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Wales International Rupert Moon Joins GB Wheelchair Rugby as Welsh Ambassador

Posted By Robert Lloyd

GB Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) will formally announce former Wales international rugby player Rupert Moon as an ambassador for GBWR at Llandarcy Academy of Sport on Sunday 18 November.

Rupert who played rugby for Welsh clubs Abertillery, Neath and most memorably Llanelli, won 24 caps for Wales at scrum half and over the last six years has been supporting the growth of wheelchair rugby in Wales.

He will join around 40 junior wheelchair rugby players at Llandarcy for the Lord’s Taverners Junior Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Festival.

The junior festival is an opportunity for junior players to take part in skills based activities and to compete against those with similar impairments.

There will be teams from Ospreys, Scarlets, Bristol Bears, Exeter, Gloucester and Solent Sharks.

The festival is also a great opportunity to showcase junior wheelchair rugby in Wales and the thriving partnership between the Lord’s Taverners, GBWR and local partnerships with Ospreys Scarlets, Active Gwent, Dragons the WRU, Disability Sport Wales and the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust .

Also attending the festival will be current GB athlete Jim Roberts. Jim was a successful Welsh cross country runner when he caught bacterial meningitis whilst an under graduate at Coventry University. This resulted in a prolonged stay in hospital, and the amputation of both his legs.

A nurse who supported his rehab, introduced him to the sport of Wheelchair Rugby and Jim quickly became an influential force in the game.

He has been a regular in the GB team since 2013 and at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Sydney is year was voted as the best world player in his class.

The festival will start at 11am and spectators are welcome.

Rupert Moon will formally be announced as GBWR’s ambassador in Wales at 1pm.

The festival is due to end at 3pm when Rupert will present the trophy to the winning team.

David Pond, CEO of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, said: “We are delighted to be at Llandarcy for this fantastic tournament and to see how wheelchair rugby is growing in Wales. It’s also really exciting that Rupert has accepted our invitation to become an ambassador. He has already done a great deal to raise the profile of the sport in Wales and his infectious enthusiasm and genuine willingness to support those who play will make a huge difference to the game in Wales.

“I would also like to thank all partners in Wales especially the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust whose support has been critical in enabling us to grow junior and adult wheelchair rugby in Wales.”

Rupert Moon said: “I’m honoured to accept the role as an ambassador and look forward to continuing to work with GBWR to help more disabled people experience the joy of the game. If you have yet to see it then get along to Llandarcy and watch the juniors play or get yourself to Leicester for the Quad Nations in March when GB take on the best in the world.”

About Wheelchair Rugby:

Wheelchair rugby was first recognised as a full medal sport at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. It has since featured at the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016. Originating in Canada in the 1970s, wheelchair rugby developed from the ‘murderball’ game – created by a group of disabled sportsmen. The GB national team came 4th in the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships in Sydney in August this year. They will play the top eight teams in the world at the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in October 2019 which sits alongside the Rugby World Cup.

For more details about the sport www.gbwr.org.uk

Lord’s Taverners:

The Lord’s Taverners is the UKs leading youth cricket and disability sports charity dedicated to giving disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance. The charity helps fund the Lord’s Taverners Wheelchair Rugby Youth programme. www.lordstaverners.org 

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Phil Evans

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The latest Phil Evans column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy. This column appears in the South Wales Evening Post, Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star. Website – www.philevans.co.uk

…………………………

Last week I was shopping for some ‘Odds and Ends’ which I needed to match up with some ‘Evens and Beginnings’ that I’d bought the week before. 

I wandered into a branch of a well-known store (which I won’t name). It’s the one that sells bargains for the home. I saw a notice that took me aback.   

Had he been there, the late Chico Marx would have asked, “Just-a how a-far did it a-take you a-back?” But as he was more than just late – he sadly died many years ago – he didn’t pose the question.

In any event, I don’t a-suppose he ever a-shopped where bargains were a-sold for the home.

The notice mentioned upcoming dates when the shop would be staging autism friendly hours, with lighting and piped music dimmed. I thought this was a fantastic idea.

Cinemas have autism friendly screenings and many pantomimes have autism friendly performances when the music, lighting and special effects are lowered so not to upset any autistic child in the audience.

Doing some research, I found that certain supermarkets have had autism friendly hours for some time, when even the till ‘beeps’ are quieter.

I also discovered that out of the 700,000 people in Britain on the autistic spectrum, 60% of them avoid shopping because they see, hear and feel the world in a much more intense way to the rest of us.  

According to the National Autism Society, a small change like autism friendly hours in shops can make a big difference to the lives of people with autism.

You and I know what supermarkets can be like at busy times, with seemingly hundreds of shoppers pushing their trolleys around, loud ‘muzak’ and sudden announcements over the Tannoy – “Gaynor to Till Seven please!”

Imagine how painful all that would be to anyone, especially children, with autism?

That’s something to remember the next time you’re stuck in a long queue at the check-out and starting to feel hard done by . . . 

…………………. 

The highlight of last week for me was attending the now ever-popular Welsh Factor talent show, held at the Neath RFC clubhouse. 

I do enjoy these occasions immensely as they keep me in touch with the grass roots of the entertainment industry. You get to see future stars in the making.

Once again, a sell-out audience witnessed acts from all across Wales.

The place was alive with new raw talent.

All acts on the night were eager to win a place at the final, which will be held in the early part of 2019 in Llanelli. 

The event was hosted and held together by one of the safest pairs of hands in showbiz, the Swansea legend, my long time friend, Kev Johns.  

More than 25 acts graced the stage, many of whom I hadn’t seen perform previously, which demonstrates that we do have an abundance of talent close to home.

I challenge each and every one of you to check out the local entertainment scene and support live entertainment as often as you can.

This can be extremely beneficial to your local community.

Go on, I dare you. 

We have a duty to keep live entertainment alive. I firmly believe this.

Together we can make a difference. 

—————-

You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales and www.philevans.co.uk

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Robert Lloyd

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The latest ‘On Song’ column from the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The spotlight falls on young talented musicians and performers from across South Wales at a special concert in Llanelli on Saturday night (November 10). 

The concert marks the fifth anniversary of the LARS musical organisation, which is based in Llanelli. 

LARS stands for Loud Applause Rising Stars.

Over the last five years, LARS has helped mentor and nurture talented young singers and instrumentalists from across South Wales, providing them with opportunities to take to the stage, along with cash bursaries.

Currently LARS has 14 members aged between 15 to 23.

They perform everything from blues and jazz, musical theatre, popular and traditional music to classical and opera.

To mark the fifth anniversary, Loud Applause Productions will be hosting a big Gala Concert titled ‘A Night with the Stars’ at Llanelli’s Ffwrnes Theatre.

The nine LARS Singers performing will be Lauren Fisher, Daisy Owens, Sydney Richards, Jack Owens, Neve Summers, Osian Clarke, Callum Howells, Nia Rees and Stephen Davies.

Sharing the stage with LARS will be the famous Richard Williams Singers from Tonyrefail, under the baton of Margaret May, the daughter of the founder conductor.

Also appearing will be Côr Y Cwm, the award-winning youth choir from the Rhondda.

The highly-popular Callum Howells and Friends from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff will also be featured.

Also on stage will be the young choir of Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, prize winning trombonist Rhodri Thomas, from Llanelli, and the accomplished compere, TV broadcaster Garry Owen.   Accompanists supporting the LARS singers will be Andrew Pike and Ryan Wood.

The LARS performers are making a name for themselves throughout South Wales.

For example, it has been quite a year for Lauren Fisher.

The Ysgol Gyfun y Strade pupil enjoyed considerable success in the Rotary UK Young Musician Competition. She was the overall winner of the Rotary Club of Llanelli competition, the Area Competition winner and a finalist in the Southern Wales District final held in Blackwood.

Lauren was then invited to be a guest artist at the Centenary Gala Concert of The Rotary Club of Llanelli.

Lauren also won the 2018 Gethin Hughes Bursary Prize in a very tough competition which was hosted at the annual concert of Côr Meibion Llanelli at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.

As a member of LARS, she has performed at many prestigious events such as soirees at Stradey Castle and Llanelly House, at the City and County of Swansea’s Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Commemoration events and at musical evenings at Machynys Golf Club.

Lauren’s love of music has led her also to compete in many competitions – The Voice of South Wales Seniors, as an example, and she was a runner-up in both the Welsh Factor and Kids Got Talent in 2016.

She won a scholarship at the age of 10 with the Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers and performed at many concerts with them.

Recently Lauren has gained a distinction in Grade 8 in Popular Music Vocals Examinations London College of Music.

Callum Howells has been one of the most popular members of LARS in recent years.

He is quite rightly regarded as something of a showman in stage.

Callum studies Drama, Music, Welsh and Dance in his A Levels at Treorchy Comprehensive School.

He has just returned from London where he was a member of the professional cast in the highly successful production of ‘’She Loves Me’ at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where he played the role of Arpad Laszlo to rave reviews. 

Callum started off his performing career as Oliver as part of Selsig Operatic’s production of Oliver, The Musical, not knowing that a year later he would be part of the Children’s Ensemble in the UK Tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of the hit musical.

Other parts which Callum has played include Billy in Billy Elliot, Archie in 13, The Musical, Don Lockwood in Singin’ In The Rain and Electra in Starlight Express.

Callum also has a passion for Tap Dancing. He has attained his Gold Medallion (with Honours) and Grade 4 (with Distinction) with IDTA. Callum has also achieved his Grade 8 in Singing (with Distinction) with the London Trinity Guildhall examination board. 

As well as theatre, Callum has been seen on television when he travelled to South-East Asia to film a documentary on CBBC about the contrast in other children’s lives on the other side of the world called ‘Show Me What You’re Made Of’ – a show which was later nominated for a Children’s BAFTA Award.

Early last year, Callum worked with CBBC’s Blue Peter as their Royal Correspondent for a number of special events which they covered, including the Queen’s Coronation Anniversary, Prince Charles visiting Wales and interviewing Black Rod in The Houses of Parliament.

Callum is also a member of the successful choir Only Boys Aloud.

Callum has performed in a contemporary dance production with Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures at the Wales Millennium Centre called ‘Lord of the Flies’, a show which had exceptional reviews all across the UK. 

He was chosen out of over 8,000 auditionees to join National Youth Music Theatre’s production of ‘Prodigy’ (a brand new musical written by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary) and has performed at the St James Theatre in London. 

Callum played the role of George in ‘Of Mice and Men’ performed at Treorchy Comprehensive School for various schools in the locality and beyond. He has also played the role of ‘George’ in NYMT’s production of Brass at Hackney Empire, London. 

Callum was a finalist at the 2016 National Final of The Young Rotary Musician of The Year competition.

Tickets for ‘A Night with the Stars’ are going fast and are available from the theatre box office.

On Friday night, there’s a concert with a difference in the Gwendraeth Valley.

It will manage to combine the launch of a book about a modern-day Welsh hero with a musical evening showcasing some of our finest singers.

A new book, called ‘The Stories of Grav’ and compiled and edited by the celebrated tenor Rhys Meirion, is being launched on Friday, November 9, in Pontyberem Hall.

After the book launch, Rhys Meirion will be the star player in a concert at Pontyberem Hall, starting at 7pm.

The concert will also feature Elin Fflur, Aled Wyn Davies and Theatr Ieuenctid Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Elli.

The Pontyberem concert is being sponsored by Castell Howell, the Carmarthen and Cross Hands-based food business.

Tickets for the concert are £15 and £5 for children.

Sunday, November 18 (7pm) sees a grand concert at Myddfai Community Hall near Llandovery.

The guest artistes include the celebrated tenors Rhys Meirion and Aled Wyn Davies, two of the popular Welsh Three Tenors.

Also on stage will be the Treble C Group. 

The compere will be Glyn Owen and the president for the evening will be Robyn Richards.

Tickets are £10 and available from Emlyn on 01550 720484.

Llanelli District Music and Drama Club have a special evening at the Lliedi Suite, Selwyn Samuel Centre on Friday, November 30 (7.30pm).

They will be presenting A Fine Romance, with Tony Jacobs and Catherine Sykes and Jim Barry at the piano.

The evening will feature music and songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.

Tickets are £10 (students £5) and are available from Barrie Lewis, Market Precinct, Llanelli, phone 01554-772594 or at the door.

Crwbin Silver Band are getting ready for Christmas.

Their Christmas Concert will be at Pontyberem Hall on Friday, December 14 (7pm).

The concert will also feature Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth choir and wind band.

Tickets are £8 (children £5) and will be available at the door or from band members.

Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir members are also looking forward to the festive season.

‘Christmas With The Choir’ will be held at 7pm on Saturday, December 1, at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.

The choir’s special guests will be Burry Port Town Band and the St John Lloyd School Choir.

The West End at Christmas

Also, in December, The West End At Christmas returns to the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen with their brand new concert for 2018!

Stars from the West End present a magical evening of entertainment featuring hits from the musicals and the best of Christmas songs.

The talented cast have starred in many West End productions and national tours including Les Miserables, We Will Rock You, South Pacific, Singing in the Rain, Starlight Express, Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, Godspell, Joseph and Cats . . . to name but a few!

The West End At Christmas will at The Lyric on December 18.

The Kidwelly Festival Ladies Choir will be performing at a Grand Christmas Concert and Vintage Fashion Show at Carmarthen Museum, Abergwili, on December 15 (6pm). Tickets are £10 adults and £5 children. It promises to be a fun night.

Finally, in case you missed the news about Russell Watson . . . 

His Carmarthen concert has been re-scheduled to Tuesday November 27 at the Lyric.

Robert Lloyd works as a media consultant – www.rlloydpr.co.uk

If you have any news about the choral scene in Llanelli, the please contact him on 07777 683637 or email rlloydpr@btinternet.com

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Press releases

Real living wage accreditation for Aberystwyth University

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Aberystwyth University has been officially accredited as a Real Living Wage employer.

The news was announced by the Living Wage Foundation at the beginning of Living Wage Week 2018. 

Aberystwyth University is one of 174 employers in Wales who have now signed up voluntarily to pay the Real Living Wage. 

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “Aberystwyth University is one of the biggest employers in Mid Wales, with more than 2,000 full-time and part-time staff. We value the contribution they make to all areas of campus life, and their dedication and commitment underpins the success of our institution. Our decision to adopt the Real Living Wage reflects our principles and values as an ethical employer, and we are now working to support responsible employment practices throughout our supply chain.” 

Following a decision by its Council, the University began the process of paying the Real Living Wage to staff on lower pay scales in April 2018 while the institution submitted its accreditation application to the Living Wage Foundation.

Mohamed Cheggaf, who works as a porter at the University, is among those to benefit from the higher rate. 

“Receiving the Living Wage rate has made a big difference. The cost of living is increasing all the time, with shopping and other bills becoming more expensive. Now that I am earning the Living Wage, paying these bills is easier and life is better for me and my family,” said Mohamed, who has also learnt to speak Welsh since moving to Aberystwyth.   

Set by the Living Wage Foundation, the Living Wage is calculated on the earnings an employee needs in order to meet the basic costs of living and is higher than the UK Government’s National Living Wage. 

Launching the Living Wage Week Wales in Cardiff on Monday 5 November, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones announced that the Real Living Wage rate outside London would rise from £8.75 per hour to £9 per hour. 

Living Wage Foundation Director, Tess Lanning, said: “Today’s new Living Wage rates will provide a boost for thousands of workers throughout Wales. Responsible businesses know that the government minimum is not enough to live on. Employers that pay the real Living Wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills.  

“In particular we want to see local councils, universities, football clubs, bus companies and the other major public and private sector employers in every city commit to become real Living Wage employers. When they do, thousands of people get a pay rise, but other local employers also follow their lead. If more of these institutions step up, we can start to build true Living Wage places.”

Photo:Mohamed Cheggaf is employed as a porter at Aberystwyth University.

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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 33) is now on Soundcloud.

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Mark Jones

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The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column

Posted By Robert Lloyd

By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants. The Money Matters column appears in the Pembrokeshire Herald, the Carmarthenshire Herald and the Llanelli Herald newspapers.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond presented his second Autumn Budget this week.

In his speech, he stated that ‘austerity is coming to an end – but discipline will remain’.

He also promised a ‘double deal dividend’ if the Brexit negotiations are successful but stated that there may be a full-scale Spring Budget in 2019 if not.

At Clay Shaw Butler, we have produced a summary on the tax measures which may affect you, your family and your business.

Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:

  • increases to the personal allowance and basic rate band
  • extending off-payroll working to medium/large organisations in the private sector
  • a temporary increase to the Annual Investment Allowance
  • freezing the VAT registration threshold for a further two years
  • changes to Entrepreneurs’ Relief and private residence relief
  • measures to tackle the plastic problem.

Previously announced measures include:

  • increases in car benefits
  • plans for Making Tax Digital for Business
  • extending the charge to gains on non-UK residents of non-residential UK property.

Some Budget proposals may be subject to amendment in the 2019 Spring Statement and subsequent Finance Act.

You should contact the team at Clay Shaw Butler before taking any action as a result of the contents of this summary.

Here are some points on personal tax changes.

The personal allowance is currently £11,850. The personal allowance for 2019/20 will be £12,500.

There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with ‘adjusted net income’ over £100,000 and the threshold has remained at this figure since its introduction for the 2010/11 tax year.

The reduction is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So, for 2018/19, there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £123,700. For 2019/20 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £125,000.

The marriage allowance permits certain couples, where neither pays tax at more than the basic rate, to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner.

The marriage allowance reduces the recipient’s tax bill by up to £238 a year in 2018/19.

The marriage allowance was first introduced for 2015/16 and there are many couples who are entitled to claim but have not yet done so. It is possible to claim for all years back to 2015/16 where the entitlement conditions are met.

A recent change to the law allows backdated claims to be made by personal representatives of a deceased transferor spouse or civil partner.

The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £34,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £46,350 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. Additional rate taxpayers pay tax at 45% on their income in excess of £150,000.

Tax bands and rates 2019/20 – 

The government has announced that for 2019/20 the basic rate band will be increased to £37,500 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £50,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance. The additional rate of tax of 45% remains payable on taxable income above £150,000.

From April, 2019, the Welsh Government has the right to vary the rates of income tax payable by Welsh taxpayers.

The UK government will reduce each of the three rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers by 10 pence.

The Welsh Government has provisionally set the Welsh rate of income tax at 10 pence which will be added to the reduced UK rates.

This means the rates of income tax paid by Welsh taxpayers will continue to be the same as those paid by English and Northern Irish taxpayers.

The Welsh Government will need to confirm this proposal prior to their final Budget.

You can find out more about money matters on the Clay Shaw Butler website (under our news for business section) – http://www.clayshawbutler.com/news/latest-news-for-business

We have a strong and experienced team with great local knowledge all geared-up to helping you get the very best from your finances – whether that is as an individual or as a business.

We stay ahead of the game by putting great store by continual professional development for our staff.

With Investors In People status at Clay Shaw Butler, we care passionately about making sure our staff have all the tools they need to serve you, our customers.

Weblink – http://www.clayshawbutler.com

The team at Clay Shaw Butler can be contacted on 01267 228500.

The team at Clay Shaw Butler are on Twitter. Look for @clayshawbutler.

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