The Cambrian Railway Partnership (CRP) has launched a one-off grant of up to £500 to support communities along the line that are facing challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grant fund is being administered by Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) and delivered in partnership with Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations (CAVO), Mantell Gwynedd, Shropshire RCC and PAVO.
The CRP operates across the Wales and England border, covering the rail services along the Cambrian Main Line and the Cambrian Coast Line.
The grant fund totals £10,000, comprising £5,000 each from the partnership and Transport for Wales. Grants must be spent by May 31, 2021.
The grant can be used to deliver projects that are either Covid 19 related or not. It is not restricted to project costs and can be used for running costs, including staff, bills, rent or maintenance Organisations must demonstrate that these costs cannot be met by other means and that it will help them remain active and sustainable.
Any community organisation, charity, CIC or group that has a bank account and is based within 10 miles or 16km of a Cambrian Line Station can apply. Applications will be accepted from organisations that are not based within the given radius provided they can show how grant funding will support a community that is.
The deadline for applications is January 29, 2021. For more information and guidance visit: https://www.thecambrianline.co.uk/news/cambrian-railway-partnership-grant-fund-launched/
CRP’s chair Stuart Williams said: “As we enter 2021 with renewed hope that there will be a gradual easing on the effects of Covid 19, we want to engage with the community groups along our historic railway line and help them prosper and become more resilient.
“For smaller groups, access to funding can be long winded and unsuitable, so our Community Support Fund aims to provide quick and easy access to modest grants to help deliver quick wins to these organisations.”
The railway had its plans for the Santa Specials well advanced and had carefully designed what was hoped to be both a safe and fun event, but the pandemic made it just too difficult to put on.
The Llanfair line’s volunteers are usually drawn from all over Powys and the rest of the UK, and many of Santa’s fans travel from the West Midlands to see him.
The volunteers could not be sure they would be able to travel to work on the event, while visitors from England are unable to cross the border except for work and other limited reasons.
“After a very successful, socially-distanced late summer and autumn season of steam trains, we had high hopes for Santa’s visit,” said W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer.
“But, as English lockdown followed Welsh firebreak, and with the possibility of more restrictions leading up to Christmas, it was clear that the only practical option was to cancel.”
W&LLR member Robert Robinson, who was in charge of planning for the festive trains, added that all members of the Santa team had worked hard to adapt the line’s usual event to ensure everyone’s safety in these unusual circumstances.
“We are very grateful for all their efforts – they are as disappointed as the children will be,” he said.
The Llanfair line will now turn to making preparations for its 2021 operating season, which will include regular steam trains and special events to welcome both locals and visitors.
The railway has made it through this very difficult year with the generous support of its members, vital financial help from Powys County Council, the Welsh Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund and an overwhelming response to two major fund-raising appeals.
More than £150,000 was raised which compensated for some of the revenue lost in 2020 and ensured that a major overhaul of original W&LLR locomotive ‘The Earl’ could proceed to its completion.
The railway will be spending the winter months ensuring it’s ready to run its 120-year old trains in 2021. With extensive Covid-safety precautions in place for its staff, over the winter there will be new volunteering opportunities. Anyone interested in joining in can contact Robert Robinson, the W&LLR volunteer liaison officer, at email@example.com
One Christmas activity that is setting records at the railway, despite the Santa cancellation, is the mail-order sale of its Christmas cards. Three variations, all featuring the work of noted rail artist Jonathan Clay, are available through the Llanfair line’s website at www.wllr.org.uk, and are selling fast.
Photo: Andrew Charman, W&LLR
Christmas card sales from www.wllr.org.uk are proving very popular this year.
A popular Mid Wales attraction is offering bespoke Underground Christmas Parties to suit the unprecedented times in which we live due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With social distancing and other pandemic rules in place, companies are having to scrap traditional indoor Christmas parties and look for other fun alternatives.
Corris Mine Explorers, based at Corris Craft Centre, near Machynlleth, believes it has just the answer by offering individually tailored, underground parties.
The festive parties can include adrenaline-pumping activities involving ropes, ladders, climbing and scrambling or something a little more sedate with a fascinating exploration of the abandoned slate mine and its explosive history. Underground festive food and drinks can also be included.
“This year, the normal work Christmas party in a hot, stuffy office is impossible,” said Mark Waite, mine guide. “So, instead we are offering our well ventilated, cavernous underground setting.
“Safety and fun are our top priorities and we have social distancing measures and regular hand sanitising in place, as well as lots of festive fun planned.”
The parties can run for an hour, two hours or half a day and are available to book from now until Christmas by calling Mark Waite on Tel: 01650 511720 to arrange.
Corris Mine Explorers’ mine guide Mark Waite preparing for an Underground Christmas Party.
Socially distanced exploring in the cavernous Corris Mine.
Magnitude, Monty’s Brewery’s 8% barley wine, was also a finalist. This indulgent beer is full of sweet, malty characteristics and warming alcohol, perfect for sipping in front of the fire on a cold evening.
“To have two beers as finalists and one of them to receive ‘Highly Commended’ is a testament to the skill and hard work of our staff and brewers,” said Russ Honeyman, Monty’s Brewery’s commercial director.
“Dark Secret has been winning prizes consistently since we began brewing it in 2016. Awards like the Great British Food Awards enable us to secure sales not only in the UK but abroad too.”
To purchase Dark Secret and other beers from Monty’s Brewery, visit the company’s website https://www.montysbrewery.co.uk/products-page or telephone 01686 668933.
Dark Secret, highly commended gluten free stout from Monty’s Brewery.
History was repeated on Talyllyn Railway, the world’s first preserved railway, at Tywyn in Mid Wales earlier this month.
The scenic, heritage railway, which has been running for 155 years, celebrated the 70th anniversary of the formation of Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society (TRPS) without fanfare last month due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
There was also another 70th anniversary on November 9 when the final train prior to the railway being taken over by TRPS was marked with a special journey along the line using the same steam locomotive, Dolgoch.
The 1950 journey was organised for TRPS by John Wilkins, a Birmingham industrialist and one of Fairbourne Railway’s owners, to report on the condition of the line. The line was so poor that the train derailed near Brynglas and soldiers from the nearby Morfa Camp had to be enlisted to get it back to base.
Wilkins reported: “The track is in a very poor condition, sleepers are rotten and about 50% of the rails unusable. Talyllyn is a complete write off and Dolgoch (the steam locomotive) will need inspection before it can again have its boiler insured. This is not in good order, being 81 years old.”
The driver of Dolgoch in 1950 was Dai Jones. It was fitting that his son, David and grandson, Tom, were at the controls of Dolgoch for last week’s trip, which went much more smoothly.
The only passengers this time were Stuart Williams, the railway’s general manager and Chris Smith, engineering manager, who recorded one of their ‘Weekly Walkabout’ videos to mark the occasion. The video can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrqCt5Ko_GE&feature=youtu.be .
“We had planned to make this a very special occasion with a lot more passengers but, due to the various Covid restrictions, it was a very quiet affair,” explained Stuart.
“The train was driven by David Jones, son of Dai who drove the 1950 train, with his son, Tom, as fireman. The Jones family has worked on the railway for five generations.”
In the autumn of 1950, the future of the railway hung in the balance. Sir Henry Haydn Jones bought the railway in 1911 to serve his quarry, which later closed in 1946.
Now in his 80s, Sir Haydn pledged to keep it running during his lifetime but, when he died in July 1950, the railway seemed likely to follow. His widow, Lady Haydn, continued the passenger service until the end of the summer season and the final train, with loco Dolgoch, one carriage and the brake van, ran on October 6.
TRPS was formed on October 11 at a meeting in Birmingham and Lady Haydn handed over the railway in February 1951. The first train of the preservation era ran on May 14, 1951.
The narrow gauge railway opened for goods traffic in 1865 and introduced passenger services soon afterwards. Passengers have been travelling on the seven mile line between the coastal town of Tywyn and Nant Gwernol every year since.
The line is operated primarily by volunteers from all walks of life, with a small paid staff. One of the early volunteers was late author, the Rev W. V. Awdry, who used the railway as inspiration for the creation of his famous character Thomas the Tank Engine.
The final train journey prior to Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society taking over the line is celebrated.
Talyllyn Railway’s engineering manager Chris Smith (left) interviews driver David Jones and his son Tom for a video of the train journey.
As part of this year's Explore Your Archives Week from November 21-29, The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will unveil a series of new artistic and creative commissions.
The pieces, which vary in style and medium, are inspired by library’s collections that can be found online. Explore Your Archives Week is a national celebration of the many treasures and stories that can be found in archival materials.
The campaign, led by the Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland), aims to raise the profile of the collections held at local, national, university and private archives.
The series of works commissioned will be published on the library’s digital platforms. These include works by illustrator Lowri Roberts, composer Gareth Roberts, writer Katie Munnik, multimedia artist Lleucu Jenkins and author Llŷr Titus.
“I'm delighted to have been given this commission to work with the National Library,” said Llŷr Titus. “It's a great opportunity to highlight the wealth of resources available on their website.
“As I use these resources on a regular basis, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of responding creatively to one of them.”
The library has also worked with Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth to reinterpret some of its photographic collections.
All works and photographs will be published throughout the week on library's social media channels.
Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, said: “At the National Library of Wales, we have an extensive range of interesting and unique archival collections, many of which are now available online.
“Like every year, the Explore Your Archives campaign will no doubt be colourful and interesting, not only raising awareness of the invaluable materials held in archives across the country but showcasing their potential as a great source for creative inspiration.”
Vicky Jones, Archives Wales business manager, said: “Explore Your Archives aims to inspire people to learn more about some of the incredible heritage stories on their doorstep and online.
“Stories from our past can also inspire people to create new works and use our history as inspiration in the present. We look forward to seeing the pieces created as part of the library's campaign, which will hopefully inspire others to explore what archives have to offer.”
Therefore, the aim of the competition is to bring students, young professionals and leading industry representatives together to envision a positive future, identify best practice in learning and celebrate career pathways in the industry.
MWT Cymru's Chief Executive, Val Hawkins, is one of the competition judges.
All students enrolled on further and higher education courses that have subjects relating to tourism and travel, hospitality, events, heritage, and food and beverage as well as young professionals (aged 16 to 25 years) can pitch their knowledge and innovative ideas to expert judges. Every entry will receive constructive feedback from a judge beneficial to their future professional development. There will be winners for the four sponsored categories and an overall winner. Each category winner will win £250 as well as an opportunity to join a virtual national tourism and hospitality skills symposium that will provide the opportunity to network with top employers followed by an awards ceremony in Spring 2021.
The four award categories are (1) Tourism industry and infrastructure (2) Digital tools and technology (3) Environment and ecology (4) Local communities. The competition is cutting edge as entrants will provide a digital submission such as a video, PowerPoint Presentation, website or app. Also, this is the only tourism and hospitality competition in the UK that encourages entries in Welsh as well as English.
The competition closes on March 10th 2021. An entry form and guidelines including the judging criteria can be found at:
Louise Dixey, NTG Project Development Coordinator emphasised that, “This competition shines a light on young people and their aspirations to deliver positive visions of the future of tourism and hospitality in Wales. It gives entrants an opportunity to showcase their inspiration and skills needed for future careers.”
John Walsh-Heron, Chair of Tourism Society Cymru highlighted that, “This competition supports our goals in Wales to bring tourism sectors together to network and develop best practice, support learning and encourage understanding of sustainable tourism. Young people today have a unique view of the world around them and can be innovative in their future careers demonstrating new ways we can open up our hospitality offer.” Iwan Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of PLANED, underscored that, “Whilst the competition will culminate with a fantastic virtual expert industry-led mentoring symposium for participants as well as an awards ceremony in the Spring, the competition for PLANED, underpins the role of the sector in communities across Wales. The inter-dependence of businesses within the sector, and the wider socio-economic impact they have on communities across our rural and coastal communities particularly, cannot be underestimated. PLANED fully supports the promotion of innovation amongst the next generation of sector leaders and ambassadors to further integrate and support that cohesive approach across businesses large and small; communities, rural and urban.”
This is the 2nd Next Tourism Generation Competition in Wales. The overall winner in 2020 was Evan Davies, an aspirational Chef from Pembrokeshire College. Evan underlined that, “This competition was a great opportunity to aid in my personal growth and further my career in hospitality. It is vital to develop and nurture careers in hospitality as learning a new trade can broadens horizons.”
Another 2020 winner, Jenna O’Brien from Coleg Menai, highlighted that, “This competition has given me the opportunity to express my passion and enthusiasm for the preservation of the environment, culture and language of my area, as well as helping me realise what area of sustainable tourism I would like to pursue.”
Partners The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and Menter Iaith Môn have released a series of new Welsh language educational resources, via HWB and Wikipedia, for pupils studying history.
The work is the culmination of a 12-month pilot project funded by the Welsh Government, which saw the library’s National Wikimedian working with Menter Iaith Môn, WJEC, HWB and subject specialists to identify the 100 most important events and themes studied for the subject of history in Welsh primary and secondary schools.
A subject specialist then developed new Welsh Wikipedia articles and a series of short educational videos for these themes, adapting existing openly licenced learning resources where possible.
The content is available on Wicipedia where it can be improved and updated by the community over time. Static, expert reviewed copies of the articles are also available on HWB along with all the educational videos.
Wikipedia is widely used by pupils for research, but the quality and coverage of Welsh language content often means that Welsh speaking students are forced to turn to English language content for information.
This project has demonstrated a new strategy for developing flexible, openly licensed learning resources which can be used in different settings to maximise accessibility.
The library has been supporting the Welsh language version of Wikipedia, which has over 100,000 articles, since employing a Wikipedian in Residence in 2015.
Working with the Welsh Government, the library has operated a number of Wicipedia projects; delivering Wikipedia editing and training events for various groups and institutions and sharing its digital content openly for use in Wikipedia articles.
Jason Evans, project manager and National Wikimedian, said: “Delivering this project against the backdrop of the national lockdown only served to underline the importance of free online learning resources.
“Welsh speaking students can now easily seek out a wealth of reliable information about a range of historical topics in Welsh. And many of these articles focus on historical events from a Welsh perspective, where the English Wikipedia versions do not.
“I hope that our work here can be used as a template for a new approach to creating and distributing Welsh language learning resources.”
Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: "We've seen the use of online learning platforms increase massively this year, with twice as many users logging on to the Hwb platform compared to last year.
“These learning materials will be really valuable for pupils studying history through the medium of Welsh and will be excellent resources for use in our new curriculum.”
Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, said: "Being able to offer children and young people digital access to the history and culture of Wales through the medium of Welsh is vitally important.
“Enabling a range of new educational resources will stimulate and inspire young people to know more about historical events and the impact they had on our development as Welsh people."
Aaron Morris, of Menter Iaith Môn, said: “It has been a pleasure working with the National Library on such an important project. By creating this educational content, not only do we highlight the interesting aspects of Welsh history and make it available freely for all, but we delve into our history by using our native tongue and encourage all to use the Welsh language with confidence and pride.”
Visitors will be able to see the elves busily prepare for the big day and meet Santa who will have an early present for children. This visit will be completely private to each ‘social bubble’ meaning that visitors can have their own personal tour.
The Christmas event must be pre-booked, and each timed slot is for a social bubble only. Find out more and book an online for the Elves’ Workshop and Santa’s Grotto at www.silvermountainexperience.co.uk/festive
Alongside this excitement, there is a whole host of other activities included within the ticket price. Visitors can enjoy Christmas cookie decorating, explore a special Reindeer Trail and enjoy the other surface attractions, including the Mining Museum, Miner’s Trail, Fossil Dig and more.
For those wanting to experience one of the guided tours, A Dragon's Tale and A Miner's Life will also be running. These additional tours are being offered at a reduced rate and can be booked on the day of the visit.
Since the summer, The Silver Mountain Experience has welcomed thousands of visitors in a safe and COVID-19 secure way. These safety measures are in place to ensure visitors have an enjoyable and safe visit.
The Silver Mountain Experience, Ultimate Xscape and The Miner’s Rest Café are all open from Tuesday to Sunday.
The attraction is a place where history, myth and legend collide in an exciting and unique day out for all the family. Steeped in mining history, the centrepiece of The Silver Mountain Experience is a meticulously preserved silver-lead mine that dates to 1742.
As well as its informative and interesting historic side, the attraction is also home to a variety of other experiences.
Santa and his elves will be waiting to welcome visitors to The Silver Mountain Experience next month.
A hotel at one of the top visitor destinations and beauty spots in Mid Wales has launched a photographic competition as part of an autumn marketing campaign.
The winner of the competition will be treated to a Champagne stay for two people at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa. They will be able to enjoy dinner, bed and breakfast and sip champagne on the balcony of their premier lake view room overlooking iconic Lake Vyrnwy.
The competition is part of the hotel’s autumn marketing campaign to attract visitors to the popular Mid Wales destination when the Covid-19 ‘ firebreak’ lockdown ends in Wales on Monday, November 9.
The hotel wants to see visitors’ own best photographs of Lake Vyrnwy using the #lvapc2020 hashtag. The winner will be chosen on November 29 from entries across Facebook and Instagram.
“We hope the competition will help entrants to re-live their happy Vyrnwy moments in these difficult times,” said Anthony Rosser, Lake Vyrnwy Hotel’s operations director.
The marketing campaign is encouraging prospective customers to “re-awaken your senses with fresh air, long walks and tranquillity” by booking two different packages for a romantic or relaxing Champagne break in visually stunning surroundings.
Both packages are available from Sunday to Friday, from November 9 to February 28, and are based on two people sharing a double or twin room. To book visit www.lakevyrnwy.com .
The Vyrnwy Cwtch costs from £169 for a one night stay with a full Welsh breakfast, a £35 per person dinner allowance and a cuddly toy and chocolates. The Vyrnwy Escape offers a three night stay with full Welsh breakfast and a £35 per person per night dinner allowance. Customers can also take their dogs with them.
“Lake Vyrnwy has always been a place for romance and self-care,” said Mr Rosser. “Whether you want to go for a walk in the wild along the many paths surrounding the hotel or to snuggle down in front of a roaring fire with a hot chocolate, Lake Vyrnwy has more than enough to keep you busy - or not...
“Indulge in all the Welsh countryside has to offer. With specially curated walking maps of local routes available from reception, escape, explore and let the problems of the outside world melt away. Bring your furry family members too, it’s an adventure for the whole family.”
Lake Vyrnwy Hotel is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
A spectacular autumn view of the Lake Vyrnwy.
Image by © martinwebbinfocus | Spinning Your Dreams
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