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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

AM raises concerns over hospice funding

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has made calls for the Welsh Government and Health Boards to provide more funding for charitable hospices in Wales.

Mr Isherwood raised the matter in the Assembly Chamber when he asked the First Minister how the Welsh Government is supporting the palliative care sector in Wales.

Carwyn Jones said his Government’s updated End-of-Life Care Delivery Plan, published in March, includes £6.4 million to provide specialist palliative care services, but Mr Isherwood said that is poorly targeted.

He said: “The majority of end-of-life care in Wales is provided by Wales’s 13 adult and two children’s hospices. You indicate a figure of roughly £6.4 million, but they spend £32.5 million a year to deliver those services in people’s homes, and also residential, day care and respite. So, they are having to raise over £2 million a month, and they’re keen to help you, the Welsh Government, and their local Health Boards do very much more.

“How can you, or will you, engage with them and ask them how they can help you achieve more? Perhaps a little bit more funding from the Health Boards and the (Welsh) Government would save massively more for Health Boards and liberate services to help tackle some of the other problems we’ve heard referred to today in different contexts.”

In his reply, the First Minister said: “In terms of engagement with the sector, it is the care boards that provide that level of engagement, and that’s why, of course, we work with them in order to identify the resources that are needed.”

Mr Isherwood added: “It is concerning that from April 2017 the funding provided by the Welsh Government to Local Health Boards to be spent on specialist palliative care is no longer ring fenced for this purpose. This means hospices risk losing this important financial contribution towards hospice care.
As Marie Curie’s Report ‘Triggers for Palliative Care in Wales’, said: ‘There is much work to be done if Wales is going to achieve its vision of access to high quality care for everyone who needs it, regardless of their underlying condition."

Monday, October 30, 2017

Historic school gets new 'green' heating system

* David Jones, right, of Hafod Renewables, with local resident David Crane at Pentredwr Community Centre, near Llangollen.

A historic village school which closed more than 30 years ago has been given a new lease of life in its second career as a community centre after going ‘green’.
Pentredwr School opened in 1909 when the village near Llangollen was the home to many of the quarrymen at the Berwyn Slate Quarry on the Horseshoe Pass.
Then the 60 pupils were kept warm through the winter by two open coal fires but now a sophisticated air-source heating system has been installed by Denbigh-based specialists Hafod Renewables.
Two highly efficient units have been fitted to the rear of the building to take heat energy from the air even on the coldest winter’s night and convert it to warm the large high-ceilinged main room.
The £5,000 system, paid for by a grant from the Waterloo Foundation which supports eco-friendly projects in Wales, complements an array of solar panels on the roof and is part of a £200,000 refurbishment designed to bring the building up to date and make it more user-friendly for the community.
David Jones, Managing Director of Hafod Renewables, said: “The new system will now heat the room effectively and in fact air-source systems are extremely good at heating large spaces like this.
“It acts like a fridge in reverse – the back of a fridge is hot while the interior is cold and this just reverses the process so that the room is heated while the outside is cold.
“It should work very well here in combination with the solar panels and the air-source system can be set to low level heart all the time which can easily and quickly be raised so it’s ready for use in less than an hour on the coldest night.”
The renovation of the community centre has been carried out by Pentredwr Community Association and local resident David Crane, from nearby Eglwyseg, handled the grants for the renewable aspects of the transformation of the Ruabon brick building.
He is delighted at the progress of the building which now provides facilities for everything from caving and mountaineering to Zumba classes.
He said: “We originally bought the property from Denbighshire County Council just before 2000 for £6,000 and we’re now in the process of an update that will make the building much more community friendly.
“It used to be heated by three large electric wall heaters which were very inefficient and cost a huge amount and there have been damp problems too.
“But there are 30 local organisations here and more in the surrounding area who would be interested and we have groups like the North Wales Cavers, climbing clubs and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards which use it.
“There are kitchen facilities and the plan is to terrace the grounds so they will be suitable as a campsite and Denbighshire County Council are installing new toilets so the facilities here will be really excellent.
“We’re also looking at taking someone on part-time who can organise events here and really ramp up the activities.”
Hafod Renewables, which was founded in Denbigh in 2010 by David Jones and his father, Richard, now employs nine staff and has become a key player in North Wales in the installation of non-solar systems such as air and ground-source heating and biomass and this sector now accounts for over 60per cent of its business.
Managing Director David Jones said: “We have been successful by being versatile and not relying on the solar sector and by using only our own dedicated teams of installers.
“Over the last 12 months a number of innovative new products have come onto the market and I believe it is vital to stay abreast of what is a rapidly developing industry because that’s the way to continue to grow the business.
“These products like the high temperature air-source system which can be retro-fitted to older properties are revolutionising the market and can provide heating even when it’s -20C outside.
“The system absorbs heat from the air into a liquid at a low temperature, then a compressor increases the temperature of that heat which warms air which is then blown into the room.
“In the summer it can also be operated in reverse so it becomes an air-conditioning unit to provide cool air.”
* For more on Hafod Renewables go to

