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Monday, June 5, 2023

MP praises work of Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre

Simon Baynes MP with Dr Chris Eastabrook at Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre.

Activities at Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre.

Views from Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre.

Clywd South MP Simon Baynes paid a visit to Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre near Llangollen which provides outdoor learning opportunities for children and school groups through a range of outdoor activities. 

During the visit, Mr Baynes met with Dr Chris Eastabrook, Head of Centre, and discussed the importance of outdoor education and the impact it has on young people's development. 

Bryntysilio is run by a charitable trust and has been providing adventure learning in the outdoors since 1969 and is highly regarded in the community. 

It is in a beautiful position in the countryside overlooking the Horseshoe Falls. 

It employs 17 full-time members of staff and provides a site for school trips and residentials from Primary age to Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award level, for groups from across Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. 

Bryntysilio hopes to start social prescribing programmes for adults that may benefit from green physical activity and aims to become a training centre for educational professions through the Adventure Education Development Hub based at Bryntysilio.

Speaking about their work, Dr Eastabrook said: “It is an absolute privilege to host young people from across the UK at Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre.  

"Residential adventure education experience gives those young people the opportunity to realise they are more capable than they thought.  Overcoming the challenges of various activities fosters a true sense of self-confidence. 

“Equally, staying away, without family, sews the seeds of independence they will need to thrive in the future.  Brynty is a wonderful place where people come to feel good about themselves, making lifelong memories.”

Simon Baynes MP said: "It was a pleasure to visit Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre, meet Dr Chris Eastabrook and see the fantastic work that they are doing to provide brilliant outdoor learning opportunities for children and school groups.

"The Centre plays an important role in our community and provides an important environment for young people to develop their skills and confidence. I look forward to following their work as they expand in the coming years."

* For more information about Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre, please visit their website:

Saturday, June 3, 2023

New £25,000 fund helps combat crime with criminals' seized cash

* From left; North Wales Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, PACT chair Ashley Rogers and PACT project manager Dave Evans. 

Community groups in Denbighshire  are being urged to bid for a slice of a special £25,000 fund set up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a crime-fighting charity.

Since being established in 1998 the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) has given more than £2 million towards local initiatives across the region – appropriately, much of it cash seized from criminals and recycled for the public good.

The organisation works closely with North Wales Police’s neighbourhood policing teams, particularly the network of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

Its main focus is to provide funding to community and voluntary groups for schemes that improve people’s quality of life by reducing crime and the fear of crime.

PACT is now inviting bids for grants up to £2,500, with the window for applications opening on May 29 and it’s open until the final deadline on June 30.

Over the past quarter of a century projects in every single county in North Wales have benefited from funding.

They include the pioneering Justice in a Day drama workshops with schools across the region,  giving young people a taste of how the criminal justice system works and the devastating effect crime can have on families and the community.

Also among the recipients were boxing clubs in Bangor, Caernarfon and Llangefni, while the Rhyl Raptors wheelchair basketball team were also cock a  hoop with the financial help while Denbigh in Bloom volunteers and the Kind Bay initiative in Colwyn Bay were thrilled with the support they received.

In North East Wales, football clubs like Wrexham Inclusion FC and Coedpoeth United Under-12 Falcons have been helped to achieve their goals,  as has the Cobra Life martial arts academy in Shotton.

PACT chair Ashley Rogers said: “We wanted to do something special to mark this momentous milestone in PACT’s history.

“We have supported or co-funded 2,500 projects in the last 25 years, working closely with North Wales Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner and grassroots organisations across the region.

“Our success is very much a testament to all the hard work that takes place at local level in our communities throughout North Wales.

“Given the nature of what we do, it’s very appropriate that a good portion of our funding comes from the ill-gotten gains of criminals seized via the Proceeds of Crime Act.

“In some senses, the benefits are intangible because you never know what might have happened without PACT’s contribution but we can be confident that the communities of North Wales are safer places because of it.

“Two years ago we commissioned an impact study in which the findings were overwhelmingly positive, with 94% of projects reporting improved community relations following PACT support, 98% of projects positively impacting on policing priorities and 92% of respondents believing the wider community had benefitted from the intervention they had delivered through the charity.

“Meanwhile, 75% of those interviewed said their projects would either not have happened or happened on a smaller scale without PACT. 

“In a nutshell, we are making a real and positive difference to communities across North Wales and that is a source of great pride to everybody involved in PACT. 

“I would urge community groups and organisations across North Wales to get their bids to the silver jubilee fund so that we can kickstart the next  25 years of combating crime and making North Wales an even safer place to live, work and visit. 

North Wales Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman took up her post last autumn and is already a big fan of PACT. 

She said: “PACT is a critical way of being able to support our local communities and fund initiatives that are a force for good in those communities.

“Catching criminals is an important part of our job at North Wales Police but preventing crime from happening in the first place is also a major priority and PACT makes a significant contribution in this regard.

“The fact that we are working with grassroots groups means we are responding to the wishes and needs of those communities and helps build trust in policing.”

“It’s a fantastic scheme and using the proceeds of crime means we are turning bad money into something good, so long may it continue.”

Project manager Dave Evans has been working with PACT since 2004 and has played a key role in its success.

He said: “Whilst we’re proudly celebrating our past achievements, our eyes are firmly focused on the future and the purpose of the £25,000 anniversary fund is to maintain our momentum as we look forward to what PACT can do for North Wales in the next 25 years.

“The world has changed a lot since PACT was founded with the advent of the internet, mobile phones and the rest of the tech revolution which has probably made it harder to create safer, sustainable communities so there now an even greater need for what we do.

“Many of the projects that we support have an active involvement and engagement with the local neighbourhood policing teams, particularly PCSOs, who are on the front line. 

“They’re a vital network in terms of introducing community groups to us and particularly helping groups that help North Wales Police to make our communities better places to live.

“We are encouraging community organisations to apply for funding for projects that will have a positive impact, particularly those which have a long-term vision reflecting the rich diversity of our area and work in collaboration with others to prevent problems occurring.

“We are looking for  bids that aim to support, encourage and deliver safe sustainable and inclusive communities across North Wales.”

* Application forms can be obtained via the PACT website or by emailing while those wanting to discuss their ideas can contact Dave Evans on 01745 588516.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Sun shines down on official opening of Corwen station

* Lord Hendy unveils the commemorative plaque on the platform.

* The new station canopy.

* A steam train drives through a ceremonial banner places across the line.

* Guests arrive for the opening ceremony.

* Welsh Secretary David Davies.

* Founder member and president Bill Shakespeare. 

To the strains of the Welsh national anthem the chairman of Network Rail, Lord Peter Hendy, unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the official opening of the new Corwen station earlier this afternoon (Friday).

The ceremony was watched by hundreds of supporters and VIPs of the heritage railway who had arrived aboard a special steam train from Carrog.

They stood on a sun-drenched platform to see the ceremony which marked the culmination of a decade of hard work by volunteers and directors - and the investment of £1.25m by both the Welsh and UK governments and other donors.

Lord Hendy, who is also chairman of the Heritage Railways Association, said the new station was a great tribute to the work and commitment of all those involved in its creation from spare land at the end of Corwen's main car park.

"It's a brilliant job which took foresight, guts and determination. Two hundred years ago the railways changed the face of Britain and now this station will do the same for Corwen," he told the gathering which included the Secretary of State for Wales, local MPs and Senedd Members plus numerous county and town councillors for the area.

Lord Hendy said one of the main problems facing heritage railways such as Llangollen and Corwen, as it is now being marketed, was the high cost of coal much of which was now being imported from abroad.

"How much better it would be if these railways could be run on good Welsh coal, and that is what I and others will continue to lobby for," he promised.

In his speech Welsh Secretary David Davies described the work done at the new station as "outstanding and inspirational" and he told volunteers and directors, "You have turned a pipedream into reality. What you have all done is unforgettable."  

He added: "One or two of our train mainline companies could learn about punctuality from this railway and perhaps we should put you guys in charge of HS2."

Looking over at the railway's president and founder Bill Shakespeare who was in the audience, railway chairman Phil Coles said it had been 48 years since the Llangollen line had been revived and that Mr Shakespeare had said at the time it would be about 10 years before it reached back to Corwen.

He added: "It took a bit longer than that but we're here now, Bill."

Mr Coles thanked the volunteers for their hard work in building the new station and admitted that at times the project had been difficult and stressful and that those involved had needed to shed "sweat and sometimes blood" to bring it to a successful conclusion.

"It's just wonderful that it has now happened," he said.       

The opening of Corwen station marks the culmination of years of hard work by volunteers and staff of the railway, millions of pounds of investment and the triumph of the heritage attraction over the massive setbacks of liquidation and pandemic. 

Tomorrow and Sunday will see a two-day gala event when an intensive public timetable will operate a three-train service of steam, diesel and railcar workings, each train working two return trips to Corwen a day. 

Locomotives and railcars are expected to be drawn from Austerity 68067, Class 31 No 31271, Class 47 1566 and Classes 104, 108 & 109 DMU. 

A range of attractions are planned in Corwen including model railway layouts in the town's community centre and museum.

Liverpool Model Railway Society will be exhibiting a layout entitled Corwen Through the Ages in the community centre and there is a 4mm scale model of sections of the Llangollen Railway in the museum. 

Dapol and Rails of Sheffield will also be making an announcement about a forthcoming new 4mm scale model that should be of great interest to both Llangollen Railway and GWR fans alike.

There will also be a display of heritage memorabilia in the Henry Robertson suite at Llangollen station across all four days of the event. 

A vintage fire engine will also be on display at Llangollen station. 

Free event will highlight history of Castell Dinas Brân

Castell Dinas Brân.

A special family event to discover the history of Llangollen's Castell Dinas Bran will be held on Saturday July 1.

Arranged by the Our Picturesque Landscape team, it will be held on the Pancake area just below the castle between 12noon amd 4pm.

A spokesperson for the team said: "The aim is to transport back in time to discover the history of Castell Dinas Brân through the ages.

"With free entry, there will be activities for all the family including our very own Camera Obscura, Victorian sweetshop, vintage portraits, workshops, traditional games and more.

This event is part of the Our Picturesque Landscape project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

* Location: Dinas Brân Pancake, Free entry, what3words: milder.lake.pranced

Thursday, June 1, 2023

'Voice of Strictly' Tommy Blaize to star at Eisteddfod

* Jazz legend Guy Barker.

Strictly singer Tommy Blaize.

A jazz legend who played with Ol’ Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra will be teaming up with the voice of Strictly Come Dancing for a night to remember in North Wales.

Strictly singer Tommy Blaize will be joining Guy Barker and his Big Band for a “powerhouse performance” in a star-studded concert at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod at 8pm on Friday, July 7.

It’s a return to the festival for Guy who has also shared the stage with other superstars including George Michael, Sting, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Phil Collins, Sammy Davis Jr and Liza Minnelli among many others.

The first of Guy’s two previous appearances at Llangollen Eisteddfod was in 2003, backing iconic husband and wife duo Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine and he returned to play with bass-baritone Sir Willard White in 2009.

This time he’ll be conducting his own 15-piece band along with Strictly Come Dancing lead singer Tommy Blaize as well as Claire Teal and Vanessa Haynes and sax player Giacomo Smith.

Guy, 65, has fond memories of performing at Llangollen and he said: “I played with Willard White when he did a tribute to Paul Robeson and before that I was there with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine.

“I remember the stage and the backstage area well and the audience were so enthusiastic. It’s a great place to play.”

Guy’s background is in showbiz. His mum is actress Barbara Barker, now 95, who appeared in the first seven episodes of Coronation Street and later in Z Cars and Emmerdale Farm while his late father, Ken, was an actor and stuntman.

“In the opening scene of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, my dad’s the one running naked into the sea on the beach,” said Guy: “It was six in the morning and it was freezing.

“He loved the Swing era and learned the clarinet and he encouraged me to play the trumpet so we could do duets and bought me my first two albums, one by trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

“Music was all I knew and I’ve never done anything else.”

The people Guy has played with reads like a musical who’s who and one of his career highlights was backing Sinatra in front of 45,000 fans in Italy.

He has also recorded eight solo albums, two of which were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and since 2008 he has been the Musical Director and arranger for the annual Jazz Voice concert at the Barbican, which opens the London Jazz Festival and has a long-standing role with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

He arranged the music for the films The Talented Mr Ripley and The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by the late film director Anthony Minghella who said: “Guy Barker is that rare thing - a brilliant soloist, a born leader and a generous accompanist. He can play so your heart breaks or your head swivels.”

Llangollen Eisteddfod executive producer Camilla King said: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to book Guy Barker for a return visit for what will be a truly memorable night.

“The audience can expect punchy brass, New Orleans soul and a journey through the history of jazz song, featuring both classics and surprise new arrangements, including a re-imagined Tom Waits number.

“It’s going to be a fantastic, one-off set drawn together with Guy’s inimitable sense of storytelling through music.”

Guy Barker’s Big Band will take the stage at Llangollen as part of a high quality series of concerts which kick-off on the Tuesday evening, July 4,, with Eisteddfod favourite Alfie Boe who joins forces with musical theatre super-group, Welsh of the West End.

Wednesday will see The White Flower: Into The Light, a concert of remembrance for the fallen of Sarajevo and Ukraine, featuring the NEW Sinfonia orchestra with soloists from Bosnia, Wales and Ukraine, with works including extracts from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man culminating in the Eisteddfod’s traditional message of peace and hope for the future of all nations

The popular procession of international participants and celebration of peace takes place on Thursday, followed by Flight, a new theatrical work by visionary artists Propellor Ensemble, inspired by migratory patterns in nature and humanity.

Saturday features the blue riband event, the Choir of the World competition for the coveted Pavarotti Trophy, and also Dance Champions and the Pendine International Voice of the Future 2023.

There is a new look to the final day of the Eisteddfod on Sunday with an all new live final which sees rising vocal stars battle it out to claim the title Voice of Musical Theatre, and a new song-writing competition for emerging voices in contemporary popular music.

“On the field, community bands, brass, silver, wind,  compete, and audiences can choose their winner of the new Eisteddfod Dance Off.”

As well as the concerts, each day features a full programme of competitions in the Pavilion and a line-up of stalls and exhibitions on the field along with the competitors from around the world, many in colourful dress while three open-air stages run a stream of live performances.

Each year around 4,000 participants take to the stage with around 25,000 visitors attending.

There will also be lots of entertainment on the outside site including workshops, talks, international showcases, outdoor theatre performances and circus skills.

* For tickets or for more on Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and its competitions and concerts as well as how to get to it and where to stay go to or check out

Monday, May 29, 2023

llanblogger takes a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in a few days time.

Romantic couple tie the knot at Llangollen Railway

A couple who got engaged on a platform at Llangollen Railway last year returned there on Saturday for their wedding. 

The first day of the Queen's platinum jubilee celebration weekend in 2022 turned into a royally romantic occasion when Josh Taylor-Smith chose a visit to the heritage attraction as the perfect time and place to pop the question to Becky Cook.

And there was a romantic conclusion to the story when the couple returned to the railway over the weekend to steam ahead with the wedding ceremony which they had been carefully planning with the help of railway officials for 12 months. 

* The marriage proposal a year ago.