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The latest podcast from Phil Evans and Robert Lloyd

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The latest podcast from Phil Evans and Robert Lloyd. The Big Cwtsh – Episode 43. Now available on Soundcloud. Read More


Cor Meibion Llanelli conductor Eifion Thomas takes final bow

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Côr Meibion Llanelli musical director D Eifion Thomas has taken his last bow with the choir.

One of the longest-serving musical directors in Wales, Mr Thomas has completed 44 years conducting the internationally-renowned choir.

“It’s the right time to move on,” Mr Thomas said this week. “I have cherished memories of some wonderful experiences with the choir, both at home and abroad.

“But it’s now time to say, ‘thanks for the memories’, and move on.”

Côr Meibion Llanelli chairman Tony Crossman wished Mr Thomas the best for the future. He also praised the musical director for his work.

“It is widely acknowledged that Eifion is a supremely accomplished musician who achieved a great deal with Côr Meibion Llanelli,” Mr Crossman said. “I am sure I speak for all choristers in acknowledging the years of hard work Eifion has put into the choir throughout a distinguished career in music.

“He has championed the cause of the Welsh choral tradition at every opportunity and has contributed so much to the cultural life of Llanelli and Wales.”

Under Mr Thomas, Côr Meibion Llanelli have been successful at all the major choral competitions that Wales has to offer. The honours list includes five National Eisteddfod first prizes – at Lampeter in 1984, Fishguard in 1986, Llandeilo in 1996, Bridgend in 1998 and Llanelli in 2000.

Mr Thomas initially served as accompanist to the Choir from 1965 until 1974, under the direction of founder-conductor Denver Phillips.

Mr Thomas helped spread the name of Llanelli across the world, with successful tours and visits to Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, and England. Mr Thomas has had the honour of conducting the North American Welsh Societies National Gymanfa Ganu on four occasions – Vancouver (1980), Victoria, Canada (1990), Seattle (1994), and San Jose (2001).

As a result of his work in the sphere of music in the community, Mr Thomas was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International and was inducted into the highest level of Wales’s Bardic Circle in 2007.

In 2000, Mr Thomas was the conductor of the National Eisteddfod Choir when the Festival was held in Llanelli. The Eisteddfod Choir’s singing, under his direction at the Gymanfa Ganu, of the anthem “Dyn A Aned O Wraig” still remains as one of the most memorable occasions in the Eisteddfod’s history.

Mr Thomas is also a fine tenor soloist and has appeared as soloist in performances of Handel’s “Messiah”, Haydn’s “Creation”, and “Mass in Time of War”, Stainer’s “Crucifiction”, Maunder’s “Olivet to Calvary”, Coleridge-Taylor’s “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast”, and Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and “Lobegesang”.

Perhaps one of the most memorable choral experiences was the choir’s appearance at The Brit Awards in 1993 – sharing the stage with such musical giants as Take That, Elton John, Meatloaf and The Pet Shop Boys.

Mr Thomas is an honorary member of Cor Meibion Llanelli’s twin choir in Germany, the 1870 Singverein of Laudenbach.

Mr Thomas said: “I should also like to take this opportunity of expressing thanks to my family. “Any list of achievements could not have been achieved without the support of my wife Susanne, and daughter Sophie.”

Aled Maddock, the choir’s accompanist, has also stepped down.

The choir has started the recruitment process for new musical director and an accompanist. Anyone interested can email the choir committee on llanellimvc@gmail.com

The choir rehearses twice weekly on Monday and Thursday evenings at Furnace Community Hall, 7pm start. Visitors and new members are welcome.

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Architect Wynford Lewis dies, aged 83

Posted By Robert Lloyd

One of Llanelli’s most prominent citizens, the architect Wynford Lewis, has died at the age of 83.

Mr Lewis had a long and distinguished career as an architect, working on projects in Llanelli and further afield.

He cared passionately about the community of Llanelli and was actively imvolved in charitable causes and local organisations.

He celebrated his 83rd birthday on March 16 and his passing came as a shock to family and friends.

His son Philip said: “His last birthday was celebrated with the usual family gathering, where he surprised everyone by rising to his feet and making a little speech thanking Val for all their years together and saying how proud he was of his children and grandchildren. This made everyone very emotional, to say the least.”

Mr Lewis and his son Philip were the twin pillars of the firm of Lewis Architects, of Park Crescent, Llanelli.

Mr Lewis was born and brought up in Seaside, Llaneli. His family worshipped at St John’s Church. His father was a partner in an electrical contracting firm, namely Lewis & Rees.

Mr Lewis was educated at Copperworks Infants and Boys Primary Schools, followed by Llanelly Boys Grammar School.

He was an accomplished pianist and tennis player in his young days.

In 1954, he graduated from the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff with distinction after winning a number of in house awards. From there, he went to work for Carmarthenshire County Council’s architects department for two years but was then approached by W Griffiths and Son, Architects and Surveyors in Llanelli.

He started work in September, 1961, a month after getting married to Val, who had been part of his life since 1955.

He was eventually made a partner and remained there until the end of 1994.

In 1995 he and his son Philip, who by now had graduated from Cardiff and joined the firm, started up their own business, where he remained until the present day.

Son Philip said: “He loved to be in the hub of things and keeping his mind active.”

He spent 58 years as a practising architect, during which time, after being approached by the then Clerk to the Town Council, Mr Selwyn Samuel, in 1978, he served as Llanelli Town Council’s Consultant Architect for many decades.

He was a member of Llanelli Rotary Club, eventually becoming President and Club Secretary.

In his younger days he was a Freemason. He was awarded the Order of St John for services to the town.

Tom Lewis, a local magistrate and businessman got him on board to fight for a Hospice for Llanelli and in the mid 90s he played a big part in the design of the Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.

He served on the St David’s Diocesan Board for a number of years as their consulting architect.

At one time he was a member of the Brin Isaac sports charity organisation.

Family came first and he was very proud of his children and grandchildren. He had many interests, including classical and contemporary music and sports including rugby and cricket. The funeral wil be held at Llanelli Crematorium at 11am on Friday (May 3).

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Press releases Superprix of Wales

Superprix of Wales postponed until 2020 at Parc y Scarlets

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Fans of motorsport will have to wait another year for the first Superprix of Wales.

The high-octane motorsport extravaganza was scheduled for Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli on the weekend of June 7 to 9.

But it has now been postponed a year.

The mastermind behind the project, retired international racing driver Tim Matthews, has fallen ill.

“It’s unfortunate, but we are confident the event will take place in 2020,” said Superprix of Wales spokesman Simon Griffiths.

“Nobody could have foreseen what’s happened with Tim – but the 12-month delay will enable us to produce a bigger and better show in 2020.

“The Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire Council have been fully behind the event from the outset.

“We’ve also had huge support from Parc y Scarlets.”

Mr Griffiths added: “We appreciate that this will be disappointing for motorsport fans as we know from the initial feedback we received that everyone was looking forward to the event, which was originally scheduled for June this year at Parc y Scarlets.

“We are also grateful to those who have sent messages of support and ‘Get Well Soon’ to Tim.

“He appreciates everyone’s thoughts and hopes to be back to full fitness over the coming months.”

The motorsports extravaganza will run for three days on a specially-designed course that will see cars power around the outside of the ground and then through the middle of the stadium.

There will also be demonstrations, displays, a motor show, trade stands and a food village.

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Press releases

OVO Energy Women’s Tour boost for Carmarthenshire

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Having attracted thousands of spectators to the 2018 OVO Energy Tour of Britain Grand Depart, world-class cycling will return to Carmarthenshire this June when the finale of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour takes place exclusively within the county.

The world’s best riders will tackle a 126-kilometre (79-mile) stage between Carmarthen and Pembrey Country Park on day six of Britain’s most prestigious women’s cycle race (Saturday 15 June).

In a first for the Women’s Tour, the field of Olympic, world and national champions will notably complete a lap of the Carmarthen Velodrome as part of the stage’s ceremonial start, as well as taking in part of Pembrey’s new, closed-road cycle circuit on the approach to the finish line.

“We have designed this stage with a view to testing our star-studded field one final time while at the same time showcasing Carmarthenshire’s fantastic cycling facilities and gorgeous landscapes,” said OVO Energy Women’s Tour race director Mick Bennett.

“The fight to be crowned our 2019 champion will go down to the wire, so I know that the people of Carmarthenshire will get behind this stage with the same enthusiasm and passion as they did when the Tour of Britain visited last year.”

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “On the back of a hugely successful men’s Tour of Britain which started here in Carmarthenshire in September, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in June.

“On this occasion, we will be hosting the final stage, which will take place completely within Carmarthenshire, taking in some of our most breath-taking scenery and making the most of two of our national cycling facilities – our historic velodrome in Carmarthen, and our new National Closed Road Cycling Circuit in Pembrey Country Park.

“As a county that’s made no secret of our ambition to be known as the Cycling Hub of Wales, we are excited to bring yet another high-profile race to our towns and villages for everyone to get involved in and enjoy.”

Stage six’s route passes through a handful of towns that featured in last year’s Tour of Britain opener, including Nantgaredig and Llandeilo.

The day’s first SKODA Queen of the Mountains climb of Bethlehem Hill (1.8km long, 3% average gradient) infamously saw race fans cook 14 kilograms of bacon on BBQs as part of their Tour of Britain celebrations in September.

Following that is stage six’s toughest climb – Black Mountain, near Gwynfe – which measures 7.2 kilometres in length, boasts an average gradient of 5.3% and featured in the 2010 Tour of Britain.

The peloton will then reach Pembrey via unrelenting terrain through Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Capel Hendre, Pontyberem and Trimsaran. The stage will approximately feature 1,800 metres of ascent, making it the second toughest in OVO Energy Women’s Tour history.

Local rider Manon Lloyd, whose Drops team will be competing in the race, said: “I’ve always dreamed of having a home race and getting the chance to go past my front door is incredibly exciting – it’s a really nice surprise! The Tour of Britain’s visit to Carmarthenshire last year was one of the biggest things ever to happen in the county, and I know the Women’s Tour’s visit will be equally as popular.

“We’ve got some of the hardest roads in Britain, so this will be a really difficult stage. Having family and friends out will give me that extra boost to push that little bit harder!”

This year’s OVO Energy Women’s Tour will take place over six days for the first time in event history.

This year’s race, which begins in Suffolk on Monday 10 June, will see Kent and Oxfordshire welcome the tour for the first time on stages two and three. Burton Dassett Country Park in Warwickshire will host the race’s first hill-top finish on Thursday 13 June, before the first of two Welsh stages takes place in Powys the following day.

The OVO Energy Women’s Tour continues to form part of the prestigious UCI Women’s WorldTour series, the sixth event of which – the Amstel Gold Race – takes place in the Netherlands on Sunday (21 April). Further information on competing teams, stage times and leaders’ jersey designs will be made after Easter.

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Troll Bridge premiere lined-up for Carmarthen Bay Film Festival

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The countdown is on to this year’s Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, with film fans eagerly looking forward to the European premiere of Sir Terry Pratchett’s ‘Troll Bridge’.

Screening on the opening day of the festival on May 27, Troll Bridge is a short film based on a short story by the Discworld author.

It’s been produced by Snowgum films and directed by Daniel Knight,

The film premiere will take place at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival’s new home – Llanelli’s Ffwrnes Theatre.

This is the eight annual festival, with the previous events all having been held at the Stradey Park Hotel.

Kelvin Guy, the festival chief executive, said: “We will always be grateful to the Stradey Park Hotel for helping the festival get ‘lift-off’ but the time is right now for the festival to venture into new territory with a bigger and better event.”

The Troll Bridge premiere will see director Daniel Knight flying in from Australia to take part in a Question and Answer session after the screening.

Troll Bridge is based on a short Discworld story originally published in After The King. The film is described as ‘a live action, hand-animated hybrid, a 15-year film-making odyssey and a love letter to the author Terry Pratchett’.

Mr Guy said fans of the Discworld books were very excited by the premiere.

He said: “At the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, we have been overwhelmed by the response from the Discworld community. Initially, we only released 90 tickets, which went in a couple of hours. Then, we decided to release a further 75. Still, that wasn’t enough! In the end, we had to move the screening from Stiwdio Stepni at the theatre into the main Ffwrnes auditorium.

“To date, the number attending has risen to 400, with some flying in from Europe! We even have some attending in costume! So, on May 27, there will be an estimated 500 attendees for CBFF #8 – our first festival at Ffwrnes.”

It’s been quite a journey for the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival.

The first festival, in 2012, saw 35 submissions in different film categories.

The 2018 event saw more than 650 entries from 52 different countries.

Mr Guy added: “We have had film-makers flying in from the US, Holland, Italy, France and many parts of the UK.

“The number of festival partners has also grown, with Stradey Park Hotel, BAFTA Cymru, RTS Wales, S4C, University of Wales Trinity St. David, Felinfoel Brewery and many more helping. The festival is now a BAFTA Cymru/Wales qualifying event, which means that any film screened during the festival and made here in Wales is eligible to apply to be considered for a BAFTA Cymru award.

One of the other major highlights of the festival will see the presentation of the John Hefin Award. Named after the legendary producer of the classic Grand Slam TV film, the award is for lifetime achievement in film, television or theatre.

Last year’s recipient was the broadcaster and journalist Beti George.

The president of the festival is Wynford Ellis Owen. Patrons include Arfon Haines Davies, Sharon Morgan, Euryn Ogwen Williams, Julian Lewis Jones and Marc Evans.

The festival runs from May 27-30.

Website for Carmarthen Bay Film Festival – https://carmarthenbayfilmfestival.org/

See what films have been nominated – https://youtu.be/cnfXbbdF5ZE

Link to ‘Troll Bridge’ http://www.trollbridge.film/

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