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Special event planned at Plas Newydd today


Sunday 29th October

5.00pm  -  7.30pm


Explore the grounds in the fading light and draw some things that go bump in the night.

Friday, October 27, 2017

FoE group takes fossil fuel campaign to bank

* Friends of the Earth campaigners outside Barclays bank in Castle Street.

Members of Friends of the Earth Llangollen visited Barclays Bank this week as part of their campaign against fossil fuels.

According to FoE, Christian Aid has revealed the high street banks are still using savers’ money to support fossil fuel companies, even though governments, scientists and even the banks themselves are in agreement that the country needs to move away from coal, oil and gas to protect our planet.

The Llangollen-based group presented messages from the community explaining why the bank needs to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy as part of the Christian Aid’s Big Shift Campaign.

Group spokeswoman Kay Polley said: "The banks have already agreed to take action on climate change, but they are still financing coal mining and oil companies, and the most frustrating thing is that they are using customers’ money to do this. 

"Barclays is now the only bank in Llangollen, and it’s using our money to fund actions which are destroying the planet.  That must change."

The group presented a letter to the bank to be passed to the chief executive and showed off their piggy bank poster filled with messages of support for the bank to act. 
Kay Polley added: "Climate change is the biggest issue humanity faces. We need everyone, including the people managing our money to make the right decisions to put us on a safer path towards a better future.  

"Fossil fuels are increasingly a financial risk as well as fuelling climate change. As governments and markets around the world act to reduce carbon emissions, the value of fossil fuel companies could decrease rapidly.  

"Christian Aid believes that with a shift in policies and investment decisions, the biggest high street banks could be providing the capital needed to invest in the energy systems we need for the future instead of damaging the planet." 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Plans to build council houses is welcomed

Denbighshire County Council (DCC) have committed to build 170 new council houses – the first in decades.

The news was welcomed by the Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales group of councillors although they are concerned that the plans were not ambitious enough.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson on DCC said: “It was Plaid Cymru that tabled the motion to stop the Right To Buy in Denbighshire because we value our housing stock and believe that we should be able to provide good quality affordable housing to people.

“Building new Council Houses was one of our key manifesto pledges, and we put it forward as a group to be part of the County’s Corporate Plan. We have seen how the people of the County who wish to remain here are forced out because of a lack of affordable houses.

"We’ve seen some people live in very poor rented accommodation which impacts on their health and well-being. The case is clear for a stock of affordable and good quality, and we put a strong case forward to ensure that we saw Council houses being built in Denbighshire. This shows what an effective opposition can do.

“We are concerned however that the plans aren’t ambitious enough. We’d like to see more Council houses being built. But this is a large step forward in the right direction."

* See the original statement by Denbighshire County Council at:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

AM raises concerns over waterway access

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs to respond to concerns expressed by Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru regarding access to waterways.  

Questioning the Secretary in the Assembly Chamber, Mr Isherwood (pictured) highlighted the benefits that access to waterways brings to Wales, before outlining the concerns expressed the Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru regarding the recent Welsh Government Consultation, ‘Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources’.

He said: “The September 2017 update on the report ‘The Value to the Welsh Economy of Angling on Inland Fisheries in Wales’, collated by the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru in 2014, found that under the current arrangement for access to Welsh rivers, around 1,500 Welsh jobs and £45 million in household income is supported by angling on inland fisheries each year, that there are 1.7 million days fished on inland fisheries in Wales by licence holders, generating £104 million annually, and that the contribution to the Welsh economy of angling on inland fisheries in Wales must exceed over £125 million annually in Wales.

“In that context, how do you respond to the concern expressed by Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru that it would not be in the interest of the ecological integrity of such habitats to move to unfettered access under the proposed extended provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and that environmental protection is paramount when consideration is given to increased access to the natural resources of Wales, and especially the fragile ecosystems in and around rivers and lakes?”

The Secretary, Lesley Griffiths AM, responded: “I think your question lends me to say that it’s really important that you get the balance right, and that’s absolutely why we’ve consulted on such an important issue.”

Mr Isherwood added: “As both the last two National Assemblies have concluded, we need voluntary access arrangements dealt with at a local level rather a one size fits all approach imposed by the Welsh Government, recognising that a blanket approach could create conflict between users, have a negative economic impact on landowners and the fishing industry, and seriously damage the local environment."

Monday, October 23, 2017

County chief executive to stand down

Denbighshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Dr Mohammed Mehmet, has announced that he will stand down from his role in April 2018.

He joined Denbighshire in late 2007 as an interim Corporate Director for Lifelong Learning before  being appointed Chief Executive. 

Dr Mehmet (pictured), said: “My reason for leaving is simply that I believe it’s time for a change: for me and Denbighshire. I started in Denbighshire in December 2007 – on a six month contract!

"The ten years since have been wonderful for me. I have worked with the best staff in the UK and elected members have allowed me to do the job in my own way and have backed me with strong support. I have been lucky and proud to work here as the Chief Executive.

“There is probably never the ideal time for such decisions, but I wanted the new council to settle after the local elections and for members to agree their Corporate Plan before they had to worry about replacing their Chief Executive. I hope that announcing this early will give everyone time to adjust. It should give members time to appoint my replacement while I’m still here and I will, of course, work with members and officers to ensure a smooth transition."

Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council, said: "I would like to show my appreciation to Mohammed for transforming Denbighshire during his period as our Chief executive.

“Mohammed has guided both officers and members through difficult and challenging times into being one of the highest performing councils in Wales, His vision and commitment has set the foundations for Denbighshire to manage the future with confidence and it has been a pleasure to work alongside him,

“I wish him all the best in the future"

Police boss highlights importance of Welsh language

A police boss has pledged to work tirelessly to ensure the Welsh language is given equal status in the North Wales force.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner spoke out after a police sergeant said some colleagues felt that speaking Welsh was a "nuisance" and might damage their careers.

The issue first surfaced in an article written by Sgt Bevan in the Police Federation newsletter, Our Voice.

According to the commissioner (pictured), being able to speak Welsh in the workplace was a "fundamental and unequivocal right".

It was, he said, vitally important that speaking Welsh should not be seen as a barrier to getting promotion.

He revealed the force were planning a Welsh Language summit next Spring to address how it can, along with its partners, contribute towards meeting the Welsh Government’s target of increasing the number of Welsh speakers to one million.

Mr Jones said: "I am aware of recent media coverage regarding the use of Welsh in the workplace in North Wales Police and some questions raised regarding how I as the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner hold the Chief Constable to account where the Welsh Language is concerned.

"In addition to ensuring that my own office complies with the Welsh Language Standards my team and I work tirelessly to ensure that North Wales Police doesn’t treat the Welsh language any less favourably than the English.

"North Wales Police and I have a Joint Welsh Language Scheme and my team and I regularly scrutinise compliance with that Scheme.

"North Wales Police and I have adopted the principle that in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in North Wales we will treat the English and Welsh languages on a basis of equality. This scheme sets out how North Wales Police and I will give effect to that principle when providing services to the public in North Wales.

"I am regularly discussing with the Chief Constable and the force, at one to one meetings and via North Wales Police’s Welsh Language Group, how we improve the service that North Wales Police can offer to Welsh language speakers and learners, both within our community and to the staff within the organisation.

"My colleague Dafydd Llywelyn. the Police and Crime Commissioner in Dyfed-Powys,  has written to the College of Policing to challenge them on the need not to treat the Welsh language less favourably in training and assessment and I fully support him in that challenge.

"As fluent first language Welsh speakers we are constantly aware and vigilant that the Welsh language is not treated less favourably.

"As well as being enshrined in law and the new Welsh Language Standards, the opportunity to speak your language of choice within your local community and workplace must surely be seen as a fundamental and unequivocal right. 

"Welsh is not just a language – it is part of our local heritage and culture, and is engrained within our everyday lives.

"It is vitally important, not to mention morally correct and the right thing to do, that North Wales Police holds Welsh in equal status to English.

"I am confident, that this message is constantly reiterated by chief officers to all staff within North Wales Police.

"My team and I constantly scrutinise how North Wales Police works towards attracting more applications from Welsh speakers and learners from Welsh communities to join the police as officers or police staff. Part of this includes nurturing more contact with Welsh speakers and with representatives of Welsh language groups in our communities. A number of Welsh speaking police officers were appointed in South Gwynedd recently.

"I have also recently highlighted the importance of ensuring that North Wales Police’s internal HR proceedings and procedures fully acknowledge and consider ability in Welsh to be a skill, side by side with other necessary skills.

"I meet regularly with senior staff from North Wales Police to discuss how the Force complies with the Welsh Language Standards and my Deputy and I often ask staff when we’re out and about whether or not there are opportunities for them to use the Welsh Language in the workplace.

"I am assured that North Wales Police have done a whole range of things over the years to ensure that it continues to improve its provision of services in Welsh, and to make sure that Welsh is more visible and audible in the workplace.

"These include a significant training programme to ensure that all staff are able to provide linguistic courtesy to each other as well as to the public; advanced courses to support staff in moving towards fluency; initiatives including “Paned a Sgwrs” sessions and the Welsh Language Walking Club; as well as ensuring all signage and key messages are bilingual and that staff display their level of Welsh ability outside their stations, offices and on email signatures.

"A seminar was also held for North Wales Police’s Welsh Language Champions recently in order to re-establish that network.

"Of course, there may be occasions, when North Wales Police do not get everything right as an organisation, but I do believe that the Chief Officers always strive to do so, and to learn from any mistakes if they get things wrong.

"The Assistant Chief Constable recently emailed all staff to emphasise that any member of staff is welcome to use Welsh as part of promotion/selection processes held by North Wales Police.

"The Welsh language shouldn’t be a barrier to progress in the Force. The National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) has been translated into Welsh, and I would encourage anybody to engage with this process through the medium of Welsh if they wish to do so.

"I would also encourage officers and staff to engage in any selection process within the organisation through the medium of Welsh if this is their preference. Clearly preferences amongst Welsh speakers vary between written and spoken Welsh and any combination is acceptable and encouraged.

"I am fully aware that the Chief Officers are keen to continue to expand on the good progress already achieved, and as such, I would urge fluent Welsh speakers within the organisation to encourage and support learners to ensure that everyone feels comfortable in the workplace and is free to express themselves in their language of choice.

"Also, it is important, that any member of staff lets the force’s Welsh Language Department or the Chief Officers know if they have encountered any problems in any dealings in Welsh in the Force, if they feel they are not being supported sufficiently.

"North Wales Police has made very significant strides over many years in respect of the Welsh language, they are seen to be a Force which takes this very seriously, and are passionate about ensuring a bilingual environment.  The organisation continues to offer excellent services in Welsh and English."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Senior management changes at railway

* Management changes have taken place at Llangollen Railway.

Following the resignation of Kevin Gooding, who was general manager of Llangollen Railway, the board has decided to reorganise the senior management structure of the railway and not to fill the post.

The board decided, following an internal review, to reorganise the senior management structure, into three divisions (Commercial, Operations and Engineering), with the heads of division reporting direct to the board.

The other reporting arrangements, and the individual responsibilities of staff below head of division level, are unchanged.

As a consequence of the reorganisation the railway will shortly be recruiting a chief civil and mechanical engineer to work alongside the commercial division and the operations division.

This change is seen as meeting the railway’s strategic and business requirements in both the short and medium term.

A commercial manager was appointed earlier this year.

Peter Lund, chairman of Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd and Llangollen Railway plc, said:
“First, and foremost, I would like to thank Kevin Gooding for his hard work over a number of years on behalf of the railway. I wish him well in his new endeavours.

"Secondly, the two boards met together on Sunday and decided not to appoint a general manager. Instead, following an internal review, the boards unanimously decided to appoint a chief civil and mechanical engineer. The post will be advertised shortly.

“This is a really exciting time for The Llangollen Railway, with the new Corwen station being constructed which, I hope, will be operational within the next 18 months.

"Llangollen Railway looks forward to working with partners and stakeholders in 2018. The railway’s operational plans for 2018 are already well advanced and those will be published shortly, the final details having been agreed at the recent board meeting."

Friday, October 20, 2017

Museum to launch myths and legend project

Heritage Lottery has funded Llangollen Museum to run a programme highlighting the Myths and Legends of the Dee Valley.

The project, entitled Keeping the Story Alive, From History to Legend. Tales and Myths from the Dee Valley, aims to engage local community groups and schools along the central part of the Dee Valley, from Corwen to Chirk, in looking at the different myths and legends of their area and investigating the historical facts behind them.

Displays will be accompanied by a poster-size piece of artwork depicting a local legend, created by  children from local primary schools.

The programme will mean community groups producing short video stories focussing on seven stories.

In addition to a travelling display of work created by the participants Lynn Charlton-Blore will be telling a story in the museum at the launch on November 15, at 7.30pm.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Health centre friends to stage quiz

BT taken to task over digital issues in rural areas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Small business awards go up for grabs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Latest plans for re-jigged constituencies unveiled

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

They entail significant alterations to the local Clwyd South seat.

* See the following report in

Another boost for Llan food and drink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Do you qualify for supported childcare grant?

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

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

* Have a child aged 5-plus

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

* Are looking for voluntary work or accessing training

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

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

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thousands flock to Llan food festival

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

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

* Foodies crowd around the stalls at the festival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

County issues reminder over benefit changes

Residents in Llangollen are being reminded about changes to the benefit system being introduced by the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP). 

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages by DWP across Great Britain by postcode area. 

Whether you can claim it and the way you manage your claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances. 

The changes will only apply to new claimants and those who have had a change in circumstances.

Other claimants don’t need to do anything until they hear from the DWP about moving to Universal Credit.

For the majority of Denbighshire postcodes, Universal Credit Full Service comes into effect on February 28, 2018, but some postcodes in the Dee Valley and surrounding area  come under the Wrexham area, which moves to Universal Credit Full Service from this month.

These are the Post Codes LL11 3, LL20 7, LL20 8, LL20 9  and LL21 0, LL21 1, LL21 9.

Postcodes CH7 4 and CH8 8 are also on Universal Credit Full Service as part of the Flintshire roll out. 

As part of Universal Credit Full Service, claimants are expected to claim and manage their account with DWP online.

To support residents impacted the following services are available:

• Residents who need access to the internet or access to a computer to make their claim and manage their account online can visit their local library/One Stop Shops.

• For questions and advice on applying for Universal Credit and how the changes could impact you, contact Citizens Advice in Denbighshire on 01824 703483 or go to
• You can also visit

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Winner chosen for Tools of Trade competition

* Competition winner Janet Wakefield receives her £50 prize voucher from Sue Hargreaves, event organiser (right), and David Davies, chair of Llangollen Chamber of Trade & Tourism, the prize sponsors.

As part of CADW's Open Doors event, people were recently invited to take part in a competition called Tools of the Trade  in which they had to try and identify the trade linked to the tool displayed around 47 shops in Llangollen.

A spokesperson for the organisers said: "It was a real head-scratching challenge with some very creative interpretations of the trade of some of the tools.  

"It was a closely fought competition but the worthy winner with a brilliant score of 45 correct answers was Janet Wakefield.

"A big thank you to all who attempted the quiz, to all who supplied the tools and to all the shops who displayed them.  

"In due course we are planning to put most of the tools on display and to invite people to an event to bring a tool and share and tell for all interested in such items."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Food festival serves up a treat this weekend

* Nicola and James  Adedeji from Bim's Kitchen.

Llangollen will be transformed into the culinary capital of the UK - for one weekend only this Saturday and Sunday.

Thousands of foodies will be making a bee-line for the annual Llangollen Food Festival which has established itself as a major highlight in the gastronomic calendar.

This year's event will be even more special because the organisers are celebrating its 20th anniversary in style.

As ever, the venue will be the iconic pavilion which also stages the iconic Llangollen International Musical Festival which attracts singers and dancers from all over the world.

The festival was founded in 1997 and pioneered food tourism by creating a shop window for home grown producers.

Since then the event has gone from strength to strength, annually attracting around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide.

As a result, it's been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by the Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.

It's estimated the festival pumps nearly £400,000 into the local economy every year, making a total of £8 million since it started two decades ago.

The top chefs revealing their recipes for success will include Bryan Webb from the Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan, former captain of the Wales Culinary team Graham Tinsley and the ever-popular Dai Chef who will be there with his son, Daniel, the youngest head sommelier in the UK.

Among the stallholders will be an enterprising couple who are supplying one of the world's most famous stores and prestigious outlets in Singapore and Kuwait after reviving Britain's oldest biscuit.

Four years ago James Shepherd and his wife Natasha, from Llansannan, in Conwy, re-created the historic Aberffraw Biscuit which dates back to the 13th century.

They won plaudits from lovers of fine food when they officially launched it at Llangollen Food Festival in 2013.

Since then the premium shortbread, made from only the finest butter, flour and sugar, has become a firm favourite across the UK.

The places you can now buy the mouth-watering biscuit include the flagship Selfridges store in London’s Oxford Street.

To say a big thank you for helping to power the biscuit’s amazing rise to popularity the couple is returning to the festival which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Also there will be a husband and wife team whose African-inspired sauces made at their base in Afonwen have won a wealth of top food industry accolades.

Bim’s Kitchen, the brainchild of James and Nicola Adedeji, are preparing to unveil their latest culinary creations at this year’s event.

James said: “The festival offers a direct route to our customers. People are able to taste our products before they buy and you get great feedback from them and can gauge their reaction.”

Another big fan of the festival is artisan bread and pie maker Robert Didier from Wrexham-based Orchard Pigs.

He said: "Llangollen Food Festival is fantastic and it's not difficult to see why it has been named as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK by not just one but two national newspapers."

Among the celebrity chefs this year is Graham Tinsley MBE, who has prepared dishes for the Queen and Prince Charles on at least a dozen occasions and also created St David’s Day feasts at 10 Downing Street, can’t wait to showcase it at this year’s Llangollen Food Festival.
He will be leading the trio of top culinary maestros laying on a series of crowd-pulling cookery demonstrations on the second day of the festival.
Currently executive head chef at the prestigious Carden Park in Cheshire, Graham said: “Myself and two other big-name chefs from the North Wales Culinary Guild, which I head up, will be doing six demonstrations on the Sunday of Llangollen Food Festival, featuring starters, mains and puddings.
“What they’ll all have in common is excellent local ingredients. Without doubt, North Wales produces some of the best produce in the world which I champion at every opportunity.
“I love to use things from the smaller bespoke producers, so in the demonstrations we’ll be including such things as locally sourced meat as well as ice cream, rape seed oil, honey and beer which all come from producers based just a few miles away from Llangollen and are regular exhibitors at the festival.
“And as I use them I’ll be pointing out to the people watching exactly how good they are and which stalls they can buy them from. That’s what shows like this are all about.”
Committee member Pip Gale said: "We have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and this year the festival is going to be bigger and better than ever so we'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary in style.

"We're heading for a record number of around 130 stallholders with a fantastic choice of produce, along with demonstrations from the region's finest chefs so there will be plenty to tempt the taste buds.

"I'm glad to say we're also making a positive contribution the local economy with food lovers travelling from far and wide because the festival is now firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK's culinary calendar."

Among the first to congratulate the festival on reaching the important milestone was Ken Skates, the Clwyd South AM who is also the Welsh Government's Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, whose portfolio includes tourism.

He said: “Llangollen Food Festival is an incredible success and a great annual occasion for the Dee Valley.

"The economic benefits that the festival brings to the area are considerable and underline the region's growing reputation as a go-to destination for food lovers.

"Food tourism is something I believe has huge potential for future growth and it is no wonder that North Wales has been hailed as one of the world's top four must see places to go by The Lonely Planet travel guide."

It was a sentiment echoed by Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism, which represents around 1.500 tourism businesses in the region.

He said: "We are entering a golden age for the visitor economy in North Wales and the increasing importance of food tourism is playing its part in our overall success.

"As one of the first and most successful food festivals in Wales, the Llangollen Food Festival has been a trailblazer for culinary excellence and I would like to congratulate them on reaching their 20th anniversary."

* To find out more about Llangollen Food Festival go to: