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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Move to beef up hospital food

Hospital food across Wales has been given a makeover to ensure patients have tasty choices which can address patient’s individual nutritional requirements, says the Welsh Government.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has launched the All Wales Hospital Menu Framework, which includes a database of recipes to be used in all hospitals.
The database currently consists of 18 soups, 38 main course items and 42 desserts, snacks and accompaniments that have been analysed and meet strict nutritional standards.

Celebrity chef James Martin (pictured right) and Abergavenny-based Michelin star chef Stephen Terry have been involved in the process and contributed a number of signature recipes to the menu.

Lesley Griffiths said: "Hospital food is an essential part of patient care. Good food can encourage patients to eat well, giving them the nutrients they need to recover from surgery or illness.

“Food should be viewed with the same importance as medication, with catering recognised as a clinical support service.

“We are leading the way in Wales by improving hospital food with an all-Wales menu. Standardising the food on offer so patients are assured of good food, wherever they are treated, will help them back to health and improve their experience of hospital greatly.

“Having tasted some of the dishes on offer, I believe the old jokes about hospital food will soon become a thing of the past.”

Chef James Martin said: “I really feel that food is a medicine. Patients should look forward to meal times as one of the highlights of their day.

“So I was delighted to be invited by the Health Minister to get involved in such a brilliant project that will instantly benefit so many patients. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the All Wales Hospital Menu Framework Group and the team at Nevill Hall Hospital and wish them every success."

Witnesses sought to fatal Llandegla incident

Police are appealing for witnesses to a road traffic incident at Llandegla last night (Wednesday) which left a 31-year-old local man with critical injuries from which he died shortly afterwards.
In a statement issued earlier, North Wales Police said: "At about 11.03pm last night, Wednesday 30th January 2013, North Wales Police and other emergency services responded to the scene of a road traffic incident where they found a 31-year-old local man with critical injuries.
"North Wales Police are currently investigating the possibility the man’s injuries were the result of a hit and run road traffic collision.
"Sadly the man passed away a short time later."
Investigating Officer PS Gwyndaf Jones of the Roads Policing Unit said: “The man was found on the A525 Road at Llandegla approximately ¼ mile west of the Plough public house.
"Although another local man has been arrested in connection with the incident we are still appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or has any information concerning it, to contact the Roads Policing Unit by phoning 101.”
* If you have any information about the collision North Wales Police can be contacted on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and quote incident RC13015575.

Wales to stick with GCSEs and A levels

GCSE and A levels will be retained in Wales, alongside a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate.
That is the message from the Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, as he outlined the Welsh Government’s response to the Review of Qualifications for 14 to19-year-olds.
The recommendations to create new GCSEs in English Language and Welsh First Language, as well as two new GCSEs covering numeracy and mathematical techniques, have also been accepted.

These will be introduced in September 2015 and will reflect and support the improvements expected from the new Literacy and Numeracy Framework.

The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said: "We are broadly accepting all of the Review’s recommendations and are setting a clear strategic direction and vision for qualifications in Wales.

"We will retain GCSEs and A levels. Where necessary we will strengthen and amend these, but ultimately we have confidence in these well established qualifications, which are recognised around the world.

"People expect GCSEs to assess literacy and numeracy, this is why we are developing new GCSEs to do just this. Having two mathematics GCSEs will reflect the importance of the subject for progression and employment. We will expect most learners to take both these GCSEs.

"At the heart of this system will be a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate. The Review identified clear support for this qualification. But we will not rest on our laurels, the Review also noted some concerns over the rigour of the current model and we will act to address these, introducing grading and more stretching requirements.

“We will further develop the detailed model put forward by the Review and consider whether there is a case for incorporating specific subjects, such as science.

“We will continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the Welsh Baccalaureate provides both breadth and rigour, together with an engaging learning experience.”

The aim is to introduce the revised Welsh Baccalaureate for teaching from September 2015.

Other key recommendations being accepted are:
  • The introduction of a new, stronger gatekeeping process for vocational qualifications to ensure that public funding is only approved for qualifications that have quality, rigour, relevance and value. This will reduce the number of qualifications available and simplify the picture for learners, parents and employers.
  • A maximum equivalence of two GCSEs for vocational qualifications, where justified, from 2015.
  • Removing the Essential Skills Wales qualifications for 14-16 from 2015 with revised Essential Skills and Wider Key Skills qualifications, to be introduced in 2015 for post 16 learners.
The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has already accepted and outlined the establishment of Qualifications Wales, a new body to regulate and assure the quality of all qualifications, other than degree level, in Wales.

