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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eisteddfod prize gets major cash boost


* Mario and Gill Kreft of Pendine with eisteddfod musical director Eilir Owen Griffiths. 

Twenty four of the world's best young singers are flocking to North Wales to compete for a prestigious new international prize.

Competitors from as far afield as Switzerland, the Philippines, the USA and China will be competing for the title of International Voice of the Future at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod on Thursday, July 6.

The record number of entrants has been attracted by the boost given to the prize fund by  the arts-loving Pendine Park care organisation and the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation.

The finalists will compete for the brand new Pendine Trophy and a cheque for £6,000 while the two runners up will each receive £2,000.

Pendine Park  have pledged to contribute £5,000 to the International Voice of the Future competition with £3,000  coming from Sir Bryn's foundation and £2,000 from the Eisteddfod.

As a result, the total prize pot is more than six times the  £1,500 awarded in previous years and the aim is to catapult the competition into a whole new league.

The idea is to showcase and nurture young talent, providing each year’s winner with support and a cash injection to advance their burgeoning careers.

The competition will be one of the highlights of the week at the festival which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

The preliminary round gets underway at a free event at Llangollen Town Hall at 10am when the adjudicators will be internationally renowned soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and BBC presenter Gareth Jones

Each entrant will perform up to eight minutes' of music in its original language, after which the judges will select three finalists to take centre stage at the International Celebration evening concert,  when they'll be performing 12 minutes' of music.

Pendine Park are also sponsoring the performance of the classic opera Tosca, starring Sir Bryn Terfel, Kristine Opolais and Kristian Benedikt on Tuesday, July 4.

"Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft said: "Our aim in supporting the event and providing the Pendine Prize is to help transform it into a truly international competition that attracts the best singers from across the world.

"It is wholly appropriate that the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation is also involved because the Eisteddfod provided him with a stepping stone to his stellar career and he is keen to nurture the talented young singers following in his footsteps.

“I firmly believe in the vital role played by music and arts in social care and as part of our enrichment programme for people with dementia we regularly have world-class musicians from the Hallé orchestra and Welsh National Opera as part of our enrichment workshops and staff training and development programme.

"Again this year we will be showcasing the value of the arts in social care and are organising a series of activities on the festival field, including dementia workshops. and intergenerational music workshops involving our residents and staff on Children's Day.

"We are deeply rooted in the communities which we serve and the ethos of the Eisteddfod chimes perfectly with what we are doing in promoting the arts and culture as way of enriching lives across the generations."

The festival's music director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “Nurturing and promoting young talent is at the heart of the Eisteddfod and the Voice of the Future competition has launched the career of many a young soloist.

“The standard of entries is always high but thanks to the generous contribution of Pendine Park and the Bryn Terfel Foundation the increased prize fund has attracted a record number of high-quality entries. The adjudicators will have their work cut out for them this year!”

Sir Bryn Terfel added: “The Bryn Terfel Foundation is committed to supporting the development of aspiring young performers, particularly those who may be otherwise discouraged by financial hardship.

“The Eisteddfod’s International Voice of the Future competition has great synergy with the foundation’s objectives and we are happy to be contributing to the prize fund in the festival’s 70th anniversary year.”

* For more information on the preliminary round of the International Voice of the Future Competition to secure your tickets for the International Celebration, please visit: www.Llangollen.net

Leisure centre stages special fundraiser

The charity which re-opened Plas Madoc Leisure Centre following the council closure in 2014 is calling on local people to help it gain extra funding through Localgiving’s Small Charity Week Match Fund campaign.

The campaign starts at 10am today, Thursday (June 22) and one-time donations will be matched pound-for-pound up to £25.

For a one-time £25 donation with Gift Aid, Splash receives £56.25.

Each year Small Charity Week celebrates and raises awareness of the essential work of the UK’s small charity sector - of the invaluable contribution that these groups make to the lives of millions of individuals, communities and causes across the UK and the rest of the world.

The Small Charity Week match fund has been funded by the FSI and a private philanthropist.

Stella Matthews, Chairman of The Splash Community Trust said: "2017 has been a great year for us so far, we’ve seen major investment in the facility by the Welsh Government which has allowed us to replace the roof, upgrade electrics and modify the plant room.

"The Small Charity Week Match Fund is an exciting campaign and a fantastic opportunity for us to kick start our summer fundraising.

"All donations will make a huge difference to us and with the added bonus of doubled donations we hope local people will join in. The support we’ve received since re-opening has been overwhelming and together we can keep this fantastic community asset open.”

* To help The Splash Community Trust benefit from match funding, visit their Localgiving page on Thursday at: www.localgiving.org/charity/plasmadoc/

For more information about the trust and the work they do, go to: www.plas-madoc.com, email info@plas-madoc.com or call 01978 821600.        

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Plaid AM voices concern over bank closures

The Plaid Cymru AM has expressed his fear that north Wales will lose "yet more community banks" following an announcement that Barclays are set to shorten the opening hours of their Llangollen branch from July.

Residents from Llangollen contacted Llyr Gruffydd expressing their concern that the Barclays branch in the town was set to close on Thursdays from July 24, and opening for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays only.

Mr Gruffydd (pictured) contacted Barclays seeking assurances, but was disappointed with the reply.

He said: “We already know that bank lending to businesses falls when banks close, and the fall is significantly more when the last branch closes in a community.

"Llangollen and the area have been hit by the closures of HSBC and NatWest. Barclays argue that cutting opening hours is an attempt to keep a branch open, and I understand that, but the truth is that they cannot guarantee that they will retain a presence there beyond six months.

“While HSBC and NatWest have gone through a significant closure programme, I’m concerned that Barclays will be the next of the big banks to review their presence in our communities across north Wales.

“The Government’s compromise with the British Banking Association which meant that rural communities must have an alternative is flawed and one sided.

"The BBA will argue that their members provide an online alternative, but the truth is that swathes of north Wales do not have access to Broadband or 3G let alone 4G, and Llangollen and the area is a perfect example.

"There is also a great many people, especially the most vulnerable, who continue to depend on the High Street branch. This is why Plaid Cymru have said that we would create a publicly-owned bank.

"It is vitally important that individuals and businesses in all communities have easy access to financial advice and banking services. It’s not just Plaid Cymru campaigning against this - the Federation of Small Businesses and the Farmers’ Union of Wales have raised concerns about this culture of centralisation.”

HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group are all among banks that cut 600 branches between April 2015 to April 2016. 90 per cent of those closures were in areas where the median household income is below the average of £27,600, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Mr Gruffydd has been campaigning for the retention of community banking services since being first elected to the National Assembly in 2011. He has campaigned for communities across north Wales and challenged banking bosses across the sector.

County has nuisance call blockers for trial

Denbighshire Trading Standards are looking for residents who could benefit from a blocker unit which aims to reduce the number of unknown callers that are received. 

As part of a national trial, the team has a limited number of the units available to loan out to vulnerable residents in the county on a trial basis to see if this will help combat their nuisance caller problems. 

The results of the individual units will be shared nationally and will be discussed with the individual or other nominated person. 

The unit offers three different incoming call handling profiles to choose from. 

All the profiles allow calls from trusted callers to get through unimpeded – the difference is in the way they control unrecognised callers. 

You can change the profile whenever you want so that the blocker always gives the appropriate level of protection even if needs change. 

You can easily monitor and control the unit via your personal Internet Control Panel. This allows you to view a log of all of your incoming and outgoing calls, edit your trusted callers list and change your configuration settings. 

* If you know of someone who might benefit from this and would be interested in trialling a unit you can contact the team via tradingstandards@denbighshire.gov.uk or on 01824 706446.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Assurances called for on Llan bank's future


* Cllr Bob Lube, Cllr Graham Timms and Ken Skates AM
 outside the branch.

Community leaders have called for assurances over the long-term future of the only remaining bank in their town.

County Councillor Graham Timms has contacted Barclays after it emerged the company wants to reduce opening hours in Llangollen to three days a week from July 24.

“We simply cannot lose this bank. I will be writing to Jonathan Brenchley, Barclays’ head of corporate relations in Wales, to try and get some answers,” said Cllr Timms.

Assembly Member Ken Skates has also contacted the company.

