Category: Events

Glassical sounds head to Church Square Shopping Centre for half-term


Youngsters will be able to blow a tune on a fantastical instrument made from glass bottles at Church Square Shopping Centre later this month.

The glass gallery will pop up during the Whitsun half-term in the St Helens busy shopping mall. It will offer youngsters the chance to learn the ancient art of stained glass-making, with their art masterpieces going on show in the centre for shoppers, friends and relatives to admire.

Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steve Brogan said: “Glass making is synonymous with St Helens, it’s the industry on which the town’s fortunes are based, and which still employs many people today.

“This is our chance to show local youngsters the wonders of glass, from using it to create their own musical compositions through to stained glass, an art form that goes back generations, and links in with the centre’s own roots, alongside the town’s parish church.

“The children will also learn about the science of glass-making, from the early days and how it used today, plus they’ll pick up some musical and art skills along the way – but they’ll think it’s all fun!

“We are at the heart of the St Helens community and we feel it’s important to put on free events like this during school holidays. As a dad myself, I know that all parents welcome the chance to get out with their youngsters for the day, without having to spend too much money.”


The Glassical Galleria will open in a spare shop unit in Church square Shopping Centre on Friday May 30 and Saturday May 31, featuring artists dressed as fun characters, including singer  Gloria Glass Half Full and her musical brother Garibaldi  Glass Half Empty.

The musicians will be recruiting St Helens youngsters to be their on-day helpers, and giving them a tour of the exhibits in the Glassical Galleria.

Then the youngsters will be invited to take part in a glassical performance, blowing a tune on Gloria and Garibaldi’s fantastical bottle-based pipe instrument.

Youngsters will also be invited to make their own stained glass piece, which will be attached to the Glassical Galleria’s window, to be enjoyed by everybody passing by in the coming weeks.

Church Square Shopping Centre is home to a range of big name stores -  such as River Island, BHS, Boots and Superdrug -   along with independent retailers plus the busy St Mary’s Market.

For details on what’s happening at the centre and how to take part in the Glassical Galleria Fantastical Experience visit


Friday May 23rd, 2014

Events, News

Olympic champ Hefin passes on culinary skills at Bodnant cookery masterclass

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Culinary Olympic gold medal winner Hefin Roberts will be passing on his catering skills with a one-off masterclass at Bodnant Welsh Food centre this weekend ((may 18)).

 The award winning chef will be leaving his  Anglesey kitchen behind for a day to take up residence at the cookery school at Bodnant, with local Welsh produce taking centre stage as he works on a one-to-one basis with amateur chefs.

Hefin, originally from Tregarth near Bangor, said: “I love cooking with Welsh produce, and I’m looking forward to show-casing what great dishes we can make with meat, cheese and other items from the Conwy Valley and elsewhere in North Wales.

“I have worked with young chefs before with the Welsh Culinary Team, especially when I was captain of the Junior Team, and in my day job in Beaumaris, but teaching at a cookery school is a first for me. I’m looking forward to going back to the classroom,” joked Hefin, a former pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen.

He will be preparing his favourite Welsh dishes -  leek, potato with smoked chicken veloute with Bodnant cheese souffle, followed by Bodnant lamb ballontine, with a shitake and leek farce and wrapped in Carmarthen ham, plus bara brith sticky toffee pudding with rosemary Bodnant ice cream.

After showing his class how to make the dishes, they’ll get chance to taste his creations and then try the recipes themselves, to take home to share with family and friends. A few places are still available on the course.

Hefin, who studied at Llandrillo College, Rhos on Sea, has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Culinary Olympics as part of the Welsh Culinary team,  which boasts Prince Charles as its patron.

The 30-year-old was originally inspired by his brother Darren to become a chef, and  was just 21 when he first became a head chef, in Capel Curig. He went on to be runner-up in the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship and  lead the Welsh Culinary Team’s Junior Team. He now works at Ye Olde Bulls Head in Beaumaris and  is classed as on the top 10 ten young chefs in the UK, with appearances on ITVs Britain’s Best Dish and  three  AA rosettes to his name.

Welsh cooking wizard Dai “Chef” Davies, resident executive chef at Bodnant’s  Hayloft Restaurant and tearoom, and former captain of the Welsh culinary team, is looking forward to seeing Hefin’s take on local produce on May 18.

“Our menu at the Hayloft changes every week, depending on what’s available locally,” said Dai, who also teaches at Bodnant’s cookery school. “It’s always interesting to see what recipes other chefs come up with, using these local ingredients.  I’ve watched Hefin’s progress over the last decade, and I’m sure those taking part in his masterclass are bound to pick up some great tips.”

Also looking forward to welcoming Hefin for the day is Gwyndaf Pritchard, General Manager at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, and a former chef at The Ritz. He said: “Hefin is a shining star of the Welsh culinary world and I can’t wait to get a taste of the food he’ll be preparing on the day.

“We showcase Welsh food here  at Bodnant and our ethos is that when it comes to what we stock we try to source it here on the estate, then we look to the Conwy Valley, then to Wales and then elsewhere if our customers request it.

“As a result 45 per cent of what we sell comes from here on the estate and three-quarters of our stock is from Wales  – we support around 100 Welsh artisan food producers.”

Bodnant Welsh Food centre at Furnace Farm, Tal-y-cafn, in the Conwy valley, has its own dairy making cheese and ice cream, plus an on-site bakery and butchery, with award-winning pies. There’s also a wine store and tea rooms  plus the Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation.

To book a place on the course with Hefin, and for more details on other courses at the Cookery School visit

Thursday May 15th, 2014

Events, News

Berwyn follows in footsteps of a legend to sing with Bryn Terfel


The great-nephew of one of Wales’s greatest singers is to sing with alongside operatic great Bryn Terfel at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Thirty years ago Terfel was inspired and helped by the legendary Sir Geraint Evans and now Berwyn Pearce, 26, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his great-uncle, Sir Geraint Evans and carve out a musical career.

His big break comes this July after being called in as a late replacement for one of the starring roles in Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the curtain-raiser to this year’s Eisteddfod in Llangollen on Monday, July 7.

Bryn Terfel heads a star-studded cast which also includes Carmarthen tenor Wynne Evans, Gio Compario of the Go Compare TV ads, and top soprano Shan Cothi.

And taking the role of the young sailor, Anthony Hope, who falls in love with Todd’s daughter, Johanna, is Berwyn, a Welsh-speaker from Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd, home village of Sir Geraint, a miner’s son who died in 1992.

He was a star of the Royal Opera House and, like Bryn Terfel, a bass-baritone who performed in the great opera houses of the world in roles such as Falstaff and Figaro.

Bryn Terfel, who sang at Sir Geraint’s memorial service, said: “He was an inspiration to young Welsh singers like me and he helped me when I first started out.

“It’s fantastic that I may now also be able to help Berwyn along the way as well and I’m really looking forward to it.”

It had looked a case of so near and yet so far for Berwym, a teacher at Cwmderwen Primary School, in Blackwood, in Gwent, who had been short-listed for the role of Anthony at auditions in Cardiff.

He reached the final auditions, attended by Bryn himself, but just missed out to another young tenor, Tom Hier, from Merthyr, who has had to drop out because of final year college commitments at the Guildford School of Acting.

Now he’s got his chance and he’s thrilled at the prospect: “I’m over the moon,” he said: “I’ve come off the bench and got my chance.

“I got down to the last two and didn’t get the part and that was worse than getting turned down in the first round but then I was told that the part was mine because Tom couldn’t make the main rehearsals.

“My family are absolutely thrilled, especially my mum (Jane Pearce) who is the daughter of Sir Geraint’s sister. She’s like all mums, she takes things harder than I do and she’s more excited when things go well.”

Berwyn, a graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, remembers visiting his famous great-uncle at his holiday home in Aberaeron before his death in 1992.

He said: “I remember him as an elderly man when we went to visit but I was very close to my Auntie Brenda, Uncle Geraint’s widow, and his family.

“I’m so chuffed for them really and one of the first people we rang was Uncle Huw, Geraint’s son and I’m hoping he’ll be coming to see me in the performance.

“The school where I teach have been great too. They’ve been checking on my progress and they’re delighted I’ve got this chance.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity. I played the part in college and I’d always wanted the chance to do it again because it’s one of the best musicals there is so it’s huge for me.”

He will be playing alongside Lauren Morris, from Solihull, as the star-crossed young lovers and he added: “She’s a lovely girl and it will be great to sing with her.

“That’s one of the great things about this business. You get to meet and work with so many different and talented people.

“It will be incredible to perform with Bryn Terfel, especially because of who my great-uncle was, but that won’t count for anything in the performance.”

Terfel himself chose the three young unknowns – 14-year-old Dewi Wykes, from Llangynhafal, near Ruthin, a pupil of Ysgol Brynhyfryd, will play urchin Tobias Ragg – for Sondheim’s acclaimed show which was first performed in 1979.

They were whittled down from over 80 hopefuls who took part in auditions at the Wales Millennium Centre, in Cardiff, and the Royal International Pavilion, in Llangollen

Terfel said: “It was a wonderful standard, the standard one would expect for Llangollen, and to have Sir Geraint’s great nephew there is a real bonus.

“It’s a one-off performance and I can’t wait. It will be a special day in Llangollen when we perform Sweeney.”

Alongside Bryn making the decision was Eisteddfod Musical Director Eilir Owen Griffiths who said: “Tom was obviously desperately disappointed but the main rehearsal coincided with his graduation production at the end of a three year course.

“But these things happen and it means a wonderful opportunity for Berwyn and that’s just the magic of the business where an understudy can step in and take the first steps to stardom.

“That’s one of our roles at the Eisteddfod, to provide chances for young talent to flourish and there can be no bigger opportunity than to sing alongside a legend like Bryn Terfel.

“It was so close between Tom and Berwyn for the part. Berwyn is a class act and a strong, strong contender who will bring a special performance to the role – he is a good looking young man with a real presence.”

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Sondheim is set in 19th century London and tells the story of the crazed barber who murders his clients and supplies the bodies to his accomplice, piemaker Mrs Lovett.

Sondheim’s multi-award winning classic was first performed on Broadway in 1979 and has since been a regular production across the world and on the big screen in 2007 when superstar Johnny Depp played Todd and Helena Bonham Carter was Mrs Lovett.

Bryn Terfel, who took the role in 2002 in Chicago, is fresh from a performance of it by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center in New York in March when Oscar-winner Emma Thompson played Mrs Lovett.

He said: “That was a fair crack of the whip with lots of blood, playing this man driven by revenge.

“It was very impressive to have Stephen Sondheim there and telling you what he thought of the performance. It’s his favourite work and has been performed all over the world and made into a Hollywood blockbuster.

“It will be special doing it in Llangollen with Gareth Jones there conducting the Sinfonia Cymru and I can’t wait.”

It will be the first time he has performed on the International Eisteddfod stage since he opened the 2006 festival, his first appearance at Llangollen in a decade.

Sweeney Todd will be the curtain raiser to six tremendous days at Llangollen which begin on Tuesday, July 8, with this year’s concerts featuring Dutch jazz diva Caro Emerald, American tenor star Noah Stewart, a new work by composer Karl Jenkins, the Cape Town Opera, the Choir of the World competition on Saturday night and legendary British rockers Status Quo closing the event on Sunday night.

To book tickets and for more information on the 2014 festival go to the website at

Tuesday May 13th, 2014

Events, News

Rocking Ron raises the roof and lots of cash for Kirsten


A teenager forgot her pain and danced in her wheelchair on the happiest night of her life.

More than 400 people gave their time, their money and their friendship to lift the spirits of 17-year-old Kirsten Edwards to stage a rock night which has probably raised more than £2,500.

The money raised by Ron Adams, Kirsty Tapley and Audra West, who are  colleagues of Kirsten’s mother, Julie Longmuir, at the Pendine Park organisation in Wrexham.

The proceeds will be split between purchasing a made-to-measure lightweight wheelchair for Kirsten and a tea dance and entertainment afternoon which staff want to organise this spring for dementia sufferers.

Kirsten, 17, of Llanerfyl, near Welshpool, has Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare form of vasculitis, which attacks her own organs.

She has spent the last five years in pain and has only 50% kidney function, holes in her lungs, She is also deaf because the disease has destroyed the bones in her ears and attacked the bones in her nose. Swollen joints make it painful to walk.

Her single mum Julie, 48, a lead trainer and NVQ assessor at the Smartcare Teaching Care Centre, which is part of the Pendine Park organisation, says the wheelchair will give Kirsten independence since she often needs her mum to push her basic wheelchair.

Ron Adams, who works as a support worker at Pendine Park’s Independent Living Organisation, was moved when he heard of Kirsten’s problem and decided to organise a rock night fund raiser.

As a member of the AC/DC cover band The Swillers he enlisted the support of other local bands Marblehead Johnson, Blind Justice, Thunder Pig and Revolver, to give their time free for a gig at Brymbo Cricket Club.

Julie said: “It was absolutely wonderful I have never seen Kirsten so happy. It was the happiest she has been since before this disease struck.

“I didn’t know beforehand whether she would be OK or how she would react, but she was just so happy. It was brilliant, she was dancing in her wheelchair.

“It was a lovely evening, a really, really good night, I can’t begin to thank those who gave us such support.

“Kirsten was not really well a day or so before, she was quite ill and could not walk even from the bedroom to the kitchen and I thought ‘Oh no she’s not going to manage it’.

“I was also worried about her hearing aid with the noise from the bands but she told me not to worry because the hearing aid has a protect button and when the bands go louder it doesn’t mean it gets louder in her ear.

“Everyone was so friendly towards her. Ron’s daughter Georgina who sings in one of the bands (Revolver) was dancing with Kirsten in her wheelchair and they swapped telephone numbers, it really lifted her spirits and really made a difference.

“For everyone to give their time like that for nothing, I don’t know where to start thanking everyone, they just worked so hard.

“Ron was amazing, he’s got just such the biggest heart. And he wore his kilt (Julie and Kirsten are Scottish), with a leather waistcoat and boots – I couldn’t believe it!

“I don’t know how but I just want to thank people from the bottom of my heart.”

Assistant manager at Pendine Park’s Independent Living Organisation, Kirsty Tapley, along with manager Audra West, organised much of the event and secured a mass of raffle gifts.

“It was the happiest Kirsten has been for a long time,” said Kirsty. “It’s too early to say exactly how much was raised but we think it could be in the region of £2,500 which will be split between Kirsten and the rest will be for a tea dance we want to organise in the spring for local people who have been diagnosed with dementia.

“The publicity has also brought other things to light. We had a lady from Mold contact us and she suffers with the same rare disease so Julie is going to contact her to see if that might be of some support for Kirsten.

Also a couple from Welshpool contacted us and they want to do some fund-raising. It was an absolutely brilliant night.”

And the star of the show “rocking” Ron said: “It was a superb show and everything went fantastically well. My daughter had a dance with Kirsten, I think everyone had a dance with Kirsten! I said I would wear a kilt for the photos and I did.”

Tuesday March 1st, 2011