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Sunday, April 30, 2023

New interpretation panels for World Heritage site

* One of the interpretation boards placed around the World Heritage site. 

A series of new interpretation panels has been installed along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal World Heritage site, as part of a project to engage people with the rich heritage of the area. 

The Our Picturesque Landscape project, a partnership scheme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has been working with partners from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and Canal and Rivers Trust to develop the interpretation.

It explores the feats of engineering and design that got the site inscribed as a World Heritage site in 2009, and tells the story of some of the pioneering engineers, artists, tourists, entrepreneurs, and canal labouring navigators who have helped to shape the landscape over the centuries.

The interpretation panels, produced by VisitMôr, have been placed at eight key sites across the 11 miles of the World Heritage Site, including Gledrid Bridge, Chirk Aqueduct, Froncysyllte, Trevor Basin and Llangollen, and will help provide visitors with a sense of place, sharing stories of local significance. 

This is the first phase of new interpretation, with further panels to be replaced along the canal between Llangollen Wharf and the Horseshoe Falls this summer.

Hannah Marubbi, Our Picturesque Landscape Project Manager, said: “There are so many special places along the 11 miles of the World Heritage Site, from the Horseshoe Falls, Llangollen Wharf, Chirk and Gledrid as well as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct itself.  This project has been about telling the story of all these places and encouraging people to explore the whole site.”

Emrys Wynne, Lead Member for Welsh Language, Culture and Heritage, said: “There is a rich vein of history and culture in this wonderful area and I am pleased to see it recognised through this fantastic partnership work."

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Town council's coronation gift to two primary schools

Llangollen Town Council has agreed to purchase each primary school child in the town a commemorative mug to mark the coronation of King Charles III on May 6.

There will be an English version for Ysgol Bryn Collen and a Welsh one for Ysgol Y Gwernant, both bearing the council's logo on the reverse.

The Town Mayor will make the presentations to the pupils.

County libraries launch new tablet and Chromebook loan scheme

Denbighshire Libraries have launched a device loan scheme which will enable library members across the County to borrow a tablet or Chromebook from their local library, just like they would borrow a book.

Many services have now moved online, from banking and shopping to universal credit and applying for a bus pass, and the library service want to help residents access the online world and experience the benefits of being connected.

Using a tablet, Chromebook or smartphone also opens up the digital library service to the user, allowing library members to download books, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines 24/7.

The devices will be supplied with internet access and online courses are available if people want to learn more about the devices and services they are using, to help build their digital skills.

The County Library Service is also part of the National Databank, which offers free sim cards and data to people who are living in data poverty.

People who have access to a smartphone but are struggling to pay for internet access should contact their local library for more information.

Councillor Emrys Wynne, Lead Member for Welsh Language, Culture & Heritage said:

“This new device loan service will help people to get online and not be left behind in the digital world. I am delighted to see yet another new initiative by our libraries to support our local communities and to make sure everyone is connected.”

* For further information about the new device loan service please contact your local library.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Fringe unveils its full 2023 line-up

 * Alogte Oho and his Sounds of Joy will bring a joyful energy to the festival. 

The 26th Llangollen Fringe Festival is set to take place from July 7-15th featuring an exciting range of shows that aims to showcase the best of comedy, music, dance, workshops, and more. 

The festival has now announced a new wave of artists to join the already impressive line-up.

Headlining acts such as Henge, Half Man Half Biscuit, Mr. Scruff, Hang Massive, and Ibibio Sound Machine are already set to perform, and now festival-goers can look forward to new headlining artists including Vrï and Alogte Oho and his Sounds of Joy.

Vrï, who were the winners of the 2023 Wales Folk Music Awards for Best Instrumental Track and Best Album, will bring their contemporary approach to traditional music to the festival.

* Vrï were the winners of the 2023 Wales Folk Music Awards for Best Instrumental Track and Best Album. Picture: Jennie Caldwell.

The trio have unearthed long-lost nuggets that shed a new light on a vibrant folk tradition that harnesses the raw energy of the fiddle with the finesse of the violin, the beauty of chamber music with the joy and hedonism of a pub session.

Meanwhile, Alogte Oho and his Sounds of Joy will be bringing a joyful energy to the festival. 

The Ghanaian band is known for their fusion of traditional African rhythms and modern influences, and they will be accompanied by their cheerful choir, The Sounds of Joy. Alogte and his band are sure to take festival-goers on a musical journey of West African song and dance that will put a smile on everyone's face.

"We are thrilled to welcome Vrï and Alogte Oho and his Sounds of Joy to the Llangollen Fringe Festival lineup," said Neal Thompson, Artistic Director of the Llangollen Fringe. 

"We're always looking to bring new and exciting acts to Llangollen, and this year's festival is no exception. Both acts bring a unique and exciting energy to their music, and we are confident that they will provide unforgettable performances for festival-goers."

Tickets for the festival are available now, including festival passes that provide access to all of the main events across the nine days.

"We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to experience the full range of events at the festival," said Paul Keddie, Chairperson of the Fringe. 

"The festival pass is an incredible value and is an offer that can't be missed."

The festival pass costs £85 and is perfect for fans of comedy, music, dance, workshops and more. 

* Festival tickets and dates and times for all concerts and events are available from or by calling the Fringe box office: 0800 1455 779.

Llangollen Fringe Festival is supported by The Arts Council of Wales.

Search launched for Eisteddfod peace choir singers


* NEW Voices choir rehearsing with conductor Robert Guy.

A search has been launched for singers from across North Wales to join a massed choir of 200 voices to call for world peace.

The performance at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will pay tribute to the thousands of men, women and children massacred in the 1990s war in Bosnia and shine a light on the desperate plight of those currently suffering in war-torn Ukraine.

The concert, called The White Flower: Into the Light, will be held at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, just a few days before Srebrenica Memorial Day on July 11 to remember the 8,372 Bosnian Muslims who were massacred in in 1995.

The White Flower motif has been adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Srebrenica and the 11 petals of the flower represent the day the genocide began.

The theme of the concert was chosen to reflect the founding purpose of the Eisteddfod, an iconic event which was established in 1947 to promote peace in the aftermath of the Second World War.

It will feature extracts from the haunting mass for peace, The Armed Man, by renowned Welsh composer Karl Jenkins as a centrepiece of the programme.

Volunteers are needed to join the huge, specially formed choir, one of the biggest ever seen in North Wales.

They will be accompanied by the acclaimed NEW Sinfonia orchestra that will be making its debut headline appearance at Llangollen Eisteddfod.

NEW Sinfonia conductor Robert Guy has issued a call for singers of all ages  to sign up for the choir, with rehearsals due to get underway on May 13.

He said there will be no barriers to taking part in this stirring occasion, adding: “It is not restricted to those with previous concert singing experience. We are opening it up to all comers, all they need is a love of singing.”  

At the heart of the choir will be a group of keen amateur singers who belong to the hugely successful NEW Voices project already established by NEW Sinfonia.

Robert said: “Its thanks to the huge success of our NEW Voices project that we already have a core group of enthusiastic amateur singers ready to step up and sing at Llangollen. But we need lots more singers, especially tenors and basses.

“We will need 200 voices in all so we are urging anyone with a passion for singing and a desire to take part in this momentous event to sign up quickly now.”

NEW Voices includes refugees who have settled in North Wales following conflicts or persecution in their own countries. They have found solace in singing together and made new friends through the common language of music.

Among them is a young Ukrainian conductor Polina Horelova who with her young family was forced to flee her home city of Mariupol after the Russians invaded and razed the city.

It is hoped Polina will conduct the traditional Ukrainian folk piece River Song during the concert of remembrance.

Robert added: “We are proud that NEW Voices comprises such a wide mix of musical abilities and a range of nationalities. We encompass singers from Wales, Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, Algeria and El Salvador, among other countries.

“For our White Flower: Into the Light programme we need sopranos, altos, tenors, basses and young voices too; we encourage everyone to come forward.

“There will be regular rehearsals so people need not fear that they are not good enough or lack confidence. We are here to guide them through the whole wonderful process.”

Rehearsals will be at two hubs, one in Tŷ Pawb community arts centre, Wrexham, and the other at St Asaph Parish Church. They meet on Saturday mornings from 10am-12 noon. There is also a facility for people to join rehearsals via Zoom video conferencing technology.

Llangollen Eisteddfod Executive Producer Camilla King said: “We have been thinking about doing something on this theme and scale for some time but it is only this year that the various strands have come together to create what promises to be a magical evening.

“It is heart-breaking to look back on the Bosnian war and realise that a whole cultural identity was under attack.