He said: “Not only is Barclays the only bank in Llangollen, it’s the last remaining branch anywhere in Clwyd South following closures in Brymbo, Cefn Mawr, Chirk, Corwen, Rhos and Ruabon – as well as HSBC and NatWest in Llangollen – in the past few years.”

Last year Mr Skates asked for – and received – reassurances from Barclays that the Llangollen branch was safe ‘for the immediate future’. He also encouraged constituents to use the branch as often as they can to keep footfall up.

“In many people’s eyes, reducing opening hours is only a few steps away from closure, so I have asked Barclays for a further commitment to Llangollen,” said Cllr Timms.

“Only once in the past seven years or so has Barclays closed the last remaining bank in any town in Wales, so I hope they will continue to operate with a greater degree of social responsibility than other banks have shown to people in our area.”

Town councillor and former mayor Bob Lube added: It would be a sad day for Llangollen if this branch closed, particularly after so many people switched when HSBC and NatWest shut.”

The changes will see the branch open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10am-4pm.

Politicians voice concern over bus service changes


* Ken Skates AM, left, with Susan Elan Jones MP and Welsh First Minister
Carwyn Jones in Coedpoeth recently.
Changes to bus services could cut ‘lifelines’ for residents in Wrexham’s outlying villages, say an MP and AM.

Susan Elan Jones and Ken Skates have written to Arriva, Wrexham Council and the Traffic Commissioner about the company’s plans to restrict some of its routes from June 25, which have been heavily criticised by disgruntled service users.

Ms Jones, who was recently re-elected as Clwyd South MP, said: “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are extremely upset about these changes, particularly older people who see these services as a lifeline connecting them to their communities and essential amenities such as their doctor, pharmacy or post office. A lot of people will be affected.”

Mr Skates said he’d made representations on behalf of residents in areas including Coedpoeth, Penycae, Rhostyllen and the Maelor villages.

“In Penycae, these changes will see key areas such as the Afoneitha estate hugely affected, and people fear they will be completely cut off,” he said.

“Arriva has stated that long-running parking issues hindering access to the estate have contributed to its decision, so I would implore Wrexham Council to act as a matter of urgency.

“Residents in the Maelor villages successfully campaigned for their 146 service to be reinstated, now it’s up in the air again. Their last bus would leave Wrexham at 4.45pm, so how are those who commute there every day for work supposed to get home?”

Mr Skates added: “Susan and I have made urgent representations to Arriva, the council and the Traffic Commissioner and hope to hear back in the very near future.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Disgust over mess left at Riverside Park


A Llangollen resident has spoken of his disgust at the pile of rubbish which he says was left by visitors around a picnic bench at Riverside Park over the weekend.

Mike Edwards said: "A friend of mine posted this photo on Facebook of the mess left by visitors down by the river.

"It's absolutely disgusting and irresponsible and shows the disrespect visitors show to our beautiful town, which is close to a World Heritage Site and part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

Piano prodigy to play at major music festival


*Julian Gonzalez, 17, a pupil of Ysgol Dinas Bran, at the piano.

A "breath-takingly talented" young pianist will have a starring role at the launch concert of an international music festival - just after sitting an A level exam.

Julian Gonzalez, 17, a pupil of Ysgol Dinas Bran, in Llangollen, will be enchanting the audience at St Asaph Cathedral at 7.30pm on Wednesday, June 28.

The concert will be the curtain-raiser for the acclaimed North Wales International Music Festival that will be staged at the same venue from Saturday, September 16 to Saturday, September 30.

Hours after finishing his maths exam Julian will be performing two solo pieces of work at the festival.

He began playing the piano under the watchful eye of Ann Atkinson, who also happens to be the artistic director of the festival which has a track record for nurturing young musical talent.

The event's resident orchestra is NEW Sinfonia which was founded by conductor Robert Guy and his brother, Jonathan, a clarinettist, who were regulars at the festival's music masterclasses when they were younger.

Another stellar name who came through the ranks was royal composer Paul Mealor who was mentored by the festival's founder, the late Professor William Mathias.

Again this year, the festival is being supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Ty Cerdd and the sponsors include the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park and the Colwinston Charitable Trust.

Although music is Julian's passion, he has chosen to study mathematics at university.

He said: “I’ve always enjoyed playing the piano and as soon as I started playing there was a real connection between the instrument and me. I always enjoyed and looked forward to my piano practice and worked with Ann Atkinson every week from the age of seven and later with the renowned pianist, Iwan Llewelyn Jones.

“However, as much as I love music I see playing as a hobby really. I really want to pursue mathematics as a career so that’s what I’m focusing on. But things might change!”

“Last year I attended a master class at the festival, given by Montreal-born pianist Janina Fialkowska. I learnt so much and she showed me a whole new way of interpreting music and understanding just what the composer is trying to say.

"I really enjoy any classical music but in particular the romantic period. I suppose if I had to choose a favourite composer it would be Rachmaninov although Chopin and Liszt are also right up there too.

“I’m going to be playing two solo pieces at the North Wales International Music Festival, Prelude in C Minor by Rachmaninov and Nocturne in D flat major by Chopin. They are both major pieces and, in a way, reflect my own musical journey.

“The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Journeys’ and I have chosen to play what are two major pieces by two of the very best composers.”

Julian, who also plays the French horn, practices for two hours a day, every day, on his own Seiler baby grand piano at his home in Carrog, near Corwen.

He added: “It’s something I never tire of really; I just enjoy playing and practicing. However, each piano has its own tone and feel and I will practice on the piano I will be using in the concert in St Asaph Cathedral beforehand.

“My parents, my mum, Morag and dad Gregorio, who is of Bolivian descent, will be at the concert and maybe my sister, Alice too. Alice is 21 and did play the piano but no longer does so.

“I have been to Bolivia once, when I was about 10, and met my Bolivian grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins and I’m looking to going again in the next few years. I’m really interested in learning more about my Bolivian heritage.

Every Saturday Julian also attends the Northern Royal College of Music’s Junior Section where he is tutored by Jonathon Middleton.

Ann Atkinson is delighted Julian has agreed to play at the festival’s launch concert, which will also feature a quartet from NEW Sinfonia, Welsh National Opera tenor Huw Llywelyn accompanied by Annette Bryn Parri and both Trelawnyd and Bro Glyndwr male voice choirs.

She said: “Our ethos is to promote young musicians and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their music and ability. Julian Gonzalez is a breath-takingly talented young pianist who is able to interpret the works of the greatest composers, really bringing it to life.

“I would encourage anyone who loves classical music to get a ticket before they sell out and come along for an unforgettable evening of music.

“Among the stars of the festival itself in September will be singers from Welsh National Opera, vocal group VOCES8, NEW Sinfonia, baroque instrumentalists Red Priest, tenor Rhys Meirion, Ensemble Cymru, the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet, violinist Ye-Eun Choi and Italian pianist Federico Colli.”


* Tickets for the launch concert are £10 and are available from caroline@nwimf.com or Cathedral Frames, 28 High Street, St Asaph - 01745 582929. To find out more about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bakery firm celebrates rising success


* Ken Skates AM with, from left, Wholebake Chief Operations Officer Eric Maudsley, Operations Director Richard Shaw and Lesley Griffiths AM, the Welsh G
overnment’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.

Assembly Member Ken Skates has praised a fast-growing food firm which is set to more than double its workforce.

Wholebake recently won planning permission to build a £14m state-of-the-art premises near its current base at Ty’n-y-Llidiart Industrial Estate in Corwen, which would see its number of employees rise from 122 to 255.

Clwyd South AM Mr Skates, who visited the site this week, said: “Wholebake has gone from strength to strength in recent years from its bases in Corwen and Wrexham thanks to the success of its very popular snack bars.

“Demand is at an all-time high and I’m delighted this thriving company has chosen to stay in the area. It’s a real local success story. I hope to see as many of the new roles as possible being taken up by people who live in Clwyd South and North East Wales.”

Mr Skates, the Welsh Government’s Economy Secretary, visited the company along with Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.

He added: “Wholebake choosing to stay in and expand in Corwen is huge fillip for the area and this £14m investment is fantastic news for the local economy.”

