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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Battle of Britain legends to fly over Llan





A Spitfire and Hurricane (pictured) from the legendary Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will honour the Llangollen Motorcycle Festival - LlanBikeFest - with a fly past on Sunday, August 6.

RAF officials have confirmed the flight is expected on Sunday morning, with the actual time to be agreed nearer to the event.

“The spectacle will be amazing and the sound of two Merlin engines echoing around the Dee Valley will be music to the ears. We are especially honoured as 2017 is the 60th anniversary of the flight being formed,” said LlanBikeFest’s John Hutchinson.

“Wales has chosen 2017 as the Year of Legends – which is exactly what these aircraft and the crews who flew them are.

“Fingers crossed for great flying conditions. We will keep people posted with the time the flight expected over Llangollen on Facebook and Twitter.”

* Learn more about the Battle Britain Memorial Flight on its Facebook and website pages. Follow LlanBikeFest on Facebook at Llangollen Motorcycle Festival and Twitter at @llanbikefest.

LlanBikeFest is sponsored by Carole Nash Insurance, with day tickets £10 on the gate or online at www.llanbikefest.co.uk, and children 15 and under free. Or contact the Festival office at 07960 693398, office@llanbikefest.co.uk. Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UKIP supplies Clwyd South candidate's details

Details of the UKIP candidate for Clwyd South in the general election have now been supplied.

Jeanette Bassford-Barton (pictured) spent her early years in Gresford and now lives in Bwlchgwyn.

A qualified transport manager, social care manager and now a psychotherapist/hypnotherapist, she gained degrees in Liverpool and Manchester and post-graduate degrees in Liverpool and Chester.

She says she has always had an interest in politics, history and current affairs and in earlier years supported her late husband in local elections in Liverpool.

She has stood as a candidate for UKIP in a council by-election in Llay in July 2015 and was a Welsh Assembly candidate for Wrexham in May 2016.

She has served as secretary/treasurer for UKIP's Wrexham and Clwyd South Branch and is now treasurer of the same branch.

She believes there is a `north/south divide' in Wales and says: "So much is given in funding to South Wales and North Wales, by comparison, is the poor relative.  

"Public transport is a major concern for me. There is restricted access during the day, some buses not starting service until 9.30am. There is no access to public transport in the evenings or at night. This can affect shift workers and people working unsocial hours or people wishing to go out in the evenings. Taxis are very expensive."

Ms Bassford-Barton added: "Communities, health, social care and education are of prime importance and there needs to be more cohesion in these areas.  

"Youth  and the elderly are also of major concern to me and there is very little to offer young people by way of youth clubs and after-school activities in the villages and small towns of Clwyd South and I feel that more funding and training of volunteers should be found to ease and help this situation.

"Our elderly should be looked after and respected, they have worked hard and contributed to the economy in their working lives and now deserve to have some relief in their twilight and sometimes sick, disabled and pain ridden years and this is where our health service can help."  

She says she also believes in the UKIP policy that farming subsidies should stay in place after Brexit, with special consideration being given to hill farmers.

Operatic gets its timing right with 9 to 5


* A scene from 9 to 5 at the Town Hall.

llanblogger review

Llangollen Operatic Society has once again got their timing right with their latest production, the Dolly Parton-penned comedy musical 9 to 5.

Yesterday’s first night audience at the Town Hall lapped up every second of the show which tells the hilarious tale of how a bunch of office worms turn to eventually take over the running of their company – and would easily have come back for seconds.
It’s 1979 and the staff of US-based Consolidated Industries, especially the females amongst them, are being ground down by their chauvinistic boss, Franklin Hart Jnr - until inexperienced new employee Judy Burnley turns up.

Her arrival in the typing pool is the spark for revolution when she teams up with efficient manager Violet Newstead and the voluptuous Doralee Rhodes, the Dolly Parton character who everyone suspects of having an affair with Hart.
Their various strategies ultimately give the good guys control of the place – but only after a great number of laughs are generated.

A terrific trio has been cast to take on the three key roles of the piece which adds some very catchy tunes to dear Dolly’s original words that were filmed for the big screen back in the eighties.
The reserved but gutsy Judy is played to perfection by society stalwart Louisa Jones, while another Llangollen stage favourite Helen Belton shines as Violet. Rising star Louise Cielecki makes a bustling, brilliant Doralee.

Apart from fitting their characters like custom-made cowboy boots each of them can also belt out a mean tune of which there’s a fair spattering throughout the lively two-acter.
Relative newcomer Brett Jones is seedier than an explosion in a tomato canning factory as Hart and, as intended, has the audience hating him right from the start.

Backing up the leads is an impressive supporting team spearheaded by Tessa Orton Jones who stepped in at virtually the last minute to take on the role of Roz Keith, who’d do anything to please the awful boss, after the lady with whom she was originally part-sharing, Justine Bradey, had an accident in rehearsals.
The script demands quite a bit of set-piece show dancing and singing. And that’s admirably provided by a strong ensemble cast.

Smooth musical backing was provided for all this by a six-piece band under the baton of musical director Elen Mair Roberts.

Settings are masterfully created by the back-stage crew and costumes, lighting and sound are up to the society’s usual high standard.
This is an inspired co-production by Alix Rawlinson and Robin Crowley which ranks as another hit for the talented Llangollen team.

To reflect the day’s dreadful news from Manchester, the show was prefaced by one minute’s silence.
9 to 5 is on again tonight (Wednesday) and also Thursday and Friday with two shows on Saturday. Tickets, I understand, are in high demand.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

County lifts computer restrictions

Denbighshire County Council has announced that restrictions imposed on access to webmail addresses from public access computers in the county’s libraries have now been lifted.

The precautionary measures were introduced following the recent cyber issues, to mitigate any potential risks to Denbighshire’s systems. No security breaches had been reported with the Council’s systems.

Whilst access to all webmail is now enabled for libraries (public access) and schools,   the Council is urging people to remain vigilant. Suspicious e-mails should not be opened and should be deleted immediately. People should also avoid opening links sent via an e-mail and should not open any suspicious attachments.

All new incoming e-mails from hotmail.com, hotmail.co.uk, outlook.com, gmail.com, NHS.net, NHS.co.uk and NHS.uk will now be allowed through the system.
 

Trading Standards issues telephone fraud warning

Denbighshire Trading Standards Section are warning residents to be on their guard after they received a report of a telephone fraud from a resident of the county.

The consumer had received a call from a male stating that he was from a Claims Advisory Group and that a £2860 PPI refund was due.

Unusually, the consumer was advised that they would have to pay a release fee in ‘iTunes vouchers’ .

These would be collected by a representative of the company called ‘Craig White’ who would attend their home later that day to drop off the cheque. 

The calls were received from a Manchester telephone number beginning with 0161. Luckily, the consumer realised this was a scam and hung up on the caller.

Denbighshire Public Protection Manager,  Emlyn Jones, said: “This is one of a number of telephone scams we are receiving calls about at the moment.

“In this case we have identified that a further telephone call is received and the ‘I Tunes’ voucher codes are requested over the telephone and then no delivery is made and no money is received.

“We are urging residents to be extremely wary of any unsolicited phone calls and never give out personal or banking details.”
 
Trading Standards is issuing the following consumer safety advice:
  • Consider making your phone number ex-directory.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service
  • Don’t give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.
  • Don’t give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone.
  • NEVER tell somebody your bank PIN number, even if they claim to be the bank or police. If the caller is genuine they will never ask for this information.
  • Don’t give out information which may infer that you live alone, are older or vulnerable.
  • Never send money to anyone who claims to have a prize or refund for you.
Please remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

* If you have received such calls and need further advice or guidance or have been a victim of such a call, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 for the Welsh language line please ring 03454 040505, or alternatively you can report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Plas Newydd news for June




Saturday 3rd June

Llangollen Rotary Club Garden Fete

Plas Newydd is again host this year to the popular Rotary Club Garden Fete.  Come along for a fun afternoon out with the family with many stalls and entertainment. 

Monday 12th June    18.30  -  20.30

Myths & Legends Talk Part 2 with Gill Smith

The Myths and Legends  talk with Gill Smith on Wed 26th April was very well attended  and very informative.  As a result a second was requested and this is now arranged for Monday 12th  June.  This date was chosen as it is the special day of the Warrior Princess Gwenllian. 

Wednesday  14th June   14.00  -  16.00

Give Bowling a go

Meet at Plas Newydd.  Come and try your hand at bowling in the magnificent setting of Plas Newydd with the Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley and the AONB Officer. 

Friday 16th  June   10.00  -  12.00

Meet the Gardener Tour

Meet Plas Newydd.  Find out the secrets of the gardens at Plas Newydd with a tour of the grounds with the gardener.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Strong male voice choir line-up for eisteddfod opener


* Colne Valley Male Voice Choir return to sing at this year's 70th eisteddfod. 

A male voice choir that performed at the first ever Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 1947 will sing alongside two of Wales’ most prolific male voice choirs at the event’s 70th anniversary opening concert on Monday July 3.

Colne Valley Male Voice Choir will join Froncysyllte (Fron) and Rhosllanerchrugog (Rhos) male voice choirs, to perform with the Canoldir Male Voice Chior, Cory Brass Band, conductor Owain Arwel Hughes, euphonium soloist David Childs and Voice of the Future 2015 winner Meinir Wyn Roberts.

Including operatic choruses, classical favourites and some of Wales’ best known hymns, the show is jointly sponsored by Denbighshire County Council and Hamper Llangollen.

Fron Male Voice Choir, like the Eisteddfod, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

Formed in 1947, inspired by the inaugural International Eisteddfod, its history reflects that of the festival with many of its members coming together after returning from war.

Remarkably, two of its original members still sing with the choir.

Joining the Fron is Rhos Male Voice Choir, one of the most successful in Wales and 2015 winners of the male voice choir section at the International Eisteddfod.

The Rhos has also enjoyed a unique hat trick of wins when it took first place in the male voice choir competitions in The Llangollen Eisteddfod, the National Eisteddfod and S4C’s Côr Cymru in 2013.

Colne Valley was the first male voice choir to take the stage at the 1947 event and they remain one of the festival’s most prolific competitors.

The choir boasts six wins – including a hat trick in 1960, 1961 and 1962 - five second and two third prizes, in 23 competitive visits.

Canoldir, a Birmingham-based male choir that was formed on St David’s Day in 1966 by a group of Welsh exiles and some English friends, completes the opening concert’s male voice line-up.

The impressive line up will perform under the baton of Owain Arwel Hughes who has conducted and recorded with many of the world’s leading orchestras.

Eilir Owen Griffiths, Music Director of the International Eisteddfod, said: “The line up for our Monday night opening concert is simply phenomenal and perfectly combines the Eisteddfod’s history and heritage with world class musical talent." 

Bob Jaques, from the organising committee of concert co-sponsor Hamper Llangollen, said: “What a fitting start to the International Eisteddfod’s 70th Anniversary concert schedule. We are looking forward to an evening of rousing classical music and powerful Welsh hymns to get us in the mood for the rest of the week.”

* For more information or to purchase tickets for the 70th anniversary Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, including Llanfest, go to: www.Llangollen.net

Sunday, May 21, 2017

David looks back at a dangerous age in new book

Local author invites llanblogger to review his latest novel

David Ebsworth has produced a new all-action novel which manages to deliver a fascinating history lesson into the bargain.
Despite the rising popularity of books with a military history theme, works about the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s are still not all that common.

And consequently our knowledge of this episode of blood-letting which presaged the Second World War tends to be perhaps a little sparse.
But Until the Curtain Falls by Ebsworth, who already has a handful of historical fiction novels covering periods from the Dark Ages to the Zulu War to his credit, goes a long way to correct this imbalance.


* Author David Ebsworth.
While displaying all the nail-biting drama and plot twists of a classic spy or detective story, it also tells us much about the epic battle of fascism v socialism which is its backcloth.
The book is actually a sequel to the author’s earlier novel, The Assassin’s Mark, which placed left-wing journalist Jack Telford right in the heart of the conflict leading to the rise to power of the dictator Franco who went on to rule Spain with an iron hand until his death in 1975.
In the first novel Telford finds himself in plenty of trouble when a press facility trip to the war-torn country designed to show Franco’s Nationalists in the best possible light takes some seriously sinister turns.

Until the Curtain Falls, set in the closing stage of the war in the autumn of 1938,  takes the plot on from there and places Telford in some even more perilous predicaments.
But he’s no plastic James Bond figure and doesn’t always manage to escape unscathed. Although Telford must at times turn into a killer it’s a reluctant one and in one stomach-churning episode in which he is tortured by a fascist henchman he ends up with a life-changing injury.

The plot roars its way across a Spain where both the landscape and the people are  deeply scarred by civil war – always the most wounding of conflicts – and, thanks to some meticulous research, every step of the way the detail against which Ebsworth sets the action is little short of superb, right down to the correct-for-the-period price of the tickets when Telford spends a night at the theatre.
Every key character is magnificently drawn and the dialogue entirely believable.    

The book pulls no punches either when it comes to its references to Britain’s less than glorious influence on the war which was a dress rehearsal for the much larger conflict destined to erupt in September 1939.
In every sense this book is a cracking read and also an absorbing backward glance at a very dangerous age.

* Until the Curtain Falls is published by Silverwood Books at £10.99. For more information, go to: http://www.davidebsworth.com/until-curtain-falls

Careers in adventure sports up for grabs


* Bodyboating on the River Dee.

Adrenaline junkies are being given the chance to start a new career in adventure sports.

A unique training opportunity is being offered to increase the number of outdoor sports instructors in Denbighshire’s Dee Valley to meet rising demand.

Denbighshire County Council and Cadwyn Clwyd are contributing funding to provide subsidised training sessions on paddle sports, white water rafting and first aid courses.

Antony Fleming-Williams, aged 32, one of the owners of Llangollen-based adventure sports company Bodyboating, said: “The course is an amazing opportunity and offers fantastic value for money for anyone wishing to start or further their career in the outdoor sector.

“I would encourage anyone who wishes to further their employment prospects to sign up.”

Mr Fleming-Williams, who lives near Llangollen, previously ran a cocktail bar in Sheffield and managed restaurants across the UK before moving to the area seven years ago.

He said: “It is a very exciting career. It is a lifestyle choice. I get to spend a lot more time outdoors doing things I enjoy. It is the best career choice I ever made.”

The course, comprising of six sessions, will offer training for new instructors as well as upskilling current qualifications.

Carolyn Brindle, the Council’s lead officer for business support & local growth, said: “The Dee Valley provides the picturesque backdrop to a host of outdoor activities.

“The coming together of tourism businesses under the Dee Valley Active group has enabled them to work together and see each other as assets to the area rather than competition.

“As the group further promotes the destination as an area for outdoor activities, they are mindful they need the capacity to deliver.

“These training courses offer those who enjoy outdoor sport and are looking for a career change the chance to take that all important first step.”

The project was funded by the Council’s Tourism Growth Plan and Cadwyn Clwyd secured  funding through the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities - Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Support and advice has also been provided by the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB.

Donna Hughes, Cadwyn Clwyd’s business partnerships officer, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding to help individuals take the first step into a career in outdoor sports.”

* For more information or to book contact Ceri Lloyd on 01824 712757 or e-mail ceri.lloyd@denbighshire.gov.uk

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Operatic's new show previews at Eagles Meadow


* From back left, Operatic performers Justine Bradey, Helen Benton, who plays Violet, Shea Ferron, 14, who plays Josh. Front from left, Rachel Bingham, Alison Ravenscroft, Biba Baksh-Jones and Lauren Tynan prepare for their 9 to 5 preview at Eagles Meadow.

Shoppers were given a sneak preview of a blockbuster musical in Llangollen.

The music of country legend Dolly Parton had customers dancing and tapping their feet at the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre in Wrexham.

They were entertained by member of the cast of the hit show, 9 to 5, which will be performed by Llangollen Operatic Society at the Town Hall between Tuesday, May 23, and Saturday, May 27.

The show, set in an office in early 1980s New York, charts the journey of three downtrodden women who are brought together in unlikely friendship by their mutual frustration with their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss.

The score is signature Dolly Parton and includes catchy songs with a country and western feel, a couple of big belters and some more poignant numbers.

This is perfectly complimented by Patricia Resnick's witty book, which will certainly have audiences chuckling all the way home.


All the cast members come from the Llangollen and Wrexham areas.

According to direct Robin Cowley, they've worked exceptionally hard learning the 20 iconic songs from the show.

He said: “It’s an amazing story and really good fun. It’s about stereo types, the CEO of the company is a misogynist, egotistical and hypocritical man. The story revolves around three women, Violet, Doralee and Judy and their desire to get even with their boss, overthrow him and lead the company they work for in a much better way.

“And of course they get their dream and introduce change including job share, flexi working and day care. It’s a fun story and a really lively show with a lot of laughs along the way.”

Robin, who trained as an actor at a London theatre school but now works as an insurance salesman, added: “We are delighted that the management of Eagles Meadow have yet again supported us as a society and allowed us time and space to give shoppers and visitors a little taster of the show.

“It’s a real help and we have had a great deal of interest from people keen to hear more about the show. It also gives the cast the chance to perform some of the dances and songs they will be performing on stage before big audiences.

“And during the show Dolly Parton does make an appearance, even if it is part of a projection. So we can rightly claim Dolly is coming to Llangollen!”

Helen Belton, who hails from Wrexham but now lives in Llangollen, plays Violet, one of the lead roles in 9 to 5.

She said: “There is a really good twist at the end of the story. It’s quite a complex story with so many songs and harmonies we have had to perfect. And my character is in all but two scenes so I’m on stage a great deal.

“I’m also enjoying working with Shea Ferron, who is just 14. He plays my son, Josh, in the show. This will be his first show although he is moving up form Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young ’Un’s where he gained lots of experience.”

Helen who works as a private music teacher and community council clerk, added: “I’d encourage anyone who enjoys good music and theatre to get a ticket and come along and see the show.

“The cast involves people aged 14 to almost 60. We have put a great deal of work and effort into the show. Robin is a fantastic director and the fact he trained professionally to be an actor really shows.

“This is my third show with the Llangollen Operatic Society. I’ve previously played Yum Yum in the Mikado and Nettie Fowler in Carousel. I’ve also performed in several other productions with other companies.”

Shea Ferron, 14, a pupil of St Joseph’s School Wrexham, was thrilled to get the call and to have been cast in 9 to 5.

He said: “I really enjoy it. I’ve been in a number of productions with the Young ’Un’s, the youth arm of the society but this will be my debut with the full society. I’ve really enjoyed rehearsals and I’m just looking forward to getting on stage now.”

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are always keen to help community initiatives and Llangollen Operatic Society have been at Eagles Meadow several times to promote their shows.

“It’s always good to give out shoppers and visitors something a little bit different as part of their shopping experience and there is no doubt the 9 to 5 numbers proved very popular. We wish the 9 to 5 cast every success with their new show which I ‘m sure will be a big hit.”

* For tickets to 9 to 5 call Ticket Line on 07814 959680 or visit the Ticket Line website at www.ticketsource.co.uk/llangollenoperaticsociety

Friday, May 19, 2017

Town crier Chem goes hot foot after cash


* Chem gets a feel for the fire on his feet.

When Llangollen’s town crier Austin “Chem” Cheminais says he’d walk over hot coals to help the Wales Air Ambulance he really means it.


Because in September the 63-year-old retired teacher, who has also just become a town councillor, plans to take part in the Year of Legends Fire Walk at Chirk Marina in aid of the high-flying charity.

Over the past few years Chem has raised hundreds of pounds for the air ambulance as a way of saying thank you for the way the Midlands helicopter zoomed in to airlift him to hospital back in 2010 after he was run over twice by a delivery van in the car park of the school in Walsall where he was headmaster at the time.

In his latest fundraising venture, along with other charity dare-devils, he’ll walk over red-hot coals in a bid to raise at least £500 for the air ambulance on the evening of Saturday September 23 outside the Boathouse pub restaurant.
Chem said: “I’m perhaps a little nervous but very excited about the walk. It should be good fun.

“It’s not often you get the chance to try something new and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed.
“I didn’t realise until I needed one that air ambulances get no government funding, so I’ve set a fundraising target of £500.”    

To help spur him on, local artist Chris Burton has penned the cartoon strip (below) imagining the crazy scenes as Chem takes his hot-footed challenge.
* You can sponsor him at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chemshouts 




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Plaid launches its election campaign


* Plaid supporters launch their election campaign with their candidate Chris Allen, centre.

Plaid Cymru in Clwyd South has launched its General Election campaign with the party’s candidate, Chris Allen, promising to fight to ensure that Wales gets the best deal from the Brexit negotiations to secure funds to invest in job creation and infrastructure in the area.

He said: “This area needs a strong MP to stand up for our needs and interests, not an MP who will be dictated to by political bosses in London.

"Now, more than ever, we need a local representative in Westminster who will fight to get funding to create well-paid jobs here, rather than an MP who votes against our interests and for more and more spending on infrastructure for London and the south-east of England.

“Brexit is happening and our voice in Wales must be heard in those negotiations. It will affect our manufacturing industries, tourism and agriculture – all vital parts of the Clwyd South economy."

He added: “Wealth inequality has increased further in recent years and more people are using foodbanks in north-east Wales than ever before. Yet, while we are told that more and more people are in work, the truth is that more and more people are also living in poverty.

"Women and people with disabilities are the hardest hit, and Wales is the poorest nation within the UK. So it’s clear that on June 8 we need to elect a strong group of Plaid Cymru MP’s in order to fight for Wales and ensure that the people of Wales get a fair deal."

Chris Allen is a father of two and lives in Trevor. He’s an engineer by trade and his wife is a teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran.

Eisteddfod music chief to hang up his baton


* Stepping down: Eilir Owen Griffiths.

After six years as Music Director of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Eilir Owen Griffiths will step down from the position after this year’s 70th anniversary festival.

The eisteddfod’s youngest ever MD will leave following this year’s event in July, giving him more opportunity to concentrate on new developments at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, composition projects and also to spend precious time with his young family.

During his tenure, Eilir introduced the Children’s Choir of the World Competition, Voice of The Future and International Voice of Musical Theatre Competition, as well and developing the Outreach and Inclusion Projects, which recently won the Scottish Power Community Award. 

His ambitious programing has also pulled together large scale concerts including Sweeney Todd with a cast of 150, and a star studded Carmen last year. 

He has been integral in drawing national audiences across the border by securing performances from global artists such as Status Quo, UB40, Burt Bacharach, Jools Holland, Caro Emerald and Rufus Wainwright.

He has also sustained high quality artists that the International Eisteddfod is famous for, including Sir Bryn Terfel, Joseph Calleja, Catrin Finch, Noah Stewart, Alison Balsom, Nicola Benedetti and Karl Jenkins, to name just a few.

Prior to his appointment in 2011, Eilir attended the eisteddfod as a competitor and performed in the famous Royal International Pavilion in 1998 with Ysgol Glan Clwyd and with his award-winning choir CF1 in 2010.

Eilir said: “It is difficult to sum up six incredible years. I am proud to be ending my time at the Llangollen Eisteddfod on such a high and it’s such an honour to be bowing out after the 70th anniversary festival. I’m excited to see the team’s hard work culminate in what promises to be a wonderful celebratory year.

“I’ve been lucky that throughout my time as Music Director I’ve been able to work on projects I’m extremely passionate about. From the start I was keen to increase opportunities for young performers to get involved with the festival which is what led me to start the Children’s Choir of the World Competition, Voice of the Future and Young Musician Competitions, which I hope will be a part of my legacy.

“The Music Director’s role is a very challenging one and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the dedicated staff, partners, sponsors and of course the volunteers that have work alongside me for the last six years.”

Speaking of his favorite moments during his time at the Llangollen Eisteddfod, Eilir added: “There have been too many ‘pinch myself’ moments to mention. One was definitely the performance of Sweeney Todd with Sir Bryn Terfel in 2014 and another was when Noah Stewart, the American operatic tenor, performed my original arrangement of Calon Lan in Welsh. To top it off, where else but Llangollen could you sit down and have a post-concert drink with three world-renowned figures, Burt Bacharach, Paul Mealor and Terry Waite?

“I feel content with the six years that I have had as the Music Director of Llangollen. I have a number of fond memories and I hope that I will return in years to come as either an audience member or even compete!

“But before I hang up my hat there is this year’s International Eisteddfod to enjoy. There are so many highlights this year and in particular I am looking forward to enjoying Gregory Porter on Friday 7th July.”

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Chairman, Dr Rhys Davies, added: “Eilir’s unwavering enthusiasm is infectious and it has been a joy to work with him over the past six years, creating unique and memorable festivals each year.

“Eilir’s contribution to the festival programme, through the talent he has signed up to perform and also the competition and community elements he has developed, will be a fitting legacy. Throughout his time with us he has remained true to the core principles of the International Eisteddfod - uniting people together in peace and friendship through music and dance.

“His last eisteddfod continues in the same vein as his previous - diverse, contemporary and star-studded. Bringing together global artists including the Manics, Huw Stephens, Kristine Opolais, Gregory Porter, Sir Bryn Terfel Christopher Tin and Reverend and The Makers on the same line up has been no mean feat. We really can’t wait to see Eilir’s grand finale come together.”

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is currently recruiting for the role of Music Director to start this summer. To apply for the role, contact Chief Operations Officer Siân Eagar at the Llangollen Eisteddfod office on 01978 862 000.

To buy tickets for the 70th anniversary Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, including Llanfest, please visit: www.Llangollen.net

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Story says Aldi set to open on July 13


The Daily Post is reporting today that Llangollen's new Aldi supermarket is to open on Thursday July 13.

For the full story, see: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/business/business-news/aldi-names-llangollen-ghost-supermarket-13048345

County controls access to webmail in libraries

Denbighshire County Council is advising people who normally use computers in the county’s libraries that access to webmail addresses is being temporarily suspended, in light of the recent cyber attacks.

Any incoming e-mails from those addresses will also go into quarantine.

The council says it is taking this step to mitigate any potential risks to Denbighshire’s systems and no security breaches have occurred.

Residents will be informed when the situation changes. People who normally use the following e-mail addresses will not be able to do so whilst the restrictions are in place:

hotmail.com
hotmail.co.uk
outlook.com
aol.com
Yahoo.com
Yahoo.co.uk
NHS.net
NHS.co.uk
gmail.com
NHS.uk

Meanwhile, the council is also urging the public to be generally vigilant with all e-mails received and the advice is not to open any email you are suspicious of, do not click on any links sent to you via an email and not to open any suspicious attachments.

TT legend heading for LlanBikeFest

Legendary 23-times (and counting) Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness will be the guest of honour at LlanBikeFest 2017 –  the Llangollen Motorcycle Festival – at the town’s Royal International Pavilion on August 5 and 6.

And insurance specialist Carole Nash has increased its backing for the fast-growing event, now in its third year.


* John McGuinness.
LlanBikeFest co-founder John Hutchinson said: “Wales has declared 2017 as the Year of Legends, so it is absolutely fitting that John will play a prominent part on both days of the festival.

"John’s a real ‘people person’, so this will be a brilliant opportunity for fans to meet him and pick up a signed copy of his new autobiography, ‘Built For Speed’, which is published in May.

“But LlanBikeFest isn’t all about racing. This year we are making it an even better day out for all the family, with children aged 15 and under get in for free. As well as hundreds of motorcycles of every type on show, together with trials displays and competitions, there will be spectacular mountain bike stunts, birds of prey flights, rides and children’s’ entertainments, plus a great line-up of bands both days.

“Above all, LlanBikeFest is a celebration of all that people love about motorcycles, in a location that has some of the most legendary biking roads in Britain.”

Carole Nash Insurance brokers, sponsor of this year’s festival, will be adding to the highlights by bringing along top custom bike builders, Destiny Cycles, who will be unveiling a stunning motorcycle creation in real gold, called Goldrush (see preview pictures below).

Rebecca Donohue, Head of Marketing at Carole Nash, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be the sponsor of this year’s LlanBikeFest. This year’s event is set to be bigger and better than ever before, and we’re thrilled to be playing a vital role in this by ensuring the Carole Nash stand is full to the brim with exciting biking attractions to wow the crowds.

“We’ll be showcasing some of the UK’s coolest motorcycles which are the perfect prop for an impressive photo, and of course we’ll be handing out lots of Carole Nash goody bags.”

Follow the event and Facebook at Llangollen Motorcycle Festival and on Twitter at @llanbikefest.

Day tickets are £10 on the gate or online at www.llanbikefest.co.uk with children 15 and under free, or contact the Festival office at 07960 693398, office@llanbikefest.co.uk. Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.

* More information and bookings at www.llanbikefest.co.uk.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Food people join forces in Good Grub Club


* Guests mingle at the launch of the Good Grub Club.

An innovative group of Denbighshire and Wrexham farms and businesses have come together to boost the profile of food and drink made, grown or raised within the region. 

Last Thursday farmers and food producers, restaurants, cafes and pubs, and two local delicatessens were at Plas Newydd to launch the Good Grub Club with the aim of improving the availability and visibility of food and drink produced within 15 miles of the Dee Valley.

The expectation is that by improving the sourcing and quality of food and drink available, visitors and residents will buy more food locally, strengthening the local economy and encouraging return visits from tourists who have enjoyed our local cuisine. 

Several landmark restaurants in the Dee Valley are leading the way – the Corn Mill, the Chainbridge Hotel, and Gales of Llangollen are members, as are both delicatessens in Llangollen, Porters and Baileys.

Food producers involved include Sabor de Amor, The Cabin Kitchen, Temptations Bakery and The Bakehouse. Treflach Farm and Pen Y Lan Pork are just a couple of the farms who have joined, keen to explore new business opportunities that will grow from this collaboration.

In the first year, the club intends to boost marketing for all member businesses, increasing their profile locally and across the region.

It also plans to organize frequent networking opportunities to help members get to know each other and explore business opportunities.

As further funding is secured, the club will offer introductory and masterclass training opportunities, particularly targeting young people with an interest in working in the local food and drink sector.

The club hopes to work closely with Hamper Llangollen (October 14/15) to capitalize on shared marketing and business opportunities. 

Funding for the Good Grub Club has come from Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, and the Denbighshire County Council Economic Development Team.

David Shiel, AONB Senior Countryside Officer, said: “The Dee Valley is an outstanding landscape producing some fantastic food and supporting a large part of the rural economy from farmers and growers to producers and retailers. 

"We are extremely pleased to be supporting this initiative that will really strengthen these relationships and put good food at the heart of the experience of people visiting this beautiful area.”  

Robyn Lovelock, Club Secretary and founder of the Llangollen Food Assembly, said: "The focus of the club is on promoting quality local food and drink, ensuring that both top end steaks from the cows on our hillsides to the tastiest leeks growing in our valley get the profile they deserve among tourists and residents alike.”

