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Monday, July 24, 2017

Fabulous old cars on display at Glyndyfrdwy

As part of its 1960s weekend, Llangollen Railway held a classic car show on the field next to Glyndyfrdwy Station.

llanblogger went along yesterday (Sunday) to picture some of the fantastic old metal on display.

* 1953 Ford Prefect.

* 1934 Packard.

* 1970 MGB GT.

* Late 1950s Vauxhall Cresta.

* 1930s Rolls Royce.

* 1960s Volvo 1800.

* 1960s Cadillac.

* 1960s Jaguar Mk. II.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

County urges people to check broadband speeds

People in Denbighshire are being urged to make sure they are getting the best broadband speeds.

The county council is asking residents and businesses to test their broadband connection speeds via Ofcom’s website and to check with their Internet Service Providers when their current non-superfast contracts are due to end.

The council has also written to residents who it understands will be unable to access superfast broadband after the end of the current Superfast Cymru programme in December, providing them with advice on alternative solutions to improve speeds.

The Welsh Government’s website hosts a checker to confirm which premises have access to superfast speeds.

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, leader of Denbighshire County Council, said: “Unfortunately broadband providers don’t always update customers about the full range of products available to them. The Welsh Government checker is an independent source which can tell residents and businesses if they can access superfast broadband.

“It is also easy to forget when your contract is due for renewal and people who could get superfast may find themselves unnecessarily tied into slow speeds for a further year if they automatically renew existing contracts.

“Helping residents and businesses to access superfast broadband is part of the council’s work to unlock the economic benefits high quality broadband can bring to communities and businesses.”

Councillor Richard Mainon, the council’s lead member for Developing Community Infrastructure, said: “The council has previously expressed its disappointment at information released by the Welsh Government on which properties in the county will not get access to fibre broadband through its Superfast Cymru programme.

“Although a second programme is due to get underway next year, there are no guarantees properties currently unable to access superfast broadband will get this opportunity in the next phase.

“The Council has identified properties in the county that cannot access superfast broadband and is helping residents and communities access information on available funding at”

The Welsh Government’s superfast broadband availability checker is at

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MP wants to hear from attacked emergency services staff

* Susan Elan Jones MP, fourth from right, outside Parliament
with emergency staff, Chris Bryant MP and other co-sponsors of the
Crime (Assaults on Emergency Staff) Bill.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones, who is co-sponsoring a ground-breaking parliamentary bill, is calling on local emergency workers to contact her if they have ever been attacked in the course of their duties.

She is a co-sponsor of Rhondda MP Chris Bryant's Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill.

It aims to make attacks on emergency workers such as police, fire and ambulance crews an aggravated offence.

Ms Jones said: "Although it's already an offence to attack a police office in the course of their duties, there's widespread acknowledgement that few people get prosecuted and the sentences that are handed out are far too weak.

"Doctors, nurses and paramedics don't have additional legal protection at all which is dreadful when a survey last December showed hospital staff in Wales were physically attacked more than 18,000 times at work over the last five years.

"I invite any constituent who works in emergency services and who has ever been assaulted in the course of their duties to email me in confidence on if they'd like me to speak in Parliament about what happened to them.

"No-one should be attacked when they're just doing their job - and the criminals who attack our emergency service personnel should have to face tougher sentences. I think it's high time our law did more to protect the people who work so hard in our emergency services."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Art competition prizes are presented

* The Mayor, Cllr Sheena Burrell, with painting category winner Terence Edmonds and his picture entitled Blue Myfanwy.  

* The photograph category winner Mystical Dinas Bran. Its creator, Dawn Field, wasn't present.

* Amongst those highly commended was Jillian Handley for her painting Modern Day Legend, depicting well-known Llan character Wyn Hughes. She is pictured, right, with Sue Hall of Plas Newydd.

* Colourful entries in the children's category now on display.

Town Mayor, Cllr Sheena Burrell, presented prizes to the winners of this year's Picturesque Art Competition at Y Caban in Plas Newydd yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

Once again the competition was organised in conjunction with Llangollen Fringe.    

This year it linked in with the Welsh Year of Legends and extended to the whole of the Dee Valley as represented by the Area for Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Organisers were looking for any photo or painting/sketch from children or adults with a link to a myth or a legend in this area. 

Entries were judged by local professional artist Tikki Lowe.

Winner of the adults' photograph category was Dawn Field for Mystical Dinas Bran and the prize was lunch for four people at Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Mold.

The adults' painting first prize went to Terence Edmonds for his picture Blue Myfanwy. His prize was lunch for four people in Plas Newydd Tea Rooms.

Legend has it that Blue Myfanwy of the Dee is a greedy, lustful goddess who is up for anything and loves a bacon sandwich. She is also said to favour the International Eisteddfod and the Fringe Festival.

Highly commended for their paintings were Jan Murray (Celtic Legend), Jillian Handley (Modern Day Legend), Mike Flory (A Flash in Time), Irene C Bingham (Bran), Tina Rogers (Quest for the Grail) and Richard Buxton (The Salmon of Knowledge). Commended photographer was John Pugh (Maeneg Ellylyn - Foxgloves and Fairies).

Children's prizes were also presented. In first place was Mathilda Sutcliffe, aged eight, for Steve Your Soup is Legend. Her prize was a £25 voucher donated by the Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.

Second prize of £10 to spend in the Craft and Hobbies Shop, donated by shop owner Rob, went to Lily Anderson, 13, for her Branwen ar drudwy, and third prize, £5 in cash donated by local artist Mike Flory, was awarded to Madison Byers, nine, for her picture Giant.

All entries will be on show in The Potting Shed exhibition space in the grounds of Plas Newydd until Saturday August 5.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

County offers free cyber security help

Businesses are being offered free help to protect themselves from the growing threat of cybercrime.

Denbighshire County Council is providing a workshop to businesses on Cyber Essentials, a UK Government backed, industry-supported, foundation for basic cybersecurity.

The one-day course will be delivered by Ruthin-based cyber and information security specialists Safonda and covers the Cyber Essentials framework, best practice to mitigate cybersecurity risks  and understanding external and internal cyber threats to businesses.

Denbighshire businesses are being offered a free place on this course, normally £70 per person.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council, said: “National and global reports of IT security breaches are now unfortunately becoming common place.

“While attacks are increasingly sophisticated, businesses of all sizes remain vulnerable because they are failing to follow simple security measures.

“The course is relevant to any size of business and is intended for company directors, business and finance managers and any staff responsible for the security of IT systems and software.

“This is part of the council’s work on developing the local economy by helping local businesses understand what they can do to make themselves resilient to the growing threat from cybercrime.”

The course will take place at Caledfryn, Smithfield Road, Denbigh on July 27, starting at 9.30am.

Mayor to present art competition prizes

* Plas Newydd where the art competition entries will go on show in Y Caban.

Town Mayor, Cllr Sheena Burrell, will present prizes to the winners of this year's Picturesque Art Competition at Y Caban in Plas Newydd at 2pm today (Thursday).

People will also have the chance to winning entries at a special exhibition.  

Once again the competition was organised in conjunction with Llangollen Fringe.    

This year it linked in with the Welsh Year of Legends and extended to the whole of the Dee Valley as represented by the Area for Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Organisers were looking for any photo or painting/sketch from children or adults with a link to a myth or a legend in this area. 

There are many myths and legends abounding in these beautiful hills and valleys, from King Arthur and the Holy Grail to Giants, Dragons  and magic cauldrons.  

There were two categories this year, one for photos and  one for paintings/sketches.  Both were open to adults and children.

Entries will be on show in The Potting Shed exhibition space in the grounds of Plas Newydd until Saturday August 5. 

Prizes were awarded for children up to 16 and adults in both categories.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

County issues traveller floods warning

Denbighshire County Council is urging people to be extremely cautions if they are travelling in northern parts of the county.

The council says it has seen an increase in the number of calls late this afternoon as a result of the storms affecting northern parts of the county. This is due to the amount of rain that has fallen in a short space of time.

There are reports of flooding affecting parts of Rhyl, Rhuddlan and Prestatyn.  Roads in Rhuddlan have been described as being “impassable”.

Reports have been received of roads affected by flooding:
·        Waterfall Road, Dyserth
·        Pen y Maes, Rhyl
·        Garford Road, Rhyl
·        Ffordd Derwen, Rhyl
·        Vale Road, Rhyl
·        Cefndy Road, Rhyl
·        Oakhill Drive, Prestatyn
·        Ffordd Penrhwylfa, Prestatyn
·        Ffordd Parc Bodnant, Prestatyn
·        Vicarage Lane, Rhuddlan

The council has closed parts of Rhyl  Leisure Centre and Nova, Prestatyn as the storms on the coast have caused water to enter the buildings via the roof and also up through the floor drains which have been unable to cope with the volume of water in such a short space of time.

Prestatyn Leisure Centre will be closed this evening due to flood damage.

There are also problems with flooding at Prestatyn High School, with two classrooms and a corridor affected. The school will be closed on Thursday as a result.

There are also reports of problems at Ysgol Clawdd Offa.

Staff from the council are working with colleagues from the emergency services to respond to the situation and  will monitor weather forecasts for the latest updates.

