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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Health centre friends to stage quiz

BT taken to task over digital issues in rural areas

* Cllr Mabon ap Gwynfor with Alwen Williams, director of BT Cymru Wales.

BT have been taken to task for a lack of digital infrastructure in rural Wales.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, county councillor for the Llandrillo/Cynwyd Ward on Denbighshire County Council, raised the issue of poor mobile and broadband coverage directly with the head of BT in Wales, Alwen Williams.

In an event held at Plas Isa, Cynwyd, Cllr ap Gwynfor explained to Ms Williams the difficulties that residents and businesses face with getting any form of digital reception in the area.

Cllr ap Gwynfor said: “Poor broadband is a real problem. But that could be overcome to a degree if we had good mobile coverage, because 4G is as good as most broadband coverage.

"Unfortunately, while the UK Government are planning to roll out 5G there are large parts of this area which don’t have any sort of mobile reception which in this day and age is quite simply not good enough.

“The Government and large organisations are putting everything on line – farmers are expected to fill their forms on line, citizens are expected to bank on line and most businesses rely entirely on digital communication. The lack of decent broadband or mobile coverage is holding us back here, and is impacting on our wellbeing and our local economy.”

Cllr ap Gwynfor asked Ms Williams to ensure that BT left no household in the area behind as BT rolled out their fibre infrastructure. He also asked that she work with EE, owned by BT, to look at installing a commercial mobile phone mast in the area.

“Alwena Williams was very sympathetic to my calls”, said Cllr. ap Gwynfor. “She’s from Gwytherin herself, and knows the difficulties that rural communities face. I am hopeful that we will see something positive in the future. I have spoken to her since, and she's been very helpful. 

"A Vodafone mast is due to be placed in Llandrillo, but the installation has not progressed much so far. I'm also in discussion with them to see what can be done to ensure the mast is installed as soon as possible."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Small business awards go up for grabs

The FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2018 are now open and firms in Wales have until  December 1 to enter for free.

The awards will celebrate the best of Wales’ 246,000 small and micro businesses and their vast contribution to both regional and national economies.

The winners of 12 award categories will be announced at an award ceremony in February and will then go forward to the national UK FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards final, where the overall FSB UK Small Business of the Year 2018 will be announced, in May 2018.

Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said: “I’m thrilled that FSB will be taking the opportunity to highlight the excellence and diversity that is found in our SME sector in Wales. The categories offer the opportunity for a whole host of talent to be celebrated at the awards ceremony in February.

“SMEs play a vital part in Welsh life – contributing so much to the economy and making our country a more exciting place in which to live, work, study and visit.”

The 12 FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards categories are:
• Business Exporter of the Year
• Ethical – Green Business of the Year
• Business and Product Innovation Award
• Digital Business of the Year
• Microbusiness of the Year
• Start-up of the Year
• Scale-up of the Year
• Family Business of the Year
• Young Entrepreneur of the Year
• Employer of the Year
• The Triumph Over Adversity Award
• Welsh in Business Award
* For further information and to enter the awards visit

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Latest plans for re-jigged constituencies unveiled

Latest proposed changes to Wales’ parliamentary constituency map have been published by the Boundary Commission.

They entail significant alterations to the local Clwyd South seat.

* See the following report in

Another boost for Llan food and drink

Hot on the heels of another successful Food Festival (pictured), Llangollen will be the first town in Wales to host a prestigious training opportunity being funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) business members of the Llangollen & Dee Valley Good Grub Club will have the chance to work with celebrated food consultant and chef Nerys Howell through two introductory training sessions.

The first will be a Masterclass in Welsh Menu development and marketing, aimed at local chefs.

The second will be working with local food producers to help them make the most of marketing opportunities at food festivals.

Participants in both introductory courses will then have the option of arranging one-to-one sessions with Nerys back in their kitchens.  

With years of experience in the food, drink and hospitality industry, Nerys works across the UK and overseas promoting food and drink from Wales.

She is the author of Wales On A Plate (2009) - a bilingual book which includes traditional and contemporary recipes for Welsh produce and brings to life the traditions, lifestyles and cooking of Wales.

The book was shortlisted for the Gourmand International World Cookbook Awards in 2010.

As a consultant, Nerys has developed menus, recipes and food opportunities for clients including the Millennium Centre and the National Museum Wales, and has also catered for the True Taste of Wales awards, billed as the Oscars of the Welsh food industry.

With the Llangollen Food Festival celebrating its 20th year this year, and the town’s also hosting the first Food Assembly in Wales (now with nearly 600 registered customers), Llangollen’s reputation as a hub for great local food is growing.

It will soon feature in a BBC Wales programme, looking at how the Food Festival, the Llangollen Food Assembly, and the Llangollen and Dee Valley Good Grub Club are working together to get Llangollen on the food map of Wales and the UK.

The training from Nerys Howell aims to help the area solidify its reputation and lead to even more exciting food and drink offerings for the growing number of tourists visiting the region.

Funding for the training is through “Wales – A Food Destination” a project of LANTRA, an organisation supporting individuals and companies to achieve personal and business growth in the environmental, food and agriculture sectors. 

Membership of the Llangollen & Dee Valley Good Grub Club is open to Welsh food, drink and hospitality businesses within 15 miles of Llangollen who want to help increase the use, availability and visibility of locally produced food and drink. 

* For more information and details of current members, see the website, or contact Robyn Lovelock, Secretary on

Monday, October 16, 2017

Do you qualify for supported childcare grant?

Do you live in Denbighshire and think you may be eligible for supported childcare grant?

The county council says it would like to hear from you if you:

* Have a child aged 5-plus

* Childcare during after-school or holidays a barrier to you

* Are looking for voluntary work or accessing training

* Your family is in receipt of one of Employment & Support Allowance, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, DLA or PIP

The council says Supported Childcare Grant is available for families through its Out of School Grant funded by the Welsh Government to access childcare at any registered setting in Denbighshire for a maximum of 20 weeks for the value of up to £30 a week in total.

If you have a child that would qualify for this grant or for further information and application form, contact: Bethan E Roberts, Information Officer at Family Information Service, Smithfield Rd, Denbigh or 01745 815891,

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thousands flock to Llan food festival

* NHS nurse Ann Gostage buys produce from Beatriz Albo, a local producer from Brymbo.

* Simon O'Rourke works on pumpkins with Gethin Jones and Charlotte Richards.

* Foodies crowd around the stalls at the festival.

* Jack Hatley, chef from Gales Wine Bar, gives a demonstration of food preparation.

A cancer nurse was among the health service staff given free entry to one of the UK's top food festivals as a way of celebrating the event's 20th anniversary.

Ann Gostage was one of the thousands of foodies who flocked to the popular Llangollen Food Festival which provides an annual showcase for the region's best producers.

The 58 year old, who works as a specialist lung cancer nurse at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, was delighted by the generosity of the organisers towards the staff of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Ann, who lives in Llangollen, said: “I was actually at the first food festival here 20 years ago and have seen it just grow in popularity ever since.

“I’ve enjoyed being here again today and it was good to see the extra stalls. I like to come early and get the pick of the produce and I’ve bought some nice chorizos, onion bargees and a bottle of gin.”

Another woman who remembered attending the very first festival in 1997 was the current Mayor of Llangollen, Cllr Sheenah Burrell, who was working in the local Tourist Information Centre at the time.

She recalled: “It was brilliant and showed of lots of quality local and Welsh produce.

“Right here on our own doorstep we were able to taste the kind of food we didn’t even know existed and over the past 20 years it’s just got better and better.”

She added: “It’s amazing how the festival has grown with more stands and more diverse kinds of food and drink.

“It attracts the best of the best producers and is an amazing showcase for what’s available not just from this area but the whole of North Wales.”

Organising committee member Pip Gale, who runs Gales Wine Bar in the town, said: “Visitors numbers are once again high and people are appreciating that the festival is bigger and better than ever.

“This year, by way of celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve added about 20 per cent more stands making a total of 130.

“They are both outside in front of the Pavilion and inside, with a performance area just off the main hall and, for the first time, upstairs too.

“We’ve also tried to present a much more varied mix of stands and activities, such as giving people the chance to try bread making and take part in wine tastings.   

“As we mark our two decades we’re also celebrating being named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.”

It’s estimated that the two-day festival attracted around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide and pumped nearly £400,000 into the local economy, making a total of £8 million since it started.

Among the host of crowd-pullers this year were cooking displays from top chefs  Bryan Webb from the Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan, former captain of the Wales Culinary team Graham Tinsley and the ever-popular Dai Chef who was there with his son, Daniel, the youngest head sommelier in the UK.

A special event to mark the festival’s closeness to Halloween was the staging of the inaugural Welsh Pumpkin Carving Championship masterminded by Simon O’Rourke who tours the world using a chainsaw to create stunning sculptures in wood.

Simon said: “It’s been going extremely well and we’ve attracted a large number of entrants all trying to come up with the most strikingly ghoulish face.

“The carvers, who have been bidding to win a £50 food hamper from the festival, have been enthusiastically cutting and scraping away and picking a winner is going to be so tough.”

Among those bidding for pumpkin perfection was six-year-old Gethin Jones from  Rhosllanerchrugog  near Wrexham who was there with his mum Gemma.

She said: “I’m a member of the forestry group at Ty Mawr so he’s used to doing things like whittling with wood but this is the first time he’s attempted carving a pumpkin. I think the championship is a fantastic idea.”

Taking a break from wielding his special cutting tool, Gethin said: “I’m having a great time and it’s good cutting into a pumpkin to make a face because it’s easier than working with wood.”

Rhian Owen from the Siwgr a Sbeis bakery – in English Sugar and Spice – in Llanrwst has taken a stall at the festival to show off her hand-made cakes and confectionery every year since 1997 and said she just had to be there to mark its 20th birthday.

She said: “The first one was quite a small affair and all the exhibitors were in just one area of the Pavilion but I’ve seen it go from strength to strength since then.

“It’s good for business and what I love about it is the lovely friendly atmosphere you always get.

“People come every year specially to buy my Christmas puddings and it’s been the same this time. I’m going to keep coming back because I just couldn’t miss it.”

Another Hamper regular is Roy Broadhurst who has been bringing his mobile coffee shop Caffeine Rush over from his base in Ysceifiog, Flintshire for the past 15 years.

He said: “I keep coming back because it’s good and local and I’ve got to know many of the other stallholders here. It’s never all that expensive to take space and my customers know I’ll be here and come looking for me.”

Also visiting from Flintshire where his company, Precious Chocolate Ltd, is based in Connahs Quay was Carl Gillard who said: “This is the first time I’m exhibited here but it’s fantastic and I’m really enjoying the atmosphere and the business I’m doing. I’ll definitely be coming back next year.”

One of the food experts appearing in the popular performance area at the festival was Jack Hatley, resident chef at Gales Wine Bar in the town. He was giving a deft demonstration of knife skills which went down well with audience member Jan Osborne from Wrexham.    

She said: “This is the second time I’ve been to Hamper Llangollen and I’m enjoying it very much. I’m an enthusiastic cook at home and it was very interesting to see some of the latest equipment like the knives and how a real professional uses them.”

In the new hands-on performance area to the side of the main hall, a team from Coleg Cambria in Wrexham was attracting lots of attention with its bread-making display.

Giving it a try themselves were 12-year-old Morgan Owen from Acrefair and his sister Carys, four.

Watching closely as they fashioned their own versions of bread rolls was college catering tutor Mark Robertson.

Praising Morgan’s creativity, he told him: “I think you and your sister are so good that you’re definitely future contestants on the Great British Bake Off.”

Also turning in some tasty-looking bread rolls was Barbara Bennett from Broughton in Flintshire and her friend Pat Buck from Wrexham.

Pat said: “We’ve had a lot of fun doing this and it’s been a great day out at the festival. There’s always so much to see here and it’s so easy to get to.”