Production will continue at the current 2,400 sq m Corwen factory, with the new 13,240 sq m facility occupied in two phases to allow operations to continue seamlessly.

Friday, June 16, 2017

West Country folk star heads for Llangollen

Llangollen Fringe organisers say they are delighted to welcome Seth Lakeman as part of the festival’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

West country folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lakeman (pictured) will be making his debut appearance at Llangollen on Thursday July 20.

He is only playing a few select solo shows in 2017, showcasing songs from his new album Ballads of the Broken Few and other live favourites from his back catalogue.

Lakeman's eighth studio album Ballads of the Broken Few is a stunning combination of his dynamic song writing and playing, produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Laura Marling) and the sublime harmony vocals of emerging young female trio Wildwood Kin. 

Continuing Lakeman's unique vision for recording in inspiring locations – previous albums have been recorded in a church and a copper mine – the 11 tracks for Ballads of the Broken Few were cut in the Great Hall of a Jacobean manor house and they shine with the atmosphere of that setting.

There is Lakeman's trademark stomp, his swooping, sighing and aching fiddle and viola, and strident electric tenor guitar.

Since the Mercury Prize nominated Kitty Jay - recorded in his kitchen for £300 - the follow-up gold selling Freedom Fields and his last, highly acclaimed offering, Word of Mouth, a deft collection of mini musical biographies of colourful West Country characters, Lakeman has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music.

With Ballads of the Broken Few he demonstrates yet again that he is constantly exploring new and bold musical paths. His new album is out now on Cooking Vinyl.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW AT www.llangollenfringe.co.uk or by calling 0800 1455 779.

The Llangollen Fringe 20th Anniversary Festival takes place from Thursday 13th to Sunday 23rd of July.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

AM calls for stepping up of fight against hepatitis C

Speaking in yesterday's Assembly debate North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood said elimination of hepatitis C as a serious public health concern in Wales is a "wholly achievable goal" and called on the Welsh Government to confirm its commitment to wiping it out.  

Hepatitis C is one of the three main causes of liver disease and the only one of the five ‘big killers’ in Wales and England where deaths are rising, and therefore represents a significant public health challenge.

In Wales An estimated 12,000 – 14,000 people are currently living with hepatitis C, around half undiagnosed.

In the debate, the Welsh Government was asked to confirm its commitment to the World Health Organisation Eradication Date of 2030 – and to consider new operational guidelines to support NHS Wales to work towards this.

Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood (pictured) said: “As I said in January’s debate on the contamination of blood, in the 1970s and 1980s, a large proportion of blood products supplied to patients by the NHS was contaminated with HIV or hepatitis C. Around 4,670 patients with haemophilia were infected; over 2,000 have since died in the UK, with 70 in Wales, from the effects of these viruses.

“However, evidentially Hepatitis C primarily affects people from particular groups, such as injecting drug users, homeless people, gay and bisexual men, and migrant populations from high prevalence regions.

“A recent Hepatitis C Trust report concludes with a number of key recommendations for action, including the inclusion of a commitment to eliminate hepatitis C as a serious public health concern within the Welsh Government’s forthcoming Public Health Bill.

“Approval of new drug treatments by NICE and the All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group means the elimination of hepatitis C as a serious public health concern in Wales is now a wholly achievable goal.

"To seize this new opportunity, we must find the 50% of people currently undiagnosed, by widening access to testing and further investigating which groups can be cost-effectively screened. By increasing diagnoses, we will be able to treat and cure more people.

“With effective and accessible new treatments now available to all who need them, it is easier than ever to treat and cure patients, presenting a great opportunity to achieve the elimination of hepatitis C in Wales.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Joseph beats illness to land dream Eisteddfod role


* Mario and Gill Kreft with Joseph Elwy Jones, 11, who has won the coveted role of the Shepherd Boy in Tosca at the Llangollen Eisteddfod.

An "inspirational" young singer who overcame a rare kidney condition has landed a dream role to perform with opera superstar Sir Bryn Terfel.

Joseph Elwy Jones, 11, will take to the stage at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod as the Shepherd Boy in a star-studded production of Puccini’s classic opera, Tosca.

The concert on Tuesday, July 4, which is being sponsored by arts-loving care organisation Pendine Park, also features two other world-class opera stars, soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Kristian Benedikt.