“As well as the relentless murdering of the population, its entire heritage was targeted, artworks destroyed and cultural icons demolished. Now just two decades later very similar monstrosities are happening in Ukraine right now.

“We wanted to put on a concert to highlight that humanity at its heart is so much better than this. We wanted to reflect the ethos of peace, friendship and cultural diversity which is at the very roots of the International Eisteddfod and is the reason why it was founded in the first place all those years ago in 1947.

“It will be a thought-provoking, contemplative evening but it will also be uplifting as it highlights important themes of hope, togetherness and overcoming division.”

Camilla added: “I am expecting demand for tickets will be high as there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a truly unforgettable evening. We invite everyone to come along and enjoy.”

* For more details about the concert at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, visit: and to sign up for the choir or get more information email at and or call Robert Guy on 07725 050510.

Latest county council roadworks alerts

Latest roadworks alerts from Denbighshire County Council are:

O/S GARDD GERRIG TO THE TOWER, TOWER ROAD 24/04/2023 19/05/2023 Gwaith Nwy / Gas Works WALES & WEST (DCC) LLANGOLLEN Ffordd ar Gau/Road Closure

BRYN MELYN RTW SUN BANK 17/04/2023 05/05/2023 Gwaith Ar Wal Gynnal/ Retaining Wall Works DCC BRIDGES AND STRUCTURE LLANGOLLEN Ffordd ar Gau/Road Closure

Wrth / Nr DALMORE ABBEY ROAD 22/05/2023 24/05/2023 Gwaith BT/ BT Works

A542 Market St, Llangollen MARKET STREET 15/05/2023 17/05/2023 Gwaith Llinellu / Lining Works DCC WORKS UNIT

Parade St, llangollen PARADE STREET 15/05/2023 17/05/2023 Gwaith Llinellu / Lining Works DCC WORKS UNIT

Abbey Road ABBEY ROAD 19/06/2023 30/09/2023 Ailwynebu/ Resurfacing DCC WORKS UNIT. No traffic management to be on site 01/07/23 - 12/07/23 due to International Eisteddfod Confoi 10 mya/10 mph Convoy

A542 Chapel St, Llangollen CHAPEL STREET 15/05/2023 17/05/2023 Gwaith Llinellu / Lining Works DCC WORKS UNIT

Castle St, Llangollen CASTLE STREET 15/05/2023 17/05/2023 15/05/23 Road Lining/stop go DCC WORKS UNIT

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Newbridge Road 'open before year-end' MS told

* Damage caused to the road by the 2021 storms. 

Wrexham Council still aims to have Newbridge Road reopened ‘before end of year’, the local Member of the Senedd has been told.

The road was shut as a result of a landslide caused by severe storms in February 2021, leaving motorists heading between Chirk and Cefn Mawr no alternative but to use a long diversion route.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates has made repeated representations to the council on behalf of local residents, who have regularly voiced their frustration about the lack of progress and public updates.

It is now more than a year since the Welsh Government announced a £2.8m grant to repair and reopen the key local route following a campaign for funding by Mr Skates and local councillors Frank Hemmings and Derek Wright, who represent Chirk North and Cefn East respectively.

Wrexham Council said that while the current procurement phase is taking longer than expected, ‘we do not envisage this situation will have any significant impact on the overall project timelines’.

In an email to Mr Skates this week, the council said: “Currently we remain within the procurement phase of the Newbridge project, and although this is taking a little longer than initially envisaged the project team here has been actively engaged in associated accommodation works on those preparatory matters whilst procurement passes through the necessary commercial discussions.

The council’s invitation to tender for the design and build (D&B) contractor was uploaded to the Welsh Government’s Sell2Wales portal in mid-February, with five potential contractors identified.

“During the tender period contractors were able to ask questions relating to the technical and legal detail of the tender, this included a mid-tender ‘clinic’ attended by some of the above contractors,” the council’s update continued. “Responses to questions were uploaded onto the portal in accordance with the tendering process for all contractors to view.

“Following this, consideration has been given to how the terms of the future contract can be adapted to ensure the best outcome for the council, whilst offering an opportunity for the D&B contractor to submit a competitive bid and attracting their commercial interest.

“Much of the recent work on our procurement process has been centred on the apportionment of ‘risk’ in contract terms. This has been proving a difficult balance and one we need to manage through the detail of carefully. Whilst the revised tender process will slightly extend the procurement phase, the potential contractors have already had an opportunity to study the technical data so we do not envisage this situation will have any significant impact on the overall project timelines. We still aim to have road open before end of year.”