Railway swings back to the sixties this weekend

* A 1960s Triumph on show at last year's classic car rally at Glyndyfrdwy Station. 

Llangollen Railway is heading back to the Swinging Sixties this weekend.

Saturday and Sunday  will see the eighth year of its special 1960s-themed event, featuring a classic car rally at Glyndyfrdwy Station, free vintage bus rides plus an intensive timetable of steam, diesel and rail cars.

Dr Beeching’s real ale bar will be open all weekend in the Henry Robertson suit on Llangollen station serving nine draught ales, bottled larger, wines and much more.

Saturday evening will be the highlight of the event when musical group Sixties Retro will play live on platform 2 at Llangollen station.

Sharp suited and booted, the group will bring on back the good times with all the hits of the decade, including numbers by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, The Byrd’s, The Searchers, The Beach Boys and many more.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Revised school transport policy approved

Denbighshire County Council’s revised school transport policy has been approved  by the Cabinet.
The current Home to School Transport Policy came into force from September 2015, after agreement by Council in 2014 with a review of the policy planned after 12 months of operation.
Today (Tuesday), at the Cabinet meeting at County Hall, Ruthin councillors were updated on feedback to the recent consultation on the revised policy, now known as Denbighshire’s Learner Transport Policy.
Over 13,000 letters were sent to families, as well as schools, councillors, AMs, MPs, colleges and governing bodies, as well as consultation with 73 students representing Denbighshire’s secondary schools.
79 responses were received to the consultation, with the majority supportive of the draft policy. The issue of Welsh school categorisation was raised, particularly in reference to Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch, with some concerns that pupils may move to Ysgol Pant Pastynog, to be eligible for free school transport to Ysgol Glan Clwyd.
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire’s Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, said: “Councillors recognised that there were pockets of concern regarding certain elements of the current policy and we have addressed these concerns as and when they have arisen. This  triggered the need to look at the way we executed policy and question if it was fair, flexible and meet the needs of the children and families.
“We agreed when we implemented the policy that it would be reviewed after one year of operating. That review has now taken place and has taken into consideration feedback from schools, parents, councillors and advice through legal discussions.
“The new policy clarifies the Council’s position with regards to pick-up points and hazardous routes, with a previously separate guidance note being incorporated into the latest policy. This is a more flexible and far policy which give a clear appeals process. As with the current policy, the Council would continue to provide free transport to the nearest suitable Welsh language or Faith school, if this was the parental / carers preference.
“We are extremely grateful to people for getting involved in the consultation and this is a demonstration of councillors listening to residents and making the changes for the benefit of our children."

Hamper Llangollen means £8m boost for economy

* A taste of Africa in Wales ... James and Nicola Adedeji from Bim's Kitchen.

One of the first food festivals in Wales is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a record number of stallholders and an £8 million boost for the economy.

Llangollen Food Festival was founded in 1997 and pioneered food tourism by creating a shop window for home grown producers.

Since then the event has gone from strength to strength, annually attracting around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide.

As a result, it's been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.

It's estimated the festival pumps nearly £400,000 into the local economy every year, making a total of £8 million since it started two decades ago.

This year's festival is on October 14 and 15 and once again it will be held at the iconic Llangollen Pavilion.

Committee member Pip Gale said: "We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and this year the festival is going to be bigger and better than ever so we'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary in style.

"We're heading for a record number of around 130 stallholders with a fantastic choice of produce, along with demonstrations from the region's finest chefs so there will be plenty to tempt the taste buds.

"I'm glad to say we're also making a positive contribution the local economy with food lovers travelling from far and wide because the festival is now firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK's culinary calendar."

Among the first to congratulate the festival on reaching the important milestone was Ken Skates, the Clwyd South AM who is also the Welsh Government's Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, whose portfolio includes tourism.

He said: “Llangollen Food Festival is an incredible success and a great annual occasion for the Dee Valley.

"The economic benefits that the festival brings to the area are considerable and underline the region's growing reputation as a go-to destination for food lovers.

"Food tourism is something I believe has huge potential for future growth and it is no wonder that North Wales has been hailed as one of the world's top four must see places to go by The Lonely Planet travel guide."

It was a sentiment echoed by Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism, which represents around 1.500 tourism businesses in the region.

He said: "We are entering a golden age for the visitor economy in North Wales and the increasing importance of food tourism is playing its part in our overall success.

"As one of the first and most successful food festivals in Wales, the Llangollen Food Festival has been a trailblazer for culinary excellence and I would like to congratulate them on reaching their 20th anniversary."

The regular stallholders at the festival include a husband and wife team whose African-inspired sauces made at their base in Afonwen have won a wealth of top food industry accolades.

