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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Two honoured for services to Llan community

Two people have received the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for their services to the community in Llangollen.

Thomas Delwyn Roberts, 79, receives a BEM for voluntary service in the town, where he has been involved in the Rotary Youth Exchange Programme arranging visits between local children and children from India.

He is a volunteer driver helping the housebound, helped raise £600,000 to build a community centre in Trevor and volunteers for the Llangollen Eisteddfod.

A magistrate and lay preacher, Mr Roberts is also a Deacon in the Welsh Baptist Chapel.

Also receiving a BEM is Mrs Rosemary Corbett Thomas, District Cub Scout Leader, Llangollen, for services to the Scout Movement in the Llangollen District.
* For details of the full Honours List in Wales, see http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/new-years-honours-list-2016-10667164

Prospective candidate hears of flooding concerns

 
* Simon Baynes on the Chainbridge near Llangollen on Wednesday.
 
Simon Baynes, Prospective Welsh Conservative Assembly Member for Clwyd South, says farmers and residents have expressed their concerns to him about flooding. 
 
Water levels are currently receding but a few days ago there was extensive flooding in several areas.
 
Yesterday (Wednesday) Mr Baynes visited Llandrillo, Cynwyd, Corwen, the Chainbridge Hotel and Llangollen.
 
He said he spoke with local residents and was relieved to see water levels were down even though the River Dee was still flowing very strongly.
 
On Monday, Captain John and Mary Ormrod, who farm near Bangor-on-Dee, showed him the widespread flooding across their land from both the River Clywedog and the River Dee.
 
In Bangor-on-Dee, local resident and retired magistrate Michael Bishop commented on the water level under the bridge and discussed the flood avoidance measures that have been taken in the town in recent years.
 
Mr Baynes said: “Farmers I have spoken with are particularly concerned about the upstream management of the River Dee and very keen that Natural Resources Wales should better manage the river, its tributaries and surrounding land in a way that will mitigate flooding downstream.
 
“It is important that the Welsh Government, like the Westminster government, provides generous emergency relief where needed and constantly reviews its flood prevention measures.
 
“If you are concerned about further flooding, you can sign up for Natural Resources Wales Floodline Warnings Direct service. Please call Floodline on 0345 9881188."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Llan mansion to become luxury wedding venue



 
 

The Daily Post has a story about Tyn Dwr Hall in Llangollen being transformed into a luxurious wedding venue.

For the full story see:
http://www.dailypost.co.uk/business/business-news/llangollen-mansion-transformed-luxury-boutique-10663018#ICID=sharebar_twitter

Libraries issue daring reading challenge

 
* Reading whilst sky diving ©Stephen Megison.
 
Why not sign up for a year of Reading Daringly with north Wales’s libraries?
 
Each month two of the 24 specially chosen books, one English language and one Welsh language, will be revealed creating a calendar of captivating reads.
 
Librarians from across North Wales will choose books that challenge you to read something different. 
 
Whatever your reading tastes there is something here to entertain, challenge and enrich your reading experience – a real adventure in your armchair.
 
Readers are also encouraged to share their experiences and opinions of the books online via Facebook and Twitter or via the eye-catching postcards available from libraries.
 
The reading challenge has been devised by Estyn Allan a partnership of libraries in North Wales which aims to offer new opportunities for readers to take an active role in their own development and to share reading experiences with others.
 
The aim is to develop imaginative projects which increase people's enjoyment of reading and take the pleasure of reading to new audiences and to promote contemporary writing in Welsh and English.
 
Bethan Hughes, from the Estyn Allan y Gogledd libraries partnership, said: “The idea is that A Year of Reading Daringly would run almost like a reading group without the need to actually attend.
 
"People often get stuck in a ‘reading rut’ reading the same authors or genres and we are encouraging people to challenge themselves and try something new in 2016.
 
"And as 2016 has been designated as the Year of Adventure in Wales this is a chance for people to sign up for lots of new adventures."
 
* For more information visit the Year of Reading Daringly Facebook and Twitter page or pop in to your local library.
 
@ReadingDaringly
 
The first books will be announced on 1st January 2016.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Police issue flood driving warning

Don’t travel unless you have to’ is the message this afternoon (Saturday) from North Wales Police, as roads across the region are closed due to heavy flooding.

A multi-agency response is in operation to deal with the flooding, which has led to several road closures and a number of flood warnings being issued.

With the ground already saturated heavy rain over the past 24 hours has caused rivers to rise rapidly.

Supt Nigel Harrison said: “There is serious flooding across North Wales and we are advising people not to travel unless it is absolutely essential, and then to allow extra time for journey as driving conditions may be difficult.”

The A55 is closed in both directions between Junctions 11 and 15 due to flooding. The B5109 Llanfaes Beaumaris is closed as is the A5/A470 Junction at Waterloo Bridge. There is also heavy flooding on the A487 Bangor and the road is closed from Vaynol Roundabout up to the St David's Retail Park.

Reiterating the message from Natural Resources Wales he said: “We’re asking people to take care near water and to keep themselves and their friends and family safe.”

There are currently flood warnings in place for river flooding in St Asaph, the Conwy Valley, Pwllheli, and the Lower Dee. However this is expected to rise later today.  There are also 30 flood alerts in place across Wales.

People living in the areas at risk are being urged to take steps to ensure their own safety and as far as possible that of their property. They are also advised to keep an eye on local news and weather forecasts for news of any disruption in their area, and are reminded of the dangers of driving through flood water.

* For updates on road closures in North Wales due to flooding please follow @NWPolice and @NWPControlroom .

Government consults on blue badge eligibility

The Welsh Government is to consult on extending Blue Badge eligibility for temporary conditions and on streamlining the assessment process.
 
Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, has published the responses to the recommendations of the Task and Finish Group, set-up to consider ways to improve the Blue Badge Scheme, which provides free parking to people with disabilities in Wales.
 
 
The Minister agreed some immediate actions, including working with other organisations to improve enforcement and a communication campaign on the importance to badge holders and to deter abuse and misuse of the scheme.

A public consultation will be undertaken early next year on extending the Blue Badge eligibility to people with temporary qualifying conditions that are likely to last at least 12 months.

Changes to the assessment process will also be consulted on, including the need for GP assessments and speeding up the process for those re-applying for a badge.

Mrs Hart said: “The Blue Badge Scheme plays a vital role in improving access to employment and services for people with disabilities.  The Welsh Government has already made some important changes to extend eligibility and ensure consistency and fairness in the way it is delivered.

"However there were some problems with the assessment and delivery process of the current system and I set-up the Task and Finish Group to look at ways to improve the scheme. I am very grateful for the work of the Group and will look to take forward these important improvements as soon as possible.”

Friday, December 25, 2015

llanblogger brings you season's greetings ...


A special story for Christmas ...


* The Chess Players, a picture which hangs at Chirk Castle. 
 
Llanblogger is delighted to bring you this special story for Christmas

“I say, you will stop a while and play a game before you go, won’t you?”

When she heard the unexpected invitation Sarah turned round to see where it had come from.
But there didn’t seem to be anyone else in the room.

It was a pretty marvellous room, with a very high ceiling, big, old fashioned furniture and creaky wooden floorboards. But, apart from her, it was most definitely quite empty.
When looking around Chirk Castle it’s the room you enter after going into the Saloon, itself a wonderfully big space filled with all sorts of squashy armchairs, paintings, a big welcoming fireplace and even, in the far corner, a grand piano which sometimes someone plays just to add to the homely atmosphere.

On the day Sarah was there the Saloon had only quite recently been opened to the public to show how the family which once occupied the old castle actually lived many years before.
The rest of the castle, which someone told Sarah had been built in medieval times, was a bit grisly and wasn’t really very homely at all.

Okay, it was quite interesting to see because of all those suits of armour and the dank, scary dungeon in the cellar but you couldn’t exactly call those cold stone walls and flagged floors terribly cosy.
Sarah liked history and so did her grandparents but then they would like it, she thought cheekily, because they were part of it, weren’t they!

What she loved about history weren’t boring old suits of armour, swords and muskets but tales about lovely princesses finding their princes and then marrying them to live happily ever after.
But then she would, wouldn’t she, because she was 12 years old, so it obviously all that stuff came with the territory.

But Grandad and Granny were nice old things and if they wanted to drag her along with them to Chirk Castle well that was okay with her.
After all, Grandad often said that if he kept forking out all that money each year for their National Trust subs they might as well get their money’s worth by visiting Chirk, which was just around the corner from where they lived in Llangollen, as often as they could. 

Sarah, who was staying with them for a couple of days at the start of her Christmas holiday from school, had gone along with them to Chirk as she always did.
And it was Christmas-time and the old castle looked a bit brighter than it usually did because of all the big colourful banners fluttering outside on this cold and rainy afternoon and all that holly and stuff which had been prettily arranged on top of the fireplaces and sideboards in the big rooms inside.

Sarah had just wandered into the room after the Saloon and she was enjoying the loud clattery noise her boots were making on the wooden floor as she tried to catch up with the old folk who had gone on ahead as they usually did.
Then came that voice – a young girl’s voice and quite posh, too – and Sarah was left wondering who had spoken as she was definitely alone in the room.

Actually, she didn’t much like the experience and it sent a bit of a shiver through her body.
The best thing to do was hurry up a bit and to try and find her wandering grandparents.

Then it came again.
“Hello, little girl, I say. Yes, I’m talking to you. Would you care to come and play with us before you leave?

“You see my sister and I are playing chess. But we’ve been playing for simply ages and I’m getting awfully bored because …” and the voice lowered to a stage whisper, “she’s not terribly good at it and I’m looking for a much worthier opponent.”
Sarah knew that there wasn’t another person in the room and the voice was too loud and clear to be coming from an adjacent room, so it must be coming from somewhere close at hand.

But where?
“I know,” thought Sarah to herself, “it’ll be coming from someone hiding behind one of those big sideboards in the corner of the room for a joke. Yes, that’s it.”

So she ran to the nearest, biggest wooden sideboard and looked very closely at it.
And it was quite clear that nobody could be hiding behind it as it was far too close to the wall for anyone to fit in.

Was it someone hiding behind the old brown leather armchair on the other side of the room perhaps?
Her boots clattered more urgently on the polished floorboards and she almost tripped over one of the nicks between the boards as she dashed over to have a look behind it.