Mr Skates said: “The Welsh Government announced a grant of £2.8m to Wrexham Council for vital repairs to the B5605 at Newbridge in April 2022. The matter has been in the council's hands since, and I share residents' frustrations. I will continue to press the council to urgently reinstate this key route and to communicate regularly with the public over progress to keep local people informed.”

The council’s statement concluded: “Whilst this is a relatively small engineering project, there are technical difficulties in providing the solution. We are currently not forecasting any significant delays nor cost issues at this stage, but engaging and maintaining commercial interest is vital.

“In the meantime, preparatory works are progressing. Details have been finalised for progressing the various ecological surveys and licences required for the scheme. This survey work is scheduled to start during May with the reports and licencing finalised by mid-June. This will avoid any delay to the likely construction phase of the repair.”

MP speaks in Commons on Government support for families

* Simon Baynes MP speaks in the House of Commons debate.

Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes spoke in the House of Commons debate on the cost of living earlier this week. 

He welcomed the Government’s extended Cost of Living support which, he said, will mean 9,100 families in his constituency will receive £301 from the Government through the latest Cost of Living Payments beginning from this week and £900 in total for 2023-4. 

They would also receive the Government’s Disability Cost of Living Payment worth £150 again this year. This direct support was part of the Government’s £94 billion package of Cost of Living support.

Mr Baynes said that in addition to means-tested cost of living support, the Energy Price Guarantee was continuing to help keep household energy bills as low as possible – ensuring the typical family pays no more that £2,500 for their energy bills until the end of June this year.

During the debate Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “The best thing we can do to help people’s money go further is deliver on our priorities to halve inflation and grow the economy.

“But we’re also here to help people through these tough times, which is why we’re holding down energy bills, freezing fuel duty, increasing Universal Credit, and giving £900 payments to low income and vulnerable families - all in part funded through windfall taxes on energy profits.”

Commenting in the House of Commons, Mr Baynes said: “I am delighted that 9,100 families in Clwyd South will receive £301 from the Government as the latest cost of living payments begin to be sent out. This is part of a much larger programme by the Government to support vulnerable people in these difficult times.

"Indeed, the Cost of Living package to help the most vulnerable has been worth £94 billion. A key part of this is addressing inflation – we expect inflation to halve by the end of this year, so the issues that we have at the moment will mitigate themselves, and we will see inflation come down later in the year.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Details announced of Corwen station official opening

Four days of special celebrations will mark the fanfare official opening of the new Corwen station during the first week of June.

A highlight will be the arrival of a special steam train carrying coachloads of VIPs along the line from Carrog to see the formal opening ceremony on Friday June 2. 

There will also be a public gala event, an intensive timetable of services hauled by steam, diesel and railcars over three days, special exhibitions and the unveiling of a special commemorative model.

The opening will bring passenger rail services back into the heart of Corwen after a break of many decades.

It also marks the culmination of years of hard work by volunteers and staff of Llangollen Railway, millions of pounds of investment and the triumph of the heritage attraction over the massive setbacks of liquidation and pandemic. 

The formal opening event on June 2 will be performed by Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, chairman of both Network Rail and the Heritage Railway Association.

Trains that day are scheduled to be hauled by Kitson 0-4-0ST “Austin 1” – one of the original Llangollen Railway steam fleet - top and tailed with visiting Austerity No 68067. 

* Kitson 0-4-0ST 'Austin 1', one of the original Llangollen Railway steam fleet, will be on duty on June 2.

June 3 and 4 will see a two-day gala event when an intensive public timetable will operate a three-train service of steam, diesel and railcar workings, each train working two return trips to Corwen a day. 

Locomotives and railcars are expected to be drawn from Austerity 68067, Class 31 No 31271, Class 47 1566 and Classes 104, 108 & 109 DMU. 

A range of attractions are planned in Corwen including model railway layouts in the town's community centre and museum.

Liverpool Model Railway Society will be exhibiting a layout entitled Corwen Through the Ages in the community centre and there is a 4mm scale model of sections of the Llangollen Railway in the museum. 

Dapol and Rails of Sheffield will also be making an announcement about a forthcoming new 4mm scale model that should be of great interest to both Llangollen Railway and GWR fans alike.

There will also be a display of heritage memorabilia in the Henry Robertson suite at Llangollen station across all four days of the event. 

