The National Eisteddfod has announced that they are postponing the Ceredigion National Eisteddfod for a year.
The decision was taken by the organisation's Management Board following a number of discussions with the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales. Ceredigion County Council supports the National Eisteddfod's decision to postpone the Ceredigion Eisteddfod for another year until 2022.
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Welsh Language, said, “We support the Eisteddfod on their difficult decision to postpone the Eisteddfod for another year. It will be strange not to work towards and attend the Eisteddfod on the first week of August this year again. However, everyone's health and safety is the main priority. Organizing or preparing to compete and attend the Eisteddfod is a big task. With all the planning that needs to be done, it is not practically possible to carry them out this year. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Ceredigion when it is safe to do so.”
We thank the Eisteddfod and all the volunteers for their work so far. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Ceredigion in 2022.
For practical information regarding postponing this year’s Eisteddfod, go to the Eisteddfod’s website, www.eisteddfod.wales.
The chairman of an award-winning leisure company that has a sales centre in Mid Wales is predicting a fantastic year ahead for tourism in the UK after the extreme challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Tony Bywater, from Salop Leisure, which also has sales centres in Machynlleth, Shrewsbury and Stourport-on-Severn, believes the demand for ‘staycationing’ will be greater than ever in 2021, with British people reluctant to jet off to sunnier climes.
In addition to running one of the UK’s most successful caravan and motorhome dealerships, Salop Leisure also owns the Love2Stay resort and adventure centre and Love Plants specialist plants centre in Shrewsbury and caravan holiday home and touring parks across Mid Wales.
Outside the national Covid-19 lockdowns last year, caravan and motorhome sales boomed at Salop Leisure as more first-time buyers opted to invest in holidays in the UK for the foreseeable future instead of travelling abroad.
Many caravan holiday home parks across Mid Wales and the Heart of England reported a huge demand for available pitches.
Mr Bywater believes that this trend will continue in 2021 and the years to come as the Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out across the UK.
Having devoted more than 50 years of his life to the caravan and motorhome industry, he has experienced many economic highs and lows and is well placed to offer an opinion on future business prospects.
He says the UK will emerge from the pandemic as a much different place, as people re-evaluate what is and what is not important in their lives. Spending quality family time away from work will become a top priority.
“It has been an extremely difficult time for everybody, but I think 2021 is going to be very special for our industry and tourism in the UK,” he said. “People are going to want to stay in the UK, rather than travelling abroad, like they have done in the past. The pandemic will change people’s habits forever.
“Demand for caravan holiday homes, touring caravans and motorhomes is going to be massive, putting pressure on manufacturers and parks.
“We lost a lot of trade whilst our businesses were forced to close during the lockdowns, but, when we reopened in late summer, customer demand was huge.”
Mr Bywater says it’s imperative that all four home nations work together to agree a uniform policy on future lockdowns to make it easier for people to understand the restrictions. Having different rules in each country caused confusion.
Salop Leisure is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales, which includes Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
This could become a common sight in 2021 as Salop Leisure chairman Tony Bywater predicts a staycation boom.
Talyllyn Railway plans to use most of the grant on its winter maintenance programme, which includes completing an overhaul on ‘Talyllyn’, locomotive No.1.
Other projects include providing electric vehicle charging points, installing heating in more carriages, Abergynolwyn playground refurbishment, a comprehensive interpretation strategy for the railway and other heritage projects and enhanced video conferencing facilities.
The grant will enable the railway to prepare for the 2021 season, when it is hoped that life will begin to return to normal and passengers will make a welcome return.
The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Trust, located in Talyllyn Railway’s HQ buildings at Wharf Station, has also been awarded £27,000 towards Covid-secure measures and other costs.
Ian Drummond, the railway’s fundraising officer, thanked everyone who helped with grant applications.
Locomotive Talyllyn negotiates he Dolgoch Viaduct on Talyllyn Railway.
Photo: Darren Turner.
The call comes from MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and South Gwynedd. The company has created a new page on its Visit Mid Wales website - www.visitmidwales.co.uk/christmas - to promote gift ideas in the run up to Christmas.
Gift ideas range from animal, falconry and pottery experiences to rides on narrow gauge railways and a selection of Mid Wales craftware and food and drink products.
With some Mid Wales hotels closing temporarily due to new COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Wales, which begin at 6pm today (Friday), shoppers are being urged to go online to book a short break, holiday or visitor experience as a special gift to look forward to in 2021.
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, said: “2020 has been a really challenging year and I would appeal to local people in Mid Wales and those living outside our region to continue to support our member businesses this Christmas,” she said.
“Traditionally, December is one of the busiest months for our businesses, many of whom offer exciting experiences and craftware which make great Christmas gifts. It’s also a great time to book new year breaks and holidays in Mid Wales.”
The new restrictions imposed in Wales stop pubs, restaurants and cafes from serving alcohol and they are unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Businesses can offer a takeaway service after 6pm and, if they have an off-licence, can sell takeaway alcohol up until 10pm. Indoor visitor attractions must also close.