But there was no-one there and Sarah was now getting more frightened and just wanted to dash out of this room as fast as she could and find Grandad and Granny.

“I say, little girl, don’t be frightened. Er, it’s me speaking to you and I’m up here,” said the disembodied voice again.

“I am ecktually up here … in the painting, do you see? Look, up here!”

Sarah was looking only at the door but, in her peripheral vision, she could see a big painting on the wall to her left.

But all she wanted to do was ignore the spooky voice and get out of that room as quickly as her legs would carry her.    

She knew the painting was there, of course, because she’s seen it loads of times before when she’d been visiting the castle with her grandparents.

When she thought about it, it was quite a nice painting and she quite liked it.
The colours were a bit faded as it must have been very old but she recalled that it showed two young girls, probably of about her own age, sitting on a mat on the floor concentrating on playing some sort of game.

If you had a closer look at it, which she once had out of sheer boredom on one of her many trips around the castle’s staterooms, you could work out that the girls were playing whatever it was on the floor of the Saloon, the room she’d just been in.
But she didn’t know and had never much cared about whom the girls were or what they were doing.

Now, it seemed, one of those girls was speaking to her … from the picture!
Sarah forced herself to look to her left.

Thankfully, nothing happened and the painting appeared just as lifeless as it always did.
Sarah thought she must have been hearing things, or that maybe somebody was having a laugh with her.

Well, if they were, it certainly wasn’t very funny because it was too creepy and had made her feel very scared.
She decided to ignore the voice and get out of that horrible room.

As she headed for the door she risked one last glance towards the painting and was immediately sorry that she had.
Because as she looked at it, one of the girls – the one sitting on the left of the picture – began to speak.

And she actually did speak because Sarah could see her lips, and in fact, her whole face moving as the words came out.
“I’m so sorry, my dear, if I’ve frightened you by speaking to you. But, as I said earlier, I’m so frightfully bored that I simply had to say something to you.

“You see, my little sister here is ebsolutely useless at chess and couldn’t give me a decent game if she tried. Which she never does, of course.
“She just wants to get it over as soon as possible each and every time we play and, well, we may as well not bother at all, do you see?”

Sarah did see. At least she looked on, in fascination, as the girl’s lips kept moving but was so terrified by what she was seeing that she was taking hardly any notice of what was being said to her.
One part of Sarah wanted to run out of the room but, strangely, the other part of her wanted to stay and listen.

“Er, perhaps if you’d be kind enough to get up here and join us, we could play a game together and my sister could toddle off and do something else which she might find more interesting,” mouthed the girl in the painting from which vantage point she looked down directly at Sarah standing a few feet in front of her.
Crazy as all this was, Sarah was enthralled by what seemed to be happening and when she had pulled herself together a little decided to speak back to the girl up there.

“I’m sorry,” she said looking upwards, “I didn’t think people in paintings could talk, so I’m a bit shocked to hear you.”
“Oh, thet’s quite alright,” said the painting girl, “I fully realise it must be a bit of a shock but I wouldn’t have said anything if I hadn’t been so awfully bored with this game.

“And, ecktually, you do look quite intelligent and as though you could play a proper game of chess if you tried.”
Sarah was still feeling extremely uneasy about the proceedings but thought it was only polite to respond to the painting girl, who was blonde, quite pretty, polite and very well spoken. Much better spoken than Sarah, she thought.

In fact, the girl was so well spoken that she sounded like she was playing a part in one of those TV costume dramas which she loved watching because of all their gorgeous ladies’ costumes, if not the boring plots.
“Er, hello, I’m sorry, no,” said Sarah to the girl, “no, I can’t play chess, although one of my friends at school did try to teach me once.”

Sarah was about to add that she had quickly given up all hopes of ever trying to learn chess because it was such a boring thing to do.
But the girl was being so nice and friendly – even if she was speaking from an old painting – that Sarah decided she didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

“I can actually play draughts, though. Er, if that’s any good?” she added as a helpful after-thought.
“Oh no, not draughts, my dear. Not draughts for that would too, too plebeian, as Daddy would have it,” replied the painting girl.

“Oh well, I suppose there is absolutely no alternative but to play on with my sister and face dying of utter boredom from the sheer tedium of it all.”
“I’m very sorry,” Sarah responded, “if I could play chess I’d certainly help you out and play a game with you.

“Maybe I could come back one day when I’ve learned. I could ask my friend at school if she’d try and teach me again. And this time I’d do my best to concentrate a bit more.”
“Yes, that’s extremely nice of you. I’m always here, so any time you’d care to come back and give me a decent game you’d be so awfully welcome, you know,” said the painting girl.

“By the way, my dear, what’s your name? Mine’s Margaret and my little sister’s name is Rosemary.
“Most of the time it’s terribly interesting living in a castle but sometimes, you know, it can become a teeny bit boring.

“By the way, my dear, I know you come here quite a lot with some elderly people in tow because I’ve seen you frequently and always think what a charming young lady you appear to be. So whenever you fancy a decent game of chess, you know …
“Oh, before you desh off, what did you say your name was?”

Sarah was just about to tell her when she heard her Granny calling her and decided that it was time she caught up with the old folks to see the rest of the castle for what must be the millionth time.
But maybe this time it had been a little different.

* The painting referred to here is entitled The Chess Players and is by Sir John Lavery (1929). It shows the Hon. Margaret and the Hon. Rosemary Scott-Ellis, daughters of the 8th Baron Howard de Waldon whose family once occupied Chirk Castle.                

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Santa helps raise £356 for Air Ambulance

 
* Members of the Littel Helpers team who won the quiz at The Ponsonby. 
 
Santa has been out and about around Llangollen this week helping raise funds for Wales Air Ambulance.
 
On Monday night the Narrowboaters who overwinter on the canal around Llangollen, hosted a Christmas party at the Sun Trevor.
 
Santa joined them and auctioned the secret Santa gifts they had all donated and raised £156

On Tuesday evening Santa’s Magical Christmas Quiz, staged at The Ponsonby, raised a magnificent £200.70.
Santa says he would like to thank everybody who took part  in both events and the Sun Trevor and Ponsonby for  their hospitality.

Don't make unnecessary 999 calls say police

Emergency services are pooling their resources in a bid to reduce the amount of unnecessary and inappropriate calls made to the Joint Communication Centre in St Asaph over Christmas.

In addition to the police and fire officers, a paramedic and a mental health worker will be based in the control room over the busiest days to be tactical advisers to the Force Incident Manager.

Supt Alex Goss said: “Traditionally Christmas and New Year are among the busiest times of year for the police, fire and ambulance and we are asking everyone to be mindful before dialling 999.

“This year we will have a multi-agency desk. The additional assistance from the mental health workers will mean we have professional advisors available to us if anyone is threatening harm or at risk they can provide the appropriate advice, thus taking the pressures off police officers.

“78% of the calls into the control room are not crime related. This is a massive drain on resources, so anything that can help to reduce the extra demand is beneficial to the public and the service provided.

"People are always encouraged to use 999 in a genuine emergency and never put themselves at risk.
For those people who do not have an emergency please use the single non-emergency 101 number.

“We don’t want to deter anyone from calling 999, but we want them to think twice before they do.We are asking people to use the system wisely to help ensure a genuine emergency is not missed over the holidays.”

Live web chat is catching on as more and more people use it to talk to North Wales Police.

Since the service was introduced at the beginning of July, over 400 people have used the live web chat facility to report various things to the force.

Live web chat is also now a 24 hour service that allows visitors to the North Wales Police website to communicate with control room staff in real time, via on-screen messages.

Call Centre Manager, Paul Shea said: “With over 400 people using the service since it was introduced in July people are obviously becoming aware that online reporting is a good alternative way of contacting North Wales Police.

“One of its big benefits is that it’s good for the deaf or hard of hearing community, as well as non-English/Welsh speakers who may not feel comfortable speaking to someone.”

The live web chat runs alongside the facility to ‘Report an incident online’, which are different methods of trying to cope with demands, but in an emergency people should always call 999, which runs on a separate system.

The service is intended for non-emergency enquiries, providing quick and positive feedback.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

County issues rogue trader warning

Trading Standards officers are urging residents to be aware and to tell the authorities if rogue traders cold call in their area offering to do gardening, tree cutting, tarmacing, roof repairs and general odd jobs.
 
The arrival of poor weather conditions can bring out traders looking for work door to door. 
 
These traders can do a poor job and subsequently charge over the odds for that work, ask for cash and then simply disappear, say officers. 

They are usually untraceable when things go wrong as they give false names, addresses and phone numbers.
 
Denbighshire Trading Standards urge people to be on their guard and to follow these simple steps to avoid being caught out:
 
* Be cautious with anyone who turns up at your door without an appointment.
 
Ask for identification and get comprehensive contact details. A mobile telephone number is not good enough.
 
Always make sure you get a written quote for any work to be carried out including written cancellation rights.
 
Only pay after the work has been satisfactorily completed
 
If in doubt, keep them out!
 
Emlyn Jones, Denbighshire's Public Protection Manager, said “We are concerned that unscrupulous traders may try and take advantage of people on their own doorstep.
 
"Unfortunately, there are people who prey on the vulnerability of others, don't become a victim of these cowboy con men. If work needs doing then make your own appointments with reputable tradesmen - if you didn't call them then don't use them.
 
"Genuine trades people will welcome you asking for references and identification, check them both carefully."

* Anyone wanting advice on doorstep trading, or to report an incident, can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 (03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language) which gives free, independent and impartial advice on all consumer issues, or the police on 101.  Any person feeling intimidated or threatened by any doorstep seller should shut the door and call the police emergency number 999. 

Operatic sings carols around the town


* Members of Llangollen Operatic Society helped people to get into the seasonal spirit by singing carols around pubs in the town last night (Tuesday). Here, they give voice to another stirring number at the Wynnstay Arms.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sunday club donates to Llan foodbank


* Sunday club members hand over their donation to Llangollen Foodbank.

Members of Bethel Chapel, Cynwyd's Sunday Club, have donated a large box full of food to Matt's Foodbank, Llangollen, in readiness for Christmas and to finish off their Sunday Club project.

The Sunday Club has been collecting donations for the foodbank at the Cynwyd Shop and Post Office as part of a learning project.

Matt's Foodbank provides emergency food and support for people and families in crisis,and covers communities from Corwen through to Chirk.

It is based at the City Church in Brook Street, Llangollen and is open Mondays and Fridays between 11am and 1pm.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, one of the Sunday Club coordinators, said: "The children have been learning stories from the Bible for some time, and enjoying playing with each other on Sunday mornings in a safe environment.

"But they felt that they should put what they have learnt into practice.

"One Sunday we were learning about Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, and starting discussing the relevance of this to us today, and how we could share more and help others.

"That's when they settled on this project to collect donations for Matt's Foodbank, which also helps our small community.

"The Village Shop and Post Office in Cynwyd also helped out a lot by letting us have our box there for donations."

Recent figures show that dependency on foodbanks is on the rise in Wales.
The charity Trussell Trust, which co-ordinates foodbanks across the UK, say that between April and September 2015 the number of people in Wales to whom they supplied three days' emergency food stood at 39,245.

That's a rise on the previous figure between the same dates last year, when 39,168 people received three days' emergency food.

Matt's Foodbank in Llangollen is built on simple Christian principles of compassion, honesty, kindness and care of all people.

Others wishing to donate food to Matt's Foodbank can do so at the church itself on Brook Street, Llangollen, or at Canolfan Ni, Corwen.

It would welcome breakfast cereals, biscuits, dried pasta, dried rice, Smash, sugar, tinned fish, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, and tins of soup,beans, spaghetti, fruit, rice pudding, evaporated milk, custard, small jars of coffee, tea and long-life milk.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Be a good Christmas neighbour says county

Denbighshire County Council has issued a Christmas message, urging people to be a good friend or neighbour and look after those people who could otherwise be lonely this festive season.
 
Councillor Bobby Feeley, Cabinet Lead Member for Health and Social Care, said: “With Christmas just around the corner, many of us will be looking forward to spending time with our friends and family, we are busy organising food and presents and enjoying social gatherings.

“Sadly, Christmas is not so good for everyone, it can be a time when we are lonely, perhaps some have suffered sensory loss confining activity, their families may live away, or they may have suffered bereavement, so at this time of year, spare a thought for an older person you know who may be lonely this Christmas – give their door a knock, say hello, or invite them round for a cup of tea or a drink. Little things like these can often make a big difference, can make someone's day.
“For some people, this is what every single day is like, with nothing to do or look forward to. Many organisations, work tirelessly across Wales to tackle loneliness and isolation, organisations like Age Connects, Age Cymru, Red Cross and many others, who deliver essential befriending services that so many older people rely on; The Silver Line in Wales took over 275,000 calls last year from older people who just wanted someone to talk to. The positive impact of services like these is clear: it is estimated, for example, that spending £80 on befriending services could save up to £300 from other budgets by reducing the need for formal, high-level support. 

Councillor Feeley added: “Denbighshire has the second largest population of older people and we are working hard to encourage and support independence, thinking of new and imaginative ways to provide our residents with services to ensure sustainability into the future. Denbighshire's 'Ageing Well' programme has been a catalyst for much of the work, we are encouraging neighbourliness, involving communities and importantly tapping into that wealth of volunteers, who work selflessly to help care for loved ones, support children and grandchildren and sustain charities and communities wherever they can.

“We realise how important it is to have social contact, friends, hobbies, reasons to get up in the morning, it's good to recognise and air these things, and brilliant that so many of us are highlighting, a once taboo subject, and making great strides to tackle the problem head on."
 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

United carol service this Sunday


* Llangollen Town Hall: venue for the carol service this Sunday evening.

A united carol service involving churches of different denominations in Llangollen will be held at the Town hall this Sunday evening.

Refreshments will be served from 5pm and the service begins at 6pm.

Musical accompaniment will be provided by Llangollen Silver band.

Organisers say everyone is welcome.

Christmas play with a difference comes to St Collen’s


* St Collen's Church. 
A maverick vicar who approaches large companies to sponsor the nativity play at the church school, gets more than he bargained for. 

A leading children’s clothing store asks him to create two Jesuses, a baby and a toddler variety, so that they can show case their whole range.
A large car salesroom also responds positively on condition that he gives the Holy Family a car.

These are just two of the problems faced by Vicar Joe in Peter Read’s fictitious comedy, The No No Nativity, which will be performed at St Collens Church Llangollen tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. The play is a double hander between Vicar Joe (Dave Edgar) and the school governor Marjorie Pritchard (Paula Sutton).

It was first performed at the Grand Theatre Swansea in 2010 and has been reprised by The Grown In Wales Theatre Company in a mini tour throughout North Wales.
The two final performances will be at St Collen’s this weekend.

In the play, a school choir sings two Christmas songs and they will be performed by Gwernant Primary School on Friday and Ysgol Bryn Collen on Saturday.
Peter Read is a Wrexham-born playwright who has won awards for his work, including five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe for his plays about Dylan Thomas.

He also wrote and directed the play about the Ladies of Llangollen performed at Plas Newydd this summer after being previewed at the Eisteddfod.

Grown in Wales present The No No Nativity is at St Collen’s Church Llangollen on Friday December 18 and Saturday 19 at 7pm. Tickets are £6 and £5 concessions. For advance tickets, call 01978 861768 or pay on the door.

Councillor's concern over Llan buses

One of the area’s county councillors has asked that issues related to the operation of some buses in Llangollen should be referred to a watchdog body.

Cllr Stuart Davies (pictured) said: “I am really concerned about the issues that are arising from GHA buses.
“I arranged for the operator to come to Llangollen last week to meet with passengers to discuss their issues and the attendance was very high.
“We were assured that the issues were being addressed but they seem to be on-going.

“Denbighshire County Council unfortunately no longer has control of bus companies and routes but can only point people to the Traffic Commissioners.

“I am asking our officers to put these concerns to the Traffic Commissioners and to ask that they be dealt with in a strong and forthright way.”
Llanblogger has asked GHA for a comment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

County's Christmas bin collections

Denbighshire households are being reminded of the Christmas bin collection times.
 
Refuse and recycling collection days over the festive period will remain the same unless the collection day is expected on  Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.
 
In these case the collections move to Saturday 26th December and Saturday, 2nd January the week after.
 
After Christmas, householders who pay for the garden waste collection service can dispose of Christmas trees in their green bins or sacks, but they may need some chopping up.
 
The three staffed recycling parks at Denbigh, Rhyl and Ruthin will all be accepting Christmas trees for recycling. Sites are open every day except Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
 
Residents in the Corwen and Llangollen areas will be able to take trees to the Saturday morning recycling service at the Highways Depot at Corwen (16th January) and the Pavilion, Llangollen (9th January).
 
All residents were sent a new collection calendar in November and information will be available on Denbighshire County Council’s website.
 
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tae Kwon-Do club's fistful of medals in top competition


* Llangollen's medal winners Harry Milne (6), Dylan Milne (14),
Lauren Milne (11) Charlotte Milne (10) and Caitlin McCourt (10).

Llangollen Tae Kwon-do Club came away with a fistful of honours from the British Taekwondo Championships in Derby.
 
Five students from the club, formed earlier this year at Llangollen Leisure Centre, won eight medals between them in the competition which is the biggest in the sport's calendar and this year attracted over 1,300 competitors and instructors from across the country including many world champions. 
 
Six-year-old Harry Milne was Llangollen's first medal winner, taking a bronze in individual yellow and green belt sparring and later adding another bronze in the team sparring event.
 
Lauren Milne (11) competing in the blue belt lightweight division won gold in individual sparring to become a British Tae Kwon-Do champion.
 
She then joined Caitlin McCourt (10) who was competing for the first time, in the team sparring event and added two more bronze medals to the Llangollen clubs tally.
 
Charlotte Milne (10) claimed a further bronze for Llangollen in her own blue belt team category. 
Finally, Dylan Milne (14) finished off an excellent year of competitions in which he had previously won many regional competitions, become Welsh and Scottish champion and also won three world titles in Italy in July.
 
He continued his winning streak by topping a very tough junior blackbelt heavyweight division to become British champion and then later added another gold medal in team sparring to take the total to eight medals from the group of five competitors who had been entered into the competition by Llangollen Tae Kwon-Do club instructor Roddie Milne.
 
The club classes are held in Llangollen Leisure Centre on Mondays 6-7pm (mixed) on Wednesdays 5-6pm for juniors and 7-8pm (mixed) and tigers classes for early years aged 3-5 in the community hall Fridays 4-4.45pm.
 
* If you are interested in any of the classes you can call Mr Milne on 07756 286203,
 or email llangollentkd@yahoo.com

County bosses aim to spend more on schools

Following a meeting yesterday to consider the latest proposals to deliver a balanced budget for 2016/17,  Denbighshire County Council's political group leaders will be making a recommendation to the full council  in January to invest more money than planned in schools next year.
 
As a consequence of the better than expected revenue settlement from Welsh Government the council aims to provide additional funding of £853k directly to schools and says it will deliver the required national level of financial protection to school budgets.  
 
The council will also be continuing to invest in Welsh Government major capital improvement programme for schools with planned expenditure  of over £50m in the next three years, it says. 

Santa's quiz back at the Ponsonby


Monday, December 14, 2015

Alex Reid leads knockout cast in Stiwt panto


* The cast of Aladdin at The Stiwt.

Judging by their reaction as the final curtain fell, what quite a few ladies who watched the panto at the Stiwt in Rhos yesterday (Sunday) afternoon want for Christmas this year is … Alex Reid.

The cage fighter and former husband of Katy Price is starring in Aladdin at the famous old theatre just up the road and delivering the knockout punch to many female members of the audience in his role as the Genie of the Lamp.
As far as Alex is concerned it’s six-pack appeal all the way.

But aside from the obvious abs the lad can actually act and sing a bit too.
Backing him up every step of the way through Old Peking is a highly talented cast which also includes Sean Smith in the title role whose main claim to fame is that he finished third in the fourth series of The X Factor a few years back.

That means he has a powerful singing voice which helps provide loads of the musical momentum to the production.
He’s also no slouch when it comes to the honed torso himself, which was of significance to the ladies if not the hordes of kids who formed the main body of the highly appreciative packed house.