It will be one of the highlights of the week when the iconic festival will be celebrating its 70th anniversary.

Joseph won the role after a tough audition against the cream of young Welsh singers - thanks to the extra lessons from the headteacher at his school, Ysgol Gwenffrwd, in Holywell.

He was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome in 2013 but it cleared up after treatment, including steroids, and he hasn’t had any reoccurrence.

Football and guitar player Joseph is now fully recovered and raring to go - and he can't wait to meet and sing with his idol, Sir Bryn Terfel.

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE, who lives in Denbigh, said: "Joseph is not only a supremely talented young singer, he is also an inspiration to us all in the way he has overcome the health problems with great courage and determination.

"As a care organisation, Joseph's story has an undoubted resonance for us and it is wonderful that he is once again full of vim and vigour - and blessed with an absolutely fantastic voice.

"To have the opportunity to sing alongside the magnificent Sir Bryn Terfel and the rest of the world class cast will be an unforgettable experience for Joseph and a truly memorable occasion for the audience."

Joseph, who lives in Lixwm, was thrilled when he heard he had been chosen as the Shepherd Boy.

He said: “After the audition I had to wait about a week, which seemed a long time and the longer it went on the more I thought I hadn’t got the role. Then, I was at school and the head teacher Miss Owen came into class and told me the good news. I was speechless!

“I was amazed and I can’t wait to meet Sir Bryn Terfel. I’ll be nervous but as soon as the music starts I’ll be fine. I’m taking loads of paper with me because all my friends have asked me to get Sir Bryn’s autograph.

He added: “I love music but I also like lots of other things like fishing and football. I’d like to be a professional musician when I leave school but I’d also like to work in the medical profession."

According to mum Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Llywelyn, in Rhyl,  the whole family was extremely proud.

She said: “He’s a typical lad, he enjoys playing football for Holywell and he’s got five guitars. He is proud of his Welsh roots and loves bands like the Manic Street Preachers who will also be performing in Llangollen this year. He’s also a member of the local Scout group and loves the outdoors.”

“His sister Sophia, seven, is learning how to play the keyboards and his Dad, David, who teaches English at Flint High School, has two drum kits. It’s quite a musical family!

“But he really has never had a professional singing lesson. His head teacher at Ysgol Gwenffrwd,  Iola Owen has helped him, and lots of other children, prepare for competitions at the Urdd Eisteddfod.”

“She is amazing and once we knew he had an audition I asked her if she could help him learn the part. He watched YouTube performances to help but singing in Italian isn’t easy of course.

“She spent time helping him and even got him into school on a teacher training day for an hour.

“When I was told Joseph has landed the role I thought it only fair that she be the one to tell him the news. She sent a lovely card the following day congratulating him.

“It's quite fitting in a way that he has been chosen to play the Shepherd Boy in Tosca because his great grandfather, Victor Thomas, who was the head of a Veterinary practice in Caerwys, kept sheep all his life.

“As a family we are so looking forward to watching Tosca at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, it’s going to be a magical and very proud moment for Joseph's Dad, his sister Sophia and myself.”

Ynyr Lewys Rogers, 12, from Ruthin, a pupil at the town's Ysgol Brynhyfryd, has been chosen as Joseph's understudy.

The Llangollen Eisteddfod has been a springboard for the careers of many singers including Sir Bryn Terfel himself when he was a young bass baritone and the legendary Luciano Pavarotti who first competed at the festival with his father's choir from Modena in Italy in 1955.

The festival's music director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “Increasing opportunities for youngsters to become involved with music is a cause close to my heart and that of sponsors Pendine Park – who’ve also generously tripled this years Voice of the Future prize fund.

"It's incredibly exciting to find such promising singing talent like Joseph. The innocence and purity of his voice was perfect for the angelic role of ‘Shepherd Boy’. The character brings light to the darkness of the piece and Joseph’s voice makes him the perfect candidate for the role.

“We were so impressed with the standard of auditions this year and everyone who performed was well prepared and professional. Joseph was the youngest of the singers who auditioned, proving that age truly is just a number. His passion for music really shines and his performance will be one not to be missed.”

* For more information about the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and to book tickets go to  www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

AM urges women to have cervical screening

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood  is supporting Cervical Screening Awareness Week this week (June 12-18) by urging all women to attend their cervical screening appointment when invited.

Cervical cancer currently claims two lives every day in the UK and it is the most common cancer in women under 35.
Cervical screening prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers yet the number of women attending is at a 10- year low in Wales  and more than one in five women do not attend their screening appointment.
 
Mr Isherwood (pictured) said: “Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives in the UK each year yet many women don’t understand the importance of attending screening regularly. 

"During Cervical Screening Awareness Week I want to encourage women to talk to their friends, mothers and daughters about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of cervical cancer.  It’s such an important five-minute test that really could save your life.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We cannot afford to see cervical screening attendance fall any further. Diagnoses of cervical cancer in the UK are worryingly high and will only increase if more women don’t attend screening.

"We want to encourage women to look after their health, including the health of their cervix and that means attending cervical screening. By not attending, women are significantly increasing their risk of a life-threatening disease.”
* Find out more about Cervical Screening Awareness Week at www.jostrust.org.uk/csaw 

Monday, June 12, 2017

County makes films to help businesses

A series of video seminars have been produced to help and inform businesses.

Denbighshire County Council has produced the clips as part of its annual March for Business month which this year saw more than 400 people take part in 12 workshops, conferences and networking sessions.

The videos are now available on the Council’s YouTube and Facebook platforms and offer tips on digital marketing, digital skills and how to use the Welsh language to benefit your business.

Clips have been produced from events during March for Business including the advanced manufacturing conference, Denbighshire for Growth and a networking dinner hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Mike Horrocks, the Council’s team and programme manager for Economic & Business Development, said: “This year’s March for Business was a fantastic success. We saw record attendances for our biggest ever programme.

“The most important thing is that we have had great feedback from businesses who have told us the sessions have been of real benefit to them.

“One of our goals was to produce a range of materials that would benefit those businesses that were unable to attend the events as we understand that not all businesses can afford to take time out of their day to learn new things. These new video clips are available 24/7 and have already had over 9,000 views.

“The real target for us is to see the success of the programme translate into local business success and there are some strong signs that this is happening.”

The March for Business programme was devised by the Council’s Economic and Business Development team following feedback from Denbighshire’s annual Business Survey.

It is part of the Council’s work on developing the local economy through its Economic and Community Ambition Programme, which aims to support healthy private businesses, see more people in work and improve household incomes.

Since the ten-year plan was launched in 2013, there are 1,700 more people in work in Denbighshire, average household incomes are closing the gap on the rest of Wales, 70 more businesses are starting up every year with 19 out of 20 new businesses surviving for a year with almost two thirds still trading three years later.

You can take part in this year’s business survey here.

You can view the videos on DCCs Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Website aims to keep people well

Looking for advice on staying well ?
Then look no further than the Dewis Cymru website.

The website www.dewis.wales is the place for information about all issues relating to well-being in Wales, as well as the first point of information about local organisations and services that can help.
The website includes information on key topics: Being Well, Being Social, Being at Home;,Being Safe, Managing Your Money, Children and Families and Looking After Someone.
The Being Well section looks at a range of issues, including indoor and outdoor activities, healthy relationships (including sexual health) and dealing with medication. It also details five ways of being well (connecting with people, being active, keep learning, taking notice of your surroundings and volunteering).
Bethan Jones Edwards, Head of Regional Collaboration of the North Wales Social Care and Well-being Services Improvement Collaborative, said: “Being well isn’t just about being physically healthy and free from illness, it’s also how you feel about yourself and your life as a whole.
“People often have a greater sense of well-being when they have strong social networks, suitable housing, they are in employment and/or education (if they wish to be) and they are healthy, both physically and emotionally.
“The Dewis Cymru website is a great one stop shop for all the information you need about well-being. There is a directory of services and activities available in your community. It’s all about pointing people in the right direction to the wealth of support already available”.
People can visit the website to register and to access details of support available in their county.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Labour holds Clwyd South seat


*Susan Elan Jones MP.

