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Cerith Owen – Loud Applause Productions

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cerithowenCERITH OWENS is a well known figure in Llanelli. He has been organising charity concerts for many years and is a member of Llanelli’s Rotary Club. Cerith is originally from the village of Cwmtwrch in the Swansea Valleys. The village lies in three counties of Powys, Carmarthenshire and Neath and Port Talbot. One of its most notable residents apart from Cerith is the Welsh Rugby Union player Clive Rowlands. Cerith left school and went to Cardiff University where he gained a degree in geology. He continues to work as a geologist today.

We began by asking Cerith about Loud Applause Productions. He said: “My wife and I are directors of Loud Applause productions and it has been going for three years. Prior to that it was known as Cerith Owens Charity Concerts as I was the organiser. The reason we turned it into a business was to give it a good branding name. With Loud Applause there is a team of professionals behind the scenes. Loud applause has worked with a huge number of performers over the years including Wynne Evans, Trystan Llyr Griffiths, Gwawr Edwards and the Three Welsh Tenors to name but a few. Loud Applause Productions is a professional company and we do put on big events. There are plans for a massive concert next year. I do concerts in the Grand Theatre, Brangwyn Hall and the Lyric Theatre. We have some great venues in West Wales. The theatres are wonderful in Carmarthenshire. I also use the chapels and the churches. The only thing is with the chapels and churches is that the seats are hard.

We asked Cerith about his early life in Cwmtwrch and how he became involved in music and the performing arts. He told The Herald: “I went to Cardiff University and graduated as a geologist but while I was there I joined the university choir. I came back to live at home in Cwmtwrch and joined the male voice choir. That is where it all started. I have been in Llanelli for 28 years and I love living here. The community in Cwmtwrch was wonderful. A bus still comes down for the concerts and they will be there on Saturday. There is a rich tradition of music in the valleys. There were three male voice choirs and a band in the area I lived in. My dad was a miner and my grandfather was a miner. It was a mixture of professional people and colliery workers in the village. I think people wanted to escape from the working life. There was a famous choir called the Clee Choir, which my mother sang in. They used to sing everywhere and even went over to America to sing. I do think it was escapism from the hardships as even the women worked in places like the tin works. For them to sing in places like the St David’s Hall was a different world.

There has been an upsurge in young choirs since they became fashionable by appearances on TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent. We asked Cerith if choirs were still seen as an older man’s pastime. He said: “Choral music is generally an older person’s game and younger people can feel alienated but we have attracted youngsters. We have some great youth choirs too like Only Boys Aloud and Ysgol Y Stradey Choir and they encourage the youth. It does instill music into them. Pendyrus Choir is about 75 strong and there are around 15 youngsters under 25 in that choir. Young people are looked after in the choirs and they are made to feel very much at home. We get youngsters coming through performing on stage. There are teachers out there who nurture the youngsters. It is down to the schools and how much emphasis they place on music. Schools like Stradey encourage music and sport but that is not true of every school. To cut back on peripatetic teachers is wrong because people get great pleasure from music.”

Cerith has organised a glittering concert at Theatr Ffwrnes on Saturday (Nov 7) so we asked him to give us a hint as to what to expect. He said: “We have an event at Theatr Ffwrnes called ‘A Night With The Stars’. This is the third year we have done it. The performers are there by invitation and they come from all across Wales. We have some great talent this year including Jordan Williams and Samuel Morris. I thought I would put the emphasis on rising stars this year. We also have the Morriston Orpheus Choir and the Singhs and a jazz singer I spotted in Birmingham. We do audition people and people do approach us to become members. This year I have brought along Treorchy and Pendyrus choirs. They are both Rhondda Valley choirs and there is rivalry but also great camaraderie between them. I wanted to show young people what it was like to sing with these big choirs singing behind them.”

Cerith is not a native of Llanelli but he says that he feels at home here after 28 years. We asked him what had brought him to Llanelli. He said: “My wife brought me to Llanelli. She is from Bynea and has not moved from the village apart from training to be a nurse at Guy’s Hospital. I feel very much at home here and there are similarities between Llanelli and the village where I was born. I have been a geologist since I was 23. I have been very fortunate to have had local work for many years. I work now for an American company called Jacobs. I am now based in Cardiff and the work keeps coming in. I don’t keep a collection of rocks in a cabinet. I did the ground investigation for the Llanelli link road as well as working on the new Loughor bridge.

If health allows and when I retire it might expand. I do sing in a choir and I have sung in Llanelli male voice choir. I am a promoter and a producer. I have some great help and it is such a thrill to see everything coming together on the night. To see the audience enjoying themselves and to see the youngsters getting that opportunity to perform on stage and to raise their profile. I do stand there sometimes and think back to my old village of Cwmtwrch. Some of my greatest supporters are from that area and they do come over at least twice a year. It is particularly poignant to me as my mother passed away last year.

A Night With The Stars takes place at Theatr Ffwrnes this Saturday (Nov 7). Doors open at 6.30 pm and tickets are available from the box office on 0845 226 3510 or online atwww.theatrausirgar.co.uk

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Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award

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ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.

Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.

“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.

As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.

“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

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Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years

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Carmarthenshire County Council

CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.

The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.

However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.

The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.

All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.

The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.

Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).

It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.

He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.

“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.

“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.

“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.

“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.

“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”

Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.

“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.

“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”

The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.

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Warning of serious disruption on M4 and M5 today due to fuel prices protest

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POLICE have warned of “serious disruption” to drivers using the M4 and M5 on Monday 4 July due to a planned protest.

Protesters intend to block the Prince of Wales Bridge from 7am until 7pm as part of a nationwide campaign against rising fuel prices.

The protest is due to start at the M4 Magor services at junction 23A eastbound and the Clevedon Interchange at junction 20 of the M5 westbound.

It is also expected to cause disruption to the M48 Severn Bridge and the M32.

Drivers are being urged to avoid the area or plan alternative routes.

Bristol Airport has issued a warning urging travellers to allow extra time if heading to or from the airport.

Police said additional officers will be brought in to ensure the protest is carried out legally.

Drivers have been advised by Gwent Police to work from home where possible and avoid the area between 7am and 7pm, with protestors planning to block parts of the road between M4 Magor services, junction 23A eastbound, and Junction 20 of the M4 between those hours.

Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: “Gwent Police, and Avon and Somerset Police, are working jointly with neighbouring police forces and partner agencies to ensure emergency and critical services continue and to reduce disruption to both road users and local communities, however we are preparing for serious disruption throughout the day.

“I would encourage drivers to reconsider their journey, consider working from home and avoid the area where possible.

“The right to protest under UK law must be balanced with the rights of the wider community who may be affected. We have additional officers and support in place on Monday to ensure the protest is carried out in accordance with the law.”

The planned protest is thought to have been organised by the Facebook group Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, and has attracted both criticism and support online.

The latest travel disruption comes following the closure of the Severn Bridge for a second consecutive weekend, as well as the Severn Tunnel rain line which will be out of use until July 10 due to essential work. Motorists will be unable to cross the M48 Severn Bridge until 6am on Monday as it is undergoing essential work for eight months.

The bridge was first shut last weekend as painstaking work to repair and replace corroded suspension cables began. Traffic on the bridge is likely to be very heavy on Monday due to the fuel protest.

Police have told protesters banners must be tightly secured to vehicles and nobody should be walking around on the bridge during the demonstration. Protesters will stay inside their vehicles or stand beside them.

An organiser said: “We will now only be doing it on the Prince of Wales Bridge. We have to keep in mind everyone’s safety and if we block the bridge totally and there is an emergency there would be hell. Yes it means only one bridge but [due to the amount of traffic caused] there will still be a massive impact.”

Two weeks ago one of the initial M4 bridge protest organisers Ashley Fowler said : “We’re all car enthusiasts and we have all been worried about fuel prices and when I saw the post about blocking the bridges we began talking about it. Then people started asking me to make an event so we could update each other.

“I made the event because I run a car club in Cardiff which I started on social media during the pandemic lockdowns to help people’s mental health. When we can we go out to car parks and just meet up and have a chat but during the pandemic we weren’t able to do it so I made the group.

“Now we can’t meet up so much again because of the cost of fuel. I know some of them can’t drive so much because they need to feed their kids. It’s serious. People are getting really depressed about it. One of the boys in the group has actually sold his car due to fuel price rises.”

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