Get in touch ...



Know of something happening in
Llangollen?
Tweet
us on
@llanblogger


E-mail your contributions to: llanblogger.blogspot@gmail.com

We are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/llanbloggercouk/139122552895186



Monday, February 27, 2017

Chamber is looking for Llan legends


* The Chamber of Trade is looking for Llan legends such as the annual eisteddfod.

Llangollen Chamber of Trade is asking local businesses and residents to become involved with the  Year of Legends 2017, a Visit Wales project. 

The main focus will be on culture and heritage, encompassing landscapes, sport and adventure, food and drink and enterprise.  

Llangollen is a legendary town with many stories to tell and the chamber is putting together lists including festivals, people, places and landscape.

As a town, Llangollen is especially legendary for festivals with over 20, from Faeries to Fringe and from the renowned International Eisteddfod to Hamper Llangollen. 

Ian Lebbon, vice chairman said: “We would welcome suggestions and involvement with this project as the Year of Legends is both a celebration and an opportunity to attract more visitors to our town. 

"Do you have a special story, photograph, film footage or memory of a legendary person or event, if so we would like to hear from you.

"Or maybe you would like to help plan specific events such as maps, information and events to promote legendary walks around Llangollen, legendary food experiences giving visitors a chance to sample the best local produce, storytelling sessions, local legends linked with our festivals,leaflets and short films for our website, pop up, exclusive events and activities in your community or in an amazing location.
 
"This is a great idea to provide focus on our town, bringing together a wide range of events and activities under the Year of Legends theme."
 
* If you would like to become involved or contribute to this project, please contact the chamber of Trade at  LlanCTandT@hotmail.co.uk, or drop off your contributions at the Town Hall Office.

If you would like to speak to someone about the project then contact chamber secretary, Ian Parry, on 01978 449365 or 07785 541445.

Twitter @LlangollenCTT @DiscoverDenbs 
http://www.visitwales.com/latest-news/2016/december/year-of-legends-2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Direct debit scheme for garden waste launched

Denbighshire County Council has launched a Direct Debit payment option for its subscription garden waste collection service.

Whether renewing an existing subscription, or registering for the first time, residents can now opt to pay by a single annual direct debit payment, as well as via the  internet, telephone or face to face payment methods.

The launch of the direct debit payment option means the council can offer its lowest subscription rates to residents who cannot, or prefer not to, use the internet.

The annual cost of a fortnightly garden waste collection service remains £22 (or £34 for the enhanced service) for those who subscribe using the internet.

The cost for residents who choose to pay over the telephone or at a Council One Stop Shop remains £24 (or £36).

Direct debit mandate forms are being sent out to residents with all subscription renewal reminders sent by post.

Residents who receive renewal emails can obtain a mandate form by contacting Denbighshire’s Customer Service Centre, from Council One Stop Shops or by sending an email to gardenwaste@denbighshire.gov.uk or gwastraffgardd@sirddinbych.gov.uk.

Councillor David Smith, Lead Member for Highways & Environment, said: “Denbighshire County Council is committed to keeping the cost of the garden waste service as low as possible. The efficiency of the direct debit process allows us to offer our lowest prices to even more residents. For many it will also remove the worry of having to remember to renew their subscription every year.”

Notes on Payment Options & Rates
Direct Debit/Internet Costs: -
·         STANDARD SERVICE £22.00 per year (26 collections of 1 x 140 litre bin)
·         ENHANCED SERVICE £34.00 per year (26 collections of 2 x 140 litre bins)

Telephone/Face to Face Costs: -
·         STANDARD SERVICE £24.00 per year (26 collections of 1 x 140 litre bin)
·         ENHANCED SERVICE £36.00 per year (26 collections of 2 x 140 litre bins)
Customer Service Centre: Cymraeg :01824 706100, English: 01824 706101

Friday, February 24, 2017

North Wales police officers to have body-worn cameras


* Superintendent Sacha Hatchett  and Arfon Jones,
Police and Crime Commissioner, with PC Luke Fox.

Every front line police officer in North Wales will soon be wearing chest mounted video cameras.

North Wales Police have taken just delivery of 301 extra body worn video kits and 50 docking stations and they're being rolled out across the region.

They have been paid for by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, who has invested £163,000 in the technology.

Mr Jones is fulfilling a promise he made in his manifesto before he was elected with a large majority last May.

Body worn video, which captures evidence of crimes as they happen, was first
introduced in North Wales in 2015, with 120 kits being deployed across
the region which meant a third of response officers had access to the cameras.

The arrival of the additional devices means the force will be the first in Wales to give the crime-fighting technology to all its police officers and police community support officers while on front line duty, including members of the specialist firearms and rural crime teams.

One area where the high-tech equipment has already proved particularly useful is in the aftermath of an incident of domestic violence where evidence of any
injuries and damage can be gathered along with the behaviour and demeanour
of the aggressor and the victim.

