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Friday, May 31, 2024

Public meeting to be held ahead of Eisteddfod


* Sir Tom Jones will perform at the Eisteddfod. 

Residents and businesses in Llangollen are being invited to a public meeting ahead of this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. 

Representatives from both the volunteer team behind the festival and co-promoters Cuffe and Taylor will lead the meeting to answer and address all questions covering subjects such as traffic management, noise alleviation measures, and access to the site.
The meeting will take place at 7pm next Tuesday (June 4) at Llangollen Town Hall.
Chair of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Professor Chris Adams said: “This summer we have an exciting programme lasting a month. It includes additional concerts with live music promoters Cuffe and Taylor, who have a track record of putting on successful major events across the UK.
“The public meeting - the fourth we've held since last year's Eisteddfod - will be an opportunity for Llangollen residents to get the latest information, as we gear up for the Eisteddfod. It’s important to us to keep local residents in the loop, to ensure the impact on our town is positive.”
Numerous steps are being taken to maintain a safe environment for the general public during event days, including a one-way system in certain areas. A dedicated phoneline is also being launched to allow residents to contact the Eisteddfod team with any issues during the festival.
Some of the world’s biggest artists will head to Llangollen this summer.  Bryan Adams arrives in the town on June 18, followed by global rock stars Simple Minds, indie heroes Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers and Suede, BRIT award-winning artist Paloma Faith and disco legends Nile Rodgers & CHIC all among the artists headlining dates on either side of the iconic peace festival.  The summer events will finish with a spectacular concert by British pop giants Madness on Saturday July 13.
The headline concerts are built around the core Eisteddfod week which returns for its 77th year, from July 2 – 7 and features concerts with Tom Jones on July 2, followed during the week with Welsh folk superstars Calan, Royal Harpist Alis Huws, Britain's Got Talent semi-finalists John's Boys Chorus, West End stars Kerry Ellis and John-Owen Jones, the return of GRAMMY award winning Gregory Porter and a Gala Concert with mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins..
Phone line is only available on concert days from: 16:00 – 23:00 18th June – 29th June and 11th – 13th July and 8am – 11pm from 2 – 7 July.  The number will be 0331 630 7526.
The pavilion grounds will be closed to general public from Sunday 16th June – Wednesday 17th July 2024.  Access will be for ticket holders only to ensure the safety and security of all customers.

More stars to join Jess Glynne at Eisteddfod show


* Issey Cross. 


* The Mercians. 

Drum and Bass breakout star Issey Cross will support pop superstar Jess Glynne when she headlines the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod this summer.

Jess Glynne will perform a headline show on Friday July 12 and it is announced today she will be joined by Issey Cross and indie rock band The Mercians.

Tickets are on sale now from llangollen.net  

Rising vocalist and songwriter Issey Cross, who has just released latest single Energy In My Town, first burst onto the scene in 2021 with debut single Who. In 2022, her breakthrough hit Used To This, in collaboration with legendary producer Wilkinson, spent 14 weeks in the UK Top 40 and 12 weeks on the BBC Radio 1 Playlist.

Cross has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names including Nathan Dawe, Bru-C, Clean Bandit, Hybrid Minds and Ella Henderson. Her hits include Oh My, Sleepwalking and the Top 20 smash Bittersweet Goodbye, an acclaimed reworking of The Verve classic Bittersweet Symphony.

Opening the night will be The Mercians, an up-and-coming indie band with more than one million streams on Spotify. The band's sound is reminiscent of the British indie rock revival of the early 2000s but with a fresh and modern twist.

Jess Glynne has made history as the only female British solo artist to achieve seven number 1 hits on the UK Singles Chart. She first rose to fame with her remarkable vocals in Clean Bandit’s GRAMMY-winning Rather Be and Route 94’s My Love in 2014. Since then, she has dominated the UK charts with hits like I’ll Be There, Hold My Hand, and Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.

Glynne’s two platinum-selling albums have both reached Number 1, earning her nine BRIT Award nominations, three Ivor Novello nominations, and a GRAMMY Award. Her music has been streamed more than 1.2 billion times!

After taking a short career break Glynne, who has delivered some of the most memorable dance-pop hits of the past decade, is back with new music for 2023. Her latest album Jess features the already released singles Silly Me, What Do You Do, Friend Of Mine and Enough. 

Glynne's headlining show is part of a series of concerts taking place as part of a new partnership between the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and Live Nation promoters Cuffe and Taylor.

The legendary core week of the festival runs from July 2 – 7 and features concerts with Welsh icon Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkins, and international best-selling artist Gregory Porter.

Jess Glynne, Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkins and Gregory Porter join global rock stars Simple Minds, British pop giants Madness, indie heroes Kaiser ChiefsManic Street Preachers and Suede, BRIT award-winning artist Paloma Faith, disco legends Nile Rodgers & CHIC and global rock star Bryan Adams among the artists headlining dates on either side of the iconic peace festival in 2024.

Artistic Director at the Llangollen Eisteddfod Dave Danford said: “This year we wanted to make sure there was something for everybody, so we’re really excited to have Issey Cross bringing her eclectic electronic music sounds to North East Wales! She’s had some huge hits over the last couple of years, followed up with live performances at some of the biggest music festivals in the world. We can’t wait for her to raise the pavilion roof with her set in Llangollen!”

For more information and to purchase tickets go to llangollen.net

 

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

llanblogger takes a short break

llanblogger is taking a short break and will be back in a few days time ...

Town crier Chem to give D-Day 80th anniversary proclamation

 

* Town crier Austin "Chem" Cheminais is full cry.

Llangollen’s town crier is joining his big-voiced counterparts from across the world to deliver a very special proclamation to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Austin “Chem” Cheminais, who is also a former mayor of the town, recently found to his delight that he was on a list of over 300 town criers from many countries who have been asked to send out to their local communities, on Thursday June 6, the commemorative message detailing the famous cross-channel invasion of Europe in the summer of 1944.

On the day, and accompanied by a contingent from the Llangollen branch of the Royal British Legion, he will stand in Centenary Square and at 11am cry out the proclamation which has been specially penned for the occasion by Christian Ashdown of the Ancient and Honourable Guilds of Town Criers who formerly served with the Household Cavalry.

The criers taking part come from every nation of the UK and also from countries right across the globe.

Chem, who is one of only 10 from Wales and will officially represent Denbighshire, said: “I was absolutely delighted and very proud to hear I had been chosen for this momentous occasion which commemorates such an important part of world history.

“To speak these historic words is a great honour.”

The proclamation he will deliver is:

“Oyez, Oyez, Oyez

“Today we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France - an incredible achievement in military planning and logistics uniting brave service personnel from air, sea and land forces at the beginning of Operation Overlord.

“By the day’s end, over one hundred and fifty thousand Allied troops had successfully stormed the now famous Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha beaches to achieve a toehold in France.

“In the weeks that followed, the Allies fought bitterly against a determined foe from the unforgiving countryside of Normandy to the liberation of Paris two months later.

“We should all remember and never forget the selfless sacrifice and courage of all those involved and use this Commemoration to pay our tribute to those who gave so much to secure the freedom we all enjoy today. God Save the King!”

Latest local roadworks alerts

Latest local roadworks alerts from Causeway one.network are:

 

Berwyn Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire


29 May - 30 May

 

Roadworks, Delays likely

 

Traffic management: Traffic control (multi-way signals)

 

Description: Installation of a CCTV camera onto street lighting column (ref DC204). The camera has been urgently requested by Welsh Government to monitor the ongoing traffic signals that are occurring at this location. Night works from 19:00hrs and 01:00hrs. The electrical supply within the lighting column will need to be upgraded. The camera will be installed using a cherry picker (or similar). Amberon TM - Emergency Number 0330 0433030

 

Works location: A5 Berwyn Street / Regent Street, Llangollen

 

Public facing description: one.network has automatically assigned a category of Unclassified works to this Works based on the information available. Please note: Works Descriptions are not published by NMWTRA/SWTRA.

 

Responsibility for works: NMWTRA/SWTRA

 

Current status: Planned work about to start

 

Works reference: PD5012412414247648

 

 

 

Castle Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire


29 May - 30 May

 

Roadworks, Delays likely

 

Traffic management: Traffic control (multi-way signals)

 

Description: Installation of a CCTV camera onto street lighting column (ref DC204). The camera has been urgently

 

Works location: Castle Street, Llangollen

 

Public facing description: one.network has automatically assigned a category of Unclassified works to this Works based on the information available. Please note: Works Descriptions are not published by NMWTRA/SWTRA.

 

Responsibility for works: NMWTRA/SWTRA

 

Current status: Advanced planning

 

Works reference: PD50124130155735748

 

 

 


Monday, May 27, 2024

County councillor speaks out on possible loss of town's public toilets

Llangollen county councillor Karen Edwards has issued this new statement on Denbighshire County Council's highly controversial plan to divest itself of public toilets across the county - including those in Market Street - as part of a money-saving exercise. 

"Much concern has been expressed on social media regarding the potential closure of the Market Street Public Conveniences. Denbighshire County Council, like most councils, is currently attempting to balance its budgets in the face of increased funding pressures. 

In my opinion the closure of the toilets would be an act of self-harm, both to the local economy and to the social well-being of the town. 

As I’ve stated previously I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm the fact that I do not support Denbighshire County Council's proposal.

The Town Council had been asked to consider taking over the operation of the toilets without any identified funding for the proposition. 

At the Town Council meeting held last Tuesday they agreed it would not be possible to take over the transfer of ownership of the facility as currently offered, given the information provided by DCC thus far and all the financial liabilities that would entail, but they remain committed to working collaboratively with DCC to explore alternative solutions that ensure the continued availability and upkeep of public toilets in the town without imposing unsustainable costs on the local population.  

I am not a Town Councillor, but I am obviously aware that for a small TC they already have quite a hefty financial responsibility with the assets they already own, namely The Centenary Square, The Town Hall, The Pen Y Bryn Cemetery and The Chain Bridge.

For DCC to close this vital facility whilst retaining all the income from parking charges would be an act of asset stripping and it is na├»ve to think that the carpark usage and thus the footfall and visitor economic benefits to the town as a whole will not be affected. 

There is no recognition from DCC that Llangollen’s combination of a carpark and public conveniences in the same location attracts visitors as a stopping point. The income received from the town’s public car parks is more than sufficient to support the continued operation of a public toilet facility. DCC is quite happy to take the car park revenue but falls short of reinvesting it back into the town that generates it.

If all our efforts fail and closure is the only option as ultimately this will be a DCC cabinet decision scheduled for September’s meeting, then we will be left with no alternative other than to ask for help to manage transition of these much-needed facilities to a sustainable low operating cost facility that is capable of being transferred to local operations and I hasten to add that could well be extremely challenging."

Sunday, May 26, 2024

u3a members learn some Tai Chi moves

Members of the Berwyn and District University of the Third Age (u3a) were treated to half an hour of gentle exercise at their May meeting. 

Nesta Wivell took them through some slow Tai Chi moves, ideal as a taster for anyone looking for controlled exercise. 

The u3a meets on the third Monday of each month at Canolfan NI, Corwen. See the website for more details. 

The next meeting is a talk about the restoration of the steamship Daniel Adamson, on June 17. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Search is on for event business coordinator for town

Cadwyn Clwyd is seeking to appoint a freelance event business coordinator for Llangollen. 

The person chosen will work on behalf of a number of local organisations including Llangollen Food Festival, Llangollen Fringe, the Christmas Festival, Llangollen Railway events and the International Eisteddfod. 

The role, which will have a budget of £18,000, will focus on promoting networking and collaboration, supporting local businesses, and contributing to the overall prosperity of Denbighshire. 

According to an online advertisement, the project aligns with the objectives of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) by “building pride in place, increasing life chances, and supporting local business.” 

The person appointed will also be expected to create a pool of at least 50 volunteers and coordinate their involvement in various town events. 

The co-ordinator will be contracted on a self-employed basis during the six-month project, starting in June and ending in December. 

They will report regularly to a steering group of key stakeholders. 