* For more information about the club or to register as a member, please contact us via Facebook @LlanGoodGrub or email DeeValley.GoodGrubClub@gmail.com.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Operatic members work 9-5 on perfecting new show


* From left, Helen Belton who plays Violet Newstead, 
Louise Cielecki as Doralee Rhodes
and Louisa Jones as Judy Bernly in 9-5. 

Members of Llangollen Operatic Society have been working 9 to 5 rehearsing for their forthcoming production of Dolly Parton's hit musical, based on the film of the same name.

The show, set in an office in early 1980s New York, charts the journey of three downtrodden women who are brought together in unlikely friendship by their mutual frustration with their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss.

The score is signature Dolly Parton and includes catchy songs with a country and western feel, a couple of big belters and some more poignant numbers.

This is perfectly complimented by Patricia Resnick's witty book, which will certainly have audiences chuckling all the way home.

Society spokesperson Louisa Jones said: "The cast and crew have put in an enormous amount of work over the past few months to produce a spectacle of the standard to which our audiences have become accustomed.

"Indeed, we are all thrilled to once again be up for three NODA nominations for last year's production of "The Producers" and this year's show already promises to be great."

9 to 5 - The Musical will be performed at Llangollen Town Hall from Tuesday 23rd to Saturday 27th May.

Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start and there will also be a matinee on the Saturday, starting at 2.30pm.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/llangollenoperaticsociety or from Jade's Hair and Beauty, Gwyn Davies Butchers or Bailey's in Llangollen.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Lib Dems choose their election candidate

The Welsh Lib Dems have selected their candidate for Clwyd South.

Bruce Roberts (pictured) was born and brought up in Wrexham and has lived and worked in the area almost all his life.

He is married to Anna who is a local primary school teacher. His three children were all educated at Ysgol Clywedog and Yale College/Coleg Cambria.

After completing degrees in Physics and Philosophy and then a short spell in scientific research he trained as a chartered accountant. He started his own business in 1997 and has provided accountancy services to small local businesses since then.

Mr Roberts was chair of governors at Victoria Infant School for a number of years and has served on two different community councils. He has been involved in the governance of Glyndwr University for almost 10 years and is currently chair of its audit committee.

He has also volunteered as a charity trustee and also as a business mentor for The Prince’s Trust and Careers Wales.

Mr Roberts has previously stood in a number of elections.

He says he believes that politics is about getting things done in sensible and rational manner and not necessarily about making a noise for the sake of newspaper headlines and retweets on Twitter.

His particular political interests are in education and the economy, including tax policy.

In his spare time he can be found swimming or canoeing long distances in lakes and rivers or walking in the hills.

Step aboard for railway's trip back to Victorian times


* Preparing to step back to Victorian times on Llangollen Railway.  

Llangollen Railway hosts its Victorian Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.

The aim is to allow visitors to experience life as it was over 100 years ago through the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the recreated era.

Victorian characters will give you a fascinating insight into different aspects of Victorian life on and off the rails.

Visitors can also:

  • Step on board one of our historic steam-hauled trains and journey 10 miles through the picturesque Dee Valley to the town of Corwen.
  • Take a look inside our Victorian station at Berwyn and discover what life was like for a Victorian stationmaster.
  • Learn new skills in the tented circus workshop and witness displays by our costumed street entertainers.
  • Marvel at the sight of Queen Victoria and her royal entourage visiting the Dee Valley.
  • Regular shire horse demonstrations at Carrog, plus special horse-drawn boat trips between Berwyn and Llangollen.
  • Learn how the Victorians fought fires with steam power.
  • Witness traditional railway sights as parcels and goods are loaded and unloaded along the line.
  • Live music from historic musical organs along the line and Llangollen Male Voice Choir.
  • Explore original documents and artefacts charting the construction of our railway back in the 1860s.

A new feature for 2017 is the railway's time travelling experience, stepping back 60 years at a time.

Llangollen station has been transformed to how it would have looked during Eisteddfod Week 1957, complete with live music.

You can climb on board one of its historic steam hauled trains to steam back another 60 years to 1897 at Berwyn – Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Year.

A traditional Street Fair can be found at Carrog station, complete with rides, stalls and horse power.

There's also a chance to learn new skills in the tented circus workshop and watch displays by costumed street entertainers.

At Corwen, visitors can head into the true Victorian town to experience photographic displays and appropriately dressed shops.

Look out for Queen Victoria and her royal entourage as they make a special visit to the Dee Valley.

* For full details and to book advance discounted tickets online, visit: https://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/event/victorian-weekend-14th-may-2/

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Llangollen Railway Station on the big screen


* A scene from the black and white film shot on Llangollen Station in 1896.

New Dot Community Cinema's next screening, tomorrow (Friday) evening, includes some rarely seen train footage with local connections.

In addition to the main feature, which is Buster Keaton's masterful The General, two well-chosen short films will be on the programme.

The whole evening has been designed to complement Llangollen Railway's Victorian Weekend which is this Saturday and Sunday.

The first short is one of the very first 'moving pictures'. Incredibly it was shot in 1896 and shows Victorian men and women waiting on the platform at Llangollen station in top hats and full-length skirts.
The camera was strapped to the front of a steam train as it follows the line from the direction of Ruabon and long-gone buildings can be made out along the way.

The second vintage short is The Elizabethan Express, a British Transport Film from the 1950s with a rhyming narration.

It features a non-stop service from London to Edinburgh and focuses on the human side, as well as the gleaming brass and oiled steel.

Interestingly, the retro buffet car featured in the film can now be found on Llangollen Railway itself.

Buster Keaton is a well-known star of 1920s silent films. In the main feature, the General is the name of his character's much-loved train during the American Civil War.

This entrancing action-comedy-thriller will quickly make you forget there's no audible dialogue.
Tickets are available at the door or online.

New Dot Cinema has just released its new programme which has a nicely balanced mix of films from challenging to feel-good.

Friday May 12, 7.30pm for 8pm (ends 10pm, includes an intermission.)

Tickets: £8 adult, £6 concession, £5 child, £4 Victorian costume.

They screen once a month upstairs at Llangollen Town Hall on Castle Street and more information can be found at www.newdotcinema.org or on their Facebook page: @NewDotCinema

Labour launches Clwyd South election campaign


* Susan Elan Jones, centre, and supporters launch her campaign for Clwyd South.  

Welsh Labour’s Susan Elan Jones launched her re-election campaign promising to be the “local and loyal” candidate in Clwyd South.

Launching her campaign at Ty Mawr Country Park in Cefn Mawr, Ms Jones said: “I was born and brought up in Clwyd South and as MP I worked tirelessly for the area I love.

“If re-elected, I will continue to champion our local businesses, voluntary organisations and social enterprises such as Brymbo Heritage Group and Plas Madoc Leisure Centre, oppose Tory/UKIP plans to privatise our NHS and campaign for more investment in local health services, including a new facility for Cefn Mawr.

“I will stand up against Tory austerity which hits the most vulnerable, including disabled people, hardest and fight Tory plans for a hard Brexit which fails to put Welsh jobs and the interests of working people first. I will also continue to promote our local cultural economy, including Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and the Welsh language.”

Retired vicar of Pentre Broughton, Rev R Glynne Owen said: “One of Susan's best qualities is how she works with and for everyone. I know many people of different political persuasions who will be supporting Susan because they know she’ll always put our area first.”

Former Mayor of Llangollen, Bob Lube, said: “Susan has worked incredibly hard as our MP, helping protect us from the worst of Tory cuts to public spending in Wales. It would be a crying shame if she was replaced by a career politician who doesn't live here.”

Assembly Member Ken Skates said local council results in Clwyd South last week showed the level of support for Welsh Labour remained high.

“We held five seats in Clwyd South, with all sitting councillors returned, and made superb gains in Chirk and Llangollen, topping the polls in both areas. We also increased our overall number of councillors in the constituency.

“At the General Election, the fight is between Susan – who comes from and cares about our community – and the Tories. A vote any other party will simply help the Tories sneak in.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tory chief whip visits Llan as campaigning begins


*From left, Gavin Williamson, Chris Smith and Simon Baynes.

Simon Baynes, the Welsh Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Clwyd South, brought the Government Chief Whip Gavin Williamson MP, to visit shops, restaurants and other businesses in Llangollen yesterday (Tuesday) morning including the new ice cream shop Flavours run by Chris Smith on Abbey Road opposite the Llangollen Steam Railway.

Simon Baynes said: "Llangollen looked its best today in the sunshine and Mr Williamson was very impressed by the range of shops and businesses in the centre of Llangollen and wished everyone a very successful summer season this year.

"Tourism is so important to Llangollen and we must do all within our powers to help and encourage it."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Make a bee-line for Plas Newydd on May 27



* You could become a busy bee at Plas Newydd on May 27. 

People are invited to Plas Newydd on Saturday May 27, between 11am and 4pm, to celebrate all things bee friendly. 

You can help Chester Zoo discover bumblebees, join the Wildlife Trust in their outdoor lab, or follow the busy bee trail. 

There will be honey tasting, face painting, and a prize for the best pollinator fancy dress.
The event is part of a local bid for Llangollen to become a Bee Friendly Town in a new national accreditation scheme launched by Welsh Government and Friends of the Earth Cymru. 
Right now bees are facing decline due to habitat loss, exposure to harmful pesticides, and climate change. 

Bees pollinate fruit and vegetables and without them Friends of the Earth estimates that it would cost farmers at least £1.8 billion a year to hand pollinate crops. 
The scheme aims to raise awareness and improve conditions for pollinators through providing pollinator-friendly food sources, places for insect pollinators to live, decreasing the use of harmful chemicals, and involving the whole community in having fun helping pollinators. 
Launching the new scheme, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “While the focus of the campaign is very much on encouraging people to get involved in an enjoyable way there is a serious message too.  Pollinators are in decline and this risks our capacity to produce food, timber and fibre.”
Local group coordinator Sarah Slater said: “We’re really hoping lots of people will join us at Plas Newydd on the 27th for an exciting day out. 

"We’ll have lots of activities and stalls for adults and children of all ages, and people can learn about fun ways to protect pollinators in their local areas.  Hopefully with the support of local people Llangollen can become a Bee Friendly Town.”

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Incident closes A5 between Fron and Cefn Mawr

UPDATE

* The incident now appears to be over with the road open again ....


Just before 12noon today (Sunday) Traffic Wales was reporting on its website an incident which it says has closed the A5 in both directions from Fron to Cefn Mawr.

The incident is described as "severe".