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Monday, May 29, 2023
A couple who got engaged on a platform at Llangollen Railway last year returned there on Saturday for their wedding.
The first day of the Queen's platinum jubilee celebration weekend in 2022 turned into a royally romantic occasion when Josh Taylor-Smith chose a visit to the heritage attraction as the perfect time and place to pop the question to Becky Cook.
And there was a romantic conclusion to the story when the couple returned to the railway over the weekend to steam ahead with the wedding ceremony which they had been carefully planning with the help of railway officials for 12 months.
* Gary Fletcher about to board the boat out of Spain.
Severely blistered feet have finally forced a Llangollen man to put an end to his 500-mile charity walk to raise money £10,000 for a local hospital’s specialist children’s unit.
Gary Fletcher, 44, set off on his lone trek through France and Spain along the famous Camino De Santiago Pilgrim Trail on May 6.
His target was to raise at least £10,000 for the pioneering Movement Centre at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen.
He reckoned it would take him between six and eight weeks to complete the walk, dependent on the weather or any injuries he might sustain along the way.
But those injuries came quite soon along the route when blisters he developed on both feet became so painful that he had to stop for a few days to allow them to heal in the Spanish town of Estelle.
He was eventually forced to seek hospital treatment.
Gary has been issuing regular updates on his challenge through his Facebook page.
And just before the weekend he revealed that he’d finally called a halt to the walk.
He posted: “So after a few days of contemplating and using steroid cream on my feet, the infection hasn’t got any better but got worse due to sweat in my boots I guess, feels like a really bad bee sting at the moment.
“I decided (as much as I hate hospitals) to go to the hospital today and was given antibiotics and told not to wear closed shoes and keep them open to the air as much as possible.
“This along with other things has brought me to the end of walking, as much as it’s disappointing being 192 miles from the end it’s brought me to a crossroads of what to do.
“My thinking is now to stop and pick up from here sometime in the future and enjoy as a new adventure rather than going via bus/train etc and it not being a new experience and new sights via the walk next time.
“My family were also meeting me in Santiago de Compostela but it’s crazy how long it takes to fly there, most flights are via Ireland and can take a day and a half for some reason. So with this, I am thinking of hiring a car and driving all the way across Spain over a few days and catching a ferry for another couple of days to meet my family possibly in Tenerife.
“It’s kind of hard to figure out the best plan, continuing would mean me sitting still for a week or more until this infection has gone and I’m feeling it’s already getting to my state of mind just hanging around. I hate to give up, I hate to not at least get to the finish point, but the above is the best plan I can come up with so that I can finish on a clear run next time.
“I also feel guilty for the sponsors to the charity as I don’t feel I’ve given this my all now.”
A couple of days later Gary posted: “So after making the decision it was a mad dash to hire a car and drive across Spain to catch a ferry. Just made it by driving all day yesterday and up at 5:30 to do another 190miles. We’re just preparing to set sail now. 33 hours via Grand Canaria and I’ll be in Tenerife for a few weeks. Hopefully the sea water will sort my feet out.”
Gary, who recently sold his development site next to White Waters Hotel and is looking for another property in or around the town, spent weeks training for his foot-slogging marathon by climbing local hills and mountains and sweating it out in daily gym sessions.
He also mounted an intensive publicity and social media campaign to gain the sponsorship from local businesses.
Before leaving he said: “I have wanted to do something to help children in our country for some time. With the centre I have found the perfect charity to support as it relies solely on donations and private fundraising to continue its work supporting children of all ages with mobility issues.”
Sunday, May 28, 2023
* Dyfed Thomas as Eurwyn in the comedy series Rybish.
Llangollen-based actor Dyfed Thomas has been nominated for two top honours in this year's Celtic Film and Media Awards.
In the Best Comedy section he is acknowledged for his role as Eurwyn in S4C's Rybish, a Welsh language comedy series set in a recycling centre which aired last year.
He is also nominated in the Best Drama Series category for playing Ivor Toupe in Rough Cut, which is currently showing on Netflix.
The festival this year takes place in Duneglo, Ireland, June 4 to the 6.
Dyfed Thomas, a native of Rhos, lives just outside Llangollen with his wife, former Benny Hill actress Julie Kirk.
An actor with more than 45 years’ experience, he has focused on work behind the camera in recent years, mainly adapting novels into movie scripts.
He sold some scripts to Bollywood and in the past few years has spent a lot of his time in India.
Latest local roadworks alerts from one.network are:
Saturday, May 27, 2023
Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes visited Corwen Station on the Llangollen Steam Railway to meet the dedicated team of volunteers who have been working tirelessly on its construction, ahead of the station’s upcoming official reopening on June 2.
During his visit, Mr Baynes expressed his gratitude to the volunteers who have contributed their time, effort and resources to the building of the brand-new Corwen Station over the last decade.
Their hard work had completed a beautiful station that would soon provide an enhanced experience for both residents and visitors alike.
The impressive steel canopy, with a cost of £190,000, was made possible through the Clwyd South UK Levelling Up Fund grant of £13.3 million, which Simon Baynes MP played a crucial role in securing as local MP.
Phil Coles, Chairman of the Llangollen Railway Trust, said: “Seeing our station open on June 2 will be a very special day, the realisation of a 50-year dream by our founders to reopen the railway between Llangollen and Corwen.
"It’s been quite a journey, but we have made it. We’ve seen such incredible commitment from dedicated volunteers and supporters; from those who have laid the bricks to those who have worked to help secure government funding like Simon. I’m proud to have been part of the team that has put a station back on the map in Corwen.”
Speaking about the visit, Mr Baynes MP said: “It was a great pleasure to be able to meet the volunteers who have put so much time and effort into rebuilding of Corwen Station and to express not only my gratitude but also that of the wider community for their heroic work.
“Once reopened, this will provide a great boost to the Llangollen & Corwen Railway and the local area.”
Friday, May 26, 2023
Denbighshire County Council is urging residents and interested parties to have their say on a proposal to increase the premium charge for Council Tax on long-term empty and second homes.
Since April 2017 Welsh Government legislation has allowed local authorities to charge up to a 100% premium for these properties. Denbighshire County Council currently charges a 50% premium on these properties.
Recent changes in Welsh Government legislation give local authorities in Wales the powers to further increase the Council Tax premium on these properties up to 300%.
Denbighshire County Council has reviewed these powers and has put forward a proposal to increase the premium on long term empty and second homes to 100% from April 2024, then 150% from April 2025.
They also propose that long term empty properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for five years or more pay a higher premium at 50% more than the standard premium i.e., 150% from April 2024 and 200% from April 2025.
A long-term empty home is one which is unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least one year.
A second home is a substantially furnished property, which is not a person’s sole or main residence.
The Welsh Government introduced these powers to help councils encourage homeowners not to unnecessarily leave their properties empty and unoccupied for long periods of time.
Councillor Gwyneth Ellis, Cabinet Lead Member for Finance, said: “The Welsh Government introduced these additional powers to help Councils to encourage homeowners to bring long term empty and second homes back into use for the benefit of the local community and economy.
"This initiative will assist us in our ambitions to develop the local economy and create vibrant communities. We are encouraging people interested in this matter to share their views."
* You can have your say on Denbighshire County Council’s proposal by completing a short online survey on https://countyconversation.denbighshire.gov.uk/project/717 or computer access and Denbighshire Libraries and One Stop Shops
The consultation runs from today (Friday May 26) until Wednesday June 21 and the findings will be reported to a meeting of the full council later in 2023.
* At Drosi Bikes CIC (from left) Julie Masters Clwydian Range Tourism Group (CRTG), Beth and Robin Drosi Bikes, Carol Smith CRTG, Mark Isherwood MS.
Politicians have been visiting local attractions as part of Wales Tourism Week.
Mark Isherwood, Welsh Conservative Senedd Member for North Wales, visited Beth Ward and Robin Hughes and Drosi Bikes CIC in Parade Street, Llangollen, explaining how a love of cycling coupled with a concern for the environment was the driving force behind the company, which since May 2021 has been on a mission to encourage accessible cycling and reduce carbon footprints.
As well as hiring bikes for the day or half day, the team at Drosi Bikes take in repairs, restore donated bikes for sale, and offer e-bike conversions.
As a community interest company, the team supports a number of programmes to upskill and educate volunteers of all abilities.
Mr Isherwood commended the company on the valuable service that it provides to the local community, which he said goes hand in hand with its sustainable approach to tourism and its contribution to the visitor economy.
Mr Isherwood also visited The Dory Gallery in Regent Street, Llangollen, where the owner Suzanne Matheison explained how the gallery, opened in June 2021, had come about.
An independent art gallery located in the former National School for the Poor, The Dory specialises in contemporary and abstract art, particularly the work of the late abstract artist Dory after whom the gallery is named, in an informal setting.
Individual local artists and art groups are also championed, with regular displays of their work in various media being staged in a series of bright exhibition spaces.
Mr Isherwood said he was pleased to hear that the gallery is popular with visitors to Llangollen as well as local residents, and said that the wide range of visitor experiences available in the town, of which The Dory Gallery is one, provides growing support for the local economy.
He added: “It was a delight to visit these excellent tourism businesses which are a real asset to North Wales. I thank them, and the members of the Clwydian Range Tourism Group, for welcoming me and wish them continued success with their ventures.”
* Tourism can continue to drive the local economy in a corner of north-east Wales which has ‘so much to offer’, says Clwyd South Labour Senedd Member Ken Skates.
Mr Skates, a former Welsh Government tourism minister, said his constituency is ‘brimming with potential’, and believes it will continue to keep local employment figures above the UK average.
“Tourism is – and always will be – a key sector for Clwyd South and it’s a crucial driver of the local and regional economy,” said Mr Skates. “Our area has so much to offer and it’s a constituency I’m hugely proud to represent.
“We have two beautiful valleys, the Dee and Ceiriog. The latter was where the Battle of Crogen took place in 1165, which saw King Henry II’s army forced to retreat by brave Welsh soldiers. And we have the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Horseshoe Pass.
“Then there’s the 200-year-old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the first transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site, which stretches for 11 miles through some of the most important industrial heritage anywhere in the world.Llangollen is home to the world famous International Musical Eisteddfod and the recently-restored railway line to Corwen, and Rhosllanerchrugog is home to the iconic Stiwt theatre which remains a prominent venue for Welsh language arts.”
The famous Llangollen-Corwen line has been gradually restored in recent years, with support from the Welsh Government, and volunteers will officially reopen Corwen Station next month.
“The team has done an incredible job, and it’s taken years of blood, sweat and tears from the volunteers,” said Mr Skates. “It’s been a real labour of love, and it’s amazing to see this jewel in the Dee Valley’s crown brought back to its former glory.”
Mr Skates visited several other businesses and attractions to mark Wales Tourism Week (May 15-21), including Chirk Castle – one of the two National Trust sites in his constituency – and the nearby Lady Margaret's Park Club Campsite. During First Minister’s Questions, the Clwyd South MS also highlighted the importance of the tourism industry to the region.
He said: “The constituency is also home to Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse, which I visited ahead of the family race day on Saturday (May 20) and is a major local attraction. It was an excellent opportunity to meet the new general manager Paddy Chesters and chief executive Louise Stewart and hear about their plans to further improve the racecourse’s offering.”
Thursday, May 25, 2023
* The whole school celebrate their successful sponsored walk.
Children from Ysgol Bryn Collen took part in a sponsored walk in aid of Hope House Hospice earlier today (Thursday).
Years 5/6 walked around the castle, years 3/4 did loops of Plas Newydd, years 1/2 walked in Penycoed Woods, reception strode out around Pengwern and the nursery walked around the school field.
The children have been busy collecting sponsorships and they took on the challenge in memory of Leo Roberts whose sisters attend the school.
Donation boxes have also been placed in Dee Valley Veg, Llangollen Barbers, Riverbanc and The Three Eagles.
Jen Rush from Llangollen is taking part in a national BBC charity appeal to raise money for a charity supporting people affected by melanoma skin cancer.
Jen is appearing in the appeal in memory of her husband James who passed away in August 2022 having been diagnosed with melanoma.
Melanoma Focus has been selected for a BBC’s Lifeline Appeal, a programme which highlights the work of charities in the UK and invites the audience to donate.
The appeal will be broadcast on Sunday May 28 and Jen will be sharing her experiences of James being diagnosed with melanoma and her work for Melanoma Focus.
Melanoma Focus provides crucial support for those affected by the disease and the medical teams who treat them, along with funding innovative research into new treatments and helping to raise greater awareness of skin cancer.
The charity's Melanoma Helpline can be the first point of call for people newly diagnosed or grappling with treatment choices.
Patients and carers are also welcomed to the annual Melanoma Patient Conference, a safe space and community event which aims to empower patients and provide information about the latest treatments and advances in melanoma medicine.
Experts say 86% of melanomas are preventable but they are becoming more common in the UK killing 2,333 people per year.
Over the last decade, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third (32%) in the UK. There are now around 16,700 new cases every year (46 every day) and it is expected to continue to rise.
Jen said: “James was a wonderful man and father to our young daughter Jess. He loved the outdoors and had hobbies including kayaking, surfing, climbing and mountain biking. He was also a talented photographer and designer. He most recently worked as a tree surgeon and was a retained firefighter.
"I’m really proud to take part in the BBC Lifeline appeal in his memory.”
Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus, said: “Melanoma skin cancer is a serious and potentially fatal condition.
"A melanoma diagnosis can bring confusion, anxiety, disbelief and disruption to the patient and their loved ones. That’s where we step in. As experts in melanoma, Melanoma Focus strives to shape a better future for melanoma patients by supporting them from diagnosis through their treatment and beyond.
“We’re delighted that Jen is continuing James’ legacy and supporting our BBC Lifeline appeal to raise awareness of melanoma and raise vital funds for our charity’s work.”
*For more information, or to make a donation online, visit the Lifeline website at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Cheers: Llangollen's Mayor, Cllr Paul Keddie, went along to the town's two junior schools to hand over the commemorative mugs purchased by the Town Council for each of their children to mark the coronation on May 6 of King Charles III.
There are English versions for Ysgol Bryn Collen and Welsh language ones for Ysgol Y Gwernant, both bearing the council's logo on the reverse. At Ysgol Y Gwernant the school dog Twm was amongst the proud recipients (below).
The funeral of Phil Stroud, chairman of the Llangollen branch of the Royal British Legion, took place yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, with a service at St Collen’s Church followed by committal at Pentrebychan.
Mr Stroud died aged 70 at home on May 5 after a short illness.
Originally from Manchester, he served for over 20 years in the army with the King's Regiment, and leaves his wife of 23 years Marie, children and grandchildren.
In his introduction to a moving service, in which Royal British Legion standard bearers led the funeral procession down the aisle, Father Lee Taylor spoke fondly of Mr Stroud who he said had been one of the first people to welcome him when he moved to the area just under five years ago.
Father Lee also praised his strong record of service to his country and later the Legion and recalled his sense of humour which he said had prevailed even through his illness.
In the eulogy, Mr Stroud’s Legion comrade David ‘Dai’ Thomas gave an account of his life, including how he joined the army in his late teens in 1972, serving through until the early 1990s when he left the army to begin a civilian job as a tanker driver.
After leaving the service he had become a mainstay of the Legion, serving as the local branch’s treasurer, then chairman and as a standard bearer.
He also involved himself with many aspects of the Legion’s welfare work with former armed forces personnel.
Later at the crematorium there was the sounding of the Last Post and a farewell song.
Donations were invited to the Legion’s Llangollen branch or the armed forces charity SSAFA.
Denbighshire County Council has issued a temporary traffic order for Abbey Road in Llangollen (copied above).
This covers resurfacing works by the council on a 1.1 kilometre stretch starting from June 19 when a 10mph speed limit will be in force together with a convoy system.
The order states that no work will take place between July 7 and 11 due to the Eisteddfod.
* The council has also announced it is to close a section of Maesmawr Road for carriageway patching between May 30 and June 2.
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Llangollen & Corwen Railway’s new £1.25m Corwen station saw its first steam-hauled test train yesterday (Monday).
This was to test the water tower and run-round line that will be used for all services from Saturday June 3.
The train was hauled by a 1943-built Austerity tank locomotive No 68067 and was driven by Harry Barber, who was been a volunteer at the railway for over 30 years, and fireman Phil Morrey.
Dedicated volunteers are putting the final touches to the new station before it is officially handed over to the railway's operations department for a grand opening weekend, starting on June 1 for LR members.
June 2 will see a special ceremony where Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, chairman of both Network Rail and the Heritage Railway Association, will formally open the station, which has taken six years to build.
Members of the public will be able to ride trains into the new station over the weekend of Saturday June 3 and 4.
The two days will feature a busy hourly train service using steam, diesel and railcars and a large model railway layout of Corwen as it was in the 1950’s on display in Corwen’s Canolfan Ni village hall. A vintage fire engine will also be on display at Llangollen station.
Phil Coles, chairman of Llangollen Railway Trust, said: “Seeing our station open on June 2 will be a very special day.
"It is the realisation of the vision of our founders 50 years ago to reopen the railway between Llangollen and Corwen.
"It’s been quite a journey, but we have finally made it. We’ve seen such incredible commitment from dedicated volunteers and supporters; from those who have laid the bricks and tracks to those who helped secure government Levelling-Up funding for our station canopy, including our local MP Simon Baynes.
"I am proud to have been part of the team that has put a station back on the map in Corwen after Dr Beeching closed the original nearly 60 years ago."
* More information and advanced tickets for the opening weekend can be found by visiting https://llangollen-railway.co.uk/.