Labour held on to the local Clwyd South seat in yesterday's General Election which, overall, resulted in a hung parliament.

PartyVotes%Net percentage change in seats
                   
LAB
Labour
Susan Elan Jones      19,002 vote_share 50.7 +13.5
                   
CON
Conservative
Simon Baynes 14,646 vote_share 39.1 +8.7
                   

Plaid Cymru
Christopher Allen 2,293 vote_share 6.1 -4.2
                   

UKIP
Jeanette Bassford-Barton   802 vote_share 2.1 -13.5
                  

Liberal Democrat
Bruce Roberts   731 vote_share 2.0   -1.9

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Old works will get lit up for the Fringe


* Berwyn Works on the A5, which will be lit up for the Fringe. 

As part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Llangollen Fringe Festival, a renowned artist has been commissioned to produce a large-scale work to exhibit during the event.

On display throughout the festival, the project, entitled ‘Ars Magna Lucis – (The Art Of Great Light)’, will see the Old Berwyn Works building converted into a lantern that will overlook the town.

Fringe artist Alec Shepley looks at reimagining this redundant relic of the industrial age, converting it into, in his own words, ‘a lantern-space - a giver of light’.


* Ars Magna Lucis.
Alec Shepley is an artist and an academic based at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, North Wales where he is head of the School of Creative Arts and Professor of Contemporary Art Practice.

His work has been exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, with examples held in a number of public and private collections in North America, Europe and Asia.

Alec’s individual and collaborative research has attracted funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the British Council, the Arts Council of England and the Arts Council of Wales and his work has been exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, with examples held in a number of public and private collections in North America, Europe and Asia.

Using especially constructed LED light boxes made on site in the town, six of the building’s classical 1930’s windows will be illuminated to create an ever changing palette of coloured light, emanating from the shell of the former brewery and print works every night during the course of the festival.

A spokesperson for Llangollen Fringe Festival said: “We’re really pleased to have an artist of Alec Shepley’s stature on board, we wanted to make a bold statement for the 20th anniversary of the festival and what better way then to create an impressive spectacle in the heart of the town. We hope this free exhibition will attract even more visitors to the town and the festival to catch a glimpse and a photo of Alec’s work.”

The ‘Ars Magna Lucis’ event will be on display from July 15-23, with a special switch-on event taking place near the bandstand at Riverside Park, Llangollen at 10.30pm, Saturday July 15.

The festival line up also includes performances from: WILKO JOHNSON, SETH LAKEMAN, TURIN BRAKES, MARK THOMAS, CC SMUGGLERS, JACK MONROE, BAND PRES LLARREGUB, 9 BACH and KASAI MASAI.

FOR INFORMATON ON ALL PERFORMANCE DATES AND LOCATIONS AND TO PURCHASE TICKETS, VISIT www.llangollenfringe.co.uk 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Food bank collection at New Dot's latest screening


* A scene from the film I, Daniel Blake.

New Dot Cinema's next screening this Friday is set to be a popular one.

Last year's winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, "I, Daniel Blake" is a moving Newcastle-set tragedy about the failings of modern Britain.

There will be a collection for Wrexham Food Bank at the screening
.

If you would like to donate, please bring your item(s) along to the event.

All non-perishable donations will be gratefully received, however the following items are currently urgently needed:

- tinned rice pudding

- tinned tomatoes

- UHT milk (500ml & 1 litre)

- tinned ham

- tinned corned beef

- tinned fruit

- tinned carrots

- tinned peas

- biscuits (cookies)

- juice boxes (200ml & 1 litre)

- instant coffee

The film will be shown upstairs at the Town Hall. As usual, there will be a licenced bar and popcorn. Doors open
7:30pm with the film starting at 8pm. Tickets available here: https://www.skiddle.com/…/Llangol…/I-Daniel-Blake-/12986446/

The latest from legendary director Ken Loach is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. Daniel Blake has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle.

Now, for the first time ever, he needs help from the State.

He crosses paths with a single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London has been to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away.

Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern day Britain.
More details at
http://www.facebook.com/NewDotCinema and www.newdotcinema.org

New Dot Cinema Llangollen is a not-for-profit community cinema run entirely by volunteers.