Bim’s Kitchen, the brainchild of James and Nicola Adedeji, are preparing to unveil their latest culinary creations at this year’s event on October 14 and 15.

James said: “The festival offers a direct route to our customers. People are able to taste our products before they buy and you get great feedback from them and can gauge their reaction.”

Another big fan of the festival is artisan bread and pie maker Robert Didier from Wrexham-based Orchard Pigs.

He said: "Llangollen Food Festival is fantastic and it's not difficult to see why it has been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by not just one but two national newspapers."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fringe's Wilko Johnson concert cancelled

Bosses of Llangollen Fringe Festival say that Wednesday's concert by Wilko Johnson at the Pavilion on Wednesday night has had to be cancelled.

The move comes after his management informed them on Sunday afternoon that his bassist and very close friend of many years, Norman Watt-Roy, had suffered a heart attack on Saturday evening and has been hospitalised.

A statement says: "Following the decision to cancel the concert the directors of Llangollen Fringe would like to send Norman Watt-Roy our best wishes for a speedy recovery and have made the following arrangements:
  • A concert will be held in Llangollen Town Hall on Wednesday 19th July. It will be a FREE concert and will be headlined by The Delta Radio Band with support from Captain Zed.
  • All those who have purchased tickets for the Wilko Johnson will be refunded the full price of the ticket and be invited to attend the free event.
  • Refunds will be made via Paypal for all internet sales.
  • Those who have purchased tickets from our outlets in Llangollen will be able to get a full refund by returning the tickets to the box office outside Llangollen Town Hall during the festival.
  • Those unable to return the tickets for a refund should get in touch with us at: so that a refund can be arranged.
"We have asked Wilko Johnson’s agent to consider arranging for Wilko to appear at the 2018 Fringe. And they have provided the following statement:

“Firstly thanks for your understanding & good wishes for Norman’s recovery. Wilko never likes to disappoint his fans & looks forward to being able to play Llangollen next year.” Nigel Kerr, ABS Agency

The Fringe statement adds: "Although it is too early to confirm details, we hope that they will be able to arrange for supporters in North Wales and the North West to see Wilko in Llangollen with his band in July next year.

"We know that it will be a huge disappointment to fans of Wilko and Norman but also hope that you will join us in offering our best wishes to Norman for his speedy recovery."

Flying Millyard will thunder into LlanBikeFest

* Its creator aboard the Flying Millyard which is heading for LlanBikeFest.

One of the most outrageous motorcycles ever built will thunder 190 miles from its creator’s home in Berkshire to the Llangollen Motorcycle Festival on August 5 and 6.

Engineer Allen Millyard used two cylinders with pistons (pictured below) the size of saucepans from a 1942 Pratt and Whitney Wasp aircraft engine to build his superbly crafted 4,894cc V-twin Flying Millard.

Motorcycle journalist Roland Brown described it in a road test it as “mad but wonderful - like a two-wheeled Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”.

Revving at an earth-shaking maximum of 1800rpm and generating around 80bhp, Allen is also planning to ride it up the Horseshoe Pass to the Ponderosa Café during the festival.

“My bikes are built to be used,” he said. “I’ve ridden the Flying Millyard 4,500 miles to shows and events across the UK, including the Isle of Man, Isle of Wight and Guernsey. I am really looking forward to riding around LlanBikeFest and hope others will enjoy it.”

* 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, and children 15 and under free. Or contact the Festival office at 07960 693398, Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Company's successful night at the eisteddfod

A Llangollen company is celebrating a successful time at the eisteddfod.

Translation specialists Linguassist, based in the Malt House on Regent Street, says it had a wonderful evening as the official sponsor of the Friday evening concert at this year’s festival which starred American singer Gregory Porter.

Here company boss Graham Paton receives a certificate of thanks from eisteddfod president Terry Waite for the support given to the event.

* For more details about the company, go to: .

Sunday, July 9, 2017

llanblogger takes short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in about a week's time.

Thanks for keeping on reading.

American singers named Choir of the World

* The Aeolians of Oakwood University from the USA were named Choir of the World.

The 70th anniversary of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod came to an exciting climax last night as two international groups won the dance and choral competitions’ highest accolades.

After a thrilling final, The Aeolians of Oakwood University from the USA were named Choir of the World, while Northern Irish dance group, Loughgiel Folk Dancers were crowned Dance Champions of the World. 

Loughgiel’s supporters were in great voice as the dance group spilled onto the stage to collect the Lucille Armstrong Trophy in a sea of happy tears and red frocks. 

But the pavilion erupted as the US choir was announced as Choir of the World 2017 by the International Eisteddfod music director, Eilir Owen Griffiths. 

The singers bolted across the pavilion form their seats and stormed the stage, holding American flags aloft and posing for selfies with the Pavarotti Trophy and their esteemed conductor Max Johnson Ferdinand, who had just been awarded the Outstanding Conductor Award.

The evening concert, which was sponsored by GHP Legal, saw the very best of international choral and dance talent battle it out on the stage of the Royal International Pavilion for the prestigious awards and also featured special appearances from The Overtones.

The UK’s number one vocal harmony group, The Overtones, opened the show, setting the upbeat tone for the evening. Performing a range of much-loved classics including Pretty Woman, Let’s Stay Together and How Sweet It Is, the charming quintet had the audience swaying in their seats.

Suitably warmed up for the main event, spectators were the treated to exceptional performances by the winners of each of the choral group categories, from the mixed category CYWAIR (Wales), from the female category Grupo Vocal “Amitié” (Spain), from the Open category, Cor Glanaethwy (Wales), from the male Men in Blaque (USA) and from the youth category, The Aeolians of Oakwood University.

After a short interval the three highest scoring groups from the dance categories took to the stage to perform for the chance to lift the coveted Lucille Armstrong Trophy. 

The competition opened with a cheerful traditional performance from Scotland’s Corryvrechan, before the Gabhru Panjab De Bhangra Dancers from India took over the stage in a riot of colour and noise, performing a dance connected to harvest time. But it was Loughgiel Folk Dancers who stole the show, with a flawless routine that reflected a beating heart and the blood coursing through the body.

Already two-time winners of the Dance Champions of the World title (2014, 2015), the troupe also made International Eisteddfod history earlier in the week during the Open Floor Dance category, scoring the first ever perfect score of 100/100 that the competition has ever seen.

Resplendent in sparkling dinner jackets, The Overtones returned to the stage while adjudicators considered the eight world-class performances. After praising the talent of the groups that had performed the five admitted they’d ‘never been to a festival quite like this one’, before teasing the crowd that they had been ‘spectators for long enough’ encouraging a joyful sing-a-long of Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Following the presentations the concert concluded, as is traditional, with the pavilion joining hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, bringing the International Eisteddfod’s 70th anniversary competitions to a close.

New Dot heads back to the 80s with its next film

As part of this year's Llangollen Fringe Festival, New Dot Cinema is holding another of its special gala evenings - this time with a 1980s theme.

On Thursday July 13 Llangollen Town Hall will become Club Tropicana for the evening celebrating the decade's VHS video cassettes, slogan t-shirts and big hair.

The main feature is ‘Sing Street’, a feel good coming-of-age film with a 12A certificate.

It’ll be seamlessly followed by an old school 1980s disco, with music cherry-picked by DJ Stonewash (see @NewDotCinema on facebook for more details.)

* A scene from Sing Street.
The film is set in Dublin during the eighties. It was one of last year’s best-loved indie films and has a soundtrack featuring hits from the period combined with newly written work.

The story is a classic boy meets girl and stars young actors from Ireland who were new to being on the big screen. Their freshness, talent (and voices) shine out, coached by director, John Carney.

Fifteen-year old Conor has just been moved from his fancy private school to a rough state school and he’s not fitting in.

One day he sees Raphina, a beautiful, aspiring model and to impress her, he invites her to be in his band’s video.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a band never mind a video. He quickly rounds up a motley collection of classmates. With a bit of eyeliner and a lot of hair gel, they turn themselves into a band, but the path of true love never runs smoothly.

It’s the start of Fringe Festival season, so dig out those shoulder pads from the back of the wardrobe and join New Dot under the glitter ball, going back to the eighties.

More information on Facebook, Twitter and

Tickets are available online, in Baileys Deli Llangollen and on the door, priced from £7 to £10. Fringe Festival Pass holders get in free.

Doors open at 7:30pm with the film starting at 8pm and ending at 9:45pm. The music stops at 12 midnight and entry just to the disco is available for £4 from 10pm.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Smooth operator Porter wows Pavilion crowd

Early on in the concert he confessed he was having trouble pronouncing the word ‘Llangollen’.

But soon afterwards he was slipping the name of the town effortlessly into the lyrics of one of his songs and receiving a massive hoot of approval from the capacity audience for his trouble.

And that’s precisely how Gregory Porter handles everything … oh so smoooothly.

* Gregory Porter on stage last night.
Picture: Jeanette Robinson Images
The Californian singer/songwriter, who was starring in last night’s concert at the Eisteddfod, has a voice like double cream which he poured liberally and extremely pleasingly over an eclectic mix of modern jazz, soul, R&B and even an old MOR hit by one of his heroes, Nat King Cole.

Many of the numbers were from his own pen and the first few bars of them brought whoops of recognition and approval from the partisan crowd.

