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South Wales Evening Post column, May 17, 2024

Posted By RobertLloyd58

FEEDBACK is much appreciated when it comes to this weekly column – if only to reassure me that some folk are reading and paying attention!

There’s been quite a bit of reaction to last week’s piece about Hollywood legend Glynis Johns being buried in Burry Port, particularly from local historians who are trying to patch together the area’s links with her dad Mervyn.

Martin Davies, a second cousin to the Mary Poppins star, got in touch from Colchester in Essex.

Martin, originally from Pembrey explained: “I attended the burial at Jerusalem (Chapel) and – although a brief service for family only – it was lovely to know she wanted to come home to Burry Port.

“Mervyn was one of three brothers and a sister. My grandmother (his sister) and grandfather ran the grocers in Randell Square until 1964, when they retired.

“Mervyn ‘ran away’ from the family home in Elkington Road at 14 years to join the RFC (Royal Flying Corps). He was discovered to be underage and sent home, to rejoin the RAF when he was old enough.”

World War One records show that Mervyn was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1917.

Martin added: “His brothers served in the army and my grandmother was a nurse in Salonica (now called Thessaloniki or Thessalonica, in Greece).

“The family name was John, uncle Mervyn added the ‘s’ for stage presence!

“It was known to close family and friends that Glynis always wished to be buried in Jerusalem, alongside her father and his second wife Diana Churchill – another actress.

“Their family home was at the top of Elkington Road and I hadn’t realised there are other family graves in Jerusalem.”

Martin said Mervyn played many memorable roles, including Bob Cratchit in Scrooge, alongside Alistair Sim.

Martin went on: “You’re correct about Stephen Sondheim. He wrote Send In The Clowns especially for Glynis, to suit her voice.”

Glynis won a prestigious American theatre Tony award for her performance.

Those keen on finding out more about the extraordinary lives of Glynis and Mervyn Johns will find plenty of material on the internet.

As far as Mervyn is concerned, it is worth seeking out a documentary programme called Cavalry of the Clouds on YouTube. The programme features many World War One pilots and some fascinating stories from Mervyn about his time as a pilot.

Meanwhile, the email inbox has also been busy with pals of jazz musician Wyn Lodwick reflecting on his life, after I featured his story here on May 3.

Wyn’s funeral is at 10am today (May 17) at Llanelli and District Cemetery and is sure to be attended by friends from far and wide.

One of his pals was academic and historian Sir Deian Rhys Hopkin, who emailed me with some of his memories of Llanelli’s ‘Y Dyn Jazz’, The Jazz Man.

Sir Deian wrote: “I just wanted to congratulate you on a very warm, and perceptive, tribute to my old friend Wyn Lodwick. I know he would have been very touched by your comments, and glad to have shaken your hand!

“In his autobiography, he refers to our first meetings in our home town of Llanelli, and also to playing together, although he admits I was a modern jazz pianist and he was very much the traditionalist.

“Nonetheless, although we were involved in different groups and played very different styles, we often got together to assemble a group for a particular occasion, usually a function (where the guests were often puzzled by our music!) – and we also did a programme together for BBC Wales, entitled AberJazz.

“He was a great friend of the great pianist Dill Jones, with whom I also had connections (both of us, at different times, had gone to Llandovery College and we returned there for a BBC Wales documentary and a bit of duetting).

“After I left for London in 1991 we didn’t have any more opportunities to play together – though we met from time to time, and I was also delighted to talk to him about jazz, politics and sailing!”

Diolch yn fawr, many thanks to Martin and Sir Deian for getting in touch. Please keep the feedback coming; it can be a lonely life scribbling this column in the attic office. Emails and updates from readers make it all worthwhile.

The day a Wales team took a stand

RUGBY ace Glenn Webbe, widely acknowledged by most of us as the first black man to be capped by Wales *, was the guest speaker at the spring Cymru/Wales Sports Aid lunch.

Glenn, 62, made 10 appearances on the wing for Wales during the 1980s.

Glenn certainly made his presence felt at the lunch in Carmarthen, arriving in a fake fur coat.

He used his platform at the Sports Aid lunch to give a first-hand account of racism in sport.

His speech included the famous incident when Glenn was a part of the Wales youth team touring South Africa during the apartheid years.

Glenn was refused service in a restaurant, being told, “We’ve got a policy, we don’t serve black people in here.”

Famously, the Welsh team’s coach reacted appropriately to the problem.

He declared, “If it’s not good enough for Glenn then it’s not good enough for us”, before marching the whole party out of the restaurant.

Other shameful incidents were closer to home, with Glenn recalling monkey chants from the terraces of some south Wales grounds and so-called rugby fans throwing bananas on the pitch.

Glenn received a standing ovation from an audience of nearly 200 at the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel in Carmarthen.

If you want to find out more about Glenn’s life, then check out the book by my old Evening Post colleague Geraint Thomas. It’s called The Gloves Are Off and is a darned good read. Promise.

  • There’s plenty of debate about who was the first black man to be capped by Wales, with Mark Brown being the ‘official’ holder of the title as a player of ‘black origin’.

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Two changes to Scarlets side for Zebre match-up

Posted By RobertLloyd58

Head coach Dwayne Peel has made two changes to his Scarlets starting XV for Friday’s BKT United Rugby Championship round 17 clash with Zebre Parma at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (19:35 BBC Wales).

Alex Craig has recovered from a hamstring issue to take his place in the second row, while behind the scrum Ioan Lloyd replaces fellow Wales international Sam Costelow at fly-half.

Ioan Nicholas, Tomi Lewis and Ryan Conbeer continue in the back three; Johnny Williams again partners Eddie James, while Lloyd links up with the experienced Gareth Davies at half-back.

In the pack, the front row of Kemsley Mathias, skipper Ryan Elias and Harri O’Connor get the nod to start again. Craig partners Morgan Jones at lock, while Taine Plumtree, Dan Davis and No. 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu are selected in the back row.

On the bench, Wales U20s centre Macs Page – part of Llandovery’s Indigo Premiership title-winning side last weekend – is set to make his URC debut.

Scarlets scrum and contact skills coach Emyr Phillips said: “We are looking to build some momentum in these last two games to fire us into pre-season. We are encouraging the boys to play high-tempo rugby and get the ball moving because that’s when we are at our best. We know Zebre will bring emotion to the game and we need to match that.”

Scarlets team to play Zebre Parma at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday, May 17 (19:35; BBC Wales)

15 Ioan Nicholas; 14 Tomi Lewis, 13 Johnny Williams, 12 Eddie James, 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Kemsley Mathias, 2 Ryan Elias (capt), 3 Harri O’Connor, 4 Alex Craig, 5 Morgan Jones, 6 Taine Plumtree, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu.

Reps: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Jarrod Taylor, 20 Ben Williams, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Macs Page

Players unavailable because of injury

Tom Rogers, Sam Lousi, Vaea Fifita, Steff Evans, Joe Roberts, Josh Macleod, Teddy Leatherbarrow, Jac Davies.

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Aberystwyth nest box project looks at climate change impact on bird breeding

Posted By RobertLloyd58

New nest boxes have started appearing around Aberystwyth as part of a new study to understand the impact of climate change on competition between birds.

Wales’ climate is warming because of human activity, with 2022 and 2023 the warmest years on record.

Climate change is affecting the breeding patterns of different species of birds: great tits are laying their eggs two weeks earlier today than they were in the 1960s.

The new study by experts at Aberystwyth University will place a number of nest boxes at different altitudes in Aberystwyth and woodlands in the surrounding area.

The breeding patterns of great tits, blue tits and pied flycatchers are affected by temperature and changes in spring temperatures could lead to more competition between them for food as well as fewer eggs laid.

The research will also look at the effects of changing temperatures on their diets.

Dr Peter Korsten, from Aberystwyth University’s Department of Life Sciences, said:

“It’s exciting to get started on this project, as the first birds arrive at their new nesting sites this year. The purpose of the study is to improve our understanding of the effect that climate change has on the relationship between different species, particularly woodland birds. We know that a warmer spring is already leading to birds breeding earlier, and we hope to understand more about how this might affect the competition between different bird species.

“Forecasting the impacts of climate change on biological diversity is an important and urgent challenge. Studies of nest box-breeding birds have been crucial for documenting changes in breeding phenology in response to climate change, but the impact of ongoing environmental change on competitive interactions between species within ecological communities is unclear.

“More generally, it is important for us as a society to understand how climate change affects biodiversity. Looking to the future, I do hope this initial project will be the basis for developing a resource and longer-term studies for further research here in Aberystwyth.”

Isobel Griffith, a fourth year student at the University’s Department of Life Science studying wildlife conservation, is helping with the project. She said:

“I have really enjoyed checking the nest boxes this year, especially seeing the nests develop from week-to-week. It is great to have this chance to help with the research. I am passionate about biodiversity and learning more about how birds are impacted by climate change is fascinating.”

Second year student Rose Markham-Gill, who is also checking the nest boxes as part of the project, added:

“I have loved being part of nest box checks this year and look forward to gathering more data over the next few years for my dissertation and for Peter’s further research. It’s such a great thing having access to the nest boxes and watching spring unfold. Every week has been exciting and allowed me to appreciate nature in a way I never could have before.”

The research is support by funding from Aberystwyth University’s Rural Futures Hub.

Photo: Nest boxes in Aberystwyth
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Tonia Antoniazzi MP joins Scarlets board

Posted By RobertLloyd58

The Scarlets are delighted to announce that Gower MP and former Wales international Tonia Antoniazzi will join the Scarlets Board of Directors with immediate effect.

Tonia, who is Gower’s first female MP, has served at Westminster since June 2017.  She was born and raised along with two brothers in Llanelli by her Welsh Mum and Welsh-Italian father who supported her love of sport from an early age.

With Welsh-Italian sporting heritage, she won nine caps for Wales as a prop playing internationally for three years as well as playing for Benetton Treviso’s women’s team in 1993-94 while studying in Venice. Her last cap as tighthead prop came in 1999. She participated in the first Women’s World Cup in 1998.  From a rugby family, her brother Julian Antoniazzi played for Welsh Schools seven times in 1985.

Tonia is a passionate, lifelong Scarlets supporter after spending many years growing up supporting rugby on the terraces at Stradey Park. Alongside her international rugby career, Tonia is a graduate in French and Italian from Exeter University with a PGCE from Cardiff University, teaching in Wigan before returning home to West Wales as Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Ysgol Bryngwyn in Llanelli.

Since retiring from international rugby and forging a successful political career, she is now a leading light and voice championing the growth and development of women’s and girls’ rugby across Wales, campaigning for greater equality, engagement, participation and inclusion at all levels in the game.

Scarlets are building for the future which includes a fresh focus on the girls’ and women’s game, with four players in the U18s Women’s Six Nations squad, a number of girls from the region selected for the West Wales Professional Development Centre (PDC) plus 70 girls are registered with the Scarlets’ first U17s Development Squad.

Scarlets’ Academy coaches support training and development of Celtic Challenge Cup side Brython Thunder who are based at Parc y Scarlets. Two of the region’s age-grade teams Teifi Timberwolves and Taf Valley Tigers were U16s and U18s WRU National plate winners this season.  Increased demand from girls to play rugby is now being supported with 32 WRU clusters supporting players from U7s to U18s across communities in Wales.

Scarlets’ Community Foundation rugby programme also continues to go from strength-to-strength delivering wide-ranging rugby inclusion events to support social benefit across its region and engaging with more than 20,000 young people this season.

Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “It truly is an honour and privilege for me and I am very excited to be joining the Scarlets Board.  Scarlets rugby has been at the heart of my family and my upbringing and it was that love and passion for this club that led me to play for Wales. Now I am continuing to support the sport that means so much to me off the pitch.

“Rugby is ours. It’s everybody’s sport and everybody matters in our game.”

“We need a plurality of voices in Welsh rugby to take the game forward.  There is a new era of rugby dawning in Wales and Scarlets rugby has a bright future within it, I want to be part of that and ensure everyone connected with our game has a voice and is well-represented.”

I am passionate about bringing more women into the game. I feel very strongly that when I was a young girl, I had to look up to my brother – and think if he can do it I can do it.  Now we can see a future in the sport for young girls to aspire to – with the likes of Alex Callender (from Llanelli), who I used to teach, coming through and winning multiple caps.

“What we need now is to engage more through the women’s and girls’ programmes into clubs to ensure we have more teams and more international players playing their rugby in Wales.  When you can see it as a player, you believe you can be it. We need to show our young girls that there is a future for them in rugby in Wales.”

Scarlets Executive Chairman Simon Muderack said: “Tonia will bring valued rugby expertise, a strong voice for the women’s game and great governance leadership from her experience and knowledge across international rugby, the educational sector and her parliamentary career.

“Her energy, ambition and passion for Scarlets rugby and the women’s and girl’s game in this region is undeniable.  She is a positive driving force who wants to see Scarlets and Welsh rugby thrive now and in the future and is helping spearhead a culture change throughout our game. We are delighted she is joining us at a time when we are restructuring and strengthening our business operations to meet the challenges of the future and we look forward to Tonia’s input and support.”

Tonia lives in Pontarddulais and has a son Jac who is currently studying at Cardiff University.

To hear more from Tonia please visit Scarlets YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/Sa2hFMCek4o?si=ACcck5DdDQCzTY6f

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The latest Phil Evans column – May 15

Posted By RobertLloyd58

Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy. Website – www.philevans.co.uk



Thanks to decades of watching American films and TV, I have the impression that our cousins across ‘The Pond’ – particularly the wealthy who live on the East and West coasts and have time and money to spare – take it for granted that they need to regularly visit a psychiatrist.

They spend an hour’s session lying on a couch while unburdening themselves of past frustrations, slights and injustices in a bid to ‘learn to know themselves’.

They see their psychiatrist more frequently than we see our hairdresser and barber.

Talking of which, have you noticed there are more barber shops around than at any other time in human history, despite the fact loads of men deliberately adopt the smooth Telly Savalas/Kojak look, so have little need to visit a barber?

It’s a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle.

There may come a time when yours truly might feel the benefit of psychoanalysis, but until I do, I’m able to unburden myself of life’s frustration, slights and injustices right here on this page on a regular basis.

So, really, I’m using you as an unpaid ‘trick cyclist’.

Which is fortunate when so many things today, how can I put this subtly? DRIVE ME UP THE WALL!

At one time, we didn’t pronounce the word ‘Research’ with the emphasis on the first syllable. But since most of the British media started pronouncing it the way Americans do as ‘Ree-search’ several years ago, a whole generation has grown up believing that’s the correct way to say it.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen online newspaper articles that are headed something like “You’ve been washing your clothes wrong!” or “You’ve been mowing your lawn wrong!”

No, headline writers! You’ve been writing your headlines ‘wrong’!

The word they should be using is ‘incorrectly’ as any ‘fule nose’!

And have you also noticed how “two-times” has replaced ‘twice’ as in “It acts two-times as fast!” in radio and TV advertisements? Yet another annoying American expression that’s crept in.

My usual ree-action to these wrong things is to blurt out a ‘discouraging word’.

Not once.

But two times!



Mister Summer’s arrived at our front doors for his annual visit, carrying a suitcase full of sunshine.

He usually hangs around for a couple of months and although his warm personality is always welcome, he can be a notoriously contrary visitor.

He has a tendency to unexpectedly pop-off on holiday at the drop of a Panama hat for a couple of days, allowing his greyer, rather more miserable brother Mister Rain to move in temporarily and dampen everyone’s spirits.

He certainly dampened my spirits the afternoon I left half a glass of vodka outside on the patio table during a thunderstorm and returned to find it diluted and undrinkable.

One thing I don’t like about summertime is the proliferation of ‘mini-beasts’ it brings out.

If I decide to relax in my garden with a coffee and newspaper, within minutes the creepy crawly clarion call goes up and my chair’s invaded by ants; woodlice; wasps; bluebottles; flies; beetles; big fat bumble bees . . . and spiders of varying size.

Although I’ve had a few unpleasant confrontations with insects and arachnids, thankfully I’ve never gone through what Victoria Price from Porthcawl once experienced.

Suffering from a pain in her ear, she asked her husband Huw to take a look.

To his surprise (and her horror!) he found a live spider lurking in the ear canal.

So, they went straight to the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend, where she was treated by nurse practitioner Sarah Gaze.

According to Victoria, “Sarah shone a torch in my ear, said ‘Okay’ and then went off to find someone who would take it out.”

Who was that? Indiana Jones?

Removing the spider was a straightforward task, involving tweezers, a steady hand and a lot of patience. As to how the spider got there, Victoria thought it was hiding in the hood of a coat she’d put on after swimming in the sea.

Worryingly, this isn’t an isolated incident.

A few years back, the singer Katie Melua kept hearing a scratching noise – and when she went to the doctor’s she discovered to her shock that it was caused by a spider living inside her ear.

Worryingly, it’d been there for a week!

And hadn’t the decency to pay something towards the rent.

So, before you rest your head on your pillow tonight, check there’s nothing nasty scrabbling around in your bed and don’t let your ear become a web-site!


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

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Latest On Song column – May 15

Posted By RobertLloyd58

THERE’S a big weekend coming up for members of Llanelli’s new Scarlet Musical Theatre Productions (SMTP) team.

Hot on the heels of their ‘Scarlet Showstoppers’ cabaret evening at Burry Port Memorial Hall, SMTP performers will be joining the award-winning Côr Meibion Pontarddulais Male Choir for a special concert.

An evening with ‘The Company and the Choir’ will be presented at Hope Siloh Chapel, Pontarddulais, on Saturday (May 18) at 7pm.

The long-term plans for SMTP include a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit musical Sunset Boulevard in November.

The guest compere for the Pontarddulais show will be Mr Denys Jenkins BEM, known throughout west Wales as pantomime star Denny Twp. Tickets are £10.

Rehearsals for SMTP concerts are on Mondays at 7pm at Dafen Hall, Llanelli.

Anyone interested in joining the team can pop along.

You can find out more about Scarlet Musical Theatre Productions on their Facebook page at – https://www.facebook.com/SMTPSouthWales

Meanwhile, the Forge Drama youth theatre group, is returning to Carmarthen’s Lyric theatre at the end of this month with a spectacular performance of Oliver!

For more than a decade, Forge Drama has been bringing the magic of performing arts to the young people of Carmarthen and captivating audiences with musical productions.

Between May 30 and June 1, the company is bringing the streets of Victorian England to the town as Oliver, a malnourished orphan in a workhouse, joins Fagin’s crew of young thieves and pickpockets, where he befriends the charismatic Artful Dodger.

The show is called Oliver! Jr, as youngsters, all aged between four and 16, are taking the helm.

Filled with beloved songs like Consider Yourself, Food Glorious Food, and Oom-Pah-Pah, Oliver! Jr is a family favourite not to be missed.

Osian Rhys, founder of Forge Drama and company director said: “I’m incredibly proud of everyone who’s been involved in Oliver! Jr.

“Our students have worked very hard, and their talent and dedication shine through on stage.

“Interestingly this year, some of our production team performed in the 1991 Carmarthen and District Youth Opera production of Oliver! at the Lyric, and now their children are following in their footsteps, making this a real multigenerational effort.”

Osian added: “As always, it’s been amazing to see all the support from family, friends, and the local community, and I can’t wait for us to share this legendary show with everyone.”

Oliver! Jr takes place will take place on Thursday, May 30 and Friday May 31 at 3.30pm and 7.30pm. There will be one matinee performance on Saturday, June 1 at 1.30pm

Tickets can be purchased from the Carmarthenshire Theatres website or the Lyric Theatre box office.

Coming up in Llanelli next month, the Salvation Army will be hosted a brass band concert at The Citadel at Sunninghill Terrace in the town.

The concert will feature the Wales Fellowship Band and takes place at 6.30pm on Saturday, June 15. Tickets are £5.

The growing links between Llanelli and its twin town of Agen in France are behind a special concert in July.

Llanelli and District Twinning Association will be presenting an evening of music featuring popular ladies choir Côr Curiad and special guests from Agen.

The French visitors will be the The Harpists of Agen and Lot-et-Garonne, the region surrounding Llanelli’s twin town.

The harpists go under the name of Harpinbag and they come highly recommended by members of the twinning association who have witnessed them in concert in Agen.

The musical evening will be at Llanelli’s Diplomat Hotel on Thursday, July 18, doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

Côr Curiad will be under the musical direction of Alex Esney and the compere for the evening will be Llanelli impresario Cerith Owens.

The evening will also feature accompanist Catrin Hughes and selected soloists from the Loud Applause Rising Stars (LARS) stable.

Tickets are £10 and are available from members of Côr Curiad, Loud Applause Rising Stars or from Paolo Piana on email at pianapaolo@hotmail.com or telephone on 07956 592806.

In other news, members of Llanelli Youth Theatre are getting warmed up for what is going to be a busy 40th anniversary year.

LYT will be staging a special 40th anniversary concert at Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli on Saturday, June 1.

Then, in September, LYT will be staging Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning musical Sweeney Todd.

Finally, the countdown is on to the Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir Young Musician of the Year competition.

This is a new competition for Llanelli and is being held to keep the name of Côr Meibion Llanelli alive. The choir finished active performing last year after struggling to recruit new members and officials.

A choir spokesman said: “We remain determined to keep the famous name of Côr Meibion Llanelli alive in west Wales – and what better way to do it than to organise a competition to encourage the musicians and singers of the future.

“Down the years, the choir has raised thousands for local charities. We want to continue to play an active part in the local community to keep the name of our historic choir alive.”

The Young Musician of the Year competition will take place at Ysgol y Strade, Llanelli, at 7pm on Friday, June 21.

The competition is open to all pupils from Llanelli secondary schools.

The winner will receive the Trevor Lewis Shield, presented in memory of one of the choir’s most stalwart members.

There is a cash prize of £750 for the winner; £200 for second and £100 for third.

Adjudicators for the event will be Angharad Brinn, Cerith Owens and Meinir Jones Parry.

Pupils are being advised to register for the competition through their schools. If anyone needs further competition information, then they should contact Chris Davies at Ysgol y Strade, email christopher.davies@ysgolystrade.org

Tickets for the competition will be £5 and will be available through the ticketsource website – www.ticketsource.co.uk/cormeibionllanelli

More information about Theatrau Sir Gar shows can be found on their website at – https://www.theatrausirgar.co.uk

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