Category: News

North Wales: Giant bubble firm launches crowd-funding campaign

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An entrepreneur from Conwy has launched a campaign for funding as she plans to pop indie rock band The Kaiser Chiefs in a gigantic bubble.

Paola Dyboski-Bryant, who launched Dr Zigs, a company that makes massive eco-friendly bubbles, has landed a high profile contract to attend the Kendal Calling pop festival in the Lake District where The Kaiser Chiefs will be starring with Elbow and the Vaccines.

She’s confident she can put them in big bubbles having already captured stand-up comedian and TV presenter Dara Ȯ Briain inside one of her giant creations at the Hay Festival in 2013.

According to Paola, winning the small business category at the recent Conwy Business Awards, helped kick-start he next phase of the company’s expansion.

She has now launched a £5,000 crowd-funding appeal to develop eco-friendly packaging more in keeping with Dr Zigs’ green credentials.

Paola said: “Our current packaging is still pretty much what I created back at our kitchen table using MS Publisher and clip art.

“It’s no longer fit for what is a really cool and wonderful product – and certainly no good for helping us to #sharethebubblelove.

“We have a lot more people to make happy, but in order to be stocked in shops, and to be considered by distributors, we need packaging that is not only good for the environment, but also looks good too.

“We want to communicate the huge amount of excitement and goodness a little bottle of bubble mix can bring, so we can fill the world with bubbles, far beyond North Wales!

“We need £5,000 to allow us to redesign our packaging and make it more fun and ecologically friendly.”

Paola started Dr Zigs from her home in Betws-y-Coed as her then two-year-old son, Ziggy, loved them so much.

Now, after four years of research to ensure they are produced from sustainable and responsible ingredients; Dr Zigs has expanded and now has its own manufacturing site at Bangor.

Speaking at a special event in Llandudno Junction to celebrate the Conwy Business Awards, Paola said she was delighted to have won the small business category.

She said: “I started on my kitchen table then moved to a big garage and then to two rooms and now we have our own manufacturing site.

“Currently I have six full-time staff, four part-time and up to 20 seasonal or casual workers.”

She added: “I’m so proud to have been short-listed for The Princes Trust Renewable Business Awards and was a finalist alongside established businesses such as Arriva Trains, British Industries and the Welsh Housing Association.

“But to win the Conwy Business Award has been a real highlight and something I am very proud of. I have to thank the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who sponsored me for the awards.”

Conwy County Borough Council’s Business and Enterprise skills development co-ordinator, Anna Openshaw, says the annual business awards are going from strength to strength.

She said: “The purpose of this event was to celebrate the awards and thank sponsors. The profile of the awards has increased significantly and I believe business large and small see the huge benefit that can come from the awards.

“We are now partnering with the Daily Post. All entries into next year’s the Conwy Business Awards will automatically feed into the Daily Post Awards.

“Business such as Dr Zigs, which were formed in the region and are expanding are having a hugely positive impact on the North Wales economy and it is only right that we celebrate their success.”

Another of the winner was CAIS Social Enterprise North Wales who won the social enterprise of the year category in the Conwy Business Awards.

The charity’s project administrator, Katie Sanders, revealed their Porter’s Coffee Shop and Bistro in Colwyn Bay has proved a huge success.

She said: “Porter’s is owned by CAIS and the café and bistro is run by volunteers alongside a few paid members of staff.

“The volunteers, usually people recovering from alcohol or drug dependency, are people wanting to gain experience and training in areas such as food hygiene.

“It doesn’t matter to us if someone has a learning difficulty or just needs a hand-up, what we want to do is give people a chance.”

And now CAIS, which helps people get over addictions as well as mental health, personal development and employment issues, has opened Troop, a new military themed café in Llandudno with all proceeds going to help fund veterans’ services.

Linzi Jones, CAIS fundraising manager, said: “There are a number of people who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following their military service as well as others who suffer different mental health issues.

“What we want to do is encourage them to volunteer and get training that will help them move on in life. We can offer a support network of family and friends of veterans that can help.

“Winning the Social Enterprise of the Year in the Conwy Business Awards was huge for CAIS and we were all absolutely delighted, it really did mean a great deal to everyone involved with the charity.”

She said: “I hope that next year’s awards will be as successful as this year’s and we will be celebrating some more great success stories 12 months from now.”

Tuesday August 11th, 2015


Awards at the double at top North Wales firm Anwyl Construction

Anwyl Construction Building Awards for Centenary House Flint. Pictured are Dave Bradley Site supervisor of the year,Tom Anwyl and Steve Parry Manager of the year.

A pair of building site managers with over 50 years experience with a top North Wales construction company have pulled off a prestigious double at a major award ceremony.

Steve Parry, from Prestatyn, and Dave Bradley, from Rhyl, have been with Anwyl Construction for a combined total of 57 years and at the Local Authority Building Control Awards they carried off two of the top prizes.

Anwyl Construction Building Awards for Centenary House Flint.

Steve was named North Wales Site Manager of the Year while Dave saw the £3.3 million Centenary House project he has been in charge of in Flint win for Best Social Housing Development.

Steve, aged 53 and married with two sons, has been in charge at Aberkinsey Park, a major housing development on the south east of Rhyl.

He joined Anwyl at 23 as a groundworker and has been a site manager for 18 years and he said: “The project has gone very well. It’s a big housing development with a social housing element and it has run smoothly.

“The company have been very good to me over the years. They have helped me develop and I owe them and Eddie Jones who was my first site manager, a lot.”

Dave ran the project in Flint where Anwyl Construction have redeveloped the site of the former Delyn Council headquarters into a purpose-built block of 33 apartments for over-55s in the heart of the town for social housing giant Wales & West Housing.

Dave, 40, married with two daughters, was taken on by Anwyl Construction as an apprentice joiner at 16 after leaving Rhyl High School, and worked as a joiner before moving into site management.

He has recently been in charge of the building of a new Infants School at King’s School, Chester, and he said: “I was shocked and delighted when we won the Flintshire county award for Best Social Housing and for site manager but to win at North Wales level was even better.

“It was a major piece of work at Flint because we had to demolish the old buildings there and there are always challenges when you are on a site in the middle of a town but it has gone well and we finished nearly eight weeks early.”

Centenary House was nominated by Flintshire Council Building Control Officer Paul Davies who said: “The site manager should gain special praise, due to the complex build, as he has been keen throughout this project to liaise with Building Control to ensure full compliance without the need to rectify matters later.

“This ensured a very smooth construction phase as no significant problems arose. It also enabled a fast and smooth completion of properties with no difficulties.

“The developer has built up an excellent understanding with Building Control over a number of years and consistently delivers high quality work in all aspects of the build programme.”

Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of Wales & West Housing, said: “This is a fantastic new development of energy efficient, warm and affordable homes which has provided a much needed boost to the local economy.

“Our purpose is ‘strong sustainable growth to make a difference to lives, homes and communities’ and I believe that Centenary Square is an excellent demonstration of how we put this purpose into practice.”

Mel Royles, of Denbighshire Building Control, who nominated Steve Parry, said: “He knows what we want, he always has the site ready for us and he’s very well organised.

“Anwyl are a very good company, they work well with us and they have a very good product.”

Anwyl Construction Director Tom Anwyl said: “We’re naturally delighted to have once again been very successful in the North Wales Building Control Awards.

“We consider them a hugely important accolade and a benchmark for the construction industry in North Wales.

“It’s always nice to have your work recognised and to have it done by the people whose job it is to oversee all the building work that goes on across North Wales is very satisfying.

“It’s especially nice for our two site managers who have been in charge of various developments and for their staff who have worked very hard on these projects.

“Steve and Dave have been with us for many years and we see that continuity as very valuable and at least 20 per cent of our 150-strong workforce actually began with us as apprentices.

“Our partnership with Wales & West Housing has also been very important as the major developments at Wrexham and Flint and also at Llys Jasmine in Mold for which we won last year have enabled us to offer employment and apprenticeship opportunities at a difficult time for the construction industry.

“They have been about keeping jobs and making sure we had local involvement in the construction of major projects which provided major boosts to the local economy.”

Centenary House will now be nominated for Wales’s top Social Housing Project at the all-Wales LABC awards in Cardiff when Steve Parry will be in the running for Wales Site Manager of the Year.

Monday August 10th, 2015


North Wales kitchen queen Denise rescues ingredients from landfill

Bodnant Welsh Food

A top chef will be showing food lovers how to make a gourmet meal with ingredients that would otherwise be heading for the rubbish heap.

Kitchen queen Denise Baker-McClearn will be one of the star attractions at the popular Hamper Llangollen food festival later this year.

Denise, who runs a cafe in Bethesda, in Gwynedd, and is a tutor at the renowned Cookery School at Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley, specialises in turning out of date food from shops into culinary masterpieces.

“Pretty much every time I’m in the kitchen, I embark on a mystery journey,” said Denise, who opened her ‘pay as you feel’ PAYF cafe earlier this year, and also runs Moel Faban supper club.

Edible food destined for landfill or at risk of being wasted will be “intercepted” from supermarkets, restaurants, pubs, wholesalers, small businesses and market stalls.

As a result, the ingredients Denise receives each day are always a surprise and she regularly has to make up menus on the hoof, testing the entire range of her professional cooking skills.

“There is nothing wrong with the ingredients, they are all fresh and perfectly edible, but they are classed as waste by certain sectors in the food industry,” said Denise, who set up the PAFY Cafe with the help of volunteer fundraising and social enterprise grants.

She is delighted to be returning to the Llangollen food festival, at which she also demonstrated last year, though she says as yet she has not decided on what she will prepare during her showcase slot in the demo kitchen.

It is expected that this year’s 19th annual event on the weekend of October 17 and 18 will again attract thousands visitors to browse over 120 stalls at Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion.

Supported by rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd, the event in Llangollen’s Royal Pavilion is recognised as one of the UK’s top 10 food festivals.

Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution comes via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.

Denise explained: “What I might do is leave it until the day beforehand, see which ingredients turn up and take them along with me. It’ll challenging but it will be fun.”

She will also be talk to the audience about how they can reduce food waste at home, and give inventive tips on using up ingredients that people might otherwise be tempted to put in the bin.

At the PAYF Cafe, customers are asked to pay whatever they can afford for a choice of offerings on the daily menu.

Denise has struck up a deal with the local Londis store which donates foodstuffs which would at one time have been thrown away. She also has an agreement with Blakemore wholesalers, Bangor, the Co-op and a number of other food outlets.

She stressed: “This is all perfectly useable food, but we may get it the day after its advisory ‘best before’ date. A lettuce may have one or two brown leaves around the outside, but the inner part is fresh and green. Bananas may be slightly more ripe than people like to see them displayed on supermarket shelves. But they are fantastic for making delicious banana cake, banana bread or mixing with milk to make a wholesome smoothie.”

Many of Denise’s customers are mums with two or three young children, or pensioners living on a tight budget.

She said: “Our food is affordable for them, but also it tastes delicious. It’s always been my philosophy that people should not be forced into eating poorer quality food just because they can’t afford restaurant prices. We offer different nutritious and tasty dishes which are made fresh each day. What’s more the options may vary from day to day. That’s because we have to be consistently creative and think up the best ideas for using the food that is given to us.

“Today, for instance, we’ve been given five crates of cucumbers. On another day we might get a box of slightly bruised apples, or summer fruits which we could turn into jam.”

Originally from southern England, Denise trained as a chef on leaving school, but went on to study for a degree in forensic Psychology at Bangor University.

“That is what brought me to Wales,” said the mum of two. “When I was made redundant from my job I went back to becoming a chef.”

Denise is also a firm believer in the need for the food industry to improve its ethical credentials and is delighted that increasingly numbers of people are waking up to that fact.

“I think a turning point has come. France has just made it illegal for supermarkets to destroy food that is still edible and could be given to the hungry. I believe we should do the same,” she said.

Hamper Llangollen 2015 will also include cookery demonstrations by members of the Welsh Culinary Association, led by Graham Tinsley, who has cooked for the Queen, is part owner of the Castle Hotel, Conwy, and consultant chef at Carden Park Resort, Chester.

For more details about Llangollen Food Festival-Hamper Llangollen visit

Tuesday July 28th, 2015


End of an era as Llangollen Eisteddfod stalwart steps down after 64 years

Eisteddfod Llangollen, Pictured is the New Chairman Gethin Davies.

The only two-time chairman of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has stepped, ending a 64-year association with the great event.

Gethin Davies began as a 12-year-old programme seller in 1951 and has also been an usher and the festival secretary as well as chairman from 1992 to 2003 and from 2013 to this year.

His wife, Eulanwy, has also served as Musical Director of the Eisteddfod which began back in 1947 and which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2017.

Retired solicitor Gethin, 76, who overcame cancer last year, said: “My three-year term ends this year and I’m not seeking re-election and I’m moving out of the way after 45 years on the board.”

He was born in Porthcawl, in South Wales, and moved to Llangollen when his father became head of the secondary modern school in the town and he said: “I heard kids talking about selling programmes for a commission.

“I got tuppence for each one I sold at two shillings each and I ended up with 25 shillings – £1.25 in today’s money – but it was a special bumper edition of the programme because it was The Festival of Britain that year and in 1952 it went back to a smaller size for one shilling and the commission was just a penny and I didn’t make so much.”

He moved onto the job of usher, not so lucrative but with the attraction of being able to attend all the concerts and he recalls 1953 with the Obernkirchen girls singing The Happy Wanderer.

In later years he saw artists like the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin, the thunderous Bulgarian bass Boris Christov and an artist billed as ‘A Mexican Tenor’ who turned out to be a young Placido Domingo.

Gethin, who studied law at Aberystwyth, where he met Eulanwy, later became a founder partner in successful solicitors firm GHP Legal in Wrexham, major sponsors of the Eisteddfod.

Until 1992 when the Queen opened the new Royal International Pavilion, the event was held in a huge marquee but the Eisteddfod, set up originally as a means of promoting peace and harmony internationally also displayed a shrewd business sense.

Gethin said: “In 1958 they bought the fields where the event is held today for £12,000 which was a large sum but it’s turned out to be a very good piece of business.

“They leased part of it to the old Denbighshire County Council with the proviso it be available for the Eisteddfod and they later worked out a deal with Clwyd County Council thanks to the Chief Executive of the Council, Mervyn Phillips, which has also proved crucial.

“We raised £500,000 and the Council applied for and got £3 million of European money which paid for the Royal International Pavilion.

“The construction was running rather slowly but when the builders found out that the Queen was coming to open it they really got a move on.

“The week before the Fron Choir tested the acoustics and they were awful.

“The compere, Robin Jones, actually had a gun on stage and, after making a joke of it with the audience, he fired it to test the reverberation time and they put various baffles in and the sound quality has become excellent over the years.

“It’s a wonderful auditorium for competitions and concerts and it still retains that feeling that you’re virtually in a canvas marquee which is unique to the Eisteddfod.”

Gethin’s first term as Chairman began in 1992 and he was in post for Luicano Pavarotti’s return in 1995 and through to 2003 and then he stepped up again in 2013 but his involvement hasn’t been confined to the backrooms as one of the army of volunteers.

He has competed as well, first as a member of the renowned Fron Choir for 13 years, finishing second twice but winning many other events including the National Eisteddfod.

More recently he has sung with mixed choir Côr Rhuthun, also National winners but never first at Llangollen and he said: “It would be great to win here, I’d dearly love that. I’d swap all the other wins for one at Llangollen.

“The competition for the Choir of the World is the highlight of the week for me and I really enjoy it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“But the Eisteddfod remains unique, it’s the grand-daddy of them all, all those events like Glastonbury – and it’s down to the volunteers because our permanent staff is only small.

“It is that army who give their time and often hardly see anything of the event itself, they make it what it is and make it so special.”

In retirement Gethin plans to take a break from that behind the scenes labour but he will still be a fixture at the event – he can see the field from the picture window at his home on the hill above.”

Monday July 27th, 2015