The role specification says the person must have experience of working with business on a collective basis to develop and implement joint projects and also of communications and public relations. 

They would be required to have a weekly presence in Llangollen whilst an element of home working could be part of the role. 

Deadline for applications is 4pm on Wednesday June 12.  

Cadwyn Clwyd is a social enterprise which provides guidance and support to communities and enterprises in North East Wales and further afield. 

* Go to https://bit.ly/3WKVtFN for details on how to apply.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Arrest made on suspicion of bus driver assault


* One of the police cars which attended the scene yesterday evening. 

The Leader is reporting that a man has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a bus driver in Llangollen. 

North Wales Police said the alleged incident occurred when the vehicle was on Castle Street in the town centre shortly after 5.30pm on Thursday (May 23). 

* For the full story, see: Llangollen: Man arrested on suspicion of assaulting bus driver | The Leader (leaderlive.co.uk)

Free concert tickets up for grabs in Eisteddfod treasure hunt


* Manic Street Preachers June 28.

Music fans can get their hands on the hottest tickets in town next weekend as North Wales gets ready to celebrate 77 years of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. 

This summer will be the biggest year ever for the Llangollen Eisteddfod which will host 11 headline shows featuring the likes of Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, Gregory Porter, Paloma Faith, Manic Street Preachers plus more, alongside its traditional Core Week celebrations.

With global stars heading to the town more than 50,000 music fans are set to attend a show at Llangollen Pavilion this year… and next Saturday (June1) organisers are giving fans the chance to bag themselves FREE tickets by taking part in a special treasure hunt.


* Paloma Faith June 21.

To celebrate 77 years of the international festival – 77 pairs of free tickets will be hidden at various locations around the Llangollen Pavilion grounds.

Artistic Director of the Eisteddfod Dave Danford said: “With less than a month to go before we kick off our amazing summer of live music with Bryan Adams, we’re giving fans the opportunity to find free tickets for our biggest shows. This includes tickets for some of our sold events, so don’t miss your chance to be a part of it.

“This year will be our biggest and best festival yet and we hope to see as many people as possible join the hunt for the some of the hottest tickets in town.”


* Madness July 13.

The Treasure Hunt will begin at 10am on Saturday June 1 and continue until 2pm.

·       * 77 special envelopes will be left at various locations around the Llangollen grounds. Inside each envelope will be a special code relating to a specific headlining concert.

·     * The lucky finders must then take the envelope and code to the Box Office at the Llangollen Pavilion to redeem their pair of tickets.

·      * This is limited to one pair of tickets per finder and tickets must be redeemed before the box office closes at 2pm on Saturday June 1. All under-16s must be accompanied by an adult aged 18+

·   Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has come a long way since the first festival in 1947, with more than 400,000 competitors from more than 140 nationalities and cultures having performed on the Llangollen stage over the years.  This year, as well as bringing some of the world’s biggest artists to Llangollen – more than 3,000 competitors will be heading to the festival for a string of competitions for its core Eisteddfod week, aimed at promoting international harmony and reconciliation through music and dance.

This year, in a new partnership between LIME and Live Nation promoters Cuffe and Taylor, a series ofheadlining concerts will take place throughout June and July. Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkinsand Gregory Porter will all perform during the Core Week festivities while global rock stars Bryan Adams and Simple Minds, British pop giants Madness, indie heroes Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers and Suede, BRIT award-winning artist Paloma Faith, chart-topper Jess Glynne and disco legends Nile Rodgers & CHICwill headline dates either side of the iconic festival. 

* For more information and to purchase tickets go to llangollen.net  

Historic locos to go on show at railway's diesel weekend


* Class 26.


* Class 31.

Hot on the wheels of a very successful Spring Branchline Steam Gala, Llangollen & Corwen Railway will hold its second large gala event of 2024 early next month. 

The Diesel & Industrial Weekend takes place on the weekend of June 1 and 2 and will feature six diesel and steam locomotives along with an historic diesel railcar.

Volunteer gala organiser George Walker said: “This weekend is all about celebrating the evocative era of diesel-hauled trains on Britain’s eailways between the late 1950s and 1990s and the part that railways have played in industry. 

"We will be showcasing our fleet of historic and powerful mainline diesel locomotives, with three taking part. 

"We have our Class 26 No 5310, which was built in Smethwick in 1959 and spent most of her working life in Scotland and has been with us at Llangollen since 2009.


* Class 47.

"Then we have our Class 31, which carries 1980s Railfreight Construction Livery and worked the very last stone train out of Blodwel Quarry near Oswestry in May 1986, not too far away from our railway. 

"Finally, we have our Class 47 No 47449, the most powerful locomotive on the railway. Powered by a 2,580hp 12-cylinder Sulzer diesel engine, 512 of these locomotives were built for British Railways and a handful can still be found in mainline use today. 


* Pilkington shunter.

"Our locomotive was built in Crewe in 1964, so is celebrating her 60th birthday this year. She spent a lot of her BR life working around North Wales, so is very much at home on our railway. 

"At the other end of the scale, 350hp Class 08 shunter No 08202 will be hauling public trains on our railway for the first time after joining us on hire last month."

The heritage railway, which is speeding ahead with a spectacular recovery from the collapse of its PLC operating company in 2021, continues to welcome trains to its new Corwen Station, which opened in June 2023. 

Visitors can also enjoy a visit to our scenic countryside stations at Berwyn, Glyndyfrdwy and Carrog and a walk in the surrounding Dee Valley, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 


* Plasser 12-ton crane.

The Horseshoe Falls beauty spot is just a 10-minute walk from Berwyn station, which nestles in the Dee Valley gorge and has spectacular views of the river and hills. 

George added: “We’re trying to offer visitors the chance to see something different at the railway this weekend. As well as a busy timetable of diesel-hauled trains and railcars, we will have a 12-ton rail crane carrying out lifting demonstrations at Carrog station. 

"An industrial steam locomotive from the old Austin car factory in Longbridge will also be giving short rides with brake vans. 

"These attractions will give a glimpse of what moving freight around the railways was like for well over 100 years before road transport took nearly all freight traffic away from rural branch lines, many of which then closed – like our railway did in 1964.

"Finally, there’s a rare chance to see Pilkington, a Yorkshire Engine Company locomotive that spent its working life shunting sand wagons at the world-famous Pilkington Brothers glass factory in St Helens. 

"This chunky-looking little loco can usually only be seen at work around our motive power depot, which is off limits to the public.

"We will also be running an evening Landcruise train on Saturday June 1, leaving Llangollen at 19:10 and 20:40, which runs to Carrog station and back with a real ale bar on board."

Tom Taylor, Llangollen Railway Trust manager, said: “Another busy event lies ahead for our beloved railway. George has done a brilliant job of planning this event, which should offer visitors the chance to reconnect with both our industrial past and the railway that many of us can remember from our childhoods in the 70s, 80s and 90s. 

"What is particularly inspirational here is that George is one of your younger volunteers and still only in his 20s. His passion for the railway and our diesel fleet is great to see and explodes the myth that heritage railways face a volunteer crisis due to younger folk not wanting to get involved. 

"The railway is always on the lookout for new volunteers in all areas and we are holding a recruitment open day on Saturday June 8."

* More details on the event and advanced tickets can be purchased from https://llangollen-railway.co.uk/diesel-weekend-event/.

 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Skates highlights headache of missed GP appointments

* Ken Skates MS with GP Gareth Bowdler (centre) and staff at Dee Valley Medical Centre in Overton. 

Thousands of local GP hours are being lost because of patients not turning up to appointments, says a Member of the Senedd. 

Llangollen Health Centre and its branch clinic in Glyn Ceiriog have had a total of 1,503 DNAs - did not attends in the past year.

Clwyd South MS Ken Skates found that at least 13,000 slots were missed at surgeries across his constituency between April 2023 and March this year. 

Local surgeries provided details of their ‘DNAs’ – did not attend – to Mr Skates, who is now urging people not to waste GPs’ precious time. 

“Of course, sometimes people will genuinely forget or something might come up at the last minute, but when people just can’t be bothered to turn up to appointments it has consequences for staff and other patients,” said Mr Skates. 

“Then there’s the cost of DNAs – missed appointments cost the Welsh NHS millions every year.” 

Caritas Surgery. which has branches in Cefn Mawr and Coedpoeth, was worst hit – with 3,332 DNAs over 11 months. Dee Valley Medical Centre in Overton had 1,756 over the same period, while Llangollen Health Centre and its branch clinic in Glyn Ceiriog recorded 1,503.

Ruabon Medical Centre was also badly affected, recording at least 2,930 DNAs over the 11-month period according to the surgery’s published data, while Chirk Surgery suffered 1,631 missed slots.

Mr Skates said: “If we take the average appointment as being 15 minutes, we are talking thousands of hours lost in Clwyd South. Those are hours that GP and primary care staff won’t get back where they could be helping other people. 

“Sometimes practices will write to those who don’t attend advising them of the impact it has on the surgery and its staff, but that costs more time and more money.” 

He added: “I highlighted this issue about 10 years ago, but sadly the problem appears to have got even worse. It’s a huge drain on resources.”

Mr Skates was able to get data for around half of the surgeries in his constituency. As a number do not publish their DNA information, the true number of missed appointments will be much higher. 

Of those which supplied or publish the information, Beech Avenue Medical Practice in Rhos had at least 1,379 missed appointments and Uwchaled Medical Practice in Corwen recorded 520 DNAs.

One practice manager said: “DNAs are an increasing problem, our rates have never been so high. It’s frustrating that we can’t take any real action against those who repeatedly do not attend.” 

The business manager of another surgery added: “We do have a protocol to write to offenders advising them of the impact of DNA, but it is not necessarily effective and of course it’s another task to have to find time for.” 

Ffion Johnstone, BCUHB’s Lead for Primary Care, said: “Missing an appointment wastes the time of hard-working GP surgery staff and deprives other patients of an opportunity to be seen, leading to longer waiting times. 

“At a time when resources are being stretched to meet record levels of demand in primary care, the significant number of missed appointments is something that our health service simply cannot afford. We urge patients to make every effort to attend their planned appointment and to let their GP surgery know if this is no longer possible.”

Town council elects new mayor and deputy

* New mayor - Cllr Aled Morris.

Llangollen Town Council has announced the election of Councillor Aled Morris as the new Town Mayor. 

Councillor Morris has been an active member of the council and has championed numerous causes aimed at improving the quality of life for residents. 

His election as mayor is seen as a testament to his commitment to public service and his vision for a progressive and inclusive community.

He said: "I am deeply honoured to have been elected as Town Mayor and I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the council, as well as with our wonderful residents, to address the challenges we face and to seize the opportunities ahead. Together, we can make Llangollen an even better place to live, work, and visit."

Cllr Morris will be supported by Councillor Damon Richards-Gwilliam, who has been appointed as Deputy Town Mayor.


* New deputy mayor - Cllr Damon Richards-Gwilliam.


It's a landmark moment for the Town Council as he is the youngest person ever to hold such a post and is said to bring a unique perspective and a dynamic approach which will greatly benefit the council and the town as a whole.

 

Cllr Richards-Gwilliam said: "I am thrilled to take on this new role and to support Councillor Morris in his vision for our town. This is a significant milestone, not just for me personally, but for all young people in our community. It shows that age is no barrier to making a meaningful impact."

 

Town clerk Gareth Thomas said: "The Town Council is confident that the combined leadership of Councillor Morris and Councillor Richards-Gwilliam will usher in a period of positive transformation ensure that the voices of all residents are heard and valued."

Llan schools benefit from 'national treasure' music cooperative


* North Wales Music Co-operative: Cllr Mark Young, Cllr Gill German, Paul Mealor, Tom Barham and Heather Powell at the opening of the new Denbigh base. Pictures by Mandy Jones.

Schools in Llangollen are benefitting from a pioneering music service hailed as a "national treasure" by a royal composer. 

The North Wales Music Cooperative teaches 5,000 children from every school in Denbighshire and Wrexham every week.  

According to its patron Professor Paul Mealor, the spectacular success of the cooperative is all the more remarkable because it was formed nine years ago in the aftermath of a financial crisis that saw funding for peripatetic music teachers being axed.

Prof Mealor, the new artistic director of the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph who was appointed by the King as a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order after writing music for the Coronation, was speaking during a special celebration at the award-winning cooperative.

The organisation, which runs two sister coops in Denbighshire and Wrexham, has now been able to buy its base in Denbigh thanks to grants from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, via Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, and other partners.

They work with pupils from more than 100 primary schools and 18 high schools in the two counties while providing work for 70 freelance music tutors who are also members of the cooperative.

The celebrations will continue at two concerts featuring young musicians from Denbighshire and Wrexham, the first at Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph on Monday, July 1, and the second at the Stiwt theatre in Rhos on Monday, July 15.

Prof Mealor, who first won worldwide acclaim after he composed the motet Ubi caritas, sung at the Westminster Abbey Royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, believes that buying the building is a huge step forward.

He said: “Before this organisation was formed, we were at a precipice where music could have died in schools for children from my background. Only the very rich could have afforded it but this group particularly has made sure that that isn’t the case and that’s benefited so many children and young people in North Wales.

“But we couldn’t do it without everybody who’s funding us from the councils in Wrexham and Denbighshire, Welsh Government, and Levelling Up money from the UK Government.

“Music opens up a world to people that they wouldn’t have known about, a world that’ll live with them for the rest of their lives and I’m incredibly proud to be the patron of this wonderful organisation that is now a real national treasure.”

The cooperative was founded in Denbighshire nine years ago by Head of Service Heather Powell who was one of the music tutors made redundant due to the budget cuts and subsequently it expanded into Wrexham in 2018.

When the pandemic struck, the organisation revamped the service “pushed the boundaries of technology” to provide online lessons and as a result was honoured at the prestigious Social Business Wales Awards.

Heather Powell said: “Thanks to levelling up monies and support from Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council, we now own the building, which is fantastic.

“This is a huge step in the evolution and growth of the organisation. It gives us sustainability and strength because now we own the building, we’re able to do a lot more with it.

“We’ve got all the community groups, choirs, ensembles, things like that accessing the building, and we’ve also got 70 members now who use the building for rehearsals, a harp group, a percussion ensemble and various children’s ensembles here as well so there’s a buzz here. There’s always something going on.

“We cover every school in Denbighshire and every school in Wrexham where we run lessons and whole class activities, ensembles, choirs, orchestras, bands, so on an average week, probably 5,000 people access the service.

“Music is incredibly important for wellbeing and we work to make sure that every child who has an interest in some way or another can access our service.

“It’s also a scientific fact that music improves literacy, numeracy, language skills. It’s all part and parcel. The new curriculum in Wales is steeped in music.

She added: “We are very lucky to have Paul as our patron because he’s a great talent who needs to be celebrated in Wales. We’ve got a lot of young composers in our music cooperative who can look up to people like Paul and learn a lot from what he’s done and what he’s achieved. He’s a real inspiration.”

According to the cooperative’s Chair, Cllr Mark Young, buying the building meant the organisation was well placed to continue to grow and expand the service in other areas.

He said: “This provides a launchpad for the future of the cooperative. We’ve got the template and this head office now can be the hub of the management of that to make it affordable for children and their families. Everyone now has upskilled to deliver that music for the future.

“The amount of pupils accessing music because of the high quality lessons, is going up.  And every level of talent gets looked after.  We don’t leave anyone behind – it’s totally inclusive.

“We’re reaching more and more pupils and I’m pretty sure more and more local authorities will take up the model and we’re here, willing and able to help with that and I’m very proud to be the Chair.”

Cllr Gill German, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Families at Denbighshire County Council, is also a big fan of the organisation.

She said: “We’re particularly pleased to work with them on the roll out of the National Music Service, which is a Welsh Government initiative.

“It’s very valuable to reach out to children who might otherwise not have access to playing a musical instrument and they’ve been doing a great job rolling that programme out across Denbighshire.

“Music enriches the soul and wellbeing as well as having academic benefits. Music is a touchstone that can take you through life as a source of joy. The value is enormous.”