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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trevor Fishlock speaks at the Hand tonight

Broadcaster and author Trevor Fishlock will be at the Hand at 7.30pm this evening (Thursday) to speak about the lives of the famous Davies sisters who bequeathed a magical trove of paintings to the Welsh nation. 

Tickets, at £6, can be bought in advance from the museum or bought on the door this evening.

Police boss vows to step up fight against paedophiles

* Gareth Palmieri, high tech crimes technician, at work watched by PCC Arfon Jones.

A police boss has vowed to step up the fight against online paedophiles after hearing a new crack team has made more than 60 arrests in its first eight months.

According to newly-elected North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, keeping children safe is one of the most important jobs done by the force.

Mr Jones, a former police inspector, was speaking during a visit to find out more about the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) which was established last October to tackle the emerging threat of child sexual exploitation via the internet.

Since then POLIT has executed over 70 warrants and made more than 60 arrests, working alongside the force's Cyber Crime Team and High Tech Crime Unit based in St Asaph.

The growing threat of online child sexual exploitation, said Mr Jones, was one of the biggest things that had changed since he retired from North Wales Police eight years ago.

Mr Jones said: "I would like to congratulate the POLIT and the colleagues in the High Tech and Cyber Crime teams for their work in a very challenging area of policing.

"Online child sexual exploitation is a vile crime committed by dangerous and devious people who come from every section of society and often appear to be leading outwardly respectable lives.

"I’m pleased that we’re investing so many resources in tackling online sexual exploitation because the care of children is the most important thing we do.

"Paedophiles are becoming increasingly sophisticated so it is vitally important that we respond accordingly with a team of our own experts catching those committing these types of crime and bringing them to justice.

"This problem isn’t going to go away and we need to concentrate on raising awareness, education and reducing harm and I think there is some excellent work being done to reach this priority.

"I’m very happy to support the force in providing as much resources as needed to ensure that children, wherever they may be in the world, are safe."

The POLIT is led by Detective Inspector Sion Williams, who also has operational responsibility for the high tech and cyber-crime teams.

He said:  “The team deal with what are essentially digital crime scenes.

"In the main, 80 per cent of our time is spent dealing with a variety of online child sexual exploitation offences including those more serious incidents when adults are actively online, identifying children they can engage with in social networking sites, trying to gain their trust.  This kind of abuse is real and can lead on to more serious offences taking place.
"We need to remember, although it is appearing on a computer screen, this is live child abuse, happening in a different country but being orchestrated by an individual living in North Wales. 

"Clearly, we will deal with this type of individual but we will also deal with the wider issues and work with our partner agencies to make sure that the relevant intelligence is then shared with law enforcement agencies in those affected countries so that they can take appropriate action.

"Safeguarding children, wherever they may be, is our number one priority. We are also determined to ensure the level of the defendants’ offending and the threat they pose to children is clearly identified to the court so that whatever sentence is passed is the appropriate sentence in accordance with the sentencing guidelines.

"Since POLIT was established new processes have been adopted and so far the team has already surpassed the number of arrests made for this type of offending in 2015. This can only be good news.

"Whilst we are arresting significantly more suspects, we have managed to adopt an effective streamlined process where those offenders who commit crimes of this type  are dealt with expeditiously and brought to justice at the earliest opportunity. This considerably reduces the risk of further offences being committed.

“The message needs to be clear here, and this should therefore be a warning of our intention to those engaged in this heinous type of criminality - it will only be a matter of time before they are afforded our tenacious attention.

"The devastating effect that online child sexual exploitation has on children is wholly apparent. However, our subsequent interaction not only has serious consequences for those who are offending, but also has broader implications for their family and friends. 

"Every day we operate is a game changer. Our activity is clearly making the communities in which we live far safer for our children - and that’s what matters."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Virus-hit Katherine replaced by Kate at Eisteddfod

* Kate Aldrich will replace Katherine Jenkins in Carmen on the festival's opening night.

A virus has forced Katherine Jenkins to pull out of a concert in North Wales on medical advice but organisers have lined up a "truly world class" opera star to replace her.

The classically-trained Welsh singer was "devastated" after being been struck down by a nasty viral infection but now globally renowned American mezzo soprano, Kate Aldrich, will take centre stage at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod instead.

It's been revealed one of the world's greatest singers, opera superstar Bryn Terfel, who will be appearing in concert at the festival on the Thursday night, along with his representative, Matthew Todd, from the Harlequin agency, pulled out all the stops to help the Eisteddfod out in their hour of need.

They worked closely with the festival's musical director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, to advise on a suitable replacement and secure Aldrich's services. 

As a result, the American diva will be starring alongside fellow American, top tenor Noah Stewart, in a special concert version of Bizet's opera Carmen on the opening night of the iconic festival on Tuesday, July 5.

She rose to international fame in 2002 through her starring role in the Zeffirelli production of Aida and went on to win the CulturArte Award at the Operalia International Opera Competition. In 2006 she won the Alfréd Radok Award and the Thalia Award in the Czech Republic.

Aldrich has been hailed by critics as "the Carmen of this generation" and has performed the popular opera with the brilliant German tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. 

Festival chairman Dr Rhys Davies said: "I have real sympathy for Katherine because I know how much this role meant to her. We are really sorry about this but Katherine is unable to perform Carmen.

"On the other hand, we have been unbelievably lucky to be able to sign up a truly world class opera singer in her place.

"Kate Aldrich really is one of the brightest opera stars in the world and Carmen is her signature role, she already knows the part inside out and has performed it to huge acclaim at the world's greatest opera houses. The fact that she's coming to Llangollen to perform is very exciting and the audience is in for a huge treat."

According to her management Katherine was "absolutely gutted' that she is unable to perform in Llangollen.

Katherine said: "I have been looking forward to and have been preparing for my return to Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for many many months, not only because it is one of my favourite venues but because this was my opportunity to perform my dream role. I am devastated at the timing of this illness during the most crucial rehearsal period.

"Under the circumstances, I was delighted and thankful to learn that Kate Aldrich is available to step in and I am certain she will create a brilliant and wonderful evening for all. I just wish I could be there."

For her part Kate Aldrich was looking forward immensely to her first ever visit to Llangollen.
She said: "I'd like to send my commiserations to Katherine along with my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

"Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is an iconic event and I can't wait to follow in the footsteps of operatic giants like Luciano Pavarotti who have graced the famous pavilion stage in the past.

"Carmen is one of my favourite roles and I've heard that the audience in Llangollen is a very knowledgeable and appreciative one, so I'm looking forward to a special night singing with Noah and the other talented singers in the ensemble."

The concert is being sponsored by the arts-loving care organisation Pendine Park, who have bases in Wrexham and Caernarfon.

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: "We were naturally looking forward to seeing Katherine Jenkins but, given the situation, I think the Eisteddfod has pulled off a fantastic coup in signing up a hugely talented singer of Kate Aldrich's calibre who is undoubtedly one of the world's finest exponents of Carmen. It promises to be a wonderful night."

While disappointed that Katherine Jenkins was not able to be there, Eilir Owen Griffiths, the festival's musical director, was equally excited at the prospect of hearing Kate Aldrich's version of Carmen.

Eilir said: "I am extremely grateful to Bryn Terfel and Matthew Todd from the Harlequin agency, who represent him, for all their help in arranging for Kate to come to Llangollen.

"I know Bryn and Matthew spoke to their contacts, including some of the biggest names in the opera world, before recommending Kate as the perfect replacement.

"She is a spectacularly gifted mezzo soprano and the concert on opening night will I am sure provide a fitting launch for the whole week.

"We also have some wonderful artists who will be joining Kate and Noah Stewart on stage. Baritones Adam Gilbert will play the role of El Dancairo and Lukask Karauda the role of Escamillo.

“We also have Welsh mezzo-soprano Caryl Hughes, of Aberdaron playing Mercedes and tenor Trystan Griffiths, who hails from Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, playing El Remenado.

“The orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, under the baton of Anthony Inglis, and the voices of Ruthin’s Cȏr Cytgan Clwyd will add to what will be a magical night of music and drama.”

* To hear Kate Aldrich sing go to
or more information about the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod, including tickets, visit

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

North Wales police introduce body video cameras

* PCC Arfon Jones with  PC Martin Taylor at North Wales Police Headquarters.

North Wales Police will become the first force in Wales to issue  body worn video equipment to all frontline officers when they're on duty.

The news was announced by newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones at his first meeting of the  Police and Crime Panel yesterday (Monday, June 27).

Body worn video, which captures evidence of crimes as they happen, was introduced in North Wales last year, with 120 kits being deployed across the region.

Mr Jones is now delivering on his pre-election campaign promise to make sure all police officers and police community support officers can use the crime-fighting technology while they're working.

* Close-up: The body worn video camera.
He's giving nearly £163,000 to buy an extra 301 devices to make a total of 421 across the force area.

Later this year additional devices will be also be bought for specialist officers like members of the firearms team.

One area where the cameras have proved themselves 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.

Mr Jones said: "Body worn video improves evidence gathering and secures more convictions, especially in domestic violence cases. It also resolves complaints against the police because the evidence caught on camera is incontrovertible.

“Nationally, according to the College of Policing, the chance of a successful prosecution in domestic violence cases has risen from 72 per cent to 81 per cent if there is a body worn video footage in front of a jury.

"Body worn video is good for everybody except for the criminals. There is absolutely nothing to be concerned with in terms of you being filmed and if nothing untoward has happened the footage is wiped from the system in 30 days.

“It’s making North Wales a safer place because we’re getting increased early prosecutions, we’re protecting vulnerable people from domestic violence and other sorts of related violence

“It also means that vulnerable victims don’t have to go to go court to give evidence because the evidence is overwhelming from the body worn camera footage.”

Chief Superintendent Sacha Hatchett, who is in charge of Operational Support Services at North Wales Police, said: “The force is grateful to Mr Jones for recognising the value of body worn video and for finding the extra cash to fund the additional 301 devices.

“The model is real time 100 per cent deployment so there will always be one available for an operational police officer or a PCSO when they're on duty.

“In North Wales, we’ve had some recent examples where we’ve had early guilty pleas in court while the prosecution and the sanctions against the individual were much more substantial because the jury and the judge could actually see a visual representation of the scene of the crime.

“They could see the phone ripped from the wall.  They could see the damage, the pictures.  They can see the victim’s injures there and then.  They can see the persona of the offender in various states of drunkenness.

“The feedback from the Crown Prosecution Service has been excellent and there is a belief that body worn video is making a real difference."

“Body worn video is a good technology. We were able to show through piloting the devices that this is a sound investment to support officers in policing the streets safely and capturing evidence of bad behaviour and criminal activity.

"The fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner has sanctioned the purchase of the extra kits is great and welcomed news for North Wales.”

Richard Eccles, the Secretary of the North Wales Police Federation, added: “It is brilliant to see that the commissioner is delivering on his promise and ensuring that every frontline Officer has 24/7 access to these cameras.

"The benefits to the officers and to the communities are huge; these cameras are already capturing accurate footage of the situations that police officers face on the streets of North Wales.

"Increased convictions, reduced complaints and greater public confidence will be delivered through this investment by the PCC.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Band's indoor garden party is a big hit

* The youth band opens the programme.

Wet weather helped turn what should have been yesterday's Picnic in the Garden by Llangollen Silver Band and their guest performers into a brilliant bash in the Town Hall.

Instead of the grounds of Plas Newydd where it was due to be staged, the afternoon concert was switched indoors when organisers saw the forecast for rain.

But indoors or outdoors it was still an amazing showcase for local talent.

Members of the youth band opened the varied programme with a selection of lively numbers.

Next on stage came the drama group from Ysgol Bryn Collen to sing out a series of hits from musicals such as Annie and The Sound Music.

Cellist Florence Harvey played a Bach prelude and received warm applause.

Delighting the audience with their harp, guitar playing and singing were sisters Katie and Elizabeth Mwale.

There was a sizzling set by the training band before the senior band rounded off a highly enjoyable afternoon with some rousing and moving tunes.

* The drama group from Ysgol Bryn Collen takes the stage.

* Elizabeth and Katie Mwale perform.

* The senior band wrap up the concert in style.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Come to the Cabaret at New Dot's latest screening

* Liza with a Zee: Liza Minelli stars in Cabaret. 

The town's New Dot Cinema is kicking off this year’s Llangollen Fringe Festival in style with a screening of classic 1970s film Cabaret.

* Blues singer Betzy Jean.
The gala event is on Wednesday July 13 in the main room of Llangollen Town Hall.

Cinema organiser Yvonne Ryan said: "It's one of the greatest musicals of all time - eight Oscars, a divinely decadent score and Liza Minnelli – it’s the perfect way to get into the festival spirit this summer."

In addition to the main feature, rumour has it that the night will climax with an exciting blues singer, Betzy Jean, performing an exclusive, intimate set.

Formerly from Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, her power and passion is sure to raise goosebumps.

Doors open at 7.30pm and the show starts at 8pm, ending at 11pm.

There's a licensed bar and homemade cake, with popcorn and ice cream served at your seat.

Tickets are £8 (£5 concessions) and are available at Bailey's deli and Maxine's cafe in Llangollen. Also online at and

As before, audience members are encouraged to dress up, this time in a hedonistic 1930s style.

Concession price tickets are available for those dressed in suitable vintage or themed attire, as well as the under 18's, over 60's, bus pass holders and students.

Cabaret (1972, cert 15), is set in Berlin during the last heady, bohemian days just before the Nazis seized power.

* The Mayor & Mayoress of Llangollen, Mike and Melanie Adams, promote Cabaret.

It tells the story of life inside and outside the Kit Kat Club where Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), an exuberant young American singer, and the club’s leering emcee (Joel Grey) sound the call for decadent fun, while outside the doors of the club, the brutality of the rising Nazi party is becoming all too clear.

When Sally falls for Brian (Michael York), a young English university student, the two become caught in the intrigues and decadence of a world on the brink of tumultuous change.

* Read more online on Facebook: or  Twitter:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Campaign to improve homes' energy efficiency launched

Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Government are joining forces to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the county.

The local authority has teamed up with the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme which supports low income families struggling with their energy bills.

The scheme provides a range of advice and support for householders, and free home improvements for residents who receive a means tested benefit and own or rent a home that is particularly hard to heat.

Officers at Denbighshire County Council have undertaken detailed data analysis of properties across the county to identify households that are eligible to receive the free assistance.

Councillor David Smith, Cabinet Lead Member, said: “We are keen to ensure that every household in Denbighshire which meets the Nest Scheme criteria can benefit from the scheme. Nest provides much needed support to low income families who are often paying high energy bills due to the inefficiency of their property.

“We will be sending letters directly to households which we think may benefit from the scheme but we would encourage any household in need of advice and support to contact the scheme directly.”

Lee Parry, Head of Nest, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Denbighshire County Council. Their innovative approach to data analysis and their commitment to their local residents will help the Nest Scheme to reach as many low income households as possible.”

“The Welsh Government funded free home improvements, including new central heating systems and insulation, are often too expensive to replace for households in receipt of a means tested benefit. By working in partnership we will be able to help the Council support its local residents.”

Denbighshire County Council and the Nest Scheme will be holding a series of roadshows across the county in the One-Stop Shops to provide an opportunity for local residents to find out more about the scheme.  The local one will be at Llangollen Library on Wednesday July 6, from 1.30pm-3.30pm.

The Nest Scheme can also be contacted on Freephone 0808 808 2244 or at

Friday, June 24, 2016

Denbighshire joins UK in voting to LEAVE EU

The UK has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years in yesterday’s referendum, the BBC’s online news service reported just before 6.30am.

The report says London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed the result as the UK's "independence day", it adds.

The majority of Denbighshire voters opted to leave.
At just after 2.20am this morning, the county council announced the result of the poll in the county.

Of the 52,108 people who voted, 28,177 went for Leave against  23,955 who chose Remain.
The turnout was 69.1% (52,108 people voted out of 75,362 people eligible to vote).

The number of postal votes issued was 15,177 – the number returned was 13,035 (85.9%).
The number of polling stations was 67.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

It's open doors at historic sites this Sunday

Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates has announced the Welsh Government is opening the doors, free of charge, to all of its directly-managed Cadw sites on Sunday June 26 June to mark Wales’ historic achievement at reaching the final 16 in the European 2016 Football Championship.

That includes Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen (pictured).

Following Monday night’s 3-0 victory against Russia, which also placed Wales at the top of its qualifying group, Ken Skates said: "We entered this competition with a real feeling that qualification was just the start for this group of players and we were right. 

“From fan behaviour to Wales’ performance on the pitch, this tournament has captured the hearts and minds of this country and really helped to showcase to the rest of the world what Wales is truly capable of.” 

Earlier this month Mr Skates, who is also responsible for Major Events and Elite Sport in Wales, said he would be delighted to offer free entry to Cadw’s historic castles and monuments on June 26 if the Team reached the final 16.

Following Monday’s result he said: “We waited 58 years for this opportunity but it was certainly worth the wait.

“This has unquestionably been our Year of Adventure so far and long may it continue. I am pleased to confirm that not only will our castles remain illuminated in red but also, this Sunday, everyone will have the opportunity to visit our directly-managed Cadw sites for free.

“I hope the people of Wales will take full advantage of this opportunity and enjoy a thoroughly fun, informative and fulfilling day out to help celebrate the success of our national football team.”
There are 24 directly-managed Cadw sites in Wales where the special offer applies.

With more than 130 sites to explore across Wales, further information about all of Cadw’s castles and properties can be found on the Cadw website

The 24 directly-managed Cadw sites in Wales where the special offer applies are:
  • Beaumaris Castle
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Conwy Castle
  • Harlech Castle
  • Criccieth Castle
  • Plas Mawr Elizabethan Town House
  • Denbigh Castle
  • Rhuddlan Castle
  • Rug Chapel
  • Valle Crucis Abbey
  • Cilgerran Castle
  • Kidwelly Castle
  • Laugharne Castle
  • Oxwich Castle
  • St David’s Bishop’s Palace
  • Strata Florida Abbey
  • Caerphilly Castle
  • Castell Coch
  • Chepstow Castle
  • Raglan Castle
  • Tintern Abbey
  • Tretower Court & Castle
  • Blaenavon Ironworks*
  • Caerleon Roman Baths*
* Caerleon Roman Baths and Blaenavon Ironworks are already free to enter so although they are included on this list the offer of free entry is not limited to June 26.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Isherwood campaigns for armed forces community

* Mark Isherwood AM meets RAF veteran Andy Davies to discuss the campaign at the Welsh Assembly.

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has declared his support for The Royal British Legion’s ‘Count Them In’ campaign which calls for questions on the Armed Forces community to be included in the next UK Census.

It is estimated that there are currently between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population.

However, says Mr Isherwood, little is known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group.

He believes that including new questions on the next census would provide public bodies, and charities with information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for the Armed Forces community. 

After meeting veterans' representatives, he said: “There could be up to 250,000 veterans in Wales, but without this data we cannot plan for the NHS Wales capacity needed, commission the wider services required, or provide the support on which family and carers depend, and we cannot  deliver on the promise made by the Armed Forces Covenant that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.”

Chris Simpkins, Director-General of The Royal British Legion, said: “As a nation we promise to provide lifelong care and support for those who serve our country, and by adding questions to the 2021 UK Census we can help public bodies and charities to deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community where they are needed most. We thank Mark for adding his support to our campaign and it’s time to make the next census count for our Armed Forces community . We count on them, lets Count them in.”

* People can show their support for the campaign by visiting the campaign website,, or by posting on social media using the #CountThemIn hashtag.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MP's concern over fire service cuts plan

Susan Elan Jones, Member of Parliament for Clwyd South, has written to every member of the North Wales Fire Authority expressing deep concerns about proposals to cut 24 posts one of Wrexham’s two full-time engines.

Ahead of the authority’s meeting yesterday (Monday), at which the controversial plans were discussed, Ms Jones urged members to ‘go back to the drawing board’.

She said: “I am extremely concerned. This news comes only weeks after the service moved into a brand new joint ambulance and fire station, a £15m facility built with joint investment from both services. It’s quite astounding.”

Ms Jones said she feared response times would increase and lives consequently put at risk by the ‘short-sighted’ cuts put forward.

She added: “I understand Wrexham Fire Station is already dealing with more than 40% of all North Wales arson incidents, and a large proportion of the road traffic accidents across the region, and it will be facing increased pressure over the coming years with the anticipated 20% increase in the local population.

“Cutting the second appliance from Wrexham would, surely, result in delayed responses. In an environment where every second counts, this could be considered to be a deliberately irresponsible course of action.

“The second appliance based at Wrexham also supports outlying fire stations in Clwyd South at Johnstown, Chirk, Llangollen and Corwen. It is extremely worrying that standby support in these areas would cease, leaving large areas along the A5 corridor without adequate cover.

“I would urge the authority to go back to the drawing board and seriously reconsider these short-sighted proposals for the safety of the public.”

Wrexham Fire Station receives around 1,000 calls per year, about a quarter of the total for North Wales. Another 50 fire engines cover the remaining 75% of the region.

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates said he would also be writing to the authority to raise his concerns.
North wales Fire and Rescue Authority said it will consult on the proposals, the BBC reported yesterday (Monday).
For the full story, see:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wild Pheasant goes on the market

The Daily Post is reporting today (Monday) that the Wild Pheasant Hotel in Llangollen has gone on the market for £2.25 million.

For the full story, see:

Band tuning up for Picnic in the Garden

* Last year's successful Picnic in the Garden at Plas Newydd.

Llangollen Silver Band will be holding their popular Picnic in the Garden event at Plas Newydd next Sunday, June 26, from 4 – 6.30pm.

The event will feature all three of their bands  - training, youth and senior bands - performing sets alongside other musical guests.

Band spokesman, Robert Stock, explained: “In addition to brass music provided by our three bands, we’ll have string performances from Florence Harvey, Lucy Mwale and Elizabeth Mwale.

"We’re also delighted that Ysgol Bryn Collen’s Drama Group will again be joining us, following their successful performance alongside us at a concert in Llangollen Methodist Church back in March.

"They will be performing a selection of favourites from musicals such as The Sound of Music, Annie and Cinderella Rockafella.”

Tickets for Picnic in the Garden are now on sale at the cost of £5 and are available to purchase at the Council Office on Parade Street, Tourist Information Centre, Glyn the Butchers on Castle Street, and from band members. Tickets can also be purchased on the gate.

Concert goers are asked to bring along a folded chair, picnic and umbrella. 

A cake stall will also be available to purchase a range of homemade treats.

Should the weather on the day be particularly poor, the even will be held at Llangollen Town Hall instead.

Check the band's twitter page at for any announcement regarding to where the event will be held.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rock star heads hand hygiene campaign

* Rock star Mike Peters is to lead an Olympic-style baton tour around North Wales.

Rock star Mike Peters is to lead an Olympic-style baton tour around North Wales, as part of a Hand Hygiene crusade to help prevent the spread of life-threatening infections.

The Alarm front-man is among a team of NHS patients and staff who will carry the Hand Hygiene baton around the region, championing the message: 'Clean hands save lives'.

Mike, 57, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, is battling leukaemia and so has learned first-hand the importance of hand washing when it comes to staying infection-free.

The Hand Hygiene baton will tour North Wales during nine days of events organised by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, including visits to Ysbyty Glan Glwyd at Bodelwyddan, Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Mike will take the baton on a tour of wards at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and speak to patients about the importance of hand hygiene, from 9.30am on Friday July 1

Four symbolic Hand Hygiene batons are being passed around communities across the UK this summer, in a campaign organised by the Infection Prevention Society (IPS), and delivered in North Wales by the BCUHB Infection Prevention team.

The tour was launched in Scotland on May 5 to coincide with the World Health Organisation's World Hand Hygiene Day, and will finish on September 26 in Yorkshire. 

It will be in the Wrexham area on June 27 and 28, Bodelwyddan area on June 29 and 30, and July 1 and Ysbyty Gwynedd from July 3 to 5. Full details of the tour will be revealed at a later date.

The idea is to spread the message, not the bugs, says the Infection Prevention team at BCUHB. 

Mike hopes his visit to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd on July 1 will help catapult the important message that ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ into the national spotlight. 

During a glittering career Mike, 57, has shared the stage with A-listers Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Bono and Neil Young, while The Alarm has achieved 15 UK top 40 hits and sold more than five million records worldwide. 

Despite his illness he continues to tour, both at home and overseas, spurred on by the passionate support of his army of fans.

The married dad of two who lives with wife and manager, Jules, and their two sons, Dylan, 12 and Evan, nine, near Dyserth, Denbighshire, knows from personal experience how important hand hygiene is, particularly for those with low immunity levels, the very young, frail and elderly. 

He is a staunch supporter of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd, without which he says he would not be alive today.

Mike was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1995. Chemotherapy treatment forced it into remission, but the cancer came back in 2005 in the form of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. 

Further treatment kept the disease at bay until last year when it recurred. In a crushing blow for him and his family Mike was told he had developed a resistance to the life-saving drugs he was on and doctors had to urgently change his treatment regime. 

He is now on a trial drug to which his body is so far responding positively. He has regular treatment and check-ups at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor.

Mike says after years of suffering from cancer and going through times when his strength and immunity levels were dangerously low, he knows how easy it is for a commonplace infection to develop into something more serious and potentially lethal.

He said: “I had absolutely no hesitation when asked to support the infection prevention campaign because I know first-hand how effective it is when it comes to saving lives. 

"Simple preventative measures like washing your hands regularly can make a huge difference, stemming the spread of bacteria and viruses and so protecting the vulnerable.”

Tracey Cooper, the Assistant Director of Nursing in charge of infection prevention at BCUHB, will hand the baton to Mike before he takes it on tour around Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

She said: “It’s the year of the Rio Olympic Games and we’re all up for a challenge, but we’ve set ourselves a very specific goal here in North Wales – we want to stop potentially fatal infections from getting out of the starting blocks. 

"We’re over the moon Mike has agreed to be an ambassador for us.”

Infection Prevention Nurse, Kathryn Chapple, who has organised a week long hand hygiene events programme for BCUHB, added: "Mike’s visit will be a highlight of our campaign. 

"He has a large fan base here, among staff as well as patients. He will tour the various departments and visit wards.”

Experts estimate that eight out of 10 infections are spread by touch. 

Nurse Kathryn Chapple said: “That’s why washing your hands properly is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent and control the spread of many illnesses. 

“An efficient hand hygiene routine can significantly reduce the risk of contracting colds, flu, food poisoning and stop healthcare associated infections being passed from person to person. We recommend people wash their hands frequently, not just after going to the toilet, or before meals, but regularly throughout the day.”

The message was firmly reiterated by Mike’s wife Jules who admits to having become a ‘hygiene obsessive’.

She said: “I don’t want to sound paranoid of anything, but as a carer I know how bad it can get. 

"When Mike was first diagnosed I was terrified of people coming near him or even visiting him in hospital because of the risk that they could spread on infection. 

“He has so many adoring fans and has always made himself so accessible to them. I urged him to start doing ‘fist bumps’ instead of handshakes to minimise the risk.

“We all pick up invisible bacteria during the course of the day, just by touching things around us – hand rails or door knobs, for instance – and these bacteria are easily passed from person to person. 

"If you are in full health you may have the ability to fight off colds and other viruses picked up in this way, but if you are vulnerable in the first place they can become life-threatening. 

“Passing on an infection is so easily done just by shaking hands with or hugging someone when you have not washed your hands.  

"But it is also easily prevented by one simple measure – hand washing. If there is not a washroom nearby then carry an anti-bacterial cleanser. I am always telling Mike and the boys to carry anti-bacterial hand gel round with them and to use it regularly.”

Jules’s determination to support the hand hygiene campaign is strengthened by her experience of having spent a traumatic month in isolation in hospital after picking up a virus while on a fund-raising climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. 

It was in aid of world leading rock and roll charity the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation which Mike co-founded following his cancer diagnosis.

The foundation promotes music related, outreach and awareness programmes for leukaemia and cancer sufferers, survivors and their families. It builds cancer centres, funds medical equipment and supplies, raises awareness about cancer and campaigns for more potential donors to sign up to the organ and bone marrow registers.

It has seen Mike perform at famous summits around the world, from Mount Snowdon, on his home turf, to the top of New York’s Empire State Building, the world’s highest rock concert on Mount Everest, a dawn concert at Mount Fuji, Japan, and the ‘roof of Africa trek’ to Mount Kilimanjaro. 

It was following that trip when Jules suffered a blood clot which caused her leg to swell up, coupled with a mystery virus, which nearly killed her, and resulted in her having emergency treatment in Liverpool’s Tropical Disease Centre isolation unit. 

She said: “It was a very frightening time, during which I had to be quarantined from everyone including Mike and the boys, all my family, and friends, for a month. 

“I put myself in the hands of the doctors and followed their advice to the letter because I knew that was the best thing I could do. 

"I was very lucky to come out of it alive and one thing it has taught me is how easy it is for what seems like a small insignificant infection to escalate out of control. 

“That’s why the Hand Hygiene campaign is so important to us as a family, because it can make such a massive difference. It is amazing to think that such a simple task can have such a huge impact, but all the evidence is clear, washing our hands regularly really does save lives.”

The Hand Hygiene tour is the largest campaign of its kind held by the Infection Prevention Society and coincides with the 2016 World Health Organisation Clean Your Hands offensive, leading up to an infection prevention conference in Harrogate this September. 

You can follow the Hand Hygiene tour on Facebook and Twitter by searching @BCUbeatthebugs or #IPSTorchTour16

For more information visit

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Llan MP's tribute to murdered colleague

WHILE taking sensible precautions for their own safety MPs should never forget they are there to represent individuals and communities and cannot do that by hiding themselves away.

That was the message from Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones as she paid warm tribute to fellow  Labour MP Jo Cox who was murdered on the streets of her Yorkshire constituency last Thursday.

Ms Jones (pictured) said: “The tragic news about the murder of Jo Cox has shocked the whole country.

“It is clear that Jo was a person who cared very deeply about other people, both in this country and across the world.

“She had a career of distinguished service as an aid worker and a campaigner before she entered Parliament and she was every bit as dedicated in her work as an MP.

“Jo was also a mother to very young children. I know many people across our country and the world will hold her family and close friends in their thoughts and prayers at this very traumatic time. 

“Many of us were very moved by the words of Jo's husband after her death that we can best remember Jo and honour her life by standing up against the hatred that led to her death.”

Ms Jones added: “Regrettably, there often seem to be much hatred, fear and extremism in politics in our country today. However, there is also much that is good.

“One thing that I believe that we must cherish is the right of individual constituents to meet with their Members of Parliament.

“Of course, MPs and everyone in the public eye must take sensible security precautions, but we MPs should never forget that we are here to represent individuals and communities.

“And we can't do that by hiding away from people.

“Yesterday (Friday) I visited the museum in Cefn Mawr and then held a constituency surgery in Llangollen Library with Ken Skates AM.

“I will continue to do all I can to help and represent my constituents to the best of my ability.

“Democracy and tolerance are precious treasures in our country and across our continent. We must never let the voices of hatred and extremism threaten them.”