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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. Website – www.philevans.co.uk


Is it all in the head?

Our media’s approach to mental illness, from OCD (Obsessive–compulsive disorder) to post-natal depression, is much more sympathetic and informative than it used to be . . .

Today, newspapers, radio and television openly discuss it, just like any other medical condition.

A decent night’s sleep is vital for our mental well-being.

Yet a recent survey revealed one thirdof Britons are so job-stressed, they check work e-mails several times during the night.

And, for 75% of the population, worries about debt, unemployment and other issues come to the fore at bedtime.

The next day they’re so tired and even morestressed that the cycle of anxiety continues.

Today, showbiz celebrities and sporting personalities have no qualms about revealing their struggles with depression, when once they’d have been reluctant to.

From the great clown Joseph Grimaldi to Spike Milligan and Paul Merton, comedians are particularly vulnerable to mental fragility as they face rejection every time they stand up in front of the public.

I always try to be supportive and encouraging to my fellow performers, despite the fact that the world of comedy can lack professional respect.

We somehow learn to cope with life’s highs and lows.

But, if we suffer a relentless run ofbad luck without respite, it takes a very strong person not to become so depressed they’re unable to see that a brighter future is possible.

Having a partner, family member or friend who is understanding, uplifting and prepared to reallylisten to your problems is incredibly important at these times.

You may not believe their positive advice at first, but, as things gradually improve, you’ll remember their words and be grateful for them.

Mental illness has no boundaries of class, age or occupation.

If I’m ever affected by it, I hope someone out there will say, “Phil. It’s okay. We understand.  This will pass, we’ll get through it together and all will be well.”

And that will be the moment I begin my recovery . . .


Open Farm Sunday:

There are countless things we can do to make ourselves feel good.

I’m not exaggerating. Theyreally arecountless, so don’t try counting them all because by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be feeling less than good.

Here are someexamples of things we can do to feel good.

We could go for a stroll through our beautiful countryside.

We could make a donation to charity.

We could have a nice cup of tea.

“But how is this possible?” I hear you ask.

It’s called Open Farm Sunday and it’s the one day a year when hundreds of farmers open their gates to the public, allowing them a rare glimpse into the day-to-day running of a working farm.

One Carmarthenshire farm opening to the public on June 10, from 12 noon to 4 pm, is in Esgair, Llanpumsaint, near Carmarthen.

New for this year is a fantastic self-guided nature trail.

The owners, Nicky and Martin, will allow visitors in to see their cattle and pigs, and also shine a light on what they deliver and why supporting British farming matters.

When you’re worn out from all these activities, you can enjoy a cuppa and a chat.

Entry is free, but if you’d like to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Care (and why wouldn’t you?) it would be greatly appreciated.

So on June 10,  treat yourselves to a taste of life down on the farm, just don’t forget to close the gate when you leave!

If you want to find out where the closest one is to you, just visit the website  www.openfarmsunday.org  and put in your postcode.


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

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Press releases

Smith’s Cardiff Blues move confirmed by the Ospreys

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Tom Smith has this evening been announced as the new Forwards Coach at Cardiff Blues.

Smith’s exit from the Ospreys, a region he has served as player and coach, was announced last month at the end of season dinner at the Liberty Stadium, with his destination now confirmed.

He played 94 times for the Ospreys between 2007 and 2013, picking up Celtic League winners medals in 2010 and 2012, retiring in October 2015 following two years on the sidelines with a serious knee ligament injury.

Since hanging up his boots Smith has focused on his coaching, working within the development structure at the Region, including spells coaching the Anglo-Welsh and B&I Cup teams.

“It is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to my home region after 15 long years” said Smith.

“From the academy to a senior player, and then into a coaching role, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the club, and that is down to the people I have met and friends made along the way.  I now look forward to a new challenge with the Blues, and am excited of the opportunity to become their Forwards Coach. 

“I’d like to thank the Ospreys for their support over the years, especially during some of the tougher times through injury, and for the opportunity given after retirement to begin my coaching career. 

“A part of me will always remain at the Ospreys and I hope I’ve managed to give something back to the region where I have grown up. Good luck for the future and I look forward to our battles next season.”

Dan Griffiths, Rugby General Manager, wished Smith the best of luck for the future, saying:

“Tom is someone who has served the Ospreys with distinction over the last 15 years, as player and coach, and is someone who has certainly left his mark as he has developed as a coach in our environment.

“He has an opportunity to further his career at the Blues and we both thank Tom for his services as an Osprey and wish him all the best in his new position. He knows there will always be a warm welcome here for him whenever he returns.”

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Blog posts

Accident waiting to happen at Sandy Water Park woods

Posted By Robert Lloyd

There’s an accident waiting to happen at Sandy Water Park woods (aka Coed Cefn Padrig) in Llanelli.

Evening and night-time visitors to the woodland have been setting fires for BBQs and drinking sessions.

On Sunday, I counted six sites where fires had been lit. One was still smouldering at 11am.

At every site, you’ll find discarded litter, bottles and cans.

The woodland walk has (over the years) been vandalised. Trail markers and sculptures have been ruined.

The woods have become something of a ‘no-go’ area at evening time as the outdoor drinkers take over.

It’s easy to say it’s a youth problem.

The reality is a little different.

Yes, there are some youths setting fires, but there are also adults setting makeshift BBQs and fire pits in the woodland.

Plainly, there is a fire risk as the weather gets warmer and the woodland dries out.

The woodland is gradually being dismantled as the vandals snap branches from trees and cut down smaller saplings for fire fuel.

What’s to be done?

Well, plainly it’s a difficult area for the police to patrol.

Perhaps, we need some Millennium Coastal Park wardens?

But, one suspects, they would find it difficult to enforce any fire ban in the woodland.





Update to story (May 31) –

Well done to the Wales Wildlife Watch team for Sandy Water Park work


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Press releases

Kidwelly businessman David Gravell honoured with British Empire Medal

Posted By Robert Lloyd

A Kidwelly businessman has been honoured with a British Empire Medal for his charity, sport and education work.

David Gravell, of Gravell’s Car Dealership, was presented with the award by HM Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed Sara Edwards at a ceremony in Parc Myrddin, Carmarthen.

Mr Gravell is a firm supporter of Llandovery College and has served as a trustee for many years.

He has sponsored a young person from Patagonia from the age of 16 to university entry and has helped fund a cultural centre in Esquel which was opened in 2002.

And has since provided the centre with a huge screen and projector so that people of Welsh origin are able to view TV recorded in Wales on S4C.

In 2012 he helped to fund a flat occupied by a young field worker from North Wales who would be spending another year in Esquel concentrating on youth work.

Mr Gravell is also the founder member of Cefn Sidan Rotary Club in 1971 and has since been awarded Rotary Citation in 2004 for raising £200,000 and further awarded with the Rotary’s Highest Award, the Paul Harris Triple Sapphire Award.

He organised an evening that raised £10,000 for Mencap.

He also supports Diabetes UK in memory of his late cousin Ray Gravell and donates to Kidwelly Town Bowling Club every year.

A Past President of Cor Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir and President of Dyffryn Tywi Male Voice Choir, he regularly provides vans to take food and essentials to poor or stricken countries

Mr Gravell is one of the major sponsors of the Scarlets RFC and Kidwelly RFC for more than 30 years and sponsors countless events (including rugby tournaments), regularly providing major prizes for auctions and raffles.

He was instrumental in setting up Kidwelly Trade and Tourism Association by organising various fundraising events.

Gravell’s Car Dealership was set up by Mr Gravell’s late father Tom.

Today, the business has passed into the hands of his sons, Ian and Jonathan, with Mr Gravell remaining as chairman.

The BEM is given for meritorious service worthy of recognition by the Crown.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s civil registration service organises award ceremonies along with its other duties which include births, deaths and marriages.

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Blog posts

Spotlight on Llanelli’s famous ‘Hywel Choirs’

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Spotlight on the Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers:

If the traditional saying “experiences make a man rich” is true, then thousands of local children have gained great wealth thanks to the Hywel Girls’ Choir & Hywel Boy Singers.

Born from the baton of John Hywel Williams, the Hywel Girls’ Choir & Hywel Boy Singers have become an institution in choral singing.

With an unequalled heritage of teaching over 8,000 young voices, the choir has enjoyed the extraordinary achievement of more than 200 TV and radio broadcasts spanning 120 countries globally, 25 international concert tours, performing at world leading concert halls to Royalty, World Leaders and The Pope – and all perfectly summed up by British Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. John Major as “Wales’ Ambassadors of Song.”

From its origins in Llanelli in 1948, the Hywel Choir were soon choral pioneers in both performances across leading British concert halls and also in their national television and radio broadcasts.

By the late 1950s, the choir had already enjoyed national and international acclaim with six international concert tours to the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania and three tours to Czechoslovakia.

This included the historic tour which captured national and international press headlines when Llanelli’s Hywel Girls’ Choir broke records in being the first British Choir to tour behind the oppressive communist iron curtain of Eastern Europe at the height of the Cold War.

During this period, the choir also enjoyed television and radio broadcasts from Prague broadcast across Eastern Europe and from Belgium, Romania and The Netherlands.

The choir’s first decade was only a first step in a history of even greater achievements which spans an incredible 70 years.

A wealth of national and international broadcasts and recordings:

Performances for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Singing for His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Performing for His Holiness The Pope at the Vatican.

A BBC televised performance from Russia’s largest concert hall the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire.

A Eurovision broadcast from Belgrade to millions of TV viewers across Europe. The Arad Opera House, Bucharest. The internationally acclaimed Prague Spring Festival. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Ontario. The Festival of Remembrance with HRH The Duke of Kent. The Royal Festival Hall. St David’s Cathedral. Llandaff Cathedral. Wells Cathedral. St. David’s Hall. Brangwyn Hall. Numerous performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall . . . the list keeps going.

Hywel Choirs continue to shine:

The Hywel Choir continues to shine and inspire audiences at home and around the world.

In the last 12 months alone, the Hywel choristers have enjoyed performances at The House of Lords, Covent Garden, Brangwyn Hall, St David’s Cathedral, Morriston Tabernacle Chapel, Birmingham Hippodrome as well as various performances with their resident orchestra the British Sinfonietta Symphony Orchestra.

However, their busy concert schedule is eclipsed by an incredible broadcast year on television and radio.

This year alone, television broadcasts of the choristers have reached over 30 million viewers and include appearances on BBC, ITV, S4C, Channel 4 and international television channels with highlights including a special feature on the choir on BBC Songs of Praise, ITV Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finalists, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day appearances on S4C and memorable TV filming from The London Palladium, London’s iconic Elstree Studios, Llansteffan Castle, Manorbier Castle.

National and regional radio broadcasts have reached over 7 million listeners and top online videos of the choristers have recently past 15 million viewers.

In coming months, some of the choir’s many performances include Manchester Cathedral, a televised broadcast performance with an audience of 15,000 from Birmingham’s mighty NEC Arena, a historic WW1 Centenary Festival of Remembrance from Coventry Cathedral, the 20th anniversary Last Night of the Proms with the British Sinfonietta orchestra. The Hywel Choir will also be launching their latest international album in Summer 2018 and will also be recording an exciting new Christmas album during the summer for release Christmas 2018.

The choir is proud of its beloved music and performance team, Director of Music John Hywel Williams MBE, pianist Jane Jewell, organist Huw Tregelles Williams OBE, percussionist Gareth Hamlin, performance trainer Jeremy Hywel and resident quartet and orchestra, the British Sinfonietta.

Links to other information and news –

Spotlight on John Hywel Williams MBE

Army of 200 musicians prepare for ‘Big Mad Proms’ this Saturday

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Press releases

Deadline approaching in Carmarthenshire gambling survey

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Views are being sought to help inform a review of Carmarthenshire’s gambling policy.

Feedback is wanted from residents, businesses, licence holders and their representatives as part of a survey that’s now running until June 1.

Law dictates that the current gambling policy, formally adopted by Carmarthenshire Council in February 2016, has to be reviewed every three years to ensure views from local communities across the county are regularly reflected.

Guided by the UK Government’s Gambling Act of 2005, the Carmarthenshire policy regulates activities including betting, bingo and gaming machines in places like arcades, clubs, pubs, family entertainment centres and betting shops.

Some of the questions forming part of the survey include whether people are aware of gambling related problems in their communities and if they know of organisations either locally or nationally that provide advice and support for gambling related problems.

Cllr Philip Hughes, Carmarthenshire Council’s Executive Board Member for Public Protection, said: “Maintaining a vibrant night-time economy across the county is important, but we need to ensure gambling doesn’t exploit the vulnerable or become a source of crime and disorder.

“Gambling has to be conducted in a fair and open way, so we’re looking for as much feedback as possible during this consultation exercise to ensure we’re able to maintain an effective licensing system for Carmarthenshire as a whole, while striking the right balance to meet the needs of residents and businesses.

“All views submitted will help inform a revised gambling policy for Carmarthenshire, which will go to Full Council for approval later this year.”

Other questions forming part of the live survey include whether people are aware of any premises where problems have arisen from gaming machines being made available to the public. People are also being asked if they know of problems arising from gambling premises being located close to buildings like schools and treatment centres for drug, alcohol or other addictions.

The survey is now available online on Carmarthenshire Council’s homepage in the ‘Have your say’ section. Hard copies can also be requested by contacting Emyr Jones from the council’s licensing team on EORJones@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or 01267 228717.

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