The Welsh Government will review these restrictions on December 17.
Support local businesses Mid Wales.
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There’s no need to take a plane to go on holiday, says an award winning business that provides cycling breaks in Wales and along the English border.
Cyclists have a great opportunity to explore Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales on a Wheely Wonderful Cycling holiday, the ultimate staycation.
Even if you don’t know when you want to travel, you can buy a Christmas gift voucher for a cycling holiday and look forward to the summer.
“This year, we opened for two months during the summer to provide cycling holidays and it was such a pleasure to be able to welcome customers back to enjoy the borderlands of England and Wales,” explained Kay Dartnell, owner of Wheely Wonderful Cycling.
“Everyone was on a staycation, including a couple from Ludlow who, despite the fact that they lived only five miles from our base, had a wonderful time exploring the country lanes down to the River Wye and finding lots of places they hadn’t visited before.
“The country lanes of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales are quiet and virtually traffic free, so they are ideal for cycling. “
Wheely Wonderful Cycling has a wide range of cycling short breaks that make ideal Christmas voucher presents.
A Cider Cycle Tour in Herefordshire for two days costs £195 or celebrate a special occasion on the Stagg and Vicarage Cycle Tour, staying at two foodie destinations - The Lion Hotel, Leintwardine and The Stagg, Titley - combined with three days of great cycling around Herefordshire for £335.
For keen road cyclists, the Brecon Beacons Cycle Tour at £335 includes the cycling challenge of The Gospel Pass, near Hay on Wye.
Gift vouchers are available for any amount towards any of the company’s cycling holidays. Details available at https://www.wheelywonderfulcycling.co.uk/giftvouchers
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Rowland Rees-Evans, who heads MWT Cymru, appealed for a united, balanced approach during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to support tourism and hospitality businesses and communities across Mid Wales.
His appeal follows negative social media comments in response to media interviews with international travel journalist Simon Calder and celebrities Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash last week.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning show, Mr Calder said Mid Wales is a great place to visit, referring to Machynlleth, the Centre for Alternative Technology and Barmouth. Solomon and Swash revealed that they had enjoyed a visit to the Elan Valley near Rhayader.
“It’s a great shame that high profile travel journalist Simon Calder is castigated for suggesting that Mid Wales is a good place to go on holiday,” said Mr Rees-Evans, a director of the family-owned Penrhos holiday, golf and leisure park at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth. “Mid Wales is open for business and is a great place to visit on holiday or to take a short break.
“It is very disappointing that such a positive story for tourism in Mid Wales, which gave a much-needed boost to our region in these difficult times, resulted in negative comments on social media channels.
“Whilst it is understandable that a small minority may wish to project their fear and anger online, some of these people do not even live or work in Mid Wales. The resulting negative media coverage has the potential to impact our reputation as a warm and welcoming destination and could even affect the speed of our recovery following this crisis.
“We all need to be aware of the unintended consequences of online comments which could be putting our independent businesses in imminent risk of closure, negatively impacting jobs and livelihoods.”
Mid Wales - Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd - covers more than 42% of Wales and is not currently subject to any lockdown restrictions. The region relies heavily on tourism, which supports thousands of jobs directly and in the supply chain.
“The region has one of the lowest Covid -19 rates in the UK, which is a reflection on who we are in Mid Wales, the way our visitors, communities and businesses have all pulled together to protect our fragile economy whilst keeping everyone safe,” stressed Mr Rees-Evans.
“Our businesses have invested in all the necessary Covid-secure measures and have worked so hard to safeguard their employees, visitors and local communities since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Mid Wales business owners are doing their very best to keep themselves and their families afloat through very difficult times. They are protecting jobs and livelihoods whilst keeping families and local communities safe.
“With a long winter ahead of us, and virus infection cases rising in all parts of the UK, it is more important than ever that we all pull together to help each other through this difficult time.
“Our fantastic visitors love coming to our rural region to stay, relax and experience the great outdoors. They take in our peaceful countryside, visit local shops, independent restaurants, attractions and frequently comment about our warm and welcoming communities.
“This is the Mid Wales we all know and love, and it’s important that visitors who are planning future visits see this reflected in balanced media coverage and online commentary.”
He stressed the difficult task facing MWT Cymru in navigating the delicate balance between promoting the region, encouraging people to visit safely, supporting member businesses and reassuring communities that all possible measures have been implemented to minimise any potential risk.
“As a tourism membership organisation, we have never felt closer to our 600 plus tourism and hospitality member businesses and have worked incredibly closely with the Welsh Government and officials,” he added.
“Everyone has worked tirelessly over the last few months to enable our sector to re-open safely following months of closure. Since re-opening in July, our members have reported that visitors to Mid Wales have been respectful and understanding of the situation, they have followed the rules and been vigilant.”
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman.
An example of the beautiful autumn landscape awaiting visitors to Mid Wales.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is in a precarious financial position which could result in “damaging measures” to balance the budget, including the loss of up to 30 jobs.
That is the stark message from Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, who warned that having to take such drastic measures would have “a devasting affect” on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.
He has called on the Welsh Government for an additional £1.445 million in its Grant in Aid baseline for 2021-22 and the reinstating of the capital grant, which it last received in 2016-17, to maintain the building and secure the health and safety of staff and readers.
He says the library’s “precarious” and “unsustainable” financial position is the result of “systematic, historic underfunding by Welsh Government” which threatens the future of the organisation.
Mr ap Llwyd made his comments in a letter to editors following the publication of an independent, tailored review, facilitated by the Welsh Government, which focused on the library’s efficiency, effectiveness and governance. The review panel came up with 34 recommendations.
“The library has seen a reduction of 40% in its Grant in Aid,” he said. “Other organisations have not. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the National Library’s financial situation. This year’s Grant in Aid has already been cut by £200,000 and we may well have to endure further cuts during the year.
“The library fully realises the financial challenges facing Welsh Government as a result of the pandemic. However, the government was very much aware of our perilous financial position before the pandemic appeared.
“If the recommendations of this review are ignored, the current crisis will lead to the implementation of a number of damaging measures to balance the budget in the long term, including the real possibility of having to reduce our workforce by up to 30 members of staff.
“The implications of having to take such drastic measure would have a devastating effect on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.”
The Welsh Government, library and review panel issued a joint press statement. It said the panel’s report and recommendations, which were welcomed by both the library and Welsh Government, had been published this week.
Meri Huws, the library’s interim president, said: “The National Library welcomes the recommendations of the review. It is a thorough and detailed analysis of the current state of play and of the issues faced by the library. We look forward to working closely with Welsh Government to implement its recommendations and to safeguard the library’s future.
“I am glad the review recognises the importance of the National Library to Wales as a treasury for the nation’s recorded heritage and how it could increase the impact of its services to benefit individuals and communities even further.”
Aled Eirug, panel chair, said: “We hope this report will lead to an effective and productive relationship between the National Library and Welsh Government. We have identified the most critical challenges facing the National Library, including making its services more available to a wider audience.
“We look forward to both the Welsh Government and National Library implementing our recommendations.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “I welcome the independent views of the Review Panel and look forward to positive and collaborative working as we address its recommendations.
“This is an important cultural organisation which must have longevity and relevance for the whole of Wales. These findings offer constructive areas of focus for both the library and the Welsh Government.
“Both parties will work together to ensure the library remains robust and fit for purpose in what is clearly a very challenging climate for all our sponsored bodies.”
The full report can be found at https://gov.wales/national-library-wales-tailored-review-national-library-wales
Pedr ap Llwyd, stark warning about National Library job cuts.
Newtown’s escape rooms attraction, Beyond Breakout, has launched a live, online Avatar game that is attracting teams from around the globe.
The attraction, located on the fourth floor of Newtown’s Royal Welsh Warehouse, Pryce Jones Building, reopened in July following a four-month lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions.
To ensure that the company’s escape room games reach as many people as possible, players can now either solve the Adventures in Puzzle Land game in person or take on the challenge remotely.
“So far we have hosted teams from around the UK, Germany and America,” said Lorna Morris, who launched Beyond Breakout with co-owner Jo Woodall in January this year.
“Our live game gives you the thrills and fun of an escape room from the comfort of your own home. You play remotely from as many locations as your team needs - we recommend a maximum of six players.
“Players direct their Avatar to enter their solutions and retrieve the crown from the Red Queen before she can screech menacingly ‘Off with your head’.”
For those players who choose to tackle the physical Adventures in Puzzle Land game in person, Jo explained that Beyond Breakout is well prepared for the COVID-19 rules.
“Fortunately, the ‘rule of six’ has not affected us as our games are designed for between two and six players,” she said. “We have altered our game schedules to ensure that no groups are in the communal areas at the same time and we have plenty of time for thorough cleaning between groups.
“We truly feel there are not many activities you can do that are as safe as our Breakout rooms. Lorna and I are always more than two metres away from visitors and all the windows, including in the Breakout room, are open to increase ventilation.
“We have taken every measure possible to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.”
Beyond Breakout’s second game, The Mask, which was delayed due to the lockdown, is scheduled to be launched early next month.
For full details of the company’s games and COVID-19 precautions visit, www.beyondbreakout.co.uk or call on Tel: 01686 449172.
The business partners confessed that the COVID-19 pandemic had been very challenging for them, but they have used the lockdown to develop new games and ideas to ensure that their investment is not wasted.
“All the business planning in the world could not have predicted a four-month lockdown,” said Lorna. “We feel that we are a pretty positive pair and nothing if not resourceful, so we have set about looking at ways to stay open throughout future lockdowns.
“There are only so many Zoom Quizzes you can manage. That’s why we have taken on the task of turning our Adventures in Puzzle Land game into a live Avatar game that can be played by groups over the Internet.”
Beyond Breakout is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd.
Beyond Breakout creators Jo Woodall (left) and Lorna Morris.
Playing the new, live, online Avatar game launched by Beyond Breakout.
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