Everything was handled with supreme ease, from the up-tempo stuff to the slow and soulful tunes designed to make you think about what life and love is all about.

When he was swingin’ he was really going for it and when he being dreamy he was so laid back that you thought he might fall over. And we lapped up every nuance.

Out front of his masterful band of musicians, on two types of piano, drums, trumpet, guitar and sax, he turned a vast Pavilion auditorium into an intimate jazz club and all that was missing was the odd cloud of tobacco smoke.

When he left the stage at the end of two halves of pure enjoyment there was a clamour for his return and then the band itself did its own encore which I reckon you don’t see too often.

Performers who do this well at Llangollen tend to get invited back again and that could well be the case with the marvellous Mr Porter.              

Sian is crowned International Voice of the Future

* Sian Dicker is presented with the trophy by Mario Kreft.

A "sensational" young soprano won one of the main prizes at an international festival.

Sian Dicker, 26,  was crowned as the International Voice of the Future at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

She was presented with the brand new Pendine Trophy and a cheque for £6,000 by Mario Kreft MBE, proprietor of the arts loving sponsor, the Pendine Park care organisation.
Sian clinched the title just ahead of Aberystwyth soprano Catrin Woodruff, 27, and Llandudno tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas, 26, The two runners up both received a cheque for £2,000.

No fewer than 18 hopefuls from around the globe took part in a preliminary competition earlier in the day.

A delighted Sian, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, said: “Just performing on that stage was such a thrill. Walking out took my breath away, it’s certainly the biggest stage and audience I have performed in front of.

“It’s the first time I’ve entered a competition such as this and I really didn’t think I could win. The standard has been really high and it’s been stiflingly hot which made it even more difficult.

“The £6,000 cheque is an enormous boost to my finances and will help me pay for my studies. I studied for academic music degree at the University of London and am now doing my Masters in Vocal Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. My one ambition is to be an opera singer.”

Sian is married to Daniel Thorne, who is head of mathematics at the Queensmead School, South Ruislip.

She said: “Sadly, he couldn’t make it to Llangollen for the competition as he was teaching all day and it’s too far to drive after work to make it on time. We live quite separate lives at the moment due to my studies but he’s my biggest fan and supporter.

“And my mum, Theresa, who is a cellist, was teaching today and couldn’t make it to Llangollen either. But I called them both and they are as thrilled as I am. What an incredible day!”

According to Eisteddfod organisers, the competition was "catapulted into a new league" and attracted a host of the world' best young singers after Pendine Park contributed £5,000 to the total prize pot, with a further £3,000 coming from Sir Bryn Terfel’s Foundation and £2,000 from the Eisteddfod.

After watching the three stunning performances with his wife, Gill, Mario Kreft said: “The standard of performance we have witnessed was absolutely breathtaking. This is the first year of a whole new format for this competition.

“Our vision is to showcase and nurture young talent and the increased prize fund is designed to help advance their careers.

"It chimes perfectly with our ethos as Pendine Park because the arts in general and music in particular are at the forefront of everything we do so we can enrich lives across the generations.

“The adjudicators had a very difficult task but I don’t believe anyone would argue with their final decision. I thought all three performed wonderfully but Sian Dicker was the deserved winner.

“I hope the recognition she will deservedly get after winning this competition will help her achieve her dream of becoming a major opera star.”

Among those in the audience was Ken Skates AM the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure.

It was, he said, "an immense pleasure" to witness the International Voice of the Future competition during the Llangollen Eisteddfod’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

He added: “Few businesses in the UK appreciate, or do more, for the arts than Pendine Park Care Organisation. Their support is remarkable.

“It really is a huge honour to be part of this unique event especially as it celebrates its 70th anniversary."

Eilir Owen Griffiths, Music Director at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, said: “The quality of candidates for the International Voice of the Future competition is always extremely high, but this year’s entries have really blown us all away. 

“This competition is all about providing exceptional talent with a springboard for their professional careers. The increased prize fund, generously donated by sponsor and long-time supporter of the Eisteddfod, the Pendine Park Care Organisation, has really boosted interest and attracted even greater talent to the competition.

 “We would like to thank all competitors for their fantastic performances but our winner Sian Dicker was truly spectacular. We hope winning this prestigious award will enable all our finalists to take their careers in music to the next level."

The unenviable task of judging the competition went to leading soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and composer Gareth Jones who agreed the increased prize money had  raised the profile of the event to a whole new level.

She said: ““The decision was a tough one but Gareth and I both thought, on this occasion, that Sian Dicker was the clear winner.

“The range of colour in Sian’s voice and her stylistic interpretation of the music along with the way her character shone through all resulted in a very polished performance.”

Runner-up Cartrin Woodruff, of Llanrhystud near Aberystwyth was delighted to make it to the competition final.

She said: “Llangollen is such a respected festival and I have never competed here before. The preliminary round was really tough and I was just delighted to make the final.

“It’s been more like a concert than a competition. I know Elgan really well but had never met Sian before. We have all got on really well and Sian deserved to win. I have no complaints. It was a wonderful competition and I’m just happy to have been part of it.”

Catrin, who studied for a degree in music at the University of York and a Masters in Voice at the Royal Northern College of Music, is due to begin studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in September.

She said: “I’m also married. My husband, Chris Abel, is a physicist and is currently doing his Phd at the University of Sussex but he’s based in Switzerland so we only get to see each other once a month at the moment.

“I have been touring with a pop-up opera company and performing all over the UK for the last few weeks too."

Tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas added:  “I‘m pretty busy at the moment and in fact have performances lined up from now until 2020 which has to be good. I’m working with English Opera and have performances in Paris coming up soon which is amazing.

“And I really enjoyed playing the role of Spoletta alongside Sir Bryn Terfel in Tosca here at Llangollen this week.”

Elgan graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and completed his studies at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He said: “I’m still based in Llandudno but to be truthful I’m all over the place travelling, it comes with the job I suppose. My parents were her to support me. My dad Aled, is due to retire from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and my mum, Eleri is a classroom teaching assistant.

“They are huge supporters and follow my career as much as they are able. They will come to see my performances as often as they possibly can. I also have two sisters, Elen and Alaw and one nephew and two nieces.”

Friday, July 7, 2017

Colourful Eisteddfod parade draws large crowds

The traditional Eisteddfod parade took place this afternoon.

Colourful groups of competitors from around the world and locally were cheered by large crowds as they made their way from the field, across the bridge and into the town centre.

llanblogger was there to record the scenes. 

* Eisteddfod president Terry Waite enjoys an ice cream in the front seat of a vintage car.


* A group from Ysgol Bryn Collen takes a prominent place in the parade.

* A group of overseas competitors wave at the crowds in Market Street.

* Indian dancers give an impromptu performance in Market Street.

* Terry Waite stops off to meet local character Wyn. Picture: Simon Collinge. 

* A Chinese choir draws the applause.

* Members of drum band help set the parade's pace.

* Llangollen town crier Chem rings his bell as he passes by. 

Message of international harmony goes out at concert

* Nia Wyn Jones conducts Only Boys Aloud Gogledd.

International competitors were given a warm and resounding Welsh welcome last night at the Llangollen Eisteddfod’s 70th anniversary International Celebration.

A colourful procession of representatives from some of the 29 countries at this year’s festival were welcomed by a moving performance of Welsh Hymn Calon Lân by Only Boys Aloud Gogledd as a poignant symbol of Wales welcoming the world.

The procession followed a performance of the annual Peace Message by Ysgol Y Gwernant and a recital of the newly composed Peace Anthem by Only Boys Aloud Gogledd.

Entitled Gobaith yn Ein Cân (Hope in Our Song), the piece was composed by Nia Wyn Jones, with words by Nia and songwriting partner Iwan Hughes, specifically for Only Boys Aloud Gogledd.

Reflecting the ethos behind the charity choir, the anthem began with a lone soloist and built up to a rousing finale, reflecting the message intended by its composer.

Nia Wyn Jones said: “The piece highlights how individuals can make things change for the better gradually. For example, if a person smiles, it can be passed on and on and before you know it, happiness is being spread. We all have that ability to do good.”

The opening segment of the concert, sponsored by Westminister Stone, was followed by the annual address from the President of the Llangollen Eisteddfod, Terry Waite CBE who highlighted the unifying spirit of the festival with a self-penned poem from his new book, Out of Silence.

The poem concluded with words that perfectly reflected the reasons behind the inception of the festival 70 years ago, to heal the wounds of World War II, which remain equally as relevant in today’s climate. Mr Waite read: “Be healed. Be at peace. Let the harmony of nations enter your soul. Sing with joy. Today, we are one.”

Following the emotional recital of the poem, the audience was then treated to performances from the Principality Only Boys Aloud Academi and the three finalists in the International Voice of the Future competition, before the first half of the show was rounded off with a vibrant dance performance from Lovely Professional University in India.

The second half of the evening saw the Llangollen Eisteddfod celebrate internationalism and the convergence of cultures even further, with performances from Indonesian dance group Al-Izhar Senior High School Pondok Labu.

A breathtaking rendition of famous Welsh song Suo Gân by the National Institute of Technology, Jinggaswara Student Choir, supported by Only Boys Aloud, stunned the audience as the evening drew to a close. 