A talk will be given on the evening of June 1 by renowned local archaeologist Fiona Gayle MBE entitled Denbigh, Ruthin & Corwen Railway in the Vale of Clwyd. Approximately 50 tickets at £5 each will be available. 

A vintage fire engine will also be on display at Llangollen station. 

LR Trust manager Tom Taylor said: “We are all tremendously excited at the prospect of seeing Corwen station opened for its first public trains. 

"This represents the culmination of many years of hard work by a small, but extremely dedicated team of volunteers. 

"We are all very proud of what they have achieved through some very challenging circumstances. We are also very grateful to all those who have supported the project financially, including grants from the Welsh Assembly and UK Governments. 

"Our local authorities and MPs have also supported us from the get-go. From June 3 all our services will be running to Corwen and we look forward to welcoming passengers, friends and volunteers to our superb new station as well as putting Corwen back on the railway map, where the town very much deserves to be."

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Temporary traffic closure order for stretch of Barbers Hill

Denbighshire County Council has made the temporary traffic order below for a section of Barbers Hill.

Llangollen Ramblers looking for new faces

A few of Llangollen Ramblers enjoying the sunshine on Oswestry Racecourse last week.  

The ramblers say they would love to see new faces, so if you're interested, call Judy on 07905 330788 or email 

Much more to this Volvo hybrid than its comfy seats

Volvo XC60 drive by Steve Rogers

A car company director asked 30 motoring journalists would they buy an electric car tomorrow? Only four put their hands up. Mind stayed down.

The problem is not the cars, the majority of which are innovative and good to drive. The biggest barrier as we move rapidly towards electrification is range anxiety, the fear of not being able to keep the batteries topped up on a long journey.

And the fear is real so much so that the car industry is lobbying the Government to more than double its target of 350,000 charging points by E day in 2030.

Ironically now might be the best time to run an electric car because there are still not that many queues at charging points.

But for the time being my choice is hybrid, part engine, part electric motor, or you can take a step further with a plug-in hybrid which provides more miles on electric only power, just like this XC60 Recharge.

XC60 has a two-litre engine and an electric motor that can be charged in a couple of hours to give up to 48 miles on electric only driving. For some that is more miles than they cover in an average day. The big drawback with a plug-in is the extra cost and if we take XC60 as an example the gap between petrol and plug-in hybrid is all but £8,000.

Volvo is now well established as a premium brand so you are paying big bucks, in the case of XC60, its best seller, anything from £48,000 to £68,000 but it is an impressive car.

My wife is a good sounding board with test cars, she is very picky and rarely impressed but the Volvo charmed her. There were a few things. The glass gear change selector immediately caught her eye, the dashboard layout with its stylish mix of quality coverings and metal surrounds and inserts, but the highest praise was reserved for the seats.

I am with here all the way on this and have been saying for years that Volvo seats are the best shaped and most comfortable of any car I have driven.

So this is looking good, then I select reverse and notice the rear camera definition isn’t up to scratch, all a bit foggy. Very un-Volvo like, yet switch to the 360 degree surround setting and it is pin sharp. Strange.

No worries, we are off and are then surprised at the overly noisy heating fan even on the lowest setting. Hope this is as far down hill as we are going.

The next bit is not meant to be negative but every time I drive a Volvo I dread using the  touchscreen, the car’s brain centre. Volvo has upgraded the technology to a system powered by Android with Google mapping and access to Google apps. All the car’s functions are stored in a series of swipe files and in many ways the system is brilliant and can be mastered, it just takes a lot of patience. How can a grown man be intimidated by some highfalutin car tech?

Fortunately a super efficient voice control system will deal with everyday functions like selecting a radio station, heating settings, finding a navigation destination or searching the web. Software updates come in over the air. Cool, or what?

Everything in the cabin might be high tech but the classy Scandinavian design finishes are easy on the eye and create a relaxed atmosphere. Volvo is good at doing that.

With the help of the electric motor XC60 is quick, a good deal quicker than the Audi Q5 reviewed here a few weeks ago, with a huge surge of power when overtaking, but nowhere near as fun to drive as its German rival.

The suspension set up is fairly neutral, airing on the side of comfort, but even though it does not possess German handling credentials it will not let you down when pushed through twists and turns.

Official economy figures seem far fetched but are based on many miles of electric driving. Once the batteries are drained you should be able to achieve high thirties to 40mpg on petrol only power, a reasonable return given XC60s size and performance.

As you would expect from the safety conscious Swedes the car is equipped with every driving aid known to man, the latest addition is the excellent cross traffic braking which can avoid a collision when reversing.

The Volvo and the Audi came close together and although I loved the tearaway nature of the Q5 I am going with the more economical, yet very swift XC60.

Fast facts

XC60 Recharge T6 AWD Plus

£60,550 (range starts £47,460)

2-litre petrol+electric motor; 350bhp

0-62mph 5.7secs; 112mph

256mpg combined

30g/km. 1st tax £10

Boot: 468 litres

Insurance group 40

Monday, April 24, 2023

Eisteddfod puts out call for stewarding volunteers

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has put out the call for volunteers.

In a post on its Facebook page it says it is looking for people to join its stewarding team  who enjoy working in the "wonderful atmosphere of music, dance and colour."

The jobs of stewards is to man the pavilion entrances throughout the day during Eisteddfod week, check tickets, be on duty inside the pavilion during concerts and competitions and help visitors with any questions or enquiries.

For those interested there's an email address and a phone number for applicants to get in touch for further details.

It is known that like many organisations the Eisteddfod has suffered from the affects of the pandemic on volunteering. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Police witness appeal follows fatal road collision in Cefn Mawr

North Wales Police have put out an appeal for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision which took place in Cefn Mawr earlier today (Sunday).

They say: "We are currently investigating a road traffic collision in Cefn Mawr in which a man has died.

"The incident involved a silver Ford Mondeo and a 60-year-old male pedestrian, and occurred shortly before 1am on Sunday, 23 April on the High Street close to the King’s Lane junction.

"Officers and an ambulance crew attended the location where, sadly, the male pedestrian was pronounced deceased.

"The man’s next of kin have been informed and the coroner has been notified.

"A 51-year-old man has been arrested for causing death by careless driving and remains in police custody.

"Our enquiries into this incident remain ongoing and we are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or who may have CCTV or dashcam footage, to contact us on 101 or via the North Wales Police website.

"Please quote reference A058968 in all correspondence relating to this incident.

"Please note - This is a live investigation. Any footage or photos in relation to this incident should only be shared with police for investigation purposes and not on social media."

Sailors press-gang audience into evening of salty fun

* The Old Time Sailors embark on an unforgettable evening at St Collen's.

St Collen's Church resounded to a tidal wave of wild shanties and jigs when a motley crew of musicians known as The Old Time Sailors tied up for a gig to help kick off this year's Llangollen Fringe Festival in style last night (Saturday).  

Theirs is a unique flashmob-style musical show designed to press-gang the willing audience on an unforgettable trip back to the 19th century.

What ensues is a couple of hours and more of foot-tapping fun when people can't resist singing and dancing along to the fiddly-diddly rhythms of numbers from the far-off days when sails had to be hauled at sea or jack tars sang of the old Emerald Isle as their ships were bound for America or Australia.    

Members of the audience receive a copy of the Sunday Sailor, the group's own newspaper-shaped programme which includes the lyrics to all their songs so they can join in.

Beards, bowlers and period clothing abound as the 20-odd-strong band of matelots and matelettes, who look liked they've stepped right out of a novel by Herman Melville, make sure you have a whale of a time with numbers ranging from The Mermaid and Haul Away Joe to McAlpines Fusiliers and Galway Girl.

By the time the Sailors set sail on their final set of the night the whole thing takes on an air of controlled mayhem as the audience are swept out to sea by songs like Wild Rover, Whiskey in the Jar and the timeless Black Velvet Band.   

Those who have seen the Sailors and joined in with their amazing act will never forget the experience.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Live show about death at Town Hall next week


A live show about death is coming to Llangollen Town Hall next Friday. 

Outside the Box is presented by Liz Rothschild, a performer, celebrant and award-winning burial ground owner.

The 55-minute theatre show includes stories with props, music and post-show talk.


Themes touched on are how our society handles death and dying, talking or not talking about death, funerals and the full range of options available, involvement of children, preparing for end of life, funeral poverty and comparisons with practise in other countries.


The show’s pre-publicity says: “Her unique insights and experiences have created a highly original and beautifully cathartic show, combining mercurial tales and miraculous truths, collected over the years from life’s finishing line.

“Funny, wise and taboo busting, Outside The Box confronts the ‘Elephant in the room’ with grace and humour, asking its audience to embrace mortality and look on the bright side of life, with a weave of untold and surprising stories, a hint of history and some pithy commentary on the funeral industry from one who knows.


“The overall message of these pieces is that engaging with our mortality, rather being depressing, brings relief, connection and inspiration.”


Outside the Box, is coming to Llangollen Town Hall on Friday April 28, at 7pm, as part of a national tour. Tickets: £10 and: £8.00 concession.

* Liz's website:

* Booking:

Friday, April 21, 2023

Suzuki's upgraded Swace sways the buyers

Suzuki Swace launch by Steve Rogers

Customers' opinions matter and in the case of Suzuki they are praising it to the heights.

The Japanese company might be a minnow in the UK but it has been voted top automotive brand for the sixth time running in the Institute of Customer Services satisfaction league table which is useful for the CV when battling for sales against very big players.

The timing could not have been better with Suzuki launching the upgraded Swace estate. This was a car that flew in under the radar because we were all in a state of suspended animation during the Covid pandemic.

It was also confusing for those not interested in car company politics because Swace seemed to be a doppelganger for the Toyota Corolla Touring. The answer is simple, this is a Derby built Corolla estate with a Suzuki badge on the bonnet, oh, and a slightly different front bumper design.

Suzuki has buddied up with its Japanese rival in a quid pro quo partnership where it gets two models in return for helping Toyota get a bigger foothold in India where Suzuki is big, no, make that huge, with 50 per cent of the car market.

The other model is the Across, a Toyota Rav4, but it is Swace that has brought the most new customers to the brand and is all the better for a significant number of upgrades.

The most important fix is engine power. Suzuki has to make do with the 1.8 litre hybrid rather than the 2-litre powering Corolla, but a decent increase in horse power, up from 122 to 140bhp, along with a more powerful 70kW electric motor has taken all but two seconds off the sprint to sixty time with hardly any effect on economy.

Economy is a big part of the Swace story because this is a car easily capable of averaging well over 60mpg. Having not spared the horses on the launch drive neither I nor my driving partner dropped below 57mpg.

The extra power is particularly noticeable in the mid range, taking any stress out of overtaking, the only slight irritation is the build up of engine din, a side effect of the CVT gearbox which hangs on to the revs when a conventional automatic will change up. Steering wheel paddle shifters would settle matters.

Another valuable strength is space. Swace is a mid sized family estate and is well off for legroom front and back with boot space bettering the likes of Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Quite a lot has happened up front with a redesigned, changeable digital driver’s binnacle, and a new 8in multi media touchscreen with sharper definition. Swace does not get the option of built in navigation but that is not such an issue these days with smartphone navigation apps that can be paired to the central screen.

Two models are offered, Motion (£28,999) and Ultra £30,799) with the standard equipment level pretty generous so both get dual zone automatic air conditioning, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, auto dipping headlights and the up to date type C USB port. Ultra gets front and rear parking sensors, Bi-LED projector headlights and wireless charger on top.

There is an upgraded package of safety features although it is surprising that a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and safe exit, which warn of approaching traffic or a cyclist if a door is opened, are only available on Ultra. You can’t put a price on safety so they should be standard.

The big question is why buy a Swace when the Corolla has a bigger engine, more specification options and a longer warranty? Well, the Suzuki is around £800 cheaper, does not struggle for power any more, and if you are a fan of the brand provides an economic, low running costs car in one of the biggest selling sectors, so why not?

Fast facts

Swace Ultra CVT Auto


1.8 litre hybrid; 140bhp

0-62mph 9.4secs; 112mph

62.7mpg combined

102g/km. 1st tax £20

Boot: 596-1,232 litres

Insurance group 18

Bethan wins award after “baptism of fire” running care home


Bethan Mascarenhas outside the Old Vicarage care home.

An actress, singer and storyteller who switched from a career in the theatre to become one of the youngest care home owners in Wales has won a top award.

Bethan Mascarenhas, now 33, was chosen by the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers to receive its City and Guilds Livery Company Prize for 2023 for her outstanding commitment.

The honour came hot on the heels of what Bethan described as a ‘baptism of fire’ after she took on the Old Vicarage Care Home at Llangollen with her brother Richard just a few months before the Covid pandemic struck.

She had to dig deep to find the steely resilience and determination needed to lead her team through the crisis when she was only in her late twenties.

Bethan channelled reserves of energy she never knew she had and also took on the extra challenge of studying for a Level 5 management certification during the pandemic lockdown – and qualified with flying colours.

She says that was thanks to the unstinting support she received from her partner, her parents, her care team at the Old Vicarage and her tutors at Pendine Academy of Social Care, which is the training arm of the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham.

Pendine Academy assessor Jenna Evans who nominated Bethan for the award said her dedication to her leadership role and her resolve to always go the extra mile was formidable.

The City and Guilds Livery Company Prize is one of the most prestigious accolades given by the City and Guilds Foundation.

It was presented to Bethan by the Lord Mayor of London Alderman Nicholas Lyons at a ceremony and lunch at Mansion House in the City of London.

She took her partner, IT professional Nick Palmer, to the presentation and they spent a deserved short break in London to celebrate.

Bethan knew nothing about the nomination until she heard she had won.

She said: “It was the surprise of my life. Gaining the qualification in itself was already a reward in my eyes. But I feel so touched to have even been nominated, never mind won this award. It’s a huge honour.”

Bethan grew up surrounded by elderly residents in a care facility run by her parents Ken and Carol Mascarenhas who own Abbey Dingle Care Home in Llangollen.

She said: “It was a great way to grow up and made me realise from an early age how joyful being around elderly people can be. They all have such fascinating life-stories and I was constantly inspired by so many of the residents I became friends with.” 

She believes it was living in that richly creative environment which led to her going into the arts.

After school she attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and eventually set up her own touring theatre company delivering music and performance shows to audiences across the country.

She said: “Often we would perform for vulnerable society members. We would work with Arts in Health, Age UK and community theatre groups. I think my creative background and lifelong love of music was a massive source of strength helping see us through what were five of the most challenging years of our lives.”

Bethan was in her late twenties when she and her brother took on the Old Vicarage care home. She admits is was a big decision, made even more daunting when they found themselves confronting Covid as well, but she has never regretted the career switch.

She said: “It really was a baptism of fire for us trying to keep our residents safe through such an unprecedented and scary crisis. But we were determined to get through and put our residents’ wellbeing at the forefront of everything we did.

“That is why I decided to study for my Level 5 Management Qualification in the middle of it all. I felt I needed to be armed with as much knowledge as possible and learn the leadership skills to equip me to deal with the mountainous challenges we faced. It gave me the increased confidence and ability required to make informed and educated decisions.

“I am registered as the responsible adult at our care home and that meant I was the one our staff would turn to for leadership. I wanted to do that positively, and from the front.

“It was a hard ask studying during such critical times but I am so glad I did it.”

She also drew on her theatrical background to keep residents entertained and to help quell their anxiety during lockdown.

She said: “We came up with all sorts of ideas to reduce the isolation of lockdown. I used numerous of the skills I learned at arts school but I would also ask our residents and staff for ideas of activities which they would like to do and we would do anything which was within the realms of possibility whether it be storytelling sessions, gardening, listening to music together or holding mini indoor picnics. We did it all and we managed to keep Covid out of the home all the way through until 2022, well after the vaccinations programme had begun.”

Bethan was hugely grateful for the support of both her mentor Jenna and Pendine Park Academy lead assessor Ann Serridge who made themselves available at any time of the day for advice and moral support through the crisis.

She said: “They became good friends as well as trusted confidantes and tutors. I will be forever grateful for their support.”

Jenna praised Bethan’s work ethic, knowledge and compassion for her role as a manager.

She said: “Bethan has shown outstanding progression while completing her Level 5 management qualification during lockdown.

“I nominated her for this award so that others could see the incredible commitment she has shown during that time while also ensuring the wellbeing of individuals and staff in her care home. She is an amazing woman, manager and home owner.

“I am so very proud that she has been selected for this award, it is very well deserved.”

After a strenuous few years Bethan is now taking a temporary step back from her full time management role. She is still in constant touch with the home, its residents and all her staff, but she has decided to study for further qualifications to further underpin her leadership role.

She is part way through a year-long Master of Sciences degree in psychology with Chester University.

She said: “After my Level 5 I did a course on counselling. I found it so interesting that I knew immediately that I wanted to learn more about psychology.

“It will really help give me a deeper sight into the thought processes and needs of people dealing with emotions like fear, stress or anxiety as they enter a new phase in their lives or have to cope with issues such as dementia and memory loss.”