It's expected that the extra kits will result in a 12 per cent increase in the number of successful prosecutions in domestic abuse cases, a surge in the number of guilty pleas generally and a reduction in the number of complaints against officers.

Mr Jones said: "I promised in my manifesto that I would supply all front line officers with body worn video and today’s the day. I’m very, very happy that we’ve found the money to be able to do this.

"It’s going to help victims of crime, help us arrest more offenders and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people.

"It's been shown that the introduction of body worn video equipment improves the success rate in domestic violence cases by 12 per cent. That's massive.

"I look forward to seeing more and more offenders appearing in court and less survivors having to put up with a poor quality of life.

"I would expect there to be more guilty pleas and that’s a good thing.  It avoids survivors of domestic violence having to give evidence in court.  It saves money and it’s obviously better for the perpetrator because the earlier they plead guilty, the more reasonable the sentence will be for them.

"Body worn video is making North Wales a safer place. It's good for everybody except for the criminals."

Chief Superintendent Sacha Hatchett, Head of Local Policing Services, said: "We're absolutely delighted the Commissioner has invested in this new kit.

"The results for body-worn video nationally speak for themselves.

"When police officers are using body-worn video they are showing what’s happening in reality - the evidence is incontrovertible.

"Officers are being really innovative. They’re used for anti-social behaviour patrols, they’re used on the night-time economy, so you can actually see if there is affray or fighting taking place, what that actually looks like, what that actually means at that time.

"They're being used when officers go to road traffic accidents and they’re using them when they serve warrants.

"There is a sound evidence-base for us having body-worn video, and it’s supporting my officers on the front line who do a very difficult job well and they are very professional in what they do, so anything to support them gets my support.

"We’re still analysing the data but we are finding that complaints against officers have gone down, people making vexatious complaints have reduced."

PC Matt Jones is a big fan of body worn video.

He said; "It’s made a big difference. When we attend various scenes, for example a road accident, our priorities would be casualties and things like that. We can use our body-worn video on whilst we’re dealing with casualties.

"The equipment also makes people less likely to want to be abusive, threatening or violent because they know they’re being recorded on camera, It nips problems in the bud."

The introduction of the equipment has been masterminded by the force's Chief Information Officer, Ian Davies.

He said: “It can make a massive difference in all areas of policing including domestic related crime and success rates for convictions are going from 70 per cent to 82 per cent. It's fantastic news for the victims and that's the important thing."

The new technology also has the enthusiastic backing of the North Wales branch of the Police Federation.

Secretary Richard Eccles said: "The introduction of extra cameras by the PCC and the notable reduction in public complaints are very much welcomed.

Officers are increasingly keen to utilise the cameras to deter assaults and abuse from those who blight our communities in North Wales.

"Hopefully, as we put more evidence before the courts showing exactly how officers are treated by a criminal minority we will see increased sanctions and increased public confidence."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two charities receive Christmas bonuses from Llan


* Alyson Winn, community co-ordinator for Wales Air Ambulance, picks up the cheque for £740 raised at the Santa Christmas events from town crier Austin Cheminais.


* The cheque for £1,000 is handed over to Alyson Winn of Wales Air Ambulance by Austin Cheminais watched by fellow festival committee members, from left, Sandy Attenburrow, town clerk Gareth Thomas, George Hughes and Ian Parry.


* Colin Burman, chair of Llangollen Canal Boat Trust, receives the cheque for £500 from Austin Cheminais watched by, from left, Rhodri Thomas, Penri Thomas and Ian Parry.    

Two charities picked up a Christmas bonus from the people of Llangollen at the Town Hall this morning (Thursday).

As a result of the town's successful Llangollen Christmas Festival back in November members of the organising committee handed over donations from the proceeds to Wales Air Ambulance, which received £1,000, and the Canal Boat Trust which was given £500.

Wales Air Ambulance received a further £740 from Town Crier Austin "Chem" Cheminais, which came from various Santa events he arranged around Christmas time including quizzes, an auction and the Rotary sleigh ride through the area.

Chem, who also chairs the Christmas Festival Committee, said: "We normally just support Wales Air Ambulance but this year to acknowledge the significant contribution made by Gill Thomas to the Festival and the grotto before her untimely death last year we decided to make a donation to the Canal Boat Trust which was very dear to her.

"I'm delighted that Gill's two sons, Rhodri and Penri came along to receive the cheque."

He added: "We were overwhelmed by support for last year's festival, which attracted over 2,000 people to the town during the course of the day.

"Santa also arranged a programme of fundraising events in the run-up to Christmas and he passes on his thanks to everyone who supported them in aid of such a good cause."

Tender arrives for railway's steam gala


* The tender arrives in Abbey Road.

An important component of the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala at Llangollen Railway arrived by road yesterday (Wednesday).

The tender for the visiting locomotive Raveningham Hall was trailered to the Abbey Road entrance of the railway in plenty of time for the gala over the weekend of March 3-5.

The front end of Raveningham Hall - the part with the boiler, cab and large driving wheels - arrived separately by low-loader the previous day.

Entitled Along Birkenhead Lines, the gala will feature an intensive timetable of both passenger and mixed traffic trains, a great collection of historic steam locomotives and special attractions along the line.

The weekend also marks the 50th anniversary of two significant events - the last steam-hauled Cambrian Coast Express and 50 years since the last through working from London Paddington to Birkenhead (Woodside).

A railway spokesperson said: "The gala will be one of the most historically accurate and authentic steam events yet achieved at Llangollen. Expect to see cameos, displays, recreations and all the appropriate paper ephemera."

The event will feature a number of special visiting steam locomotives :
  • LMS 8F No.48624 (c/o The 48624 Locomotive Group & GCR PLC)
  • GWR No.6960 Raveningham Hall (c/o West Somerset Railway)
  • LMS 'Flying Pig' No.43106 (c/o The Ivatt Class 4 Group & Severn Valley Railway)
In addition, the Llangollen Railway's 'home fleet' pool of locos for this event will be:
  • LMS 'Black 5' No.45337 (making her return after overhaul)
  • BR Standard Four tank No. 80072
  • GWR '5101' Large Prairie No.5199
  • BR Manor No. 7822 "Foxcote Manor"
  • Class 03 Diesel No.03162 (a former Birkenhead shunter)
The visiting Ivatt Class 4MT 43106 was the last BR steam locomotive to travel between Chester and Shrewsbury, on August 1, 1968.

* Download our FREE Advanced Information booklet for the latest news on the gala from: http://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/event/spring-steam-gala-3rd-march/

Refugee talk planned by local support network

Llangollen Refugee Support Network is hosting a talk on refugees by Peter Last at Llangollen Golf Club on Friday March 3, starting at 7.30pm.

Peter Last has worked with Voluntary Services Overseas in Tanzania, Sudan and Thailand and also with Greenpeace for a number of years.

More recently he has been in the refugee camps in Calais and Palestine and is coming to Llangollen to talk about  his experiences and bring awareness of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers.

* For more information, contact Brian on 01691 600307/07884445919.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prize boost for prestige eisteddfod competition


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

A competition to find the world’s best young singers has been flooded with entries after a pioneering care organisation teamed up with opera superstar Sir Bryn Terfel to increase the prize money to £10,000.

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, revealed there's been a huge surge in entries as a result of a boost  to its prize fund by  Pendine Park and the Bryn Terfel Foundation. 

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

Arts-loving Pendine Park, who are long-term supporters of the Eisteddfod, have pledged to contribute £5,000 to the Voice of the Future competition with £3,000 coming from Sir Bryn's foundation and £2,000 from the Eisteddfod. 

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

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

As well as being awarded the cash and the Pendine Prize, the winner will also have the opportunity to perform in future Eisteddfod concerts, where their talent will be showcased alongside other international performers.

Previous winners include Meinir Wyn Roberts, who will be special guest soloist at this year’s 70th anniversary opening concert, Elsa Roux Chamoux and Eirlys Myfanwy Davies, who performed with Sir Bryn Terfel and the world-renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja at the International Eisteddfod last year. 

The prestigious Voice of the Future competition is open to anyone under the age of 28 and designed to advance the career of a young soloist. Entries for the 2017 competition will close on Friday, March 3, and hopefuls can apply on the Eisteddfod competitors’ website http://eisteddfodcompetitions.co.uk/. 

The festival’s Musical Director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, said: “The generous boost from Pendine Park and the Bryn Terfel Foundation has certainly had an impact on entries this year - they are flooding in and the standard is exceptional.  

“From the entries we have already received, we can promise spectators a spectacular performance and the category is certainly going to be hotly contested this year. 

“There is still time to submit any entry so we encourage any young soloists who would love the chance to compete to enter by Friday 3rd March so they don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the Voice of the Future competition, particularly as music and the arts generally are an important part of our enrichment programme to improve the quality of life of our residents at our care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon. 

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

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

The competition will span two days of the 2017 festival, which gets underway on Monday, July 3. 

The preliminary round, on Wednesday, July 5, requires competitors to perform up to eight minutes of music in one of four styles - Oratorio, Opera, Lieder or Song - to be sung in the original language.

For the final this year the selected competitors will take centre stage at the International Celebration evening concert on Thursday, July 6, when they are required to perform up to 12 minutes of music.   

Tickets for this concert, which also features international competitors and special guests, Principality Only Boys Aloud Academi, are available from http://internationaleisteddfod.co.uk/ or phone the Box Office on 01978 862001.  

The announcement about Pendine Park’s sizeable financial contribution was originally made by Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure and the AM for Clwyd South, which includes Llangollen. 

Mr Skates, whose ministerial portfolio includes tourism and culture, said: “It’s a fantastic, incredibly generous investment by a very well-respected and responsible employer.

“I believe that in Wales we need to have what I call the ‘Martini arts’ because they are available any time, any place and anywhere. 

“Pendine is helping to deliver this in a social care setting, and I toast their success.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Valle Crucis Abbey invaded by dragons


* Author David Wilson with his new book, Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, which features Valle Crucis Abbey.

Valle Crucis Abbey is set to feature in a new children’s book out next month.

The ancient abbey on the outskirts of Llangollen is the inspiration for St Jadis’s Abbey, the home of Cecil the Dragon in the fantasy novel aimed at ages 10+ which will hit bookshelves on March 1.

The book by David Wilson, called Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, is about a troubled child from a care home who gets sucked into a world of dragons and other magical creatures where he is forced to use every trick he can think of in order to survive.

The abbey is seen almost as soon as Aaron enters the fantasy world, when he lands just outside it ... in a pile of dragon dung.

The story goes: Behind Aaron and Julia was an ancient church. Grass and mud covered the floor and there was no roof over what once must have been the main room. Most of the church walls remained intact but seemed to have been made from whatever stones had been lying around at the time, stuck together by a strange muddy concrete.

"A group of five small flying creatures, about the same size as dragonflies, were flying around a well that was close to the main entrance, their wings glistening in the sunlight. Aaron could hear water flowing nearby, probably from the river that he'd seen while he was plummeting to the ground.”

Later the children walk around the abbey and past the pond before meeting a terrifying, green dragon who sends them on a quest through the valley.

David Wilson said: "My family shared a caravan on the site next door to the abbey, so I was there for about half of my childhood.

"I lived with my Grandma in Llangollen while I was at university, and was given my first ever dragon by a Llangollen shopkeeper. It seemed only fair to include a small part of Llangollen in my fantasy world, as my way of saying thanks."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Skates hails £10m scheme for small businesses

An Assembly Member has welcomed a new £10m Welsh Government scheme to help small businesses, which he says are ‘the lifeblood of our local economies’. 

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has just announced details of a £10m targeted relief programme to provide extra support for independent firms across Wales from April. 

Clwyd South AM Ken Skates (pictured) said: “I’m pleased to see the Welsh Government introduce this scheme and hope it will help ease the pressures which I know many small firms in my constituency and throughout Wales are under.

“Our pubs, restaurants, newsagents, butchers, barbers and so on are the lifeblood of our local economies, and the Welsh Government has been working closely with local authorities to develop the scheme and prepare for its implementation.” 

The scheme will support almost 15,000 businesses, including those which have seen their rates increase as a result of the independent Valuation Office Agency’s (VOA) changes which comes into effect on April 1.  

Eligible retailers will receive up to £1,500 off their non-domestic rates bill if they have a rateable value of £50,000 or less in the 2017-18 financial year. 

Professor Drakeford said:  “Some retailers are concerned about increases in their rates as a result of the VOA’s revaluation. We are therefore providing a further £10m to help businesses which have been adversely affected.

“This new scheme is in addition to the £100m tax cut for small businesses in Wales provided by Small Business Rates Relief. It will provide vital support to ratepayers on high streets across Wales and offer these businesses extra support.”   
   
Retailers can find out whether they are eligible for the high street rates relief scheme in 2017-18 by contacting their local council.  

Ben Cottam, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses Wales, said:  “We welcome that the Welsh Government has made good on its commitment to easing the pressure on high street businesses. We also welcome the engagement with FSB on this issue in recent months.

“We would now encourage local authorities to engage quickly with businesses to ensure that all those who are entitled to this relief receive it as quickly and simply as possible.”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Young 'Uns' Bugsy Malone is a real blast



* A colourful scene from Llangollen Young 'Uns in Bugsy Malone.
As one of the top songs in the show says, “Everybody loves Bugsy”.
But it wasn’t just our hero who was adored by the packed audience at last night’s final Town Hall performance of the musical Bugsy Malone but the whole impressive cast.

The latest production by the Young ‘Uns, junior section of Lllangollen Operatic, demonstrated once more what a talented bunch of youngsters this outfit attracts.
They can sing, they can dance, they can act, they can do comedy. In fact, the whole works!

And that goes for everyone from the leading characters to the chorus, which at times looks as in it’s in its hundreds as it fills the stage with spectacle and sheer exuberance.
Bugsy, which the Young ‘Uns performed from Thursday to Saturday with a matinee yesterday, is one of the most famous all-kid shows around.

It’s set in roaring twenties New York and is packed with gangster rivalry, molls, rackets, speakeasies and general Prohibition Era naughtiness.
Except it has a nice touch in that the rival mobsters blast each other with custard pies and guns shooting a stream of goo rather than bullets, so they emerge after getting blasted covered in foam rather than full of holes.

It’s all about Fat Sam’s gang of hapless heavies taking on their equally useless opposite numbers from Dandy Dan’s operation.
Caught up in the middle of the chaos are nice guy Bugsy and the girl he falls in love with, singer and wannabe Hollywood star, Blousey Brown.

Taking the part of Bugsy is Cassius Hackforth, a Young ‘Uns veteran who shines in any role he takes on, and this was no exception as he gave another high octane performance. Celyn Orton-Jones made the perfect Blousey, offering a neat line in singing and acting.
Fat Sam was portrayed to perfection by Aled Morris and Shea Ferron made an excellent Dandy Dan. Tallulah, Sam’s goylfriend and his club’s headlining singer, was played with a high degree of confidence by Maia Molloy.

The show had some memorable settings, both in terms of the brilliantly painted backdrops and video excerpts featuring period shots of rolling newspaper presses and a gangster car chase, plus some modern footage showing Bugsy and Blousey in a flashback sequence driving away from outside the Town Hall in the rumble seat of a fantastic 1926 open tourer loaned by Llangollen Motor Museum.
Costumes were also marvellous and a credit to the huge and dedicated behind-the-scenes team.

This was another triumph for director Chrissie Ashworth and producer Pamela Williams so it has to be fedora hats off to them and of all those multi-talented kids.         

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Business networking day planned

As part of its March for Business campaign Denbighshire County Council is hosting a Taste for Local day of information and networking, bringing together the county’s food and drink producers and hospitality business across the region.

To be held at Myddelton College, Peake's Lane, Denbigh LL16 3EN on Wednesday March 8, from 10am-4pm, the event includes:
  • Food and Drink trade displays
  • Presentations from government and industry speakers
  • By invitation only business lunch consisting of locally produced ingredients, and a menu to inspire use of Denbighshire’s food and drink products
  • Afternoon training workshop for hospitality businesses
* For more information, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-for-local-blas-lleol-tickets-31414215765

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bird boxes donated to Ysgol Y Gwernant


Locally based Marches Ecology has donated and installed several bird boxes at Ysgol Y Gwernant in
Llangollen.

Here, Max Ellson of Marches Ecology is pictured with some of the Eco Committee pupils (from left to right) Lottie Ellson, Harley Coates, Dylan Claybrook and Winnie Bather.

The wooden box incorporates a live-stream camera which it is hoped will enable pupils throughout the school to follow the lives of birds in the nest, Springwatch style.

Pupils are being encouraged to monitor all the boxes and will help with their annual maintenance.

Marches Ecology, established in 2006, is a specialist ecological consultancy serving both private clients, from individual house owners to multi-national companies, and public sector bodies. Further information can be found at www.marchesecology.co.uk.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Louisa raises £2,000 + by completing charity challenge


* Louisa Jones, far right of picture, celebrates completing
her Far East challenge with fellow riders.




Intrepid Llangollen Operatic Society member Louisa Jones has just completed her mammoth 280-mile charity cycling expedition through the Far East, raising over £2,000 for three charities

Back in 2012 Louisa Jones, 38, took part in a gruelling 260-mile cycling expedition through India in aid of three women’s cancer causes, raising over £3,000 along the way.

Over the past couple of weeks she's been back into the saddle for the same three charities - Breast Cancer Care, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

This time she joined a group of 70 women to cycle 450km (280 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Here's Louisa's final report on her trip ...


On Tuesday afternoon we completed the final stage of our amazing journey by bicycle across two beautiful south East Asian countries.

After a short early morning transfer from the hotel to our bikes, we set out on a 25 mile route along a highway, which took us to the outskirts of the city of Siem Riep and to the finishing line at the UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor Wat.


Some of us noted how 25 miles seemed by now like a leisurely walk in the park compared with some of the distances and conditions we had encountered during our challenge. Never thought I would be saying that!

It was another extremely hot and windy day and by now the effects of the heat and the physical exertion were starting to tell on a number of ladies, with heat rash and stomach bugs doing the rounds.


The frustration of those who were suffering or had to spend time in the support bus was always very sad to see as everyone puts so much into this challenge and wants to complete every stage, no matter how tough.

After a snack stop along the way, we regrouped around 1 mile from Angkor Wat to decorate our bikes (and ourselves) with balloons and ribbons prior to crossing the finishing line. We then set off slowly as a group along the final stretch causing quite a spectacle along the way, not to mention a disruption to the traffic!

Crossing the finish line amidst much cheering and whooping was a brilliant feeling and a very emotional one too and I don't think there was a single dry eye. So many of the ladies had overcome huge personal challenges and illness to even get to Vietnam and Cambodia in the first place, so to actually complete this epic journey was a massive accomplishment.

The remainder of our time here has been spent celebrating and perusing the vibrant, bustling markets of Sian Riep before we fly home. A number of us also resisted the urge to have a much needed lie in and got up at
4am yesterday to witness the sun rising above the ancient temple at Angkor Wat, which was a truly magical moment well worth surrendering sleep for.

Heartfelt thanks to all who have followed my challenge and for the donations and words of encouragement I have received along the way.


Personally, I have raised well in excess of £2000, every penny of which will go straight to the excellent charities supported by this mission.

As a group, we raised a staggering £360,000 and overall, the four groups that undertook this particular event have raised £1.3 million, which is incredible.

The past week and a half has been a truly phenomenal and unforgettable experience and I'm really happy that I took the plunge and decided to do it. I can't recommend this type of challenge highly enough to anyone who wants to set themselves a personal goal whilst raising money for good causes and visiting new places and I believe firmly it is within all of us to complete something like this.







Traders back county scheme to cut red tape


* Henllan Bakery's Tom Moore.  

Traders are supporting a scheme to reduce red tape for Denbighshire businesses – the first of its kind in Wales.

Denbighshire County Council’s Better Business for All (BBfA) project brings together businesses and the Council’s planning and public protection department to improve how regulation is delivered to save businesses time and money.

Covering environmental health, trading standards, licensing and planning, BBfA provides businesses with a simple, single point of access to free advice on business regulations. 

BBfA also helps businesses access grant funding and signposts them to other support.

Cllr Hugh Evans OBE, leader of Denbighshire, said: “Better Business for All is all about removing the regulatory barriers to growth - and raising the economic competitiveness of Denbighshire.

“Regulatory services play an important role in supporting businesses. This support can provide businesses with an economic advantage, confidence to grow and thrive and reassurance they are meeting statutory requirements.

“We support hundreds of businesses every year and by improving the service, we can cut down on the amount of visits from regulators and the amount of time they spend on regulation.

“We believe this is an effective way of supporting businesses, and, along with a number of projects under our Economic and Community Ambition Strategy, is helping Denbighshire firms by developing the economy.”

Under the scheme, Council officers have received training to improve their awareness of pressures faced by businesses. 

Tom Moore of Henllan Bakery, based on Denbigh’s Colomendy Industrial Estate, said Denbighshire’s help was invaluable during the building of an extension to its site.

He said: “Denbighshire County Council has been really, really helpful. If I need to speak to them, there is always someone on the other end of the phone. 

“It is a good, speedy and professional service. When we speak to someone they come to see us straight away. They have been absolutely brilliant. 

“It is beneficial for our business, it helps us grow a lot quicker because they are always on hand. The Council is just a phone call away.”

Colin Brew, of West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce, said:  “Better Business for All is an innovative model which assists in removing those regulatory barriers that affect businesses’ ability to grow. 

“Local businesses within Denbighshire will very much welcome this innovative approach which will not only provide a competitive standard of product that businesses can trust but also highlight and help remove the inefficient use of resources within the county.”

Mike Learmond, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The FSB was pleased to support the Better Business for All scheme in Denbighshire - the first of its kind in Wales. 

“Regulation remains a key concern for our members and it is encouraging we were consulted from the beginning and were able to feed in our members’ concerns to the scheme. 

“We do need regulation, but it is about how that regulation is enforced. Businesses are feeding back that Denbighshire is looking towards a quicker and easier approach to help businesses save time and money. We are pleased Denbighshire County Council has taken the initiative on this.”

* To find out more visit www.denbighshire.gov.uk/en/business

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bugsy Malone cast blasts into Eagles Meadow



* Llangollen Operatic Society Young 'Uns perform a song from Bugsy Malone at Eagles Meadow shopping centre.

A shopping centre has been invaded by New York gangsters, Chicago hoods and mob molls - but there was nothing to worry about.

They were members of the cast of Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young 'Uns who surprised and delighted shoppers at the Eagles Meadow shopping centre with a flashmob performance of songs from their brand new Bugsy Malone show which opens tomorrow (Thursday) night at Llan Town Hall.

The show’s director, Chrissie Ashworth, says the show, which runs until Saturday, is great family entertainment.

Chrissie, from Corwen, who has been with the Operatic Society for more than 30 years and has been director of the Young 'Uns for the past three, said: “It really is a fantastic show which involves a cast of 38 members.

“The young performers are wonderful to work with and are such an amazing group. They are aged from six to 18 and put their heart and souls into each show. Bugsy Malone is a real family show and guaranteed fun for people of all ages.”

“We are delighted the management of Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre allowed us to put on a public performance so shoppers can get a taste of the show.

“It’s been an amazing experience for our young people and they have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been another chance to perform before a public audience and gain more invaluable experience.”

The show’s producer, Pamela Williams, of Llangollen, who has been working with the Young Uns for the past three years after a ‘lifetime’ with the society’s adult group, added: “It’s amazing to see how keen and enthusiastic the young performers are. They just want to get up on stage and perform.

“It’s been fantastic bringing a snapshot of our Bugsy Malone show to Eagles Meadow shopping centre. The management have been so kind and even supplied us with a PA system. We couldn’t have asked for more.”

Shea Ferron, 14, a pupil at St Joseph's School, in Wrexham, plays Dandy Dan in the show and says he really enjoys being a member of Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young 'Uns.

He said: “I love it. This is my third show. I’ve played Boggins in Half a Sixpence and the Ugly Duckling in Honk. We meet twice a week and I enjoy everything about it.

“I love musical theatre and, naturally, my ambition is to eventually make it onto the West End stage. Bugsy Malone is such a great show. It’s a lot of fun, has a great storyline and it’s very fast moving.”

Celyn Orton-Jones, 13, pupil Ysgol Dinas Bran in Llangollen, joined the Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young Uns aged six and Bugsy Malone, in which she plays Blousey, will be her seventh show.

She said: “This is my first main role. I have had minor speaking parts in shows like Annie, Honk, Beauty and the Beast and Half a Sixpence but this is a step up.

“I really enjoy the fact the show just involves young people. I’d love to eventually get onto the West End stage but I suppose I’m not the only one!"

She added: “It’s great fun performing at Eagles Meadow. People out shopping don’t expect to be entertained and it’s fun seeing the surprise on their faces.”

Aled Morris, 13, of Dolywern, who is also a Ysgol Dinas Bran pupil, plays the role of Fat Sam and says Bugsy Malone is the first show he has been involved with.

He said: “I only joined in September last year. I like drama and wanted to do something more than school plays. Being a member of the Young Uns has been brilliant and I really enjoy it.

“Of course I’d love to be an actor or performer eventually. It’s been great coming down to Eagles Meadow and performing a few of the songs from the show. It’s been a good experience.”

Maia Molloy, 13, of Llangollen who also attends Ysgol Dinas Bran, plays the role of Tallulah in the show and says she really enjoys being a member of the Young 'Uns.

She said: “I was in the chorus for the Beauty and the Beast and Honk but this is my first lead role. I love being with friends and working on the show. I also really enjoy performing and the costumes are great.

“I don’t think I want to be a professional actor or performer. I prefer writing and my ambition is to become a writer or journalist. However, playing roles and shows like Bugsy Malone is a great hobby!”

Eagles Meadow manager, Kevin Critchley said: “Normally we don’t like to see unsavoury characters at Eagles Meadow but thought we’d make an exception for Dandy Dan and Fat Sam!

“We pride ourselves on the fact Eagles Meadow is at the heart of the communities we serve and we want to support and help groups such as Llangollen Operatic Society if we possibly can.”

He added: “It’s wonderful to see young people working together to put on a really professional show and I’m really pleased they had such a good time performing for our shoppers and visitors here at Eagles Meadow.”

* Bugsy Malone will be performed at Llangollen Town Hall at 7:30pm from Thursday, February 16, to Saturday, February 18, with a Saturday matinee performance at 2:30pm. Tickets are £10 with concessions £8. To book or for more ticket information please visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/llangollenoperaticsociety

County's disappointment over bank meeting snub

Denbighshire County Council has expressed its frustration and  disappointment at a decision by Nat West bank not to send a representative along to meeting to discuss the closure of the majority of the bank’s branches across the county.

The council’s  Communities Scrutiny Committee had invited Nat West Bank officials to discuss the decision to close all branches in the county except Rhyl, and how it proposed to deliver accessible quality services to residents in future, particularly the elderly, vulnerable, those who are not digitally active or have poor broadband access. 

The invite follows concerns raised that the closures will have a detrimental impact on communities and people’s ability to access financial services.

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “The response to the invitation was disappointing to say the least and we are frustrated with the bank’s response.

“Closing virtually all of their branches in Denbighshire will affect many communities, with customers having to travel quite far in some cases to access their bank face to face.  

"We also fear that the decision will have a negative impact on how the council can deliver on its priorities around developing the local economy and  protecting vulnerable people and supporting them to live independently."

Councillor Huw Hilditch Roberts, Chair of Communities Scrutiny Committee, said: “The Committee acknowledges that bank representatives have already engaged with a number of local stakeholders. However, Committee members are extremely disappointed that Nat West have turned down the invitation to attend scrutiny – which would have been a meeting open to the public to attend – to explain their decisions and future proposals in a public forum. 

“The door remains open for Nat West to discuss its approach to the bank closures."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Louisa's latest update from her Far East challenge

I

* Louisa meets some local children on her ride. 

Intrepid Llangollen Operatic Society member Louisa Jones is nearing the end of her mammoth 280-mile charity cycling expedition through the Far East.

Back in 2012 Louisa Jones, 38, took part in a gruelling 260-mile cycling expedition through India in aid of three women’s cancer causes, raising over £3,000 along the way.

Now she’s climbed back into the saddle for the same three charities - Breast Cancer Care, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

This time she’s joined a group of 70 women to cycle 450km (280 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Angkor Wat in Cambodia by February 17.

Louisa, who has already raised around £2,000 in sponsorship for the trip, is  sending regular progress reports on the expedition to llanblogger.

Here is her latest update ...


On Saturday we had a much needed day off cycling and instead made a five-hour journey by ferry up the Mekong river from Chau Doc, crossing the border into Cambodia.

We got a fascinating insight into river life along the way, passing countless riverside dwellings, fishing boats and heavily laden cargo ships carrying a huge variety of fresh produce and natural resources.

Our destination port was Phnom Penh and after disembarking, we paid a visit to the National museum, where we received an interesting overview of Cambodian beliefs and life through the ages. The evening was spent exploring the city by tuk tuk, a favourite mode of transport here.

On Sunday the cycling recommenced with a 34-mile route through some stunning countryside and rural communities where people live humbly but seemingly happily in wooden houses on stilts, which they share with their animals.


We stopped at a number of working  monasteries for water breaks and lunch, where we found some very ornate temples and spoke to Buddhist monks and trainees, gaining a glimpse into their frugal way of life, a complete contrast to the opulence of the buildings in which they worked and worshipped.

There was so much to see and so many wonderful photo opportunities along the way that it's a wonder we got to the hotel in Kampong Cham before nightfall but we did and spent the remainder of the evening exploring the temple and bustling town. 

Today (Monday) was our biggest test and we set out at 6am to take on a gruelling route along highways that fell just short of 70 miles.


To put this in perspective, it was the equivalent of cycling from Chirk to Birmingham but in 35 degree heat with strong head and cross winds at times.

It took a huge physical and mental effort for a lot of us, especially in the heat of the afternoon and with aches and pains kicking in. However we did it and arrived in Kompong Thom just before 5pm.

Tomorrow is the final day of our amazing journey and will no doubt be an emotional one for all.

Health board launches battle against sepsis



* Pictured with Tracy Savijn, RRAILS (Rapid Response to Acute Illness) service improvement & development manager for BCUHB, are Karen Roberts, Claire Bishop and Ben Goldsmith from the stroke team.

A new initiative to halt sepsis, a life-threatening infection, is being rolled out across every hospital ward in North Wales.

New ‘one-use’ medical boxes, which hold everything needed to quickly deliver crucial treatment for the condition, are being introduced to wards across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area. 

All wards at Ysbyty Gwynedd currently hold the sepsis boxes, which are designed like an advent calendar and allow staff fast access to vital medical equipment, with step-by-step instructions.

They will now be made available to staff at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The boxes contain all of the resources needed to deliver the six critical steps for swift sepsis treatment and include an oxygen mask, fluid balance chart and specimen bottles, drips and fluids.

Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of an infection, which develops when chemicals produced by the immune system to fight an infection instead cause inflammation throughout the body. 

Without early treatment, sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and even death.
The condition can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body but the most common sites leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

The condition affects approximately 150,000 people every year in the UK, and results in an estimated 44,000 deaths – more than the number caused by bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. 

Gill Harris, Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “We’re working extremely hard to ensure our workforce has the best training, resources and equipment possible to deliver the highest quality care to our patients. 

“This simple box is a life-saving addition to our wards and will ensure our nursing staff and clinicians are given the very best opportunity to reduce the threat of sepsis as quickly as possible.

“Sepsis is a real time critical condition where every second counts. Having everything in one place will save time and hopefully lives.”

BCUHB is also asking the public to help support the campaign by following guidance on infection prevention including cleaning hands at the bedside when visiting patients. 

Tracy Savijn, Rapid Response to Acute Illness service improvement & development manager for BCUHB, said: “Treatment for sepsis is time sensitive. The quicker we treat, the increased chances of success.

“We’re working hard to raise awareness around the issue, and these packs will help staff identify when a patient’s condition is deteriorating and deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. 

“Sepsis is a debilitating condition which can be life changing for patients, which is why we’re working extremely hard to equip staff with the best resources possible to tackle it.”  

BCUHB has also developed a new chart to record a patient’s physiological observations. The information sheet contains flowcharts to prompt staff to screen a patient for sepsis and guides health workers on who and how to call for help. 

Additional procedure packs containing resources for urinary catheters will also soon be introduced throughout BCUHB.  

“All of these tools together will give the ward staff the confidence to commence treatment for sepsis whilst waiting for help from clinicians to arrive,” added Tracy.

The all-in-one kits are the latest initiative at BCUHB to tackle infections, and follows the Health Board’s Asepsis - Act Now campaign, launched just before Christmas in a further bid to prevent infections.

As part of the campaign, similar packs for inserting cannulas and taking blood samples were also introduced to wards in October last year.  

Tracey Cooper, Assistant Director of Nursing for Infection Prevention, said: “The packs bring together the equipment needed to make it easier for staff to deliver high standards of care.

“By having it all in one place, we minimise the risk of infection and help save staff time.

“We’re continuing to work hard to find ways of helping our staff combat infection. 

As part of the Asepsis - Act Now campaign, all clinical staff will complete additional training on the use and management of invasive devices, such as drips and catheters. Additional resources for trainers and assessors have also been made available throughout the Health Board.