Try a 10-mile trek for charity

Being billed as the perfect way to brush off those winter blues and stride into spring is the 10 Mile Llangollen Canal Walk in aid of Hope House planned for Sunday, March 3.
The walk will follow a beautiful scenic route overlooking the Dee Valley and goes from Trevor Basin to Chirk Bank and back along the Ccnal towpath.
There are some challenges along the way as walkers brave two  high aqueducts and two long tunnels (torches are a must!)
Marshalls will be on hand to guide walkers and the trek starts and finishes at The Telford Inn where they serve lovely Sunday lunches to finish off your day.

The walk starts at 10:30am and will take up to four hours to complete.
Maps will be given on the day. The path is flat, however, it is not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
The event is open to all ages and is free to register and with no minimum sponsorship requirement walkers are just asked to raise what they can for Hope House.

For more details, contact: 

H The Fundraising Office, Nant Lane, Morda, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 9BX
( 01978 754 018

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Police appeal after two Llan properties broken into

Investigations are under way after two unoccupied properties in Llangollen were broken into.
Two others, one in Llansannan and another in Ruthin, were also targeted by offenders.   
North Wales Police say nothing is believed to have been stolen from the first property in Llangollen which was broken into on January 22.
An untidy search was made after the offender or offenders gained entry by forcing a window.
On Thursday, January 24, a second property in Llangollen was broken into.
An untidy search was again made, however at this time it is unclear if anything was taken.
Police believe that the incidents in Llangollen are linked.
Jewellery was amongst items taken from a property in Llansannan which was targeted sometime between 2.19pm and 2.24pm on Monday, January 21, after a door at the rear of the property was forced.
On the same day, between 3.30pm and 3.50pm, a property was broken into in the Ruthin area.
Offenders gained entry to a garage and house and stole items from inside.
A person, possibly male, was seen near the property in Llansannan around the time of the offence and was described as being tall, wearing a dark coloured coat/ jacket and a brightly coloured red woollen hat.
Similarly, a male described as wearing a red coloured bobble hat was seen travelling in the vicinity of the property in the Ruthin area a short time after the offence had occurred.
The male was with another on a motorbike. Both were described as being aged between 20 and 30 with one possibly wearing a blue lumber style jacket.
Police are keen to trace the men and are appealing to anyone who may have seen them to get in touch.
“In all cases the offenders have targeted properties which were unoccupied at the time, and once inside made an untidy search,” said Inspector Siobhan Edwards.
“We believe the same individual/s are responsible for the incidents in Llangollen and different offender/s are responsible for the offences in the Ruthin area and we remain extremely keen to speak to anyone with information.”
Insp Edwards added: “I’d like to reassure residents that inquiries are well underway. House to house investigations have been undertaken and our work is continuing. As well as making this appeal, I also want to urge people to remain vigilant and report anything they may deem suspicious to us immediately.”
Anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious or who may have information regarding the burglaries should contact North Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111Householders urged to remain vigilant.

Llan Operatic attracts new faces for next show

* Appearing for the first time with Llangollen Operatic Society will be, from left, Luke Meyers, Paul Bailey, Stephanie Cottam and Laura Haliwell.

LLANGOLLEN Operatic Society has attracted a record number of new faces for its next production, the evergreen Cole Porter musical Anything Goes.
Ten fresh performers will make their debut with the society when the show takes to the Llangollen Town Hall stage with a 30-strong cast from Tuesday-Saturday, April 16-20.
The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London in the 1930s.
Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy Number 13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.
Taking the role of Billy Crocker is newcomer Paul Bailey from Sarnau near Bala, while local girl Dani Chamberlain – fresh from her success playing Wendy Darling in the Llangollen pantomime Peter Pan – will notch up an Operatic first playing Hope Harcourt.
Other Llangollen first-timers will be Steph Cottam as Bonnie, Luke Meyers as a steward, Brett Jones playing a photographer, George Nelson as another cameraman and Andrew Sully as the ship’s purser.
Andrew’s day job is vicar of St Collen’s Church, Llangollen, and he has previously appeared in productions for the town’s 20 Club drama group.

To prove the show will be a family affair, Andrew’s daughter Joanna Stallard is playing one of the Angels alongside Laura Haliwell and Alysha Cookson.
Show director Chrissie Ashworth said: “At a time when some other amateur societies are struggling to attract new members and some are actually closing it’s great to see we have so many new people appearing in Anything Goes.
“Most of the new members are also young people, which is also good to see as it is so important that societies like ours get new blood, enabling us to hopefully carry on for many years to come.”
Before signing on to play Billy Crocker, 33-year-old Paul Bailey had previously appeared in a number of amateur productions in Leeds and Manchester, mainly performing as tenor leads in Gilbert & Sullivan musicals. 
He said: “G & S pieces are mostly singing so coping with lots of dialogue as I’ll have to do as Billy Crocker is going to be a bit of a challenge but I’m very much looking forward to doing it.
“Landing the role of the leading man was unexpected but is a fantastic opportunity.”
Director Chrissie Ashworth added: “The Llangollen society last performed Anything Goes in 1999 when it was a great success, so we’re all looking forward to doing it again.
“We chose it because it is a funny show with plenty of action and plenty of chorus participation.
“It also features lots of marvellous Cole Porter songs such as I Get a Kick Out of You, You’re the Top and It’s De-Lovely.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

AM's concern over media job cuts

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has expressed his concern at the proposed job losses and restructuring at Media Wales.
The AM who recently chaired an Assembly Task and Finish Group into the future of the Media in Wales said plans to cut 16 editorial jobs and outsource content to a new centre in Liverpool was devastating news.
He said Media Wales papers like the Western Mail were ‘part of the Welsh DNA’ and that continually cutting resources to national and local titles would damage Welsh democracy.
He added: “Trinity Mirror's announcement that 16 editorial jobs are to be lost at Media Wales is very worrying indeed.
“I understand one of the proposals is to close down the features department and create a unit based in Liverpool to produce generic content for a Welsh audience. This will only serve to damage the unique Welsh identity and flavour of the paper.
"Unfortunately this is part of wider problem in print journalism and we have seen a slow drip of editorial cuts at Media Wales titles and other established newsprint groups over the last 10 years.
“This is particularly worrying for Wales because papers like the Western Mail are part of the Welsh DNA. The steady erosion of a vital platform for unique Welsh journalism and the loss of good people at important papers should be a concern to us all.
“The Management at Trinity Mirror needs to enter into serious negotiations with the NUJ.
“We should be under no illusions, cuts like these are steadily damaging Welsh democracy. If we stand by and let the national, regional and local printed press in Wales wither on the vine, then scrutiny of our politics and our public life will be much the poorer.”

High satisfaction rating for Welsh health services

Asked what they thought about health services in Wales, people gave them a score of 6.5 out of 10, which compares favourably with other European countries.

That is the main message from the latest statistical bulletin, covering January-March 2012, presenting results from the National Survey for Wales, produced by the Welsh Government.

Other key results are:

·         92% of people who saw a GP in the last 12 months and 92% of people who had a hospital appointment in the last 12 months were fairly or very satisfied with the care received

·         31% of people who made an appointment with a GP found it difficult to make a convenient appointment. Of those, 42% said this was because they had to wait a long time for an appointment

·         97% of people who saw a GP agreed that they were treated with dignity and respect; 95% of people who attended a hospital appointment agreed they were treated with dignity and respect

·         Of people who attended A&E in the last 12 months, 23% said they travelled by ambulance. 84% of people who attended A&E found it easy to travel there

·         24% of people agreed that they were kept informed about how local health services were performing. 59% would like more information about how local health services are performing.

Sale agreed for empty Oakleigh

* Oakleigh has been sold after lying empty for over two years. 

llanblogger exclusive

Oakleigh, the former mental health resource centre on Abbey Road, Llangollen, has just been sold after lying empty for over two years.
Agents Legat Owen, whose Chester office has been handling the disposal of the imposing property in front of the Eisteddfod field, has told llanblogger that its owners, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB),  accepted an offer for it yesterday (Monday).
Asking price for Oakleigh has been £350,000 although Legat Owen said the terms of the agreed sale would remain confidential.
This latest development comes at the end of a formal bidding process which closed on January 18.
A statement from the agents says: “We are pleased to be able to confirm that following a competitive bidding process BCUHB have today accepted an offer for the sale of Oakleigh.
“Solicitors are in the process of being instructed to prepare contract documentation with a view to progressing towards an early exchange of contracts and completion
“The terms of the agreed sale are confidential between the parties.”
The property has been empty since September 2010 when it was sold off by the board as surplus to its requirements. 

Legat Owen’s details for the sale show that Oakleigh covers 306 square metres (3,293 square feet) on a site of 0.28 hectares (0.69 acres).  

The description continues: “Oakleigh comprises an attractive two storey period propertyfof brick construction under a pitched timber framed roof with clay tile covering.  

“Internally the property retains many of its original features.  

“The property has a rateable value of £10,000 and is available for sale freehold.  

“The property offers potential for a variety of alternative uses subject to securing the appropriate planning permission.  

“Planning permission has recently been granted for a change of use to a residential dwelling.” 

A Freedom of Information request submitted to BCUHB by llanblogger last year showed the annual cost of maintenance and security of the property while it remained empty was £500 a year. 

Oakleigh has often been mentioned in connection with proposals by BCUHB for major changes to health services in Llangollen.

Legat Owen said it is not able to give any details of the buyer.

Businesses asked to back a new campaign

Businesses in Llangollen are being asked if they would like to “take it slow” by giving speedy help to an exciting new initiative.

Over 50 shops, restaurants, pubs and other firms are being invited to help start a local Slow Food group in the town.
Slow Food is an international organisation that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment by promoting local, seasonal produce and reconnecting people with where their food comes from. 

It is a not-for-profit movement in which local groups, run by volunteers, organise a variety of events alongside local food and drink producers and chefs. 

Membership is open to individuals, however businesses and other organisations can also become Slow Food supporters and/or partners to help organise and promote group activities.  

Each group determines its own aims and activities, which could include ideas such as: 

- Helping to develop kitchen gardens in local schools 

- Sensory taste education workshops for children and adults 

- Local gastronomic tours: visits to local farms, food artisans, specialty stores and wineries 

- Tastings and dinners to highlight local and/or heritage products in the area 

- Running cookery classes and taste education courses 

- Exchanges with other Slow Food groups 

- Maintaining and promoting heritage foods and drinks 

·        If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, or would like to be kept informed of our progress, e-mail, or phone or text Sal on 07786 623802.

Organisers also want to hear from anyone in Llangollen who is already a member of Slow Food UK.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A quick guide to planned high speed rail link

The great rail hub of Crewe would be the key to linking North Wales to Britain’s new high speed rail line (HS2) announced today by the UK Government.
The proposed route of HS2 links Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds via stations in the East Midlands and Sheffield.
The Government says HS2 will “revolutionise” our railways, create thousands of jobs, bring major cities closer together, generate investment in neglected areas and provide passengers with an unprecedented travel experience.
HS2 will connect with the West Coast Main Line at Crewe, meaning key destinations like Liverpool, Runcorn and Crewe would benefit from direct services.
The Department of Transport says: “By calling at the key rail interchange of Crewe, HS2 would also become easily accessible for passengers in North Wales and elsewhere.”
The line would connect with the London-West Midlands leg near Lichfield in the West Midlands, before heading north-west past Stafford and on towards Crewe.

A connection with the West Coast Main Line would be provided just south of Crewe, with the main line continuing in tunnel under the town heading north.

It would cross over the M6 and then the M56 before heading past Warrington to a further connection with the West Coast Main Line south of Wigan.

The Manchester stations would be served by a spur off the main line running roughly parallel with the M56 towards Manchester Airport.

A new airport station would be located between Junctions 5 and 6 of the M56 as the line approaches the main built-up area of Manchester.

Heading north from here the line would enter a seven-and-a-half-mile tunnel, surfacing a short distance from the new station alongside the existing station at Manchester Piccadilly.

Total route length would be around 95 miles.