Music Director of the International Eisteddfod, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “The international celebration is always a highlight of Eisteddfod week and this year, for its 70th anniversary, was no exception.

“The performance was filled with so many beautiful moments, with different nationalities coming together on the pavilion stage. Cultures, languages, traditional dances and musical styles, all merging to create a truly world-class performance that celebrates the internationalism of the festival.”

* To purchase tickets for the Llangollen International Eisteddfod or for more information visit:

Eisteddfod choir sings for Irene's 80th birthday

* The Jinggaswara Itenas Choir sings a special Happy Birthday to resident Irene Williams who was celebrating her 80th birthday.

* Resident Jim Barraclough meets the choir members.

A choir which had just flown 12,000 miles from Indonesia to Wales to compete at an international festival stopped off to join in the 80th birthday celebrations of a care home resident.

The family of Irene Williams was overcome with emotion as the choir burst into a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday in the sun-drenched gardens of the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham.

It was their first song on the first stop of a busy itinerary for the Jinggaswara Itenas Choir, from Bandung, Indonesia, who are in North Wales to compete at the 2017 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Irene’s daughter, Tammy Hoskins, who was at Highfield care home with other members of the family, said: “It was just beautiful. Everyone was so touched when they sang Happy Birthday to mum. They sang so hypnotically. We were lucky that the choir’s visit coincided with mum’s big day. It made it even more special.”

The choir comprises of young students from the ITENAS technical university. Their visit to Highfield residential home was arranged as a thank you to Pendine Park which is one of the key sponsors of the Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod.

Pendine Park's consultant artist in residence, Sarah Edwards, who has been running a series of children’s workshops on the eisteddfod site said: “It is a lovely occasion for all the residents here and it was so great that Irene’s birthday fell on the same day as the choir’s visit. We couldn’t have wished for anything better.

“The visit was arranged to give some of our residents, who for mobility and other reasons are unable to attend the eisteddfod, a taste of what it is like. It has been a really uplifting experience. These sorts of visits, especially when orientated around music, are so good for residents’ wellbeing.”

One resident, Joan Cliffson, 80, said she loved the vibrant costumes of the choir and was entranced by their music.

She said: “It was lovely, so colourful and their harmonies were excellent. I have always loved music as my husband, Jeff Cliffson, is a singer in Wrexham. He sometimes comes and entertains the residents here so music is something that has always been in our lives.”

Another Pendine Park inhabitant, Barry Bellis, formerly from Rhos, said the performance rekindled memories of his youth when he played in a band.

“We were called The Casuals,” he laughed. “I play guitar and I love music of any kind so this was a perfect day for me.”

Jinggaswara Itenas Choir artistic director Rita Victoria Hildemina, was thrilled to meet the residents of Pendine Park.

She said: “Music is something that can always be enjoyed no matter how young or old you are. We try to spread that message through our songs.

"All our choir members were eager to visit Pendine Park and chat with the residents. It was the first stop for us after flying over from Indonesia.
"It was a long flight but despite that we were still full of excitement about this very special performance and especially pleased to sing Happy Birthday to Irene. We feel very honoured to be asked to visit Pendine Park.”

This year is the third time Rita has performed on the eisteddfod stage, having competed as a soloist in 2010 and then with the choir in 2013.

She added: “A handful of the choir members who came here in 2013 are back with us this year, but most have not been to Llangollen before. They all have said what a wonderful, friendly venue it is. On every visit we have been given such a warm welcome, it feels like a second home.”

Led by their conductor Lusianna Daulay, the choir delighted everyone in the audience with a riveting repertoire of Indonesian love songs and folk songs, including one about a greedy lizard which has to learn to stop being so greedy and be grateful for the simple things in life.

They also sang some specially rehearsed songs in English, including Danny Boy, encouraging residents to join in.

Thanking the choir, Pendine Park Wellbeing co-ordinator Chris Lewis, said: “Everyone has loved it and we were blessed with a beautiful summer’s day so the choir could sing in the garden, which made the atmosphere even more buoyant. It really was an amazing occasion which we will remember for a long time.”

Highfield manager Tracey Smith said: "Music plays a central role in our of our everyday life at Pendine Park and our enrichment programme enriches lives across the generations so it was very appropriate that choir came here today.

"The fact that they were able to sing Happy Birthday to Irene was a perfect and very touching moment which meant a great deal to her family and all of us here at Pendine Park."

Resident, Emma Barber, who tried her hand at playing one of the choir’s drums, said: “They were great. For a choir who has travelled from so far away to play right here in our garden is a real privilege. Here’s hoping they go on to win first prize at the Eisteddfod!”