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Robert Lloyd

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Latest ‘On Song’ column from Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

There’s a musical and multi-media event with a difference coming up at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, next weekend.

The Armistice Suite is a special performance piece consisting of words, music and visuals, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War (World War One) and the signing of the Armistice, in November 1918.

The Armistice Suite is written, edited, collated and produced by Gruffydd (Griff) Harries a musician, writer and producer who is a familiar figure throughout West Wales.

Original music has been composed by BAFTA winning and EMMY nominated Welsh musician Mark Thomas.

Readings, poems, quotes and enactments from diaries, letters and documents will be performed by three eminent and popular Welsh television and stage personalities.

The Armistice Suite will be at Ffwrnes Theatre for two performances, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm on Friday, September 7.

The Armistice Suite received its premiere at Neath Little Theatre in June and was also performed earlier this summer at the Gower Festival.

The performances will feature musicians from The Chamber Orchestra of Wales.

There will be a continuous slide show of relevant images and video, synchronised to the words.

These include rare photographs and film of people, places and events, alongside works by notable war artists such as Sir Frank Brangwyn.

Producer Gruffydd Harries said: “The Armistice Suite suite stirs the emotions as only words and music can, with moments of poignancy and sadness but also with ‘feel good’ moments and humour. It is certainly not full of blood, gore and destruction – although elements of such cannot be totally avoided.

“A century ago, this country was involved in the Great War. This was a conflict on a scale hitherto unknown on this planet.

“A total of 32 countries were involved and although estimates vary, at least twelve million people were killed and countless more injured. The number of individuals and families adversely affected cannot be quantified.

The First World War has passed out of living memory now but should never be forgotten. It seems therefore appropriate in 2018 to bring the story to the widest audience possible, using the arts.

“The project has a strong Welsh bias. Stories from towns and villages throughout the Principality are recounted and the lives of the populace – including recruits and serving military are considered and re-enacted in various scenarios.

“The significant contribution of Welsh women certainly isn’t forgotten. The fortunes of the military units serving under the Welsh banner are used to illustrate relevant chapters and the legacy of the conflict in Wales is examined.”

Meanwhile, this coming weekend will see Carmarthen baritone Mark Llewelyn Evans hosting ‘An Afternoon of Music at The Orangery’ at Margam Park on Sunday, September 2.

The event will feature the young up-and-coming members of the Llanelli-based Loud Applause Rising Stars group.

Youngsters performing at the Orangery will include Callum Howells, Lauren Fisher, Neve Summers, Jack Owens, Sydney Richards, Thomas Bytheway, Daisy Owens and Osian Clarke.

The special guests will be violin virtuoso Charlie Lovell-Jones and the Kenfig Hill youth choir Crescendo.

The concert starts at 3pm.

Saturday, September 8 will see the famous Llanelli-based Academy Amateur Company celebrate 35 years of performing great musicals with a special concert in Llanelli.

They will be staging ‘Thank you for the Memories’ at Ffwrnes Theatre.

This special celebratory concert will feature songs from their favourite productions over the years, promising a musical journey down memory lane that will leave you singing all the way home.

There will be songs from shows such as Singin’ In The Rain, Guys And Dolls, Anything Goes, The Full Monty and Jesus Christ Superstar.

On the same night, Burry Port Male Voice Choir will hold their 55thannual concert.

St Mary’s Church in Burry Port will be the venue for the concert at 7pm on Saturday, September 8.

The guest artists will be – Soprano Mary-Jean O’Doherty, baritone Ben Anthony, Adrian Williams on trumpet and Caradog Williams on piano.

Tickets are £10 and are available from Sewards the grocer on Llanelli Market, Barry Lewis at Llanelli Market and all choir members.

Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi Male Voice choir members are looking forward to events in September and October.

On Sunday, September 30 (7pm), Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi will be staging a special concert at St Maelog’s Church in Llandyfaelog.

The choir will perform alongside a guest choir from Cornwall, the Tamar Valley Male Choir.

Other guest artists include soprano Llio Evans, with guest accompanist Kim Lloyd Jones.

The President for the evening will be Tinopolis TV company boss and founder Ron Jones.

Tickets are £7 and are available from telephone number 01269860996.

Proceeds from the evening will go towards St Maelog Church and the chemotherapy unit at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

On Saturday, October 13, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi will join Carmarthen Male Voice Choir for their 60thanniversary celebration concert at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen.

Côr Meibion Dinefwr Male Voice Choir will be holding their annual concert at Capel Newydd, Llandeilo, on Saturday, October 27 (7.30pm).

The special guests will be Côr Meibion Llandybie Male Voice Choir.

The conductor will be John Williams, the accompanist will be Sara Morgan and the chairman for the evening will be Eifion Davies.

Other special guests include tenor Osian Wyn Bowen, soloist Martha Harries and accompanist Gareth Wyn Thomas.

Admission is £8 and £3 for children and students.

Proceeds will go towards the choir’s funds.

On Saturday, October 13, there’s a special concert at Pontyberem Memorial Hall (7.30pm).

Sinfonia Cymru and and soloist Caroline Pether will breathe new life into well-known classics.

The concert will feature Eric Whitacre’s October Suite, Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Op. 40, Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Sinfonia Cymru will be back in Pontyberem on Friday, March 8 (7.30pm) with a concert featuring cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

The concert programme includes – CPE Bach Symphony 1 in D major H663; Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major; Ives Unanswered Question; Beethoven Symphony No. 1, Op. 21.

The conductor for Sinfonia Cymru will be Jonathan Bloxham.

He is the Assistant Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Artistic Director of Northern Chords Festival.

In 2017-18, Jonathan has made several debuts including the Malaysian Philharmonic, RTE Concert Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. His continuing work with the CBSO included several concerts during the Debussy Festival in March 2018.

In 2019 he will also be celebrating the tenth anniversary of Northern Chords in a festival programme featuring 10 new commissions.

Originally an acclaimed cellist, Jonathan is the recipient of several prestigious awards such as the Guilhermina Suggia Gift and Royal College of Music Cello Prize and in 2012 gave his concerto debut at the Berlin Philharmonie.

He was a founding member of the Busch Trio until 2015, during which time the group won prizes at many international competitions including the Royal Overseas League in London, Pinerolo Competition in Italy and the International Schumann Chamber Music Award in Frankfurt.

Jonathan performs regularly at Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and the Southbank Centre and is a frequent guest on BBC Radio 3.

Sinfonia Cymru is made up of musicians in the early stages of their careers and is the first and only orchestra of its kind to be revenue-funded by the Arts Council of Wales.

Sinfonia Cymru works in partnership with The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) through the Professional Pathway Bursary scheme and regular performances at The Dora Stoutzker Hall. Sinfonia Cymru is also resident orchestra at The Riverfront, Newport and performs in venues across Wales.

The orchestra works with Young Classical Artists Trust to create opportunities for the next generation of solo artists including the orchestra’s current Leader/Director Bartosz Woroch. Sinfonia Cymru has worked with a number of celebrated guest artists including Bryn Terfel, Llŷr Williams, Paul Watkins, Carlo Rizzi, and Alina Ibragimova.

The orchestra enjoys a long-standing relationship with Deutsche-Gramophon harpist Catrin Finch.

Past projects with Catrin include Classic BRIT nominated album ‘Blessing’ with John Rutter, which reached number one in BBC Radio 3’s classical chart, and a performance at Universal Live ‘Yellow Lounge’.

In 2013 Sinfonia Cymru embarked on a major project to develop and launch a new way of working for chamber orchestras. With funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the orchestra established Curate; a collective of orchestral musicians, administrators and other young creatives who come together to express their artistic ideas
and develop their own projects.

Over the last three years, Curate has developed the flagship UnButtoned and Unease events in collaboration with BAFTA-Cymru winning musician Tom Raybould, the orchestra’s classical pub gig ‘Quartet’ with Fizzi Events, and a live Silent Film event at Chapter Arts Centre.

2014 was Sinfonia Cymru’s busiest year, performing 44 concerts to over 13,000 people and working with actor Richard Harrington (star of S4C Y Gwyll / Hinterland), harpist Catrin Finch alongside young conductor Ben Gernon, world-renowned baritone Bryn Terfel, and on an experimental collaboration with theatre director Tom Morris at The Bristol Proms.

The orchestra also played a major role in the ‘Emerging Classical Talent in the EU’ project; an International collaboration that brought together a number of European partners and culminated in Sinfonia Cymru’s Small Nations Big Sounds Festival, which it delivered in partnership with RWCMD.

In 2015, Sinfonia Cymru performed with BBC Young Musician winner Laura Van der Heijden and with period violinist Rachel Podger on the orchestra’s first all-baroque concert.

October will also see one of Carmarthenshire’s finest returning ‘home’ for two special concerts.

John Owen-Jones is a Burry Port boy who has gone on to be an award-winning West End and Broadway star.

He will play Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, on Wednesday, October 3 and the Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen, on Sunday, October 7.

In October, Carmarthen will also see another big name singer roll into town.

Russell Watson will be performing his new show, Canzoni d’Amore, at the Lyric on October 19.

Having sold more than seven million albums worldwide, Russell Watson is firmly established as the UK’s best-selling classical crossover artist of all time.

To date, his illustrious career has included performances for Her Majesty The Queen, The Pope and two US Presidents.


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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Phil Evans

Blog posts

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 

This column appears in the South Wales Evening Post, Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star.


You’re well-educated, witty, wise and other flattering words beginning with the letter ‘W’.

How do I know?

Because you read my articles.

You probably speak at least one foreign language, maybe even Japanese or Javanese.

But how are you with the language we allneed to understand today – ‘Jargonese’?

This is the impenetrable wording used by many organisations (from banks to Government departments) to ‘easily explain’ complicated matters.

In fact, they tend to complicate matters that could be explained far more easily.

Jargonese often appears in the ‘small print’ of documents, which makes it so difficult to read that many of us don’t bother – even though a part of our brain is screaming, “Read it or regret it later!”

Adverts on commercial radio stations for accident claims specialists or PPI companies end with an actor ‘explaining’ the ‘Ts and Cs’ so  quickly it’s impossible to comprehend what they are – the verbal equivalent of small print Jargonese.

Here’s a classic example of Jargonese contained in a letter a friend of mine (and thousands of other customers) recently received from the Group Chief Executive of a leading bank.

And I quote . . .

“Our differentiated, customer focused business model continues to deliver with our multi-brand multi-channel approach, cost leadership, low risk positioning, investment capacity and execution capabilities positioning us well for sustainable success in a digital world.”


You can say thatagain!

No, don’t!

Once was enough.

Apart from the fact his comments mean little to The Ordinary Man In The Street or The Slightly Wealthier Man In The Avenue, I’d guess the Group Chief Executive is allergic to hyphens.

Because despite being an expert in Jargonese he left out hyphens between ‘multi’ and ‘brand’ and ‘multi’ and ‘channel’.

So, I put them in.

As I say, it’s only a guess.

I’m just being ‘hyphenthetical’ – a word that would easily fit in the Dictionary Of Jargonese!


The highlight of the week for me was something challenging and exciting, but thoroughly exhausting.

Let me explain.

My brother thought it would be a good idea for me to brush up on my motorcycle skills and enrolled me on a course with ‘A Skills and Thrills Experience’ motorcycles in West Wales.

When an experienced police motorcycle instructor puts you through your paces like you’ve never been put through before, a realisation occurs, ‘why hadn’t anyone else taught me these skills?’

Let’s face it, the roads today are busier than ever and accidents and fatalities are far too common – and with this in mind, extra tuition or advanced skills are an investment, not an expense.

So I stretched on my leathers (they must have shrunk in the wardrobe over the winter) dusted down the motorbike and headed for our first stop, The Owls Nest Tea Rooms in Llandovery.

There were many coffee and cake stops, during which a detailed debriefing was provided after each section of the course, which covered most of Mid and West Wales.

Eight hours in the saddle was not something that I was used to, so if you see me about and notice that I’m walking uncomfortably, please don’t laugh.

It was all done in the name of ‘Road Safety’.

Wynne John, you have so much to answer for.


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

Please again include www.philevans.co.uk

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Press releases

Plastic-free status is a world first for Aberystwyth University

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Aberystwyth has become the first university in the world to be awarded Plastic Free University status.

The award has been made by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage as part of its Plastic Free Communities campaign.

The campaign focuses on reducing the use of plastic items that are used only once before being thrown away, such as plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids, bags, cutlery, straws and stirrers.

Whilst there are still some single-use plastic items within the University, the scheme recognises the great work being done to reduce their use and the institution’s ongoing commitment.

Rebecca Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer at Aberystwyth University, said: “The worldwide challenge of reducing plastic polution can not be underestimated. Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year, with approximately half destined for single use items. In addition, around eight million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans every day, which are often mistaken by fish, whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds and seals for food. As a coastal university, these issues are close to our heart and the challenge for us as an institution and as individuals is to look at how we can contine to reduce single-use plastic, for the benefit of the environment.”

James Harvey, Campaign Officer at Surfers Against Sewage, applauded the University’s efforts, saying: “Congratulations to the Aberystwyth University team, staff and students on this significant accomplishment. Our coastlines, beaches, seas and rivers everywhere are being overwhelmed by plastic pollution and it is now hard to exaggerate the urgency of the need to reduce our collective use of throwaway plastics.

“Aberystwyth University now has a strong framework in place to establish the UK’s first Plastic Free University campus. This is a fantastic achievement for Wales and we would like to challenge other organisations in the university sector to follow suit.”

Aberystwyth University set up a Plastic Free Working Group in March 2018 to lead the phasing out of single-use plastic on campus. Initiatives already agreed include:

  • A 15p levy on all plastic disposable cups from 1 September 2018 to encourage coffee and tea drinkers to use re-useable cups.
  • Biodegradable salad containers and compostable hot food boxes introduced for takeway food in catering outlets, along with biodegradable cutlery and straws, with all available to be taken away in paper rather than plastic bags.
  • Free water dispensers installed at nine of the University’s cafes and restaurants to help promote the use of reusable water bottles.

The push to become the first certified plastic free university has backing at the highest level with endorsement from the University’s Executive and Council, who are also doing away with single use plastic bottles and cups at their meetings.

In June 2018, the University also hosted it’s very first awareness-raising Plastic Free Day, with guided litter picks, an information stand on the Piazza and a free screening of A Plastic Oceanat Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Aberystwyth University’s Environment and Sustainability Advisor Dewi Day, who chairs the Plastic Free Working Group, said: “Becoming the world’s first Plastic Free University is no mean feat and what we have achieved has laid great foundations for the further reduction of single use plastic at Aberystwyth University. However, there is so much more that can and needs to be done over the coming months and years but we are committed to making a real difference.”

The announcement has also been welcomed by Aberystwyth Students Union, whose  Wellbeing Officer Molly Longden said: “I am immensely proud to hear that Aberstywyth is the first accredited plastic free university in the world. It is a testament to all involved and shows how much of a change the student body can make when it works with the university towards a common goal. It also shows that Aberystwyth is maintaining its position as a progressive and world-leading university, one which definitely sets a clear benchmark for other universities – in addition to this being a brilliant moment for the University, union and community. I am sure the University will keep progressing and innovating and I am extremely excited to help carry on this work in the future.”

The University’s plastic-free team are now working on additional ways of reducing single-use plastic.

Photo: Rebecca Davies Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer (right) with staff on a campus litter pick as part of Aberystwyth University’s Plastic Free Day held in June 2018.

Links: Surfers Against Sewage

Health, Safety and the Environment at Aberystwyth University

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It’s time for the Melin Sospan Sizzler

Posted By Robert Lloyd

The Melin Sospan Sizzler Middle Distance Triathlon takes place this Sunday (August 26).

The event was postponed earlier this summer when the heatwave was rudely interrupted by a very unwelcome storm.

Race organiser Noelwyn Daniel said: “It was unfortunate that bad weather arrived on the weekend of the scheduled race. It forced us to make an early announcement about a postponement, saving competitors the trouble of starting their journeys.

“Hopefully, the postponement didn’t cause too much trouble for competitors as we kept them well informed throughout about weather conditions and the new date. We obviously keep health and safety in mind and conditions were impossible at the time. Hopefully, the weather will be much kinder to us on Sunday.”

More than 200 athletes have entered for the popular annual event – sponsored by Melin Consultants, providers of sustainable building and construction solutions.

Melin Consultants are delighted, once again, to be the main sponsor of this year’s Melin Sospan Sizzler Middle Distance Triathlon.

The event is being staged by the non-profit organisation Healthy Life Activities. It will run alongside the scheduled Burry Port RNLI Triathlon on Sunday.

It’s the third time for the middle distance triathlon (a demanding ‘half Iron Man’ event) to be held in Burry Port – and it’s the second year of Melin’s generous sponsorship.

This is the only middle distance triathlon to be held in Carmarthenshire and the challenging hilly bike course attracts athletes from across the UK.

Entry numbers doubled in 2017 and the aim is to make sure 2018 is even bigger and better.

The Melin Sospan Sizzler Middle Distance Triathlon involves a 1.9km sea swim followed by a challenging 90km bike course through the countryside around Burry Port and the Gwendraeth Valley. The bike ride includes the legendary Meinciau climb.

The 21km run is flat and will provide athletes will a great chance of posting a quick time.

Most competitors will be looking to complete the event in under nine hours.

The winning time for the inaugural year in 2016 was an impressive 4hrs 53min.

That was bettered in 2017, when the race was won by Stephen Evans, of Bynea Cycling Club, in a time of 04:39:15.20.

Jamie Best, Director of Melin Consultants, is a keen triathlete and has competed in events across the UK and abroad.

Jamie said: “Like all triathlon competitors I love a challenge. I am sure that the Melin Sospan Sizzler will attract interest from athletes from throughout the UK and they can be assured of a warm West Wales welcome and some first-class race organisation from Healthy Life Activities.

“We are all hoping for very kind weather conditions at the weekend and we hope it will be a splendid event both for spectators and competitors.”

As part of the event sponsorship, Melin will be looking to attract a number of corporate relay teams from Carmarthenshire and further afield.

As well as the opportunity for the winning team to lift the Melin Sospan Sizzler Challenge Cup, Melin will also be donating £100 to the nominated charity of the winning corporate relay team.

Jamie Best added: “At Melin Consultants, we’re proud to be involved in such a worthwhile event.

“I’m an active participant in triathlon events so I’m particularly pleased that our company is able to provide sponsorship.

“By helping Healthy Life Activities encourage attendance to the Melin Sospan Sizzler middle distance triathlon, we can ensure that people not only enjoy the challenge but also have the satisfaction that they’ve given back to the local community.”


Website link to Melin Sospan Sizzler



See earlier stories about the Melin Sospan Sizzler Middle Distance Triathlon –






Preparations are well underway, with race packs and display boards ready for Sunday’s Melin Sospan Sizzler Middle Distance Triathlon.

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Press releases

Vigilance call on illegal raves in Carmarthenshire

Posted By Robert Lloyd


Carmarthenshire County Council and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, local landowners and community councils to be on alert over the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

While there is no specific evidence of an event being planned for the county, social networking has made it easier for organisers to spread the word of events and rave attendance numbers can grow quickly.

Farmers, landowners and local communities are encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – especially camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking-up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police by dialling 101.

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Press releases

“Good wake up call,” says Pivac after Bath result

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Scarlets headed to Bath for the second, and final, pre-season friendly on the back of a solid victory over Bristol Bears last weekend.

The Scarlets, playing for the famous Ragdoll, were looking to build on last weekend’s performance with a number of players returning to action for the first time.

It was the homeside, under the leadership of former Scarlet Rhys Priestland, that got the upper hand and kept the foot on the peddle running in seven tries to Scarlets’ two, with a final score of 45-12.

Speaking after the game Head Coach Wayne Pivac said; “It was a good wake up call. We were outplayed across the board and came out second best.

“There were too many errors and Bath managed to capitalise on most of them. A lot of things didn’t go to plan today but pre-season games are about learning and we’ve got to make sure that we rectify tonight’s mistakes in eight days time.

“We have to make sure that we get a much more polished performance against Ulster next week.”

Pivac went on to say; “A lot of guys had their first run out today and they’ll be better for that. We did however pick up a few bumps and we’ll have to review those on Monday.”

Scarlets take on Ulster in the opening round of the Guinness PRO14, at Kingspan Stadium, on Saturday 8th September, kick off 19:35.

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