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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentredwr villagers get together in a bright new virtual world



* Pentredwr villagers pictured before the Covid crisis.

Pentredwr usually has its community centre as the heart of the village, bringing people together for various activities such as quiz nights, plant sales, yoga classes, and maker days. 

Unfortunately, due to the imposed lockdown in Wales, the community of Pentredwr were not able to use the centre or continue these activities.

However, they have come up with a way to continue with some of the valuable social activities that would normally take place in the community centre.

The community has now moved its activities online, using Zoom to keep the community spirit alive..

Since the beginning of May, coffee mornings, yoga and fitness classes plus quizzes, art classes, cookery lessons, book groups and talks will take place over Zoom and other social media platforms. 

Several of the villagers don’t have access to the internet, so a printable weekly newsletter has been created to help keep everyone connected.

This was all made possible through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development
Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. 

Pentredwr received £3,000 of funding through the programme, allowing them to carry out a wealth of activities.

Recently the village hosted an online Zoom quiz that was a huge success and enjoyed by everyone involved.

Spike Hayward, a 19-year-old from Pentredwr, said: “I really enjoyed the quiz night. I can’t see my friends at the moment and having something like the quiz to take part in helped feel like a little bit of normality had been restored."

Another member of the community, Julie Jones, said: “Living on my own, it’s been very hard, and I can get lonely. I found it quite easy to create a zoom account and its been wonderful to be able to talk to different people."

Another benefit of the community moving online is that is has allowed people that used to live in Pentredwr to reconnect with old friends. 

Chris Bird-Jones used to live in the village and recently took part in the Zoom Zumba class,.

She said “It was lovely to join in and great that we can do this through Zoom, it really made me feel like part of the community again."

Ticky Lowe, the events and funding officer for the community centre, said: “As a rural village
the added isolation of the lockdown has had a big impact on our community, and we hope that this project will help our community to feel connected again."

If you live in the local area and would like to talk part please email info@pentredwr.co.uk for more information. 

Some of the recent events were Zumba Light with Julie Thomas, Mushroom Talk with Lisa Heledd Jones and a Community Coffee Morning.

This evening, Saturday May 30, at 11am, there's Yoga with Catherine Farrell.

Friday, May 29, 2020

First Minister eases lockdown rules in Wales


A significant easing of strict lockdown measures in Wales has been announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford today.
For the first time in more than two months people in Wales will be able to arrange to meet others from different households outdoors.
In doing this, however, people must still follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus.
The changes, which come in on Monday, June 1, will mean some who live close enough to their families might be able to see them in person for the first time in almost 70 days.

Llan takes part in last official big clap for key staff


* Cat Meade's video showing residents waving light sabres 
during the last big clap in Bishops Walk.

People across Langollen were outside their homes yesterday evening to take part in the last official clap for NHS and key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

The event has taken place every Thursday at 8pm for the past 10 weeks and has seen people throughout the UK join in a public display of unity and gratitude.

However, organiser Annemarie Plas called for this round to be the last, saying "it is good to stop it at its peak".
Amongst the most active supporters of the clapping were residents of Bishops Walk.
And last night Cat Meade, co-ordinator of Llangollen Coronavirus Help Group, who lives nearby, recorded their last clap on a short film which she posted on Facebook.
In the post she said: "Bishops Walk, 10 weeks of applause, dancing, light sabres, n smiles 💙❤💚 Everybody needs GOOD NEIGHBOURS."
At the Pavilion field, as they have done for many weeks, a group of sound experts set up a bank of loudspeakers over which town crier Chem Cheminais could boom his message of thanks across the town.

Concern reported over lack of distancing room at roadworks


* The roadworks on Hill Street which led to 
the resident's concern.

A nearby resident reported concerns to a county councillor that roadworks on Hill Street, Llangollen were making it difficult for people to stick to social distancing rules.

The resident told llanblogger: "The area left for pedestrians was very narrow, not allowing for social distancing in accordance with Welsh Government regulations. The contractor is MJ Quinn for Openreach.

"Later it was completely blocked off, even pedestrians couldn't get through. 

"So residents had to walk down Vicarage Hill and Willow Hill with a possible shortcut across the Youth Club field. This work was to last for three days, apparently."

The resident added: "I raised the matter with County Councillor Graham Timms and he was investigating via Denbighshire highways."

Cllr Timms said: "I reported the problem to the county council late Wednesday afternoon after being contacted by a local resident. 

"I was informed that Denbighshire would get in touch with the contractor urgently to ask them to check out the situation on Hill Street. 


“The works are due to finish on Friday (29th May) and on Thursday evening there was about 10metres of the road that had a restricted footpath. 

"At that time it was easy to see if there were other oncoming pedestrians on this section of Hill Street so that social distancing could be maintained. 

“It is important that local residents get in touch if they believe that the county council or its contractors are not helping residents to observe social distancing rules so that these matters can be addressed urgently."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

County volunteers thanked for helping with Covid-19 crisis



As part of next week's national Volunteers Week Denbighshire County Council and Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (DVSC) are thanking all those who have stepped forward during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since March over 500 Denbighshire residents have registered as volunteers and been assigned with their roles by the two organisations.

Many have helped the council directly with care work within homes and the community, befriending calls, PPE and equipment drivers, homelessness support and domestic duties such as cleaning and laundry, while DVSC has placed many more with community groups across the county.

Cllr Tony Thomas, Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Housing and Communities, said: “There has been tremendous support in our communities since the coronavirus outbreak. We have seen people come together and help others and that is something to be celebrated. I’d like to thank all those across Denbighshire who are volunteering and congratulate them on their work and I would also like to thank DVSC for working in partnership with the Council during this challenging time.

“I would like to also pay tribute to those who have been volunteering through the council directly and are helping provide vital support and help to people. It is tremendous to see the effect this is having on people’s lives and we know those receiving help are extremely grateful.”

Helen Wilkinson, Chief Executive of DVSC, said: "Over the last few months, the COVID19 Volunteer Community Response DVSC initiated has depended on volunteers stepping up to provide support to some of our most vulnerable residents.

“We have worked closely with Denbighshire County Council to ensure we place volunteers where the need is greatest, and the voluntary and community action is safe, effective and inspires people to keep stepping up. 

“We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude for all volunteers who have supported residents, voluntary and community groups, third sector organisations, social enterprises, local businesses, and our public service partners like Denbighshire County Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Every single voluntary act - great or small - has made a real difference to people's lives."

Volunteer Week, which takes place between June 1 and 7, is led in partnership with Third Sector Support Wales, of which DVSC is a member, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and is supported by organisations across the UK. 

Welsh Government spends £2.4 billion on coronavirus crisis


Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has set out the steps the Welsh Government has taken to dedicate more than £2.4bn to the coronavirus crisis.
This financial effort has not only provided more than £750m to fund the NHS and public service response, supporting the supply of PPE, investment in testing and tracing and NHS recruitment, but also helped to deliver a major business support package.

The latest figures show that more than 52,000 grants totalling £640m have been paid to businesses in Wales, who are also benefitting from rates relief through the £1.4bn package announced in March. 

The Finance Minister has also called on the UK Government to ease the "rigid financial rules" that she said limit the Welsh Government’s ability to direct more resources to its COVID response.

Rebecca Evans said: “This unprecedented financial response has maximised the immediate support we could offer to Welsh public services, businesses and the most vulnerable in this crisis.


“It is only right that we have been guided by a sense of what is fair when public finances are facing such enormous pressure. That is why we have gone beyond the funding we have received from the UK government to deliver targeted support, from funding free school meals throughout the holidays to delivering the most generous business support package in the UK.  

“There are still many challenges ahead and our ability to respond is limited by the rigid financial rules imposed on us by the UK Government. Easing the rules on the way we manage our budget and the amount we can borrow will free up much-needed resources for the front lines in this crisis.

“I will continue to urge the UK Treasury to fix this problem and as we look ahead the Welsh Government will set out the case against any return to reckless austerity.”

Tenants reap benefits of investment, says county council



Tenants of council homes in Denbighshire are reaping the benefit of a five-year programme of investment in its housing stock and its communities, says the county council

Denbighshire now has the fifth lowest rent levels of the 11 stock-retaining councils in Wales and charges the lowest average social housing rent of neighbouring authorities. 

Over the last five years, the council says it has invested in properties:

  • £1.9 million on estate and neighbourhood improvements, including 17 new play areas.
  • £1.6 million in disabled adaptations.
  • 1,000 properties properties painted externally
  • 350 new roofs have been installed.
  • 350 properties have been rendered
  • 675 kitchens and bathrooms have been fitted.
  • 325 sets of windows have been replaced.
The council is investing in 170 additional homes over the next three years.

Meanwhile, contractors working on behalf of the council will be continuing with external works at properties in Bryn Garth and Maes y Goron (both in Denbigh), Maes Gruffydd Estate (Trefnant) and Pant Glas (Ruthin).

Councillor Tony Thomas, Cabinet Lead Member for  Housing and Communities, said: “We are delighted to have been able to continue to invest our properties and our communities over the past five years, making sure our tenants have modern, fit for purpose properties for them and their families.

“Income from rents is used in its entirety to fund the work of Denbighshire Housing.  

"It does not receive any funding through council tax, nor does it subsidise any other council service. Funding is also received from Welsh Government to support and maintain housing stock.

“We have not only invested in the structural works, but we have also invested in neighbourhoods through improving our  open spaces whilst supporting the health and well-being of communities, organising regular roadshow events around the county and supporting people with fuel and financial advice, and helping more people get online."

* For more information, visit: www.denbighshirehousing.co.uk 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Waste sites to re-open tomorrow - but it's bookings only


Denbighshire County Council has announced that its household waste recycling centres will re-open tomorrow, Thursday May 28. with a bookings only system for people to dispose of essential household waste.

It says demand at the recycling centres at Lon Parcwr (Ruthin), Colomendy Industrial Estate (Denbigh) and Marsh Road (Rhyl)  will be very high, therefore it has introduced a booking in system, to keep queuing traffic at a reasonable level and in order to comply with social distancing measures.  

People can book a slot online: www.denbighshire.gov.uk/recycling or if people are having difficulty, they should contact the Council. The system is live now.

Drivers will need to bring their booking reference number and proof of residency.  Anyone turning up without an appointment will not be allowed on site.

The “pop-up” Household Waste Recycling Centres services in Corwen and Llangollen are still suspended until further notice.   

This is because the council says it is not able to ensure that social distancing would be maintained, and it is therefore not safe to open these.

The council is advising visitors to the recycling centres of the following:

  • People must not visit the Recycling Centre if they or anyone they are living with is in self-isolation or showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • No twin axle trailers will be allowed entry (Car-derived vans/4x4s and single axle trailers will be able to enter).  People may only bring their household waste in a works vehicle if they already have a permit to do so.The Council are processing requests for new permits as usual.  Please do not make a booking until you have a valid permit.
  • Please segregate waste before coming to site to speed up the visit.
  • The number of vehicles on-site will be restricted and where possible vehicles should only include the driver as only one person will be allowed to unload their vehicles. People must remain in their car whilst queuing.
  • Social distancing measures must be adhered to at all times by both staff and visitors.
  • Black bag waste should only contain non-recyclable waste.  DCC are collecting food, cans, plastics, paper, card and glass at the kerbside so residents should use these collections for these materials.  We will not accept black bag waste that contains food and recyclables.
  • The sites will be very busy and you should expect to queue to access the site. The booking system will reduce waiting times but you should still expect queues.  At our two smaller sites in Denbigh and Ruthin, waiting time will increase by approximately 20 further minutes if the skips become full and need emptying as no site users are allowed on the site during this operation.
  • A new traffic management system will be in place but if the queues spill out onto a busy road  and cause a hazard, people may be asked to move on.  The Council has done what it can to mitigate this with the booking in system, but it is reliant on the public to adhere to the 20 minute slots and not turn up without prior booking.
  • Please treat our staff and fellow customers with respect and consideration during this challenging period.  Any incident/abuse of site staff or other users will not be tolerated, will result in you not being able to book in to visit again and may involve police intervention.

The opening hours for the sites will be:

Ruthin : Monday – Thursday 10am-6pm; Closed Friday; Sat & Sun 9am – 5pm

Denbigh: Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri – 10am – 6pm; Closed Thursday; Sat & Sun 9am – 5pm

Rhyl : Monday – Sunday 10am – 6pm

Councillor Brian Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment, said: “Our teams have been working hard during these unprecedented times to keep as many of our services as possible operating, including recycling, food and waste collections. 

“We recognise that the closure of the recycling centres will have caused disruption and we thank residents for their patience and understanding.  We were following the national guidelines which did not consider journeys to the recycling centres as a reasonable excuse to leave home, so we took the decision to close the sites.  That position has now changed and we have been involved in discussions nationally to re-open the sites as quickly as possible.

“We are expecting a very high demand for use of the sites and it has been decided to use a booking system to reduce traffic congestion and to protect the safety of people using the site or working there.  The position will be under constant review and we will advise residents if anything changes.

“What we would ask is for people to follow the rules and we can work together to try and reintroduce the service as smoothly as possible."

Ambulance staff assaulted after asking patients to wear masks



* Claire Roche, the Trust’s Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, in her video message to patients.

The Welsh Ambulance Service is asking some of its patients to wear a surgical mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Crews are now attending every call across Wales in protective equipment, which includes masks, visors, aprons and coveralls, in addition to their standard gloves.

Some patients are also being asked to wear a surgical mask as a precautionary measure to halt the spread of the virus, especially those who exhibit symptoms.

But a growing number of patients have become aggressive when being asked to comply, the Trust has reported.

A small number of colleagues have also been the victim of physical assault.

Claire Roche, the Trust’s Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, said: “At this time, our crews will attend all incidents with personal protective equipment.

“What you may not be aware of is that they may also ask you, the patient, to put on a surgical mask.

“The reason they do this is to not only protect you but also for the protection of the people around you.

“If we do ask you to put on a mask, please do not be alarmed and follow the instructions of our staff.
“We understand how distressing this situation may be and we also understand that putting on a mask while having shortness of breath may seem counter-intuitive but it is the right thing to do.

“Unfortunately, over the past few weeks, our staff have reported a growing number of instances in which patients have been aggressive and have even been the subject of an assault after asking a patient to put on a mask.

“Assaulting our staff is never acceptable, no matter the circumstances.”

In a video message shared to the Trust’s Facebook and Twitter, Claire added: “We are here to help, never to harm.

“We ask all of you, the people of Wales, to please continue to trust our staff and to comply with the instructions we may give you.”

Click here to watch Claire’s video message.

Councillors continue to campaign for Saturday waste service return



Llangollen’s two county councillors will continue to put pressure on Denbighshire to re-open the Saturday morning waste recycling service at the Pavilion car park.

That was the assurance from one of them, Cllr Graham Timms (pictured), as he gave a briefing to the town council’s online meeting last night about how the county council is coping with the Covid-19 crisis.

He said: “The Saturday service is not going ahead. The big problem is that it’s not a permanent site.

“Denbighshire had hoped to re-open its recycling sites today but there’s been nothing on the internet.

“When they do re-open the county council will require people to have appointments to go.

“In Wrexham one site was closed down by the police because people get annoyed when they are in queues.”

He added: “We are looking at ways at getting the Pavilion car park site open and Cllr Melvyn Mile and I continue to put pressure on the council. It’s a 30-mile trip to take things to Ruthin.”

Earlier in his update Cllr Timms had spoken about his concern that only about 65% of businesses in Llangollen had applied for coronavirus business grants from the county council.

“Whether this is because they didn’t require them or they didn’t know about them, I don’t know,” he explained.

“Council officers are now just about at the end of paying out the grants and will now start contacting people by phone and mail to see that they are aware of the grants.

“I was amazed only about 65% of local businesses had applied while in the rest of the county it was 75%.”        

County to bring back enforcement from Monday


Denbighshire County Council will start reintroducing environmental and civil enforcement operations next Monday, June 1.

The council’s enforcement activity, which includes fines for dog fouling and littering, as well as on street parking enforcement, was suspended when lockdown restrictions were introduced on March 23.

Enforcement operations will be reintroduced gradually from June 1.

Environmental enforcement is undertaken on behalf of the council by District Enforcement and the company will carry out a full risk assessment for their staff and will be operating within social distancing guidelines and standard operating procedures.

Patrols will initially take place in areas the council has received recent complaints.

The council’s on-street parking enforcement will also be reintroduced to ensure the safe movement of traffic with risk assessments carried out with officers who will be operating within social distancing guidelines.

Cllr Mark Young, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead Member for Planning, Public Protection and Safer Communities, said: “I would like to reassure residents that the safety of the public and staff is of paramount importance when reintroducing these services.

“These enforcement activities will restart gradually and the council will react to changes to lockdown measures to ensure a gradual transition back to full service.

“The Council would like to thank residents for their patience during this time.”


Support group sends out latest update


* Foodshare is looking for donations.

Cat Meade, co-ordinator of the Llangollen Coronavirus Support Group, has posted her latest update on Facebook.

In it she says: "Hope you are all keeping well and have now had your updated leaflets, lots of calls of thanks, Big Thank you to all volunteers who helped deliver.

"All shops on the list still delivering to your door with the added takeaways, for those days you don't fancy cooking.

"Dee Valley Produce are able to deliver fresh fruit and veg, along with bread, milk, dairy and some plants for garden 6 days a week.

"Zero Food Waste and Food Share Llangollen are open Mon, Weds, Fri and Sun, 2 to 2.30pm collection, please call if unable to get out. This is to support everyone and stop food waste. It is not a Foodbank, please use if needed or can help reduce food waste. They are also open to donations of food during these times at their base in Pengwern.

"We have a need for Adult reading books or alternative hobby such as stitching, paint by numbers etc for our elder community, If you can donate any such items please get in touch.

"Once again Llangollen is doing a great job of keeping safe, please use all services availble to you to keep you safe."

Town council makes history with first online meeting


* Last night's council meeting was held not at the town hall as usual but via video conferencing. 

Llangollen Town Council made history last night by holding its first ever online meeting.

Nine councillors plus the town clerk and five observers from the general public, all in their own homes, tuned into the video conferencing platform gotomeeting to take part in the hour-long virtual gathering being held via the internet instead of at the town hall due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

In an agenda which was shorter than usual they dealt with issues ranging from the usual financial reports to a question about how the Covid crisis was affecting the town council itself.

Town  mayor, Cllr Jon Haddy, began by reading out a letter from Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes congratulating the council for the “fantastic” work it was doing to support the local community through the uncertain times of lockdown.

Mr Baynes said in his letter to the town clerk that he had been particularly impressed by the work done by the council to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day earlier this month.
And he added: “We should all be extremely proud of you.”

Llangollen resident John Palmer, who was at the meeting as an observer, exercised his right to make a personal statement at the start of the meeting.

He said that given the present uncertain times for local businesses the town council should carry out a survey to discover how they were coping and if they had been able to access available grants to help them through the lockdown.

The mayor replied he was sure the council would discuss this at some time in the future and, if it was unable to deal with it, pass it on to the proper agency.

Cllr Austin Cheminais asked how lockdown was likely to affect the council’s financial reserves.

Town clerk Gareth Thomas said he would be bringing a full report about this to the next council meeting.

However, he said the council had already lost all bookings of the town hall and suggested it was likely to be some time before lettings would be back to any form of normality given the requirement for social distancing.

Cllr Melvyn Mile asked if the town council had been able to get any form of grant assistance from the Welsh Government but the town clerk replied that as the council was financed from the public purse it could not go to the public purse for any form of relief.

Members then went through a small number of planning applications before County Councillor Graham Timms, who was there as one of the observers, gave a report on how Denbighshire was coping with the coronavirus crisis.

The only slight technical issues during the online meeting were with the muting and un-muting of microphones but these were swiftly resolved.

Barring any changes to the current lockdown restrictions the council will meet again online on the third Tuesday of June.       
  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

New website aims to help businesses through the lockdown




* The Denbighshire page of the new business hub website.
A North Wales entrepreneur is inviting Llangollen businesses to get involved in his new online hub aimed at helping them trade through the Covid-19 lockdown.
Founder Aled Canter says that as Data House Wales prepares to launch in nearby Wrexham 20 businesses have so far signed up to the free service.
Aled says the website will help North Wales residents identify which retailers are still open - anything from food producers to shops and fast food outlets.
The company believes it will also help raise awareness of smaller businesses in the area, bringing them to the attention of the local community, as well as helping individuals who are shielding or in self-isolation get food and other necessities delivered to their homes.
Aled said: “We hope the hub can supply local goods to the people of North Wales and help people through the COVID-19 crisis. 
"We are always looking for more businesses to join and get them listed on the website. It is currently free for anyone to use from a local consumer to business owner.
"I would like to have loads of businesses from Llangollen joining us, which could help everyone."
He added: "We would like to thank Business Wales and Nick Palmer for helping us get this off the ground. 

"The future plan is to help out the local high streets in Wales by listing them on the website and thereby allowing people to see who is open in the local area and potentially use them by booking a service like a haircut or ordering and then picking up a coffee!"

* Businesses who would like to see their business advertised or listed in the region where they trade should go to www.datahousewales.com to learn more.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Local roadworks update



27 May — 29 May

Delays likely - Road closure

Works location: Bodwen Villas, Hill St, Llangollen LL20 8HE...

Works description: MJ Quinns are to install 50m of ducting from box to box...

Responsibility for works: Openreach

Current status: Advanced planning

Works reference: BC005MQ1W0LLANGOLLENPCP6

Julie zooms in on new skills to lift lockdown spirits



* Julie streams one of her new dance classes on Zoom.


One of Benny Hill's original Angels is using her skills to use to keep people active during the Covid lockdown.

Julie Kirk Thomas normally delivers her fun dance classes in Llangollen, Rhos and Oswestry.


But during the coronavirus crisis she's learned a set of new online skills to forge them into one Zoom class every Wednesday morning at 11am.
“It’s a whole new performance area I knew nothing about,” said Julie. “You could call me a ‘virtual virgin'!"

* Julie, centre, during her time in the Hill's Angels dance troupe.
Thanks to some technical assistance from her son Morgan she was up and running in a couple of weeks. Newcomers are always welcome.
“I even have a few ex-pro dancer friends from London joining in, which I was initially nervous about, but everyone is so friendly and just there to get moving and get together – we always have a good chin-wag at the beginning and end of each class."
Julie auditioned for the Benny Hill Show at the age of 19 and it was with trepidation that she agreed when they offered her a series contract.

* Julie with Benny Hill.
She recalled: “I didn’t always feel confident when it came to the sexy stuff, but luckily Benny wrote some nice character roles for me and I ended up appearing in two consecutive series with him.
“Benny and his producer found themselves in a ratings war with Kenny Everett and his new dance group Hot Gossip, so they decided to host an audition to find girls for an all-new group. This is how the Hill’s Angels came about.
“I remember performing in one particularly raunchy dance routine, which was set in a gymnasium. The phone lines at Thames TV were blocked up with complaints from viewers, including Mary Whitehouse, a self-appointed guardian of British morals, getting on her soap box about it. She really had it in for Benny, and I later learnt contributed to his demise from our screens.”
Julie's long CV includes West End performances, roles on the big screen and features on Jeremy Beadle's Beadle's About.
A couple of years ago Julie was invited to perform at The London Palladium, in tribute for Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday celebrations. Julie was thrilled to be able to finally tick off two of her wish lists: to perform on the Palladium stage and dance in front of the Queen, who attended.
More thrills came for Julie’s Strictly Fun Dance class in Llangollen, as they were invited to appear on Sky's Got to Dance featuring her oldest attendee, 96-year-old Edward.
During the lockdown Julie has been busy creating the Fun Seekers’ Club, a group of like-minded people who love music and movement. Every alternate Friday at 6pm she delivers a 45-minute dance workshop on a different theme.
* To learn more and get involved, contact Julie on danceworkshops@yahoo.co.uk.