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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Operatic picks up another amateur stage "Oscar"

* From left, James Barber, sound engineer, Elen Mair Roberts, musical director, Tracey Rawlinson, producer, Michael Jones, stage manager, Bill Cheshire, cast member, Susan Cheshire, chairman,
Colin Roberts, friend of the society, and Louisa Jones, Best Performer nominee.

Llangollen Operatic has scored another success in the amateur stage "Oscars". 

Following their success last year with two wins for the 2015 production of Sister Act, a group of eight society representatives headed off to Hereford on Sunday afternoon for the Wales and Ireland Regional Annual NODA Awards ceremony.

They had been nominated in three categories of the awards for their 2016 production of The Producers - Best Production, Best Technical/Stage Management and Best Performer, Louisa Jones for her role as Swedish blonde secretary Ulla.

The ceremony is a popular event for am dram societies and was attended by around 150 people.

Tracey Rawlinson, producer, was thrilled to step up and receive the award for district winner of Best Show.

Unfortunately, the director Nia Pickering was unable to attend having recently given birth to a baby girl just three weeks earlier.

Tracey said: "We are absolutely over the moon and so very proud to be receiving another award this year for what was a truly memorable show. This is very much for all involved both on and off stage and was another fantastic team effort "

Sunday, May 28, 2017

20mph speed limit proposed for Pengwern

Denbighshire County Council is proposing a 20mph speed limit on Pengwern in Llangollen.

The council has made an order under road traffic legislation to cut vehicle speed around the area in a bid to improve safety for both pedestrians and motorists.
The proposal would apply to:
* Pengwern, from a point 10 metres south east of its junction with the A5 for its entire length.

* Horseshoe Pass View, from its junction with Pengwern for its entire length
* Min y Coed, from its junction with Pengwern for its entire length

* Maes Pengwern, from its junction with Pengwern for its entire length
* Trem y Gwernant, from its junction with Maes Pengwern for its entire length

* Tan y Coed, from its junction with Maes Pengwern for its entire length
* Trem y Ysgol, from its junction with Pengwern for its entire length

* Erw Deg, from its junction with Pengwern for its entire length
The newly elected Labour county councillor for Llangollen, Graham Timms (pictured), expressed his delight at the order.

He said: "Reducing the speed of traffic on Pengwern has been a genuine concern of everyone for a long time.

“This reduction in speed can't come soon enough. It provides the legal basis for a safer neighbourhood for residents and children.

"When the new speed limits are introduced I'll be working closely alongside those living on Pengwern and the local police to make sure that motorists respects the new limits."

A copy of the proposals can be inspected at Llangollen Library, and anyone objecting to the new limit has until June 21 to register their concern and their reasons with the county council. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Police postpone open day after Manchester attack

The North Wales Police Open day, planned for Saturday, June 3, has been postponed until September so that officers can continue to provide an increased presence across the region and support the counter terrorism effort in other parts of the country.

Chief Constable Mark Polin said: “Since the truly horrific attack in Manchester, and the raising of the national threat level to critical, members of the public will have seen increased patrols, including by armed officers,  across North Wales.

“Our Open Day is one of the highlights of the calendar for us and, based on past attendance levels, is for our local communities too. A great deal of planning involving ourselves and partners goes into it, so to postpone the event was not a decision that was taken lightly and I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“The event is supported by a great many police officers, special constabulary members, volunteers, specialist teams - including firearms and dogs – and many colleagues from partner organisations many of whom under the current circumstances are needed out and about across North Wales providing a reassuring presence and security to members of the public. Officers from North Wales are also currently working alongside colleagues in Greater Manchester, and we have officers deployed in the city.

"I am confident that the public would expect me to put all available resources into keeping our communities safe rather than planning for, and holding the open day, in spite of the importance of the occasion. Even if the critical threat level is reduced before the event, it would be difficult to ensure that we have the resources available to guarantee a successful day, and we have left the decision as late as possible under the circumstances.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who lost their lives, their families and loved ones, and those who were injured in Monday’s senseless attack.

“North Wales Police will stand together as a team with all UK forces and other agencies in the face of the current national threat, to do everything that we can to keep people safe and to provide reassurance.

“We continue to work with our Policing and Counter Terrorism partners in both investigating the Manchester attack and gathering intelligence to prevent further attacks.   We are also working closely with the other emergency services, local authority partners and our  local communities.

“The sad events of this week reinforce the need for us all to remain vigilant. Our advice remains the same, please stay alert but not alarmed and report any suspicious incidents immediately.”

The decision to postpone until September 16th was made to avoid clashes with other North Wales weekend events over the summer.

* Report anything suspicious to the confidential anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.  In an emergency always call 999.

Event planned for tomorrow

Friends of Llangollen Museum have asked llanblogger to publicise the event below ...

Buzz over to Plas Newydd this Saturday

Saturday 27 May  11.00  -  16.00


at Plas Newydd, Llangollen

Join Friends of the Earth at Llangollen Bee Friendly.

Help Chester Zoo Nature Rangers discover bumble bees, join the North Wales Wildlife Trust in their outdoor lab, join in the North East Wales Dance workshops and follow the busy bee trail.

There will be honey tasting, face painting, plant sales, pollinator themed arts and crafts and a prize for the best pollinator fancy dress!  Entries for our children's art and creative writing competition will be on display and winners judged.

Lavish festival of gardens set to open

* Eirlys Jones, left, and Clare Britton, from North
Wales Tourism and Tony Russell, the consultant
who has helped put the festival together
and is based at Plas Tan y Bwlch.

Thousands of green fingered tourists will be heading to North Wales for a spectacular 16-day festival of gardens.

A packed programme of events, ranging from behind the scenes guided tours and photography competitions to a squirrel watch and a vintage car rally will be staged as part of the Festival of Gardens North Wales.

The festival, which is being supported by the Welsh Government, is being organised by North Wales Tourism.

It will be officially opened at the beautiful Plas Tan y Bwlch gardens near Maentwrog in Gwynedd by Gardener’s Question Time chairman and former TV weatherman Peter Gibbs tomorrow, Saturday, May 27.

Last year’s inaugural Festival of Gardens North Wales brought almost 44,000 visitors flocking to the beauty spots involved and it's expected to plough up to £2 million into the region this summer.

This year for the first time there will be a Friends of the Festival Discount Card costing £5 which will include offers such as free tea/coffee and discounted admission.

According to Peter Gibbs, the festival will uncover some hidden gems of the garden world.
Peter, who was also a BBC national TV weatherman until last year, said: “A lot of people, including gardeners, don’t realise how many different gardens there are in North Wales.

“Apart from the large, well known National Trust ones there are also lots of fantastic smaller gardens and without this sort of festival they wouldn’t get noticed by the kind of people who would really enjoy them.

Peter added: “It’s a great honour to be invited to open the festival and I’m really looking forward to what should be a memorable occasion in a wonderful part of the world.

“From a weather point of view North Wales is very interesting. It has a relatively mild climate and because of the Gulf Stream doesn’t get a lot of particularly cold weather. There’s also the effect of the mountains which gives you so many different micro-climates."

North Wales Tourism managing director Jim Jones said: “North Wales has some of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and this event is all about showing them off to as many people as possible.”  
More than 100 unique events are planned over the 16 days of the festival at gardens taking part including musical performances, orienteering sessions, treasure hunts, bug hunts, gardening lectures, family treasure hunts, children’s trails and plant sales.

The festival dates have been arranged to coincide with late-spring flowering displays, which will include rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, tulips and flowering cherries, making this one of the best times of the year to visit the great gardens of North Wales.

Jim Jones added: “This is the second year of the festival and it’s going from strength to strength.

“It’s an excellent example of what can be achieved when North Wales gets together for a particular offer – in this case its wonderful gardens.

“We have some of the most beautiful in the UK, including some real hidden gems, and this is about showing them off to as many people as possible.

“You can see our gardens separately but being able to visit them all together during the festival is amazing and the event is the perfect showcase for one of our best assets.

“The festival has been extensively marketed and we expect to attract thousands of visitors not just from around the gardens but also from a much wider area including other parts of Wales as well as the North West and Midlands of England.

“Last year’s inaugural festival was a major success and brought over 43,000 people through the gates of the gardens involved.

“Welsh Government figures show that the average spend per day visit to Wales was £39 last year, which means the festival had the potential to bring a total of over £1.7 million into the local economy. 

“This year that figure could be even higher with the festival lasting longer and involving more gardens, which is great news for North Wales.”

He added: “We have an exciting, fascinating and entertaining programme of events and activities lined up, which means that every morning, afternoon and evening there will be at least one special event happening in or more of the gardens.

“We are also very lucky to have Peter Gibbs, who hosts the iconic Gardener’s Question Time on BBC Radio, to open the festival at Plas Tan y Bwlch on Saturday May 27, which should be a brilliant occasion.”   

Special advisor to the festival once again is gardens guru Tony Russell, renowned as one of Britain’s leading experts on trees and shrubs who also makes regular appearances on the BBC’s Gardener’s Question Time.

He said: “Having launched the festival in 2016, I am delighted to see it develop and grow into such an exciting event.

“For 2017 there are even more gardens involved and between them they will be running in excess of 100 special events.

“Having worked in horticulture for over 30 years, I can honestly say there is nothing quite like the festival held in any other part of Britain.

“North Wales has some of the finest gardens in the UK and the festival is a way of telling the world all about them.”

Gardens taking part in the festival from the county of Gwynedd are: Plas Yn Rhiw at Pwllheli, Caerau Uchaf in Bala, Treborth Botanic Garden in Bangor, Crug Farm Plants in Caernarfon, Parc Glynllifon in Caernarfon, Aber Arto Hall in Llanbedr, Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog, Plan Tan y Blwch near Maentwrog, Portmeirion in Penrhyndeudraeth, Plas Brondanw at Penrhyndeudraeth, Nanhoron in Pwllheli and the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. 

In the county of Anglesey it’s Plas Newydd in Llanfairpwll and Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens in Menai Bridge.

In the county of Denbighshire it’s Plas Newydd in Llangollen, Bodrhyddan Hall Gardens in Rhyl, Nantclwyd y Dre in Ruthin and Dibleys Nuseries near Ruthin.

In the county of Powys there’s Powis Castle and Gardens near Welshpool, the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth and The Dingle Garden near Welshpool.

Taking part from the county of Wrexham are Chirk Castle near Chirk and National Trust Erddig near Wrexham.   

Gardens from the county of Conwy involved in include Bodnant Garden at Tal y Cafn and Gwrych Castle in Abergele which will be open on May 27, 28 and 29.

Highlights of the Festival of Gardens North Wales:

  • In Wrexham, throughout the festival the National Trust is holding Big Bug Hunt where visitors can look for big cuddly bugs in the house and cast their eyes over some creepy carvings outdoors by international chainsaw artist Simon O’Rourke. Both parts of the hunt take place daily from 10am to 5pm in the garden and 12.30pm to 3.30pm in the house.
  • In Anglesey there is a Red Squirrel Walk at Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens in Menai Bridge on June 4, starting at 2pm.
  • In Powys there is the Dig a little Deeper event at Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth. Running each day from May 27 to June 4 between 10am and 5pm, it includes tours, activities, trails and workshops. The festival coincides with school holidays so there will be lots of garden inspired activities for kids and families.
  • Among the highlights in Conwy is the Dawn Chorus Walk at Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay on May 29, starting early from 5.30-7.30am at a cost of £20. It includes a magical tour of the garden at dawn, including an exclusive viewing of the Laburnum Arch and expert birdwatching advice. A full Welsh breakfast will be available afterwards at a cost of £5.
  • In Gwynedd there is a vintage car rally at Parc Glynllifon, Caernarfon from 10am-5pm on Sunday June 11.
  • Highlight in Denbighshire comes on Sunday June 11 with the annual plant fayre at Bodrhyddan Hall.  

This year for the first time there will be a Friends of the Festival Discount Card costing £5 which will include offers such as free tea/coffee and discounted admission. For more information about the festival go to

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Battle of Britain legends to fly over Llan

A Spitfire and Hurricane (pictured) from the legendary Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will honour the Llangollen Motorcycle Festival - LlanBikeFest - with a fly past on Sunday, August 6.

RAF officials have confirmed the flight is expected on Sunday morning, with the actual time to be agreed nearer to the event.

“The spectacle will be amazing and the sound of two Merlin engines echoing around the Dee Valley will be music to the ears. We are especially honoured as 2017 is the 60th anniversary of the flight being formed,” said LlanBikeFest’s John Hutchinson.

“Wales has chosen 2017 as the Year of Legends – which is exactly what these aircraft and the crews who flew them are.

“Fingers crossed for great flying conditions. We will keep people posted with the time the flight expected over Llangollen on Facebook and Twitter.”

* Learn more about the Battle Britain Memorial Flight on its Facebook and website pages. Follow LlanBikeFest on Facebook at Llangollen Motorcycle Festival and Twitter at @llanbikefest.

LlanBikeFest is sponsored by Carole Nash Insurance, with day tickets £10 on the gate or online at, and children 15 and under free. Or contact the Festival office at 07960 693398, Club stands and exhibitor bookings are free.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UKIP supplies Clwyd South candidate's details

Details of the UKIP candidate for Clwyd South in the general election have now been supplied.

Jeanette Bassford-Barton (pictured) spent her early years in Gresford and now lives in Bwlchgwyn.

A qualified transport manager, social care manager and now a psychotherapist/hypnotherapist, she gained degrees in Liverpool and Manchester and post-graduate degrees in Liverpool and Chester.

She says she has always had an interest in politics, history and current affairs and in earlier years supported her late husband in local elections in Liverpool.

She has stood as a candidate for UKIP in a council by-election in Llay in July 2015 and was a Welsh Assembly candidate for Wrexham in May 2016.

She has served as secretary/treasurer for UKIP's Wrexham and Clwyd South Branch and is now treasurer of the same branch.

She believes there is a `north/south divide' in Wales and says: "So much is given in funding to South Wales and North Wales, by comparison, is the poor relative.  

"Public transport is a major concern for me. There is restricted access during the day, some buses not starting service until 9.30am. There is no access to public transport in the evenings or at night. This can affect shift workers and people working unsocial hours or people wishing to go out in the evenings. Taxis are very expensive."

Ms Bassford-Barton added: "Communities, health, social care and education are of prime importance and there needs to be more cohesion in these areas.  

"Youth  and the elderly are also of major concern to me and there is very little to offer young people by way of youth clubs and after-school activities in the villages and small towns of Clwyd South and I feel that more funding and training of volunteers should be found to ease and help this situation.

"Our elderly should be looked after and respected, they have worked hard and contributed to the economy in their working lives and now deserve to have some relief in their twilight and sometimes sick, disabled and pain ridden years and this is where our health service can help."  

She says she also believes in the UKIP policy that farming subsidies should stay in place after Brexit, with special consideration being given to hill farmers.

Operatic gets its timing right with 9 to 5

* A scene from 9 to 5 at the Town Hall.

llanblogger review

Llangollen Operatic Society has once again got their timing right with their latest production, the Dolly Parton-penned comedy musical 9 to 5.

Yesterday’s first night audience at the Town Hall lapped up every second of the show which tells the hilarious tale of how a bunch of office worms turn to eventually take over the running of their company – and would easily have come back for seconds.
It’s 1979 and the staff of US-based Consolidated Industries, especially the females amongst them, are being ground down by their chauvinistic boss, Franklin Hart Jnr - until inexperienced new employee Judy Burnley turns up.

Her arrival in the typing pool is the spark for revolution when she teams up with efficient manager Violet Newstead and the voluptuous Doralee Rhodes, the Dolly Parton character who everyone suspects of having an affair with Hart.
Their various strategies ultimately give the good guys control of the place – but only after a great number of laughs are generated.

A terrific trio has been cast to take on the three key roles of the piece which adds some very catchy tunes to dear Dolly’s original words that were filmed for the big screen back in the eighties.
The reserved but gutsy Judy is played to perfection by society stalwart Louisa Jones, while another Llangollen stage favourite Helen Belton shines as Violet. Rising star Louise Cielecki makes a bustling, brilliant Doralee.

Apart from fitting their characters like custom-made cowboy boots each of them can also belt out a mean tune of which there’s a fair spattering throughout the lively two-acter.
Relative newcomer Brett Jones is seedier than an explosion in a tomato canning factory as Hart and, as intended, has the audience hating him right from the start.

Backing up the leads is an impressive supporting team spearheaded by Tessa Orton Jones who stepped in at virtually the last minute to take on the role of Roz Keith, who’d do anything to please the awful boss, after the lady with whom she was originally part-sharing, Justine Bradey, had an accident in rehearsals.
The script demands quite a bit of set-piece show dancing and singing. And that’s admirably provided by a strong ensemble cast.

Smooth musical backing was provided for all this by a six-piece band under the baton of musical director Elen Mair Roberts.

Settings are masterfully created by the back-stage crew and costumes, lighting and sound are up to the society’s usual high standard.
This is an inspired co-production by Alix Rawlinson and Robin Crowley which ranks as another hit for the talented Llangollen team.

To reflect the day’s dreadful news from Manchester, the show was prefaced by one minute’s silence.
9 to 5 is on again tonight (Wednesday) and also Thursday and Friday with two shows on Saturday. Tickets, I understand, are in high demand.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

County lifts computer restrictions

Denbighshire County Council has announced that restrictions imposed on access to webmail addresses from public access computers in the county’s libraries have now been lifted.

The precautionary measures were introduced following the recent cyber issues, to mitigate any potential risks to Denbighshire’s systems. No security breaches had been reported with the Council’s systems.

Whilst access to all webmail is now enabled for libraries (public access) and schools,   the Council is urging people to remain vigilant. Suspicious e-mails should not be opened and should be deleted immediately. People should also avoid opening links sent via an e-mail and should not open any suspicious attachments.

All new incoming e-mails from,,,,, and will now be allowed through the system.

Trading Standards issues telephone fraud warning

Denbighshire Trading Standards Section are warning residents to be on their guard after they received a report of a telephone fraud from a resident of the county.

The consumer had received a call from a male stating that he was from a Claims Advisory Group and that a £2860 PPI refund was due.

Unusually, the consumer was advised that they would have to pay a release fee in ‘iTunes vouchers’ .

These would be collected by a representative of the company called ‘Craig White’ who would attend their home later that day to drop off the cheque. 

The calls were received from a Manchester telephone number beginning with 0161. Luckily, the consumer realised this was a scam and hung up on the caller.

Denbighshire Public Protection Manager,  Emlyn Jones, said: “This is one of a number of telephone scams we are receiving calls about at the moment.

“In this case we have identified that a further telephone call is received and the ‘I Tunes’ voucher codes are requested over the telephone and then no delivery is made and no money is received.

“We are urging residents to be extremely wary of any unsolicited phone calls and never give out personal or banking details.”
Trading Standards is issuing the following consumer safety advice:
  • Consider making your phone number ex-directory.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service
  • Don’t give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.
  • Don’t give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone.
  • NEVER tell somebody your bank PIN number, even if they claim to be the bank or police. If the caller is genuine they will never ask for this information.
  • Don’t give out information which may infer that you live alone, are older or vulnerable.
  • Never send money to anyone who claims to have a prize or refund for you.
Please remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

* If you have received such calls and need further advice or guidance or have been a victim of such a call, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 for the Welsh language line please ring 03454 040505, or alternatively you can report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Plas Newydd news for June

Saturday 3rd June

Llangollen Rotary Club Garden Fete

Plas Newydd is again host this year to the popular Rotary Club Garden Fete.  Come along for a fun afternoon out with the family with many stalls and entertainment. 

Monday 12th June    18.30  -  20.30

Myths & Legends Talk Part 2 with Gill Smith

The Myths and Legends  talk with Gill Smith on Wed 26th April was very well attended  and very informative.  As a result a second was requested and this is now arranged for Monday 12th  June.  This date was chosen as it is the special day of the Warrior Princess Gwenllian. 

Wednesday  14th June   14.00  -  16.00

Give Bowling a go

Meet at Plas Newydd.  Come and try your hand at bowling in the magnificent setting of Plas Newydd with the Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley and the AONB Officer. 

Friday 16th  June   10.00  -  12.00

Meet the Gardener Tour

Meet Plas Newydd.  Find out the secrets of the gardens at Plas Newydd with a tour of the grounds with the gardener.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Strong male voice choir line-up for eisteddfod opener

* Colne Valley Male Voice Choir return to sing at this year's 70th eisteddfod. 

A male voice choir that performed at the first ever Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 1947 will sing alongside two of Wales’ most prolific male voice choirs at the event’s 70th anniversary opening concert on Monday July 3.

Colne Valley Male Voice Choir will join Froncysyllte (Fron) and Rhosllanerchrugog (Rhos) male voice choirs, to perform with the Canoldir Male Voice Chior, Cory Brass Band, conductor Owain Arwel Hughes, euphonium soloist David Childs and Voice of the Future 2015 winner Meinir Wyn Roberts.

Including operatic choruses, classical favourites and some of Wales’ best known hymns, the show is jointly sponsored by Denbighshire County Council and Hamper Llangollen.

Fron Male Voice Choir, like the Eisteddfod, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

Formed in 1947, inspired by the inaugural International Eisteddfod, its history reflects that of the festival with many of its members coming together after returning from war.

Remarkably, two of its original members still sing with the choir.

Joining the Fron is Rhos Male Voice Choir, one of the most successful in Wales and 2015 winners of the male voice choir section at the International Eisteddfod.

The Rhos has also enjoyed a unique hat trick of wins when it took first place in the male voice choir competitions in The Llangollen Eisteddfod, the National Eisteddfod and S4C’s Côr Cymru in 2013.

Colne Valley was the first male voice choir to take the stage at the 1947 event and they remain one of the festival’s most prolific competitors.

The choir boasts six wins – including a hat trick in 1960, 1961 and 1962 - five second and two third prizes, in 23 competitive visits.

Canoldir, a Birmingham-based male choir that was formed on St David’s Day in 1966 by a group of Welsh exiles and some English friends, completes the opening concert’s male voice line-up.

The impressive line up will perform under the baton of Owain Arwel Hughes who has conducted and recorded with many of the world’s leading orchestras.

Eilir Owen Griffiths, Music Director of the International Eisteddfod, said: “The line up for our Monday night opening concert is simply phenomenal and perfectly combines the Eisteddfod’s history and heritage with world class musical talent." 

Bob Jaques, from the organising committee of concert co-sponsor Hamper Llangollen, said: “What a fitting start to the International Eisteddfod’s 70th Anniversary concert schedule. We are looking forward to an evening of rousing classical music and powerful Welsh hymns to get us in the mood for the rest of the week.”

* For more information or to purchase tickets for the 70th anniversary Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, including Llanfest, go to:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

David looks back at a dangerous age in new book

Local author invites llanblogger to review his latest novel

David Ebsworth has produced a new all-action novel which manages to deliver a fascinating history lesson into the bargain.
Despite the rising popularity of books with a military history theme, works about the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s are still not all that common.

And consequently our knowledge of this episode of blood-letting which presaged the Second World War tends to be perhaps a little sparse.
But Until the Curtain Falls by Ebsworth, who already has a handful of historical fiction novels covering periods from the Dark Ages to the Zulu War to his credit, goes a long way to correct this imbalance.

* Author David Ebsworth.
While displaying all the nail-biting drama and plot twists of a classic spy or detective story, it also tells us much about the epic battle of fascism v socialism which is its backcloth.
The book is actually a sequel to the author’s earlier novel, The Assassin’s Mark, which placed left-wing journalist Jack Telford right in the heart of the conflict leading to the rise to power of the dictator Franco who went on to rule Spain with an iron hand until his death in 1975.
In the first novel Telford finds himself in plenty of trouble when a press facility trip to the war-torn country designed to show Franco’s Nationalists in the best possible light takes some seriously sinister turns.

Until the Curtain Falls, set in the closing stage of the war in the autumn of 1938,  takes the plot on from there and places Telford in some even more perilous predicaments.
But he’s no plastic James Bond figure and doesn’t always manage to escape unscathed. Although Telford must at times turn into a killer it’s a reluctant one and in one stomach-churning episode in which he is tortured by a fascist henchman he ends up with a life-changing injury.

The plot roars its way across a Spain where both the landscape and the people are  deeply scarred by civil war – always the most wounding of conflicts – and, thanks to some meticulous research, every step of the way the detail against which Ebsworth sets the action is little short of superb, right down to the correct-for-the-period price of the tickets when Telford spends a night at the theatre.
Every key character is magnificently drawn and the dialogue entirely believable.    

The book pulls no punches either when it comes to its references to Britain’s less than glorious influence on the war which was a dress rehearsal for the much larger conflict destined to erupt in September 1939.
In every sense this book is a cracking read and also an absorbing backward glance at a very dangerous age.

* Until the Curtain Falls is published by Silverwood Books at £10.99. For more information, go to:

Careers in adventure sports up for grabs

* Bodyboating on the River Dee.

Adrenaline junkies are being given the chance to start a new career in adventure sports.

A unique training opportunity is being offered to increase the number of outdoor sports instructors in Denbighshire’s Dee Valley to meet rising demand.

Denbighshire County Council and Cadwyn Clwyd are contributing funding to provide subsidised training sessions on paddle sports, white water rafting and first aid courses.

Antony Fleming-Williams, aged 32, one of the owners of Llangollen-based adventure sports company Bodyboating, said: “The course is an amazing opportunity and offers fantastic value for money for anyone wishing to start or further their career in the outdoor sector.

“I would encourage anyone who wishes to further their employment prospects to sign up.”

Mr Fleming-Williams, who lives near Llangollen, previously ran a cocktail bar in Sheffield and managed restaurants across the UK before moving to the area seven years ago.

He said: “It is a very exciting career. It is a lifestyle choice. I get to spend a lot more time outdoors doing things I enjoy. It is the best career choice I ever made.”

The course, comprising of six sessions, will offer training for new instructors as well as upskilling current qualifications.

Carolyn Brindle, the Council’s lead officer for business support & local growth, said: “The Dee Valley provides the picturesque backdrop to a host of outdoor activities.

“The coming together of tourism businesses under the Dee Valley Active group has enabled them to work together and see each other as assets to the area rather than competition.

“As the group further promotes the destination as an area for outdoor activities, they are mindful they need the capacity to deliver.

“These training courses offer those who enjoy outdoor sport and are looking for a career change the chance to take that all important first step.”

The project was funded by the Council’s Tourism Growth Plan and Cadwyn Clwyd secured  funding through the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities - Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Support and advice has also been provided by the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB.

Donna Hughes, Cadwyn Clwyd’s business partnerships officer, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding to help individuals take the first step into a career in outdoor sports.”

* For more information or to book contact Ceri Lloyd on 01824 712757 or e-mail

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Operatic's new show previews at Eagles Meadow

* From back left, Operatic performers Justine Bradey, Helen Benton, who plays Violet, Shea Ferron, 14, who plays Josh. Front from left, Rachel Bingham, Alison Ravenscroft, Biba Baksh-Jones and Lauren Tynan prepare for their 9 to 5 preview at Eagles Meadow.

Shoppers were given a sneak preview of a blockbuster musical in Llangollen.

The music of country legend Dolly Parton had customers dancing and tapping their feet at the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre in Wrexham.

They were entertained by member of the cast of the hit show, 9 to 5, which will be performed by Llangollen Operatic Society at the Town Hall between Tuesday, May 23, and Saturday, May 27.

The show, set in an office in early 1980s New York, charts the journey of three downtrodden women who are brought together in unlikely friendship by their mutual frustration with their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss.

The score is signature Dolly Parton and includes catchy songs with a country and western feel, a couple of big belters and some more poignant numbers.

This is perfectly complimented by Patricia Resnick's witty book, which will certainly have audiences chuckling all the way home.

All the cast members come from the Llangollen and Wrexham areas.

According to direct Robin Cowley, they've worked exceptionally hard learning the 20 iconic songs from the show.

He said: “It’s an amazing story and really good fun. It’s about stereo types, the CEO of the company is a misogynist, egotistical and hypocritical man. The story revolves around three women, Violet, Doralee and Judy and their desire to get even with their boss, overthrow him and lead the company they work for in a much better way.

“And of course they get their dream and introduce change including job share, flexi working and day care. It’s a fun story and a really lively show with a lot of laughs along the way.”

Robin, who trained as an actor at a London theatre school but now works as an insurance salesman, added: “We are delighted that the management of Eagles Meadow have yet again supported us as a society and allowed us time and space to give shoppers and visitors a little taster of the show.

“It’s a real help and we have had a great deal of interest from people keen to hear more about the show. It also gives the cast the chance to perform some of the dances and songs they will be performing on stage before big audiences.

“And during the show Dolly Parton does make an appearance, even if it is part of a projection. So we can rightly claim Dolly is coming to Llangollen!”

Helen Belton, who hails from Wrexham but now lives in Llangollen, plays Violet, one of the lead roles in 9 to 5.

She said: “There is a really good twist at the end of the story. It’s quite a complex story with so many songs and harmonies we have had to perfect. And my character is in all but two scenes so I’m on stage a great deal.

“I’m also enjoying working with Shea Ferron, who is just 14. He plays my son, Josh, in the show. This will be his first show although he is moving up form Llangollen Operatic Society’s Young ’Un’s where he gained lots of experience.”

Helen who works as a private music teacher and community council clerk, added: “I’d encourage anyone who enjoys good music and theatre to get a ticket and come along and see the show.

“The cast involves people aged 14 to almost 60. We have put a great deal of work and effort into the show. Robin is a fantastic director and the fact he trained professionally to be an actor really shows.

“This is my third show with the Llangollen Operatic Society. I’ve previously played Yum Yum in the Mikado and Nettie Fowler in Carousel. I’ve also performed in several other productions with other companies.”

Shea Ferron, 14, a pupil of St Joseph’s School Wrexham, was thrilled to get the call and to have been cast in 9 to 5.

He said: “I really enjoy it. I’ve been in a number of productions with the Young ’Un’s, the youth arm of the society but this will be my debut with the full society. I’ve really enjoyed rehearsals and I’m just looking forward to getting on stage now.”

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are always keen to help community initiatives and Llangollen Operatic Society have been at Eagles Meadow several times to promote their shows.

“It’s always good to give out shoppers and visitors something a little bit different as part of their shopping experience and there is no doubt the 9 to 5 numbers proved very popular. We wish the 9 to 5 cast every success with their new show which I ‘m sure will be a big hit.”

* For tickets to 9 to 5 call Ticket Line on 07814 959680 or visit the Ticket Line website at

Friday, May 19, 2017

Town crier Chem goes hot foot after cash

* Chem gets a feel for the fire on his feet.

When Llangollen’s town crier Austin “Chem” Cheminais says he’d walk over hot coals to help the Wales Air Ambulance he really means it.

Because in September the 63-year-old retired teacher, who has also just become a town councillor, plans to take part in the Year of Legends Fire Walk at Chirk Marina in aid of the high-flying charity.

Over the past few years Chem has raised hundreds of pounds for the air ambulance as a way of saying thank you for the way the Midlands helicopter zoomed in to airlift him to hospital back in 2010 after he was run over twice by a delivery van in the car park of the school in Walsall where he was headmaster at the time.

In his latest fundraising venture, along with other charity dare-devils, he’ll walk over red-hot coals in a bid to raise at least £500 for the air ambulance on the evening of Saturday September 23 outside the Boathouse pub restaurant.
Chem said: “I’m perhaps a little nervous but very excited about the walk. It should be good fun.

“It’s not often you get the chance to try something new and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed.
“I didn’t realise until I needed one that air ambulances get no government funding, so I’ve set a fundraising target of £500.”    

To help spur him on, local artist Chris Burton has penned the cartoon strip (below) imagining the crazy scenes as Chem takes his hot-footed challenge.
* You can sponsor him at 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Plaid launches its election campaign

* Plaid supporters launch their election campaign with their candidate Chris Allen, centre.

Plaid Cymru in Clwyd South has launched its General Election campaign with the party’s candidate, Chris Allen, promising to fight to ensure that Wales gets the best deal from the Brexit negotiations to secure funds to invest in job creation and infrastructure in the area.

He said: “This area needs a strong MP to stand up for our needs and interests, not an MP who will be dictated to by political bosses in London.

"Now, more than ever, we need a local representative in Westminster who will fight to get funding to create well-paid jobs here, rather than an MP who votes against our interests and for more and more spending on infrastructure for London and the south-east of England.

“Brexit is happening and our voice in Wales must be heard in those negotiations. It will affect our manufacturing industries, tourism and agriculture – all vital parts of the Clwyd South economy."

He added: “Wealth inequality has increased further in recent years and more people are using foodbanks in north-east Wales than ever before. Yet, while we are told that more and more people are in work, the truth is that more and more people are also living in poverty.

"Women and people with disabilities are the hardest hit, and Wales is the poorest nation within the UK. So it’s clear that on June 8 we need to elect a strong group of Plaid Cymru MP’s in order to fight for Wales and ensure that the people of Wales get a fair deal."

Chris Allen is a father of two and lives in Trevor. He’s an engineer by trade and his wife is a teacher at Ysgol Dinas Bran.

Eisteddfod music chief to hang up his baton

* Stepping down: Eilir Owen Griffiths.

After six years as Music Director of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Eilir Owen Griffiths will step down from the position after this year’s 70th anniversary festival.

The eisteddfod’s youngest ever MD will leave following this year’s event in July, giving him more opportunity to concentrate on new developments at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, composition projects and also to spend precious time with his young family.

During his tenure, Eilir introduced the Children’s Choir of the World Competition, Voice of The Future and International Voice of Musical Theatre Competition, as well and developing the Outreach and Inclusion Projects, which recently won the Scottish Power Community Award. 

His ambitious programing has also pulled together large scale concerts including Sweeney Todd with a cast of 150, and a star studded Carmen last year. 

He has been integral in drawing national audiences across the border by securing performances from global artists such as Status Quo, UB40, Burt Bacharach, Jools Holland, Caro Emerald and Rufus Wainwright.

He has also sustained high quality artists that the International Eisteddfod is famous for, including Sir Bryn Terfel, Joseph Calleja, Catrin Finch, Noah Stewart, Alison Balsom, Nicola Benedetti and Karl Jenkins, to name just a few.

Prior to his appointment in 2011, Eilir attended the eisteddfod as a competitor and performed in the famous Royal International Pavilion in 1998 with Ysgol Glan Clwyd and with his award-winning choir CF1 in 2010.

Eilir said: “It is difficult to sum up six incredible years. I am proud to be ending my time at the Llangollen Eisteddfod on such a high and it’s such an honour to be bowing out after the 70th anniversary festival. I’m excited to see the team’s hard work culminate in what promises to be a wonderful celebratory year.

“I’ve been lucky that throughout my time as Music Director I’ve been able to work on projects I’m extremely passionate about. From the start I was keen to increase opportunities for young performers to get involved with the festival which is what led me to start the Children’s Choir of the World Competition, Voice of the Future and Young Musician Competitions, which I hope will be a part of my legacy.

“The Music Director’s role is a very challenging one and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the dedicated staff, partners, sponsors and of course the volunteers that have work alongside me for the last six years.”

Speaking of his favorite moments during his time at the Llangollen Eisteddfod, Eilir added: “There have been too many ‘pinch myself’ moments to mention. One was definitely the performance of Sweeney Todd with Sir Bryn Terfel in 2014 and another was when Noah Stewart, the American operatic tenor, performed my original arrangement of Calon Lan in Welsh. To top it off, where else but Llangollen could you sit down and have a post-concert drink with three world-renowned figures, Burt Bacharach, Paul Mealor and Terry Waite?

“I feel content with the six years that I have had as the Music Director of Llangollen. I have a number of fond memories and I hope that I will return in years to come as either an audience member or even compete!

“But before I hang up my hat there is this year’s International Eisteddfod to enjoy. There are so many highlights this year and in particular I am looking forward to enjoying Gregory Porter on Friday 7th July.”

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Chairman, Dr Rhys Davies, added: “Eilir’s unwavering enthusiasm is infectious and it has been a joy to work with him over the past six years, creating unique and memorable festivals each year.

“Eilir’s contribution to the festival programme, through the talent he has signed up to perform and also the competition and community elements he has developed, will be a fitting legacy. Throughout his time with us he has remained true to the core principles of the International Eisteddfod - uniting people together in peace and friendship through music and dance.

“His last eisteddfod continues in the same vein as his previous - diverse, contemporary and star-studded. Bringing together global artists including the Manics, Huw Stephens, Kristine Opolais, Gregory Porter, Sir Bryn Terfel Christopher Tin and Reverend and The Makers on the same line up has been no mean feat. We really can’t wait to see Eilir’s grand finale come together.”

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is currently recruiting for the role of Music Director to start this summer. To apply for the role, contact Chief Operations Officer Siân Eagar at the Llangollen Eisteddfod office on 01978 862 000.

To buy tickets for the 70th anniversary Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, including Llanfest, please visit:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Story says Aldi set to open on July 13

The Daily Post is reporting today that Llangollen's new Aldi supermarket is to open on Thursday July 13.

For the full story, see: