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.
Trains are set to continue steaming through the Banwy Valley in October and more of them will be heading for Welshpool.
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway returned to operating selected trains over its full length in September, having successfully run over part of the line through August in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Since reopening, railway staff have been closely monitoring visitor numbers and the coronavirus environment. Consistent with Welsh Government guidance, they now feel confident to continue services through the next month.
Trains will run every weekend until November 1, as well as on Wednesday, September 30 and October 28.
On each day, two services will operate over the hour-long return trip between Llanfair Caereinion and Castle Caereinion, and one will run over the full eight-mile line from Llanfair to Welshpool and back.
Additionally, on Tuesday, October 27 and Thursday, October 29 in school half-term week, a service of four trains between Llanfair and Castle Caereinion will operate.
All trains continue to depart from Llanfair Caereinion for return journeys only and there remains no vehicle access to Raven Square or Castle Caereinion stations. Full details and online booking for Castle trains remain on the website at www.wllr.org.uk while Welshpool trains should be booked by calling the railway’s office on 01938 810441, open seven days a week from 9am to 4.30pm.
The Welshpool trains will continue to be subject to a modest minimum fare to ensure costs of the longer journey are covered, but a discounted family rate is available and the child fare is unchanged.
All services will also be subject to no further Covid-19 restrictions being imposed by Government. The railway’s the website will carry the latest service information.
The railway is certified by Visit Wales as “Barod Amdani/Good to go”. Covid-19 measures will continue to be applied to protect visitors and the Llanfair line’s staff.
Everyone attending the railway will be required to wear face coverings and all trains will be cleaned between trips. A host of further cleaning measures have been carried out and there will be hand sanitisers widely available.
On all operating days, hot and cold refreshments will be available to enjoy in a marquee at Llanfair Caereinion, to take on the train or take away, and the railway’s souvenir shop will also be open.
“In a year that has been very challenging for the railway, we continue to be gratified by the number of visitors that have come to ride our trains, and their kind comments,” said W&LLR general manager Charles Spencer. “We are very pleased to be offering more trains to Welshpool in October.”
Meanwhile, the railway is receiving many enquiries about the likelihood of its highly popular Santa Special services running in 2020. The Llanfair line team is working hard to enable Santa’s visits and will make an announcement on the website when possible.
Original locomotive ‘The Countess’ returned to Welshpool Raven Square for the first time since February on September 9 and will be returning several times in October.
Photo: Steve Clews, W&LLR
The Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway (W&LLR) has raised £95,000 in just three months to complete the mandatory 10-year overhaul of its original locomotive ‘The Earl.’
Overhaul of the locomotive, which was built in 1902, was started in June 2019 at the Vale of Rheidol Railway, Aberystwyth thanks to a large legacy of unassigned funding.
W&LLR’s own workshops are focused on the restoration of locomotive no 699.01 ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’, which has not steamed since the end of the 20th century.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant closure of the W&LLR over the first four months of the 2020 season put significant pressure on the railway’s finances. This raised the prospect of having to ask the Vale of Rheidol to suspend the overhaul, which was half complete at the time the pandemic closed the workshops in March.
By June, W&LLR’s ‘Tracks to Recovery’ appeal had raised more than £55,000 in less than three months to help meet the line’s fixed costs during closure This success encouraged the railway to repurpose the appeal to ‘Keep The Earl on Track’ with a minimum £30,000 target to complete the loco’s rolling chassis.
However, in three months, members and supporters have raised the entire £95,000, enabling management to authorise the overhaul to proceed to completion when the Rheidol workshop in Aberystwyth reopens, expected to be in November.
“We are absolutely delighted with the success of the appeal and very grateful to all those who made contributions,” said W&LLR spokesman Andrew Charman. “Having ‘The Earl’ back in time for the majority of the 2021 season is essential to our plans, particularly as sister locomotive ‘The Countess’ reaches its 10-year overhaul point early next year
“Our friends at the Vale of Rheidol completing ‘The Earl’ will allow our own mechanical engineering department to concentrate on completing the restoration of ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’, the work on which has suffered from many delays, not least due to Covid-19.
“With ‘The Earl’, ‘Sir Drefaldwyn’ and our visiting Austrian engine ‘Zillertal’ on the roster in 2021, we should be able to offer visitors three contrasting but equally interesting types of motive power on their trains.”
Picture caption: ‘The Earl’ should return to Llanfair Caereinion next spring thanks to the appeal success.
Photo: Kevin Heywood, W&LLR
“Charles said right from the start that he would be in position for only four to five years dependent upon his personal situation and commitments, so I am actually thinking of this as us having had an extra year,” he said.
“Charles has made a huge contribution over the last five years to moving the W&LLR to another level.”
Mr Spencer first encountered the W&LLR while on holiday from his native Canada, where he had enjoyed a high-level career in central banking. He was encouraged to join the line’s volunteers and, after retiring from his career, trained and qualified as a locomotive fireman.
When the W&LLR general manager role became vacant, he applied for and secured the post, trustees having been particularly impressed with his experