The inaugural Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair has been hailed a great success as visitors from across the UK discovered more than just the Elan Valley reservoirs last weekend.
Located beneath the towering Caban Coch dam wall and safely tucked away in the Elan Valley Visitor Centre, 12 members of the Cambrian Mountains Local Produce Network set up a mouth-watering selection of their locally made and inspired produce.
With nearly 250 visitors through the door, and with a real buzz around the occasion, encouragingly many are now asking when the next event will be.
Nearly all the producers had created brand new Cambrian Mountains-branded produce to celebrate the fact that, owing to its super-low light pollution, the Cambrian Mountains has some of darkest night skies in Europe.
Children who attended were treated to cosmically inspired chocolate creations, whilst the tea, coffee and Dark Skies rum proved a real hit with the adults too. The jams and honeys were popular as were the handmade craft and beauty products.
With the visitor centre being in the designated Elan Valley International Dark Park, there couldn’t have been a better place to hold this inaugural event.
“We were over the moon to be able to work with Dŵr Cymru/ Welsh Water on this first ever Cambrian Mountains local produce event and we hope it can be the first of many,” said Dafydd Wyn Morgan, of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative.
Jen Newman, from Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water, said: “We are very proud of the Elan Valley’s Dark Skies status and teaming up with the Cambrian Mountains Initiative to host a food, drink and craft fair has been a great opportunity.
Honey producer Tracy Williams from Harper & Bee, who enjoyed busy trade, said: “It was lovely to meet everybody. I made some wonderful new friends and it was good to see people out and about again. A big success I would say. Look forward to the future events.”
The Cambrian Mountains Initiative’s work is an RDP-funded project named Dyfodol Cambrian Futures and is part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Ceredigion, Powys and Carmarthenshire County Councils.
The project also receives support from the Cefn Croes Windfarm Community Trust, Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm Community Fund, Aberystwyth University and the Elan Valley Trust.
Producers at the successful Cambrian Mountains Food, Drink and Craft Fair held at Elan Valley Visitor Centre.
Organisations working hard to restore the Montgomery Canal are celebrating after the UK Government announced £15.4 million of Levelling Up funding towards the project.
The funding, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech, will bring the realisation of an ambition to restore the canal to the national network another step closer.
The money will be invested in restoring navigation to most of a 4.4-mile section of the canal from the English border at Llanymynech to Arddleen, near Welshpool.
The successful bid for Levelling Up funding was made by Powys County Council, supported by the Canal & River Trust.
Montgomery Canal Partnership’s chair John Dodwell and Michael Limbrey, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chairman, were both delighted with the news and thanked Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams for his support.
“This is extremely good news, “said Mr Dodwell. “We are very grateful to Craig Williams, MP, for his enormous support and encouragement. We are also hugely appreciative of the support from Cllr Rosemarie Harris and her colleagues and staff at Powys County Council.
“It’s also a vindication for Russell George, MS for Montgomeryshire, for his help down the years, and we couldn’t have got this far without the great help from the staff at Canal & River Trust.
“The canal’s restoration will be of enormous benefit to the community and so it’s appropriate that we have had support from Welshpool Town Council and other councils.
“As there will no doubt be terms and conditions attached to the £15.4m grant, the detailed hard work starts now!”
Mr Limbrey said: “It’s absolutely brilliant news. We are really delighted with the work and support of Craig Williams and the teams at Powys County Council and the Canal & River Trust.
“Having been working to revive the canal into Mid Wales for so many years, this is a great step forward to restoring it to the national network.”
Mr Williams, a passionate supporter of the canal restoration, described the Budget announcement as “a milestone day for Montgomeryshire” after decades of local campaigning by “fantastic volunteers” at the Montgomery Canal Partnership and Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust.
“This will transform Montgomeryshire’s economy in opening up so many opportunities and will finally see one of the UK’s most picturesque attractions returned to its former glory,” he said. “The restoration of the canal will bring real investment, real growth and real jobs to Montgomeryshire’s communities.”
Cllr Graham Breeze, a Powys County Councillor for Welshpool Llanerchydol Ward, described the announcement as “the best possible news for Welshpool”.
“It’s impossible to calculate the value of this development to Welshpool and the surrounding area,” he said. “Reopening the canal puts Welshpool firmly back on the UK canal network map and will bring tourists flooding into the area with huge economic benefits.
“Powys County Council Cabinet is to be commended for pressing for the levelling-up funding and recognising the importance of opening this stretch of canal.
“But this is just the latest step. Now we have to hope that vital funding from the Mid Wales Growth deal follows to ensure the completion of the project.
“The news is just reward for the scores of volunteers who, for many years, have fought to keep the canal open.”
Craig Williams, MP, and Russell George, MS, with Montgomery Canal Partnership’s chair John Dodwell (standing right) and Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chairman Michael Limbrey (standing left).
An insightful and moving tribute to musicians of the silent era is promised when notable musician, dramatist, TV presenter and composer Neil Brand pays a visit to Mid Wales on Saturday, November 6.
Gregynog Hall at Tregynon, near Newtown will host a day - from 2pm-9.30pm - with Brand, regarded as one of the finest exponents of improvised silent film accompaniment in the world.
He will introduce the audience to the world of early cinema through a performance of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Lodger’ (1927) along with a selection of other classics.
Brand performs regularly at the National Film Theatre and at festivals worldwide. He has written numerous TV and radio plays, is a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row and has conceived, written and presented several BBC4 documentaries.
The day’s programme comprises: 2pm to 3pm: Family Slapstick, a journey through Hollywood and early cinema trickery along with a performance of Laurel and Hardy’s ‘Liberty’ (1929). 4pm to 5pm: In conversation: Neil Brand and Harry Heuser followed by an audience question and answer session. 7pm to 8.30pm: Screening/performance of ‘The Lodger’ (1927).
Tickets are available for each part of the programme at £8 for adults, £6 for students and concessions and £4 for children. A combined ticket for the whole day costs £16 for adults, £12 for concessions and £8 for children.
Gregynog Hall’s café will be open from 11am to 5pm for hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks, the bar will be open from 1pm to 9.30pm and a curry buffet, including a vegetarian option, will be available from 5pm to 6.30pm costing £8 for adults and £4 for children.
Tickets and accommodation are available by contacting Tel: 01686 650224 or by emailing email@example.com .
Neil Brand will feature Laurel and Hardy’s comedy ‘Liberty’ in his performance.
>> Gregynog Hall on Visit Mid Wales
“It was important that the Chancellor continued to recognise some of the pressures directly affecting tourism over this challenging period,” she said. “The lower VAT rate for tourism businesses remains very welcome but many of today’s announcements relate only to England.
“The Welsh Government will, of course, be receiving money as a consequence of these announcements. As the Covid issues affecting tourism businesses here in Wales are familiar across Britain, we will be asking Welsh Government to use that money in much the same way.
“Urgent action is needed on business rates, specific capital investment and staffing/training and this Budget makes money available for just that.
“Wales Tourism Alliance will continue to work with members to offer a high quality, high value, highly ethical and reliable experience for visitors as well as promoting tourism as a well-rewarded and satisfying career.
“Businesses will need targeted help from governments to do that to best effect and help make Wales a more prosperous place to live and work.”
The furlough scheme and temporary reduction of VAT to 5% for tourism businesses ended on October 1. The UK Government has now restricted VAT for tourism businesses to 12.5% until March 2022.
The Chancellor announced a 29% increase in adult skills funding which will go towards a range of policies in England including continuing the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee to offer free Level 3 courses for adults and quadrupling the current scale of Skills Bootcamps.
“In Wales, we hope the visitor economy will be seen by the Welsh Government as a wise investment for its existing apprenticeship plans as well as any new opportunities created by the incoming money,” added Mrs Davies.
“New investment of £1.6 billion for the education of 16–19-year olds in England will maintain funding in the face of demographic growth and provide additional hours for learners who take T Levels.
“Whilst Wales is not providing T Levels, we hope the Welsh Government will encourage our brightest and best students to recognise the value of vocational education at all levels.”
Other Budget announcements picked out by Mrs Davies included business rates improvement relief in England which will see new investment incentives totalling almost £750 million, including tax relief for eligible green investments, such as new hotel rooms and solar panels.
She called for Welsh Government support for tourism businesses and attractions to replace gas boilers and install electric charging points.
Mrs Davies also hopes the Welsh Government will follow Westminster’s lead by supporting a 50% business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure whilst making a commitment to modernise the business rates system.
She welcomed a 50% cut in Air Passenger Duty for flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, less tax on draught beer and cider and the continued fuel duty freeze.
She also welcomed the increased tax relief for theatres, museums, orchestras and galleries across the UK until March 31, 2024 when investing in new productions and exhibitions. £850m has also been earmarked to protect museums, galleries, libraries and local culture in England.
Suzy Davies, Wales Tourism Alliance chair.
The Welsh Government is being challenged to prioritise the compulsory education system in Wales to provide the foundation for the future skilled workforce needed by employers.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, the leading apprenticeships provider to the hospitality industry in Wales, will make the call when addressing delegates at the Mid Wales Tourism and Hospitality Conference at The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells on November 9.
Referring specifically to the recruitment crisis in the hospitality industry caused by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Watkins will warn that there are no quick fixes and that there is “no workforce riding over the hill to rescue us”.
He believes the long-term solution rests with the Welsh and UK Governments rebalancing the focus of the education system to direct more school leavers towards apprenticeships in industries where they are most needed.
By encouraging so many school leavers to aspire to attend Higher Education Institutions rather than towards Higher Level Skills, he says the “well-oiled machine” is taking a significant percentage of the most talented, productive students from the economy.
He says students often go on to achieve degrees in subjects unrelated to the skills needed by employers in the region. He describes it as a “human resource drain” and wants schools to give apprenticeships parity of esteem with degrees.
Mr Watkins, a former Army apprentice chef who is now president of the Culinary Association of Wales, wants the hospitality industry to engage with children from primary school age upwards to make them aware of rewarding careers within it.
“How are children made aware of the opportunities within our industry?” he asked. “The answer is, they are not and that must change. Every hospitality business needs to have a conversation with their politicians, both in Wales and across the UK.
“Changing the compulsory education system is not going to win votes but meeting the needs of the economy is far more important to the country than votes.”
He says hospitality businesses must learn how to attract people into the industry and retain them by creating a flexible working environment where they feel valued. They must also engage with their local communities to recruit their future workforce.
“There are some really good businesses here in Mid Wales and if an individual has chosen to stay in the region to develop their career, then we have a duty as employers to create opportunities for them,” he added
“The world has changed since the pandemic began and employees rightly expect a good work-life balance. The industry has to respond by creating opportunities for flexible working hours and career development pathways which some employers are already doing.”
He will also question whether consumers are prepared to pay more for hospitality services in the future, which is the inevitable consequence of the rising cost of food, labour, fuel and taxation.
Tickets for the conference, which is organised by MWT Cymru and supported by Visit Wales, must be booked by October 31 at www.midwalestourismconference.co.uk . It will be the first major tourism and hospitality conference held in Wales since the Covid-19 pandemic began in the UK last year.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, Cambrian Training Company’s managing director.
Poetry is the theme of a Half Term Open Day at Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, near Newtown, which is free to attend from 12 noon to 3pm tomorrow (Wednesday), October 27.
Some of the rare and beautiful books of poetry published by the Gregynog Press will be on display, including works by John Ceiriog Hughes, Dylan Thomas, George Herbert and Walt Whitman.
Librarian Mary Oldham will be sharing poems written about Gregynog over the centuries and inviting visitors to share their favourites.
The poetry theme is particularly fitting as Gregynog’s woodlands are looking at their spectacular best this autumn. John Keats’s poem ‘To Autumn’ perfectly describes it as the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…’.
A free woodland trail is available for children of all ages during half term. Car parking is £2.50 per day but free for Friends of Gregynog.
The Courtyard Café will be open from 11am to 5pm, serving drinks, homemade cakes and soup with cheese scone.
‘The Celebrated Romance of the Stealing of the Mare’, translated from Arabic by Lady Anne Blunt, a verse drama published by the Gregynog Press in 1930.
An autumnal view of Gregynog Hall.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is changing and developing services whilst remaining cautious about the risks associated with COVID-19.
From November 1, visitors will not need to pre-book a visit to the library building and open access will be provided to exhibitions, Pendinas Café and shop, along with the Reading Room, although valid readers ticket are required.
The building will be open between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Friday, but the Reading Room will be closed from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
As part of a wider plan to develop public spaces, current reading room services will be permanently relocated to the North Reading Room where significant maintenance work has been completed to ensure comfort and access to library collections.
The South Reading Room will be redeveloped to give access to the new National Broadcast Archive and create a flexible space for activities.
Although visitors will no longer be asked to pre-book space in the Reading Room, collection items must be pre-ordered at least one day before visiting the library wherever possible.
The health and safety of visitors and staff remain the library’s priority and risks associated with COVID-19 will continue to be monitored.
Dr Owain Rhys Roberts, deputy chief executive and librarian for collections and engagement, said: “The last 18 months have been difficult and challenging for us all and, whilst we continue to take a cautious approach, we’re excited about the opportunities to develop the services provided within the building in Aberystwyth.”
Full details about visiting the library are available at https://www.library.wales/information-for/researchers/reading-at-nlw
>> National Library of Wales on Visit Mid Wales website
Kerry Vale Vineyard is celebrating following this year’s “very successful” harvest of grapes from the five-acre site on the Powys-Shropshire border.
Husband and wife team Russell and Janet Cooke say they are delighted with the quantity and quality of their grapes this year.
The family, their workforce and a fantastic team of local volunteers, harvested a whopping 12 tonnes of grapes over three days.
“The last month has been incredibly busy, but also very exciting,” said Russell. “Harvest time is the culmination of a year’s worth of work on the vineyard, and determines our future wine production capabilities.
“This year’s harvest has been very successful and I’m really looking forward to tasting the fruits of our labour, once the pressed grapes have been turned into wine.”
The vineyard, located near Montgomery on the Welsh border, has been “very lucky with the weather this year”, according to vineyard supervisor Andy Longman.
“Despite our late start due to a cool April, just the right amount of sun and rain at the necessary times has led to good growing conditions’. It seems we may have bucked the national trend as reports suggest the nationwide picture is not quite so positive.”
The vineyard has harvested Rondo, Phoenix and Solaris grape varieties this year. Each variety ripens at different times which means grapes could be harvested over four weeks. They will go on to make a range of red, white and rose, sparkling and still wines.
Russell and Janet Cooke thanked all the volunteers that helped them this year. “We really couldn’t have done it without them,” said Janet. “We have such a lovely group of vineyard friends and we all had a fantastic few days picking together.
“It’s such a satisfying feeling to see your bucket filling up with grapes as you pick. If you have an interest in wine, it’s a great way to understand how the process begins and how the grapes are grown.”
The vineyard’s wine is available at its cellar door shop and café or by ordering online at www.kerryvalevineyard.co.uk. Alternatively, follow the vineyard on social media to see how the grapes get turned into wine.
Kerry Vale Vineyard is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
Russell Cooke, owner of Kerry Vale Vineyard, picking grapes.
Andrew Longman, vineyard supervisor at Kerry Vale Vineyard, harvests the grapes.
>> Kerry Vale Vineyard on Visit Mid Wales
An impressive line-up of speakers has been secured for the 2021 Mid Wales Tourism and Hospitality Conference, which will be held at The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells on November 9.
Organised by MWT Cymru, it will be the first major tourism and hospitality conference held in Wales since the Covid-19 pandemic began in the UK last year. The conference is being sponsored by pan-Wales apprenticeship provider Cambrian Training Company and supported by Visit Wales.
The morning speakers will be Lucy Von Weber, head of marketing at Visit Wales, experienced travel journalist York Membery, Arwyn Watkin, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company and president of the Culinary Association of Wales and Suzy Davies, Wales Tourism Alliance chair. They will be introduced by MWT Cymru chairman Rowland Rees-Evans.
Steve Hughson, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair, will introduce the afternoon speakers who include Roger Pride, brand specialist and former Visit Wales marketing director and Cardiff & Co chief executive and Nerys Howell and Sian Roberts who will speak about customer service.
There will also be presentations by Bill Stow, Rhayader 2000 and Michael Booth, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s property manager for the Elan Valley and by Stuart Owen from Open Newtown.
To help ensure a safe conference, everyone attending must have an up to date NHS Covid pass, details of which are available at https://covid-status.service.nhsx.nhs.uk/
MWT Cymru is an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
“I am delighted with the calibre of speakers we have secured for the conference which is a must for tourism and hospitality businesses in Mid Wales,” said Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive.
“The focus this year is to explore how individual businesses, communities and organisations can pull together and rebuild from the impact of the pandemic, as we move forward to 2022 and beyond
“The conference is designed to give businesses a clearer idea of what's going on, what's changing and what we can all do to better work together to keep Mid Wales at the forefront of people's minds.
“Providing an opportunity to cover topics that matter most to tourism and hospitality businesses, it’s an event not to be missed, no matter how big or small your business is.”
Tickets must be booked by October 31 at www.midwalestourismconference.co.uk
Lucy Von Webber from Visit Wales.
Arwyn Watkins, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, main conference sponsor.
Guest blog article from the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales
Do you have a database with your customers’ personal information? For example, if you are running a hotel or guesthouse, you may have their date of birth, e-mail addresses, passport numbers and credit card details once a reservation has been completed. You may also be using technology to allow for a fast check-in or have an app which holds personal data.
This is all valuable to a cybercriminal, who may try and blackmail you for the return of stolen data, or for the key to unlock encrypted data. We at the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales (WCRC) can’t stress how important it is to put measures in place to protect that information both for the safety of your customers and your business.
We hear about big companies in this sector being hacked, but we rarely see media coverage of the SME and micro businesses that fall foul of cybercrime. Yet it is happening time and again and with more frequency across Wales. The majority of these breaches could have been prevented by taking simple steps such as having a regular backup of your data, using an anti-virus, having strong passwords, and creating a culture where employees and managers recognise attacks.
Training and raising awareness are key elements to making your business more resilient, if everyone in the business knows how to recognise phishing emails, then you are stopping the cybercriminal at the first stage of their attempt attacked on your data.
Many hotel and guesthouse businesses will focus on ensuring they offer an excellent standard of accommodation for their visitors, but how many hotels have thought about their Wi-Fi security? Is it password protected? Does it have a separate guest Wi-Fi channel?
If you want to understand more about your vulnerabilities, and about the simple steps to take to make yourself more cyber secure, then talk to us at the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales. We will avoid technical jargon and keep things simple and easy to understand so for more information on our services and membership options, please visit www.wcrcentre.co.uk.
We are also attending the Mid Wales Tourism and Hospitality Conference on the 9 November at The Metropole Hotel & Spa, Llandrindod Wells so be sure to visit our stand and say hello to the team who will be on hand throughout the event to answer questions.
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales is a not-for-profit company, with the aim of increasing cyber resilience across Wales. The centre particularly focuses on SMEs and micro businesses but is available to all organisations. It is part of a network of centres across the UK and is a partnership between police, the private sector and academia.
Detective Inspector Michael Preston – Head of Cyber and Innovation for the Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales
Mobile Telephone: 07970 161 610
E-bost | Email: Michael.Preston@wcrcentre.co.uk
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