For more details see:

Irish link could boost north Wales tourism, says AM

Clwyd South Assembly member Ken Skates says a new tourism initiative launched by the First Minister could bring big benefits to North Wales.
Visiting Dublin last week First Minister Carwyn Jones launched a new campaign with Visit Wales, the Welsh Government’s tourism arm, to boost visitor numbers from Ireland by at least 10% over the next five years.
Speaking during the week when Wales play Ireland in the Six Nations, Mr Skates said investment in port facilities in Holyhead could help bring in additional ferry-based tourism through North West Wales and Liverpool.
He also said airport access from Manchester and Birmingham was vital to increasing the share of visitors and holidaymakers who come to North East Wales.
He said: “I’m fully supportive of the Welsh Government’s aim to increase the numbers of Irish visitors to Wales by 10% over the next few years. North Wales relies heavily on tourism so I’m keen to ensure the campaign focuses on attracting visitors from the emerald isle to destinations right across the region.
“North Wales is potentially very accessible from Ireland, but we need to see a big focus in improving ferry port capacity in areas like Holyhead. We need to see a coherent strategy to invest in turnaround facilities and moorings at our ports and develop a stronger partnership when visitors come via the port in Liverpool.
“New partnerships with Stena and Irish Ferries need to be constructed with highly targeted marketing initiatives about what our region has to offer visitors from Ireland, one of North Wales’ most important international markets.
“We also need to exploit longer haul cruise markets. A recent Assembly report we did highlighted that cruise tourism is the highest growth sector in the developed world, growing at an average rate of 8% over the last 40 years.
“Airport access to North East Wales is another crucial issue. Daily flights from Ireland to Manchester and Birmingham mean North Wales is already within easy reach by plane but this needs to be co-ordinated with marketing and promotions to attract short-stay visitors and longer-stay holidaymakers.”
In 2011, a total of 148,000 visits to Wales from Ireland were recorded, with a total expenditure value of £33 million. According to the International Passenger Survey, the average length of trip lasted 4.1 days, with Ireland accounting for around 17% of all international visits to Wales.
Mr Skates added: “Many visitors from Ireland will come to South Wales for the rugby this week, but we need to show them there is another side to our great country.
“From Snowdonia National Park to the stunning Clwydian Range to the magnificent views on the coastal path, North Wales is a region waiting to be discovered by Irish visitors.
“What we need now is a planned programme of infrastructure investment and targeted marketing to help sell the region to Irish and international visitors on a global stage.”

Llan antiques fair dates announced

* Llangollen Pavilion - venue for a series of antiques and collectors fairs during 2013. 

The first in a year-long series of antiques and collectors fairs takes place at Llangollen Pavilion next Sunday, February 3.

It offers interested browsers and avid collectors alike a huge range of fascinating items from a dedicated group of reputable dealers.

You can lose yourself for hours amidst the variety of stands.

Organiser Peter Stubbs said: "Whatever your interest, you can find china and glass, furniture large and small, postcards, ephemera and cigarette cards,  medals and militaria, curios and objets d'art, jewellery, pictures and prints, autographs and first day covers, coins and stamps, linen and textiles, vintage clothing and kitchenalia, together with handmade crafts and modern collectables. 

"After finding the perfect addition to your collection, why not round off your stay with a slice of our our delicious home-made cake,or traditional Welsh cakes? 

"If you're looking for something more substantial, we offer a full range of hot and cold dishes, including hearty real homemade soup."

Peter added: "We are not just here to sell, but also to buy. If you have anything to sell then please bring it along.

"Most of the stallholders are looking for fresh stock and will offer you a price for whatever you have; it does not have to be gold or silver, just anything old or interesting -you could go away with cash in your pocket!
"All this for just a £1 and free car parking for a day out."

Dates for the fairs at the Pavilion this year are:

·        Sunday 3rd February  

·        Sunday 3rd March

·        Sunday 7th April  

·        Sunday 5th May  

·        Sunday 16th June  

·        No fair in July due to International Eisteddfod

·        The Big One – Two-day fair, Saturday and Sunday, 3 and 4 August  

·        Sunday 1st September  

·        Sunday 6th October  

·        Sunday 3rd November  

·        Sunday 1st December  

All fairs feature refreshments and free parking.

·        For all enquiries and bookings, call Dave Moss on 01490 450338 or Peter Stubbs on 01978 869037.

Find out how to read old documents

Following the success of last year’s introductory sessions on how to read old documents and how to interpret old title deeds, Denbighshire Archives is holding two further sessions on the mornings of 4 and 18 February, from 10am until 12pm.

Archivist, Jane Brunning, explained: “Old documents can be a valuable source of information for people who may be researching their family history or the history of their house or street but they can be tricky to the uninitiated.

“We hope these sessions will give people an insight into how to read old documents, which can shed a unique light on times past if you know what you’re looking for.”

The session on 4 February will be devoted to practical demonstrations of how to read a selection of documents from the 16th and 17th centuries, and the session on 18 February will delve into the mysteries of legal documents from the 16th to the 20th century.

Both events are free, but as places are limited, booking is essential.

If you have an old document at home that you cannot read, or you are just be interested in learning a new skill, book yourself a place and come along to the Gaol. Email: or telephone 01824 708250

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flood warning on lower Dee

The Environment Agency says that as from 10.01am today (Sunday) a flood warning has been in place on the lower Dee flood plain from Llangollen to Chester.
The area involved includes isolated properties and extensive areas of agricultural land.
Latest information is:
  • River levels are above normal but flooding of property is not expected at the moment. River levels at Farndon are rising and are expected to do so for the next 12 hours. River levels at Manley Hall are rising and are expected to do so for the next 8 hours. In addition to the area detailed, some localised flooding problems may result from surface water. The rainfall forecast for today for the Dee catchment is for further showers, however more rainfall is forecast for tomorrow night.
  • Floodline:

    Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188, select option 1 and enter Quickdial number 192102 to get more information.

Flooding hits trains between Shrewsbury and Wrexham

The National Rail Enquiries website says today (Sunday) that ni train are running between Shrewsbury and Wrexham general stations until further notice due to flooding at Gobowen.

The operator afected in Arriva Trains Wales and the route is Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Codsall, Cosford, Telford Central, Shrewsbury, Gobowen, Chirk, Ruabon, Wrexham General & Chester.
Further further updates see:                       


Val sees superstar relative on screen

* Valerie Hall at her home in Llangollen.
* Relatives of Valerie Hall who all have connections
to Russell Crowe including her great-grandmother
(centre) Sarah Jane Crowe.

A trip to the cinema to see her long lost relative Russell Crowe in the blockbuster film Les Miserables will be just the tonic for a Llangollen woman fighting leukaemia.
Valerie Hall, 66, came forward after an appeal to find relatives of the Oscar-winning Australian superstar by the manager of the Odeon cinema at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham.
The first five family members who can show a connection will each get a pair of tickets to see the screen adaptation of Les Misérables, the hit 1980s musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic 19th-century novel.
The enthralling story of love, passion and redemption - nominated for a host of Oscars including Best Picture - is showing to packed audiences at the Odeon and is already promising to be the biggest film this year.
Gladiator star Crowe can trace his family roots to Wrexham where grandfather, John Crowe, ran the grocers, Crofruit, before emigrating to New Zealand in the mid-1920s.
Valerie had hoped to meet Crowe in 2009 when had been due to return to his family roots in Wrexham for the BBC Wales programme, Coming Home, but unfortunately the project fell through.
She said: “I believe that Russell Crowe’s grandfather, John Edward Crowe, and my grandmother, Sarah Jane Crowe, were sister and brother.
“The family were big in the Wrexham area and spread out from there. There really is a great many Crowes in the area and beyond. But one thing that stands out and how you always know it’s a Crowe your talking to is the eyes.
“Those icy-blue eyes are a real family trait I’m afraid, all the Crowe’s have them, they are not just peculiar to Russell.”
She added: “I'd love to have the chance to meet him out of curiosity more than anything.”
And while Russell Crowe’s grandfather left Wrexham to start a new life in first New Zealand before finally settling in Australia, Valerie’s ancestors stayed closer to home moving to Liverpool where she spent much of her life.
She said: “My maiden name was Dovaston, a name I can trace back to the times of William the Conqueror. It actually means ‘dark stump’!
“I moved to Llangollen 26 years ago and initially ran a guest house although I have worked at a care home, in a wine shop and as a charity worker too.
“I haven’t been in the best of health in the last few years and am currently taking a trial drug from America as I was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia known as Philadelphia chromosome.
“A trip to the Odeon at Eagles Meadow with my husband to see Les Misérables would be a real pick-me-up especially as there is that family connection, however distant it is.
“I do think Russell Crowe is a wonderful actor and it’s amazing to think we share a common ancestry. I hope if he ever comes back to North Wales he drops in for a chat. I think I’d like to meet him now.”
Odeon Manager Andy Elvis was delighted to invite Valerie Hall to the cinema to see Les Misérables.
He said: “We have had a phenomenal response to our appeal for relatives of Russell Crowe to come forward.
“Les Misérables is proving a big hit with Wrexham cinema goers and it’s certainly a wonderful film and deserves every one of its Oscar nominations. I think audiences are amazed at the sheer scale of the film.
“It’s a truly first class cinema experience and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to book a seat and come along for a wonderful night’s entertainment.” 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TV stardom for Eddie's Angels

* Eddie's Angels appear on Sky TV's Got to Dance show at 6pm on Sunday.
Millions of viewers will see a Llangollen-based dance group put in a gold star performance on TV tomorrow (Sunday) evening.

Eddie’s Angels are a strictly-for-fun outfit which meets every Monday morning in the Town Hall under the instruction of local dance teacher and choreographer Julie Thomas.
The oldest member of the group – and the man from whom it takes its name – is 97-year-old Eddie Clark – who drives himself in from Minera Mountain for the weekly sessions.
Also in the group is Eddie’s daughter Deborah Smith from Erddig and other  members come from Ruabon, Wrexham, Acrefair, Cefn, Chirk, Bala and Oswestry.
Tomorrow night, Eddie’s Angels will be featured in Sky TV’s Got to Dance programme, starting at 6pm.
Members of the troupe along with their friends and supporters will gather in The Bridge End Hotel, Llangollen, to watch the performance on a large flat screen TV upstairs in the function room from 6-8pm.
Julie Thomas said: “We got three gold stars from the judges, Ashley Banjo, Kimberly Wyatt and Aston from JLS, plus a standing ovation from them and the 700-strong audience.

“Eddie is a sprightly 97 year old and his daughter Deb is also dancing, along with our oldest Angel,  81-year-old Jean Gardiner. I am so proud of them.
“There's 20 of us to watch out for and we are definitely the novelty act, so please come and join us to enjoy this amazing dance show.”

Net is cast for volunteer lock-keepers

* The Canal & River Trust is offeroing the chance to help out on the canals. 
The Canal & River Trust, the new charity which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England & Wales, is calling on communities to get involved in a scheme that will see them becmoning volunteer lock keepers along the Shropshire Union and Llangollen Canals .
Lock keeping has been a fixture on the canals for hundreds of years and the role of the modern-day volunteer lock keeper is to help the Trust look after the waterways, including helping boaters through the locks, providing a polite and friendly welcome to waterway visitors and helping to maintain many historic, listed locks.
Actor and adventurer Brian Blessed supported the first appeal during 2012 which saw over 250 people come forward and become volunteer lock keepers.
Now, the Trust is asking for public support to try and double these numbers in over 50 locations across the country.
Paul Corner, volunteer coordinator for the Canal & River Trust, said: “As a new charity we were heartened by the amazing support we received for this role last year.
"Volunteers are integral to the future of the nation’s waterways and our growing groups of volunteers have been making a huge difference to local canals and rivers up and down the country.
"This is one of the oldest and most iconic roles on the waterways so we’re asking the millions of people who visit the nation’s canals and rivers each year to get active and become a volunteer lock keeper.”
In a recent survey with volunteer lock keepers who took part in 2012, 99% said they planned to return in 2013 and over 70% of people said that ‘keeping fit and active’ was one of the major motivations for waterways volunteering. In total, they collectively contributed over 4,500 volunteer days.
Throughout the season, it’s also estimated the volunteer lock keepers assisted 1,500 boats and engaged with over 1,700 towpath visitors on average per week, helped reduce water loss by encouraging lock sharing and making sure lock paddles were closed and also improved safe passage through locks.
Paul added: “Working outdoors and staying fit have been a key incentive for people, as has a sense of pride in knowing they’re helping protect this 250-year-old working heritage. It’s extremely important to us that we offer volunteers something appealing where they feel like they’re making a difference which this role certainly does.
“The waterways are a national treasure that everyone can participate in and our volunteers have been able to provide so many additional benefits on top of the year round work Canal & River Trust staff carry out.
"Whether it’s helping a boat through the lock, talking to customers or local practical tasks, it can really make a huge difference to a visitor’s appreciation of the waterways in North Wales and make sure they’re supported for many more years to come.”
Volunteers can start quickly and no prior experience is necessary as a full induction, training and a uniform will be provided. The key qualities the Trust is looking for is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

The Canal & River Trust will care for 1,654 locks and there are approximately 5 million ‘lockings’ each year (passages through locks). Over 32,000 boats now call the waterways home; a figure higher than at the height of the industrial revolution.
Full details about how to become a volunteer lock keeper and location details are available by:
· Visiting:
· Phoning: 0303 040 4040.

Impairment focus panel meets

If you have a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment this is your opportunity to be listened to.

Denbighshire's Physical and Sensory Impairment (PSI) focus panel will provide you with an opportunity for consultation, information exchange and discussion on local and national issues.

The first meetings are:

February 6th 10.30am to 12.30pm, Rhyl Community Fire Station, Coast Road Rhyl

March 4th 10.30am to 12.30pm, Erianfa Community Centre, Factory Place, Denbigh

April 9th 10.30am to 12.30pm, Corwen Sports Pavilion, War Memorial Park, Corwen
Rona Roberts, PSI Facilitator based at the Disability Resource Centre in Bodelwyddan, said: "Everyone's views are important, and we want to hear them so that the planning of services in Denbighshire can be influenced.

"If people wish to become involved and cannot attend the meetings, or have specific requirements to enable them to have a voice on the panel, please contact me via e-mail, text or telephone."

Rona can be contacted at the Disability Resource Centre (on the Ysbyty Glan Clwyd site at Bodelwyddan)

01745 534 525
Mobile 07432812887


Friday, January 25, 2013

Heavy snow fall in Llan

* The view along Regent Street at 8.40pm.  
It is currently snowing heavily in the middle of Llangollen - in line with earlier weather forecast.

Twitter shows it’s snowing across a wide area – from Overton to Llay and from Bwlchgwyn to Summerhill.

One tweet says Llangollen Road through Plas Madoc to Acrefair totally thick with snow.

Flashing warning sign says the Horseshoe Pass is closed.

GHA buses says it is bringing its buses home early.

Visibility extremely poor on the A483 near Wrexham.

Further tweets say:

Just took me half an hour to get from Plas Coch to rhosymedre. Roads are dangerous.

Visibility so bad cars are driving at a maximum of 30mph on A483 bypass near Wrexham.

11.31pm: Tweets says: Reports of jacknifed lorries, abandoned cars - not just bypass but A55 & M56 :

11.40pm: reporting hearing some staff in Tesco, Wrexham, spending the night there as they are snowed in. Others stuck in vehicles - and pubs in and around town.

11.50pm: Heavy rain now falling in Llangollen - perhaps the prelude to a thaw.

Tide of new betting shops should be stemmed, says Skates

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has called for councils to be given stronger powers to stem the numbers of betting shops popping up on high streets in North Wales.
The AM (pictured below) said the recent closure of major retail stores such as Peacocks, Game and JJB Sports as well as scores of small independent shops on the High Street risked more Betting shops opening up in their place. 

He believes local councils needed to have stronger planning powers to restrict their numbers in disadvantaged areas.
A report last year for the High Streets First campaign said more than a third of betting shops in Wales are in the most deprived communities.
Mr Skates said: "In the last year alone we have seen major retail players such as Clinton Cards, Blacks, Peacocks, Game and JJB Sports all disappear form the High Street, in addition to the recent problems HMV and Blockbuster have suffered. Added to this, scores of small independent shops have also closed their doors.
“The risk is that in the next few months and years these vacant properties will be taken up by betting shops, which prey on vulnerable communities and disadvantaged areas hit hard by unemployment and joblessness.
“In areas like Wrexham, as it is across North Wales, High Streets are more than just a collection of shopping outlets, they form part of the soul of the town. We can’t let the high street become clustered with these addictive betting shops.
“A recent report I did as part of the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee highlighted that vacant sites in our Town Centres now account for 11.5% of all High Street premises, a figure indeed higher than the overall UK average.
“Planning rules need to be changed to allow local authorities in North Wales to stop the excessive spread of betting shops and the clustering of outlets in run down high streets.
“All too often in North Wales you find a row of bookmakers, empty shops and loan companies on a high street, with very little diversity in between. It represents a very unappealing offer to potential investors and seriously affects the way people see their own high street.
“Often this happens because planning rules allow stores with the same ‘use’ license to replace a similar store. So when a café, shop or bank closes in my constituency a new one can open up regardless of the numbers of similar such outlets nearby.
“At the moment bookmakers fall into the same category as banks, which are financial services so it means these facilities can be changed into betting shops without our democratically elected local authorities having a say. This must change.”