther site where a new food store is currently under construction.

Entry was gained to a storage container and a quantity of tools were stolen from inside.

Police say that if you noticed anything suspicious, or have any information relating to this incident you should contact North Wales Police by dialling 101 quoting reference RC15154759.

Alternatively, you can provide information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers Wales on 0800 555 111.

North Wales Police urges residents to always report suspicious activity to them at the earliest opportunity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MP calls for no change on Sunday trading

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has urged the Prime Minister to think again about changing Sunday trading hours.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions today, she quoted Government retail sector champion Kevin Hawkins who described the current laws as "a workable compromise that most people seem satisfied with most of the time".

Ms Jones (left) said: "There's a balance to be kept here - between opening hours for big stores, the rights of small shops and the rights of shop-workers and their families to enjoy family life.

"The current laws are a good compromise that most people agree with. We should stick with them."  

Church's Christmas tree festival launched

Llangollen Methodist Church has launched its annual Christmas Tree Festival.

This very popular  - and closely contested - event will be held once again starting with setting up on Friday 11th December and finishing with dismantling on Monday 4th January.

This year there will be two classes of entry plying for visitors votes – traditional trees and creative interpretations.

Church spokesman David Davies said: "You will need to supply and decorate a small tree, no taller than five feet, using an appropriate Christmas theme.

"You might like to link the decoration to your business or organisation, or just be creative.   

"Any lights must be battery operated. Hard bases are provided that you can cover with a cloth or paper as you wish. Small business cards or promotional materials can be placed at the base of the tree for visitors to pick up.

"More details later but start planning now and please register your intention to enter by Saturday 5th December at the latest by emailing:  yand.davies@btinternet.com or phoning 860557."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

AM urges at-risk people to have flu jabs

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is showing his support for Public Health Wales’s annual campaign aimed at getting more ‘at-risk’ people vaccinated to prevent them getting ill with flu, a debilitating and contagious illness that can kill.
 
Mr Isherwood (pictured) is joining the calls being made by charities and health professionals and is urging people aged 65 or over, carers, pregnant women and those with certain chronic or long-term illnesses to make an appointment with their local GP and get the free flu vaccine.
 
He said: “A major flu immunisation programme is underway throughout Wales to offer free vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from flu, and my message to them is ‘Beat flu before it beats you!’
 
“Last year in Wales only half (49.3%) of those in at-risk groups under the age of 65 took up their free NHS vaccination, and we really need to significantly increase the numbers of people being vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of this largely preventable illness.”
 
Dr Richard Roberts, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at Public Health Wales, said: “A free flu vaccine is available for those in at-risk groups, which includes those aged 65 or over, people who have long term health conditions which puts them at increased risk of complications if they get flu, carers, pregnant women as well as all two to six year olds.
 
“For most people influenza (or ‘the flu’) is usually a relatively minor, albeit unpleasant and inconvenient, illness. But every year vulnerable people can and do die from the flu and its many complications.”
 
* You can find out more about how to get their free vaccine by visiting www.beatflu.org or www.curwchffliw.org, or finding Beat Flu or Curwch Ffliw on twitter and facebook.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Visitors flock to Hamper Llangollen


* Ken Skates AM with chairman
Colin Loughlin at the busy festival. 
A tourism supremo hailed the Hamper Llangollen food festival as the best ever and said it crowned a “golden age” of artisan produce in Wales.
 
The popular event, recognised as one of the top 10 food festivals in the UK, drew in thousands of food lovers, all hungry to sample and buy everything from the finest cheeses and freshest meat to designer ice cream and cookies.
 
A host of new products were unveiled, some of which were specially devised for the show, and there were also practical cooking demonstrations from top chefs.  
 
One of the visitors was Ken Skates, Wales’s Deputy Minister for Tourism and Culture and local Clwyd South Assembly Member.
 
He said: “The festival has grown every year in spectacular fashion but this is the biggest and best yet.
 
“It’s much busier than I have ever seen it before. Hamper Llangollen is now one of the biggest food festivals anywhere in Wales and makes an enormous contribution to the local economy in the order of £500,000 a year.
 
“We are rapidly entering a golden age of artisan food and drink in Wales and this festival is helping to crown and promote that.”
 
Mr Skates added: “I’d like to pay tribute to the organisers for all the hard work which goes into making it the success it is and also the many exhibitors who come here to showcase their fantastic produce and goods.”
 
Festival chairman Colin Loughlin said this year’s Hamper Llangollen had been the busiest so far.
 
He added: “We had 111 stallholders, 13 of whom were making their debut with us. That’s particularly pleasing because it’s our constant aim to attract new exhibitors to make it as diverse as we can.
 
“The event gives a huge boost to the local economy and this year we reckon that amounts to at least half a million pounds.
 
“A number of local charities, including our chosen one Nightingale House, had a presence at the festival and attracted plenty of support which is marvellous to see.
 
“Myself and fellow organisers are extremely happy with the way everything went.”
 
Trying a tipple at Rosie’s Cider out in the pavilion exhibition area was retired baker Alwyn Thomas from Denbigh.
 
He said: “I come to Hamper Llangollen every year because I’m very much a foodie person having run my own bakery for many years.
 
“I’ve been sampling the Black Bart cider which is particularly good and has a really nice flavour.”
 
Delighted with this verdict was Steve Hughes who has been running Rosie’s Cider from its base in Llandegla for the past 10 years.
 
“I’m glad they like it because all my cider is made from the finest local apples, many of which come from our own 17-acre orchard,” he said.
 
“I exhibit at Hamper Llangollen every year because it’s my local event and attracts so many people.”
 
Sampling the goodies from a range of stalls were Ben Davis from Corwen and his six-year-old daughter, Orla Davis-Wood.
 
Ben said: “I’ve been trying out the coffee and Orla’s having a bit of everything as we go round the stands.
 
“We like to come to Llangollen because the variety and quality of food and drink available here is illuminating.”
 
Wrexham Lager has been making a big impression on discerning drinkers since it was reintroduced a few years ago following a long break in production.
 
Doing a roaring trade on their stall were brewing company director Janet Gaffey and her daughter Emma.
 
Janet said: “This is the fourth year we’ve brought our lager along to Llangollen for people to try and it’s going down very well.
 
“We like to show off the lager at Llangollen because it’s such a good local show that attracts so many visitors.”
 
Lapping up his sample of Wrexham’s finest was Adrian Taffinder from Marford and his son Gareth from Tanyfron.
 
Adrian said: “I’m a big fan of this lager and when they stopped making it some years ago it made me go crazy. So when they brought it back I thought it was fantastic and being able to have a taste of it here is great.
 
“I like to visit the Llangollen festival and have been here most years. There’s a good range of produce and it’s good to meet the people who make and sell it and to give them a bit of feedback.”
 
One of the producers who came up with a new line specially for this year’s festival was Chilly Cow ice cream based at Llanychan, near Ruthin. 
 
Hannah Griffiths, who works on flavour development for the company, said: “We devised a honey and lavender ice cream for the show and we’ve had lots of people trying it out.
 
“In the first few hours on Saturday about 30 people must have sampled it and many of them said they’d be buying it.
 
“We’ll definitely be coming back here next year.”
 
Amongst those impressed with the new variety of ice cream was Guto Jones and his partner Julie Bowyer from Higher Kinnerton who were there with Julie’s mum, Beryl Gregory, from Chester.
 
Julie said: “It’s great to try something that’s completely new on the market and the honey and lavender was brilliant.
 
“Although my mum comes here every year it’s my first time at Llangollen but I’ll certainly be coming again.”
 
Beryl said: “The new ice cream is very creamy and just delicious.”
 
Trying out the apple cake at the stand of Corwen-based Temptations were Ceinwen and Gwynne Thomas from Wrexham.
 
Ceinwen said: “It’s really nice and I enjoyed the sample. I come to this show every year because my husband and I really enjoy trying out the different things on offer.”
 
Chrissie Ashworth, who runs Temptations, said: “The cake they tried is made from locally grown apples because I like to use the ingredients that are available at any particular time of the year.
 
“Hamper Llangollen is my favourite show because it has such a fantastic family atmosphere.”
 
And although she only started her Rhyl-based company, Mama Zo’s, which specialises in home-made cookies and lemonade in July this year, owner Zoe Gamble said having a stand at Hamper Llangollen was a must for her.
 
“It’s a very important festival and we couldn’t afford to miss it,” she said.
 
“We’ve been very busy and people have been trying out our entire range. Everything is made by hand and I even squeeze the fruit for our lemonade myself.”
 
Another major highlight of the festival were the cookery demonstrations by top chefs over both days.
 
These included a popular appearance by Luke Thomas, Britain’s youngest head chef from Connah’s Quay who now has restaurants in Chester, the Cotswolds and Berkshire.
 
Another crowd-puller on both Saturday and Sunday was Graham Tinsley MBE, executive chef at Carden Park Gold Resort and Spa and director of Cowny’s Castle Hotel.      
 
Comedian Silky swapped the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for Hamper Llangollen to do stand-up behind a cooker rather on the stage in his debut culinary demo, which was a hit with the audience.

 
 * Taste testing Tempatations cakes are Ceinwen and Gwynne Thomas with Chrissie Ashworth.
 
 
* Alwyn Thomas and Glyn Thomas try Rosie's Cider from Steve Hughes. 
 

 * Trying Wrexham Lager are father and son, Adrian, left, and Gareth Taffinder with Janet Gaffey and Emma Gaffey from the brewery.