Carol Mourant, also something of a panto veteran, plays Princess Jasmin with suitable finesse and a sweet singing voice.
A little lady with a particularly big voice is Lucy Edge who was the perfect Slave of the Ring and Tom Morgan completely won over the kids with his neat blend of comedy and pathos as Wishee Washee, Aladdin’s less smart brother.

No panto line-up would be complete with a nasty villain, and this one was lucky enough to have the sneering services of Cooper Randle as Abanazer at its disposal.
The show is fast-paced and colourful and, most importantly, is a barrel of laughs from start to finish.

The whole delicious pre-Christmas treat is put together with real style by Michael Jenkins, who apart from directing the show also dons the dreadful frocks and bad wigs of Aladdin’s mum, Widow Twankey, and drives things forward from the front.
And as if all that isn’t enough he’s back on stage with Wishee Washee just before the end with two cute kids to lead a bit of community singing.

What more could you want from a panto?
* Aladdin runs at The Stiwt until December 30. For details see, www.stiwt.com. Box office: 01978 841300.         

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Chirk Hospital holds Tree of Life ceremony

Chirk Hospital held its Tree of Light ceremony in which the names were read out of many people who have now passed away but are fondly remembered by their family and friends.
 
It was organised by the Friends of Chirk Hospital and was very well attended.
 
It is the fifth such annual Christmas ceremony and the names were read out by Julie Fawcett, the Secretary of the Friends.
 

* Simon Baynes by the Tree of Light
 at Chirk Hospital.
 
The Vicar of St Mary’s Church in Chirk, the Rev. Matt Wilkinson, also contributed to the ceremony and the Chair of the Friends, Sybil Jones, thanked everyone for attending and supporting the hospital.  
Simon Baynes, the Prospective Welsh Conservative Assembly Member for Clwyd South, attended the ceremony and said: “The Tree of Light ceremony at Chirk Hospital was very moving and provided a moment of quiet in which to remember those who have passed away but are still present in our hearts.
 
"It means a great deal to the community in Chirk as was evident from the large number of people who attended and then stayed for a cup of tea afterwards.

"The Friends of Chirk Hospital, led tirelessly by Sybil Jones and Julie Fawcett, started this ceremony five years ago and it complements the work that they do throughout the year to raise money for improvements to the hospital. Their most recent project is the new car park without which many of us who attended the ceremony would not have been able to park near the hospital.
 
"Sybil Jones also pointed out that it was exactly 25 years ago that the rebuilt Chirk Hospital was opened by the Secretary of State for Wales which made the Tree of Light ceremony all the more special.”

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chirk turns back clock to medieval Christmas

CROWDS braved today's wind and rain to visit the latest of Chirk Castle's medieval weekends.

The castle courtyard took on a Middle Ages look as re-enactors in period costume, presided over by the colourfully dressed Lord of Misrule, strolled around stalls displaying armour or selling hot pottage, and warmed themselves beside roaring braziers.

Inside the chapel members of the re-enactment team told visitors about how Christmas was celebrated centuries ago and also performed a short medieval-style panto.

Youngsters had the chance to visit Santa Claus in his grotto, located next to the elves' workshop in the castle tower.

Inside the castle, the staterooms were wonderfully decked out in the style of Christmases past.


* The Lord of Misrule presides over the medieval scene.


* The castle courtyard takes on a medieval look.  


* Inside the chapel mummers present a medieval-style panto.  


* The nativity scene in the chapel.


* A dining room inside the castle decked out for the season.


* A cosy bedroom complete with glittering fireplace.

Carols at the Abbey warm a cold night


* Young members of Llangollen Silver Band play a carol inside the Abbey.

PEOPLE braved the chill night air to attend a pre-Christmas event arranged by Llangollen Museum at Valle Crucis Abbey yesterday (Friday) evening.

Carols at the Abbey, held under the floodlights of the ancient site, saw a programme of music provided by Llangollen Silver Band and Cor Meibion Bro Glyndwr.

To help keep out the cold there was a serving of mulled wine and mince pies.

Favourite carols including O Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels and O Come All Ye Faithful were interspersed with seasonal readings such as Three Drovers, A Child's Christmas in Wales and Two Letters to Santa.

Prayers were led by the Rev Andrew Sully, vicar of St Collen's Church, Llangollen.

At the end of the evening there was a bucket collection in aid of St John's and the Silver Band.


* Members of Llangollen Silver Band provide musical accompaniment.


* Choristers from Cor Meibion Bro Glyndwr on song.  


* Llangollen Deputy Mayor, Cllr Melville Mile, gives the reading Three Drovers.

Eisteddfod founder's son is guest of honour at Llan 2016


* Peter Tudor at home in Staffordshire.
 
The son of the man who founded the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is to be a guest of honour at the 70th festival next July.
 
Peter Tudor, now 84, remembers how his father, visionary Welsh journalist Harold Tudor, came up with the idea of a grand cultural gathering to help heal the scars left by World War Two.
 
Peter vividly recalls the excitement generated as competitors from across Europe began to gather for the first festival in the small Denbighshire town in the summer of 1947.
 
Oxford graduate Peter, now living near Stone in Staffordshire, even played a part by volunteering as a messenger boy and later returned to sing in one of the famous choral competitions.


* Harold and Marjorie Tudor. 
He said: “My father was originally from Tanyfron, near Coedpoeth, and after attending Grove Park School in Wrexham started work as a sub-editor on the Post and Echo newspapers in Liverpool.
 
“During the Second World War he also became a member of the British Council, an organisation specialising in international educational and cultural opportunities.
 
That meant him doing quite a lot of public relations work with representatives of foreign governments in Britain, including people such as the Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk and the King of Norway, to mention just a couple.
 
“At the end of the war he thought to himself what a terrible business it had been and was looking at things people could do to prevent it ever happening again.
 
“He came up with the idea of an international gathering of singers and dancers and suggested the idea to the board of the National Eisteddfod who I don’t think were too keen on it.
 
“He then approached W S Gwynn Williams, a leading figure in Welsh music who lived in Llangollen, and he gave his support.
 
“My father was obviously very persuasive and worked very hard to get the idea accepted, which it eventually was and Llangollen was chosen as the ideal location with my father being appointed honorary director of publicity.”


* Pages from the 1947 programme. 
Peter, who won a scholarship to Oxford University and went on to work in a series of university libraries including the Bodleian in Oxford, Glasgow, Manchester and Keele before his retirement, added: “For the very first Llangollen International Eisteddfod myself and some of my school friends from Grove Park acted as messenger boys.
 
“We were wearing Press badges and it was our job to run from one part of the field to another delivering messages to various people. It was great fun.
 
“It was just marvellous to see people coming to Llangollen from all parts of Europe and to be able to meet and talk to them.
 
“While the competitions in the Eisteddfod were pretty quiet affairs with everyone silently paying attention, once they were outside on the field it was a completely different matter and everyone mixed together to chat and laugh.
 
“You also had one or two of the choirs joining forces to sing the same piece.
 
“The following year I was back at Llangollen as a member of the Coedpoeth Youth Choir. We sang on the stage and came second in our competition.
 
“That same year my father arranged for the Rhos Male Voice Choir to take part in a concert in Spain and he and my late mother, Marjorie, went with them.
 
“As a result of that visit the Spanish decided to have their own version of the Eisteddfod and in 1949 I took part in the event, held in Madrid, with the Coedpoeth Youth Choir.
 
“I kept on going back to Llangollen for a few years until I was called up for my National Service with the army.
 
“My father also became much less involved with the Eisteddfod after he took a job as a sub-editor with the Post and Mail in Birmingham.
 
“The family moved to live in Northfield in Birmingham and my father died at the age of 79 in 1986.

“The part he played in founding the International Eisteddfod wasn’t always too well remembered but has been better acknowledged more recently. I am certainly very proud of what he did.”
 
Peter, who was married to his wife Eirwen for 51 years and has been a widower since 2008, has two daughters – the eldest of whom, Gillian, followed in her grandfather’s footsteps by becoming a Reuters foreign journalist – and five grandchildren.
 
In 2003 his close family connection with the founder of the Eisteddfod was celebrated when he was invited to meet the Prince of Wales when he paid an official visit to the festival and four years later he was asked back to Llangollen to give a speech about his father from the pavilion stage.
 

* Cuttings from a newspaper covering the
first Eisteddfod in 1947.
“Being able to meet the Prince of Wales was a memorable experience and after sitting next to him for one of the performances I got to speak briefly to him over refreshments,” said Peter.
 
“Apart from those two occasions I haven’t been back to Llangollen but I’m going to do my best to be there for the 70th Eisteddfod next year as the festival is something which has always meant a great deal to my family and myself. I also send my very best wishes to everyone involved in the 2016 Eisteddfod which should be a very special occasion.”
 
Eisteddfod Chairman Rhys Davies said: “We’ll be delighted to welcome Peter here again as his father was the man who really began this great festival.
 
“Harold Tudor was a man of great vision and the Eisteddfod and people not just in Llangollen but all over the world have a great deal to thank him for.”
 
The Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod has been held every summer since 1947 and is recognised as one of the world’s most inspirational music festivals.
 
Next year’s event, the 70th to be held, will feature star names Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra who will bring the curtain down on the festival on Sunday, July 10.
 
This year’s Eisteddfod begins on Tuesday, July 5, when superstar Katherine Jenkins gets things off to a sensational start as she sings Bizet’s Carmen while Wednesday will be International Children’s Day and will include choral and dance competitions and also a new Under 16s solo competition.
 
Thursday will be Voices of the World and the crowning of the Children’s Choir of the World while Friday will celebrate Rhythms of the World and will be dedicated mainly to the dance groups with the Dance Champions of the World competition climax in the evening.
 
In a change of the scheduling Friday will also see the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite switched from its usual Tuesday in anticipation of bigger crowds and more competitors being present.
 
Saturday is dedicated to the Choirs of the World and concludes with the Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy while Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert.
 
The incredible Llangollen welcome and atmosphere won’t change though and throughout the week the field will be the scene for impromptu outbreaks of music and dance while the outdoor stages will host a variety of concerts and performances.
 
Food, drink and craft stalls also surround the field and visitors can dine on a difference cuisine every day of the event and enjoy the colour and excitement of what is a true carnival of nations.
 
* For more information on Llangollen 2016 go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk or onto Facebook at www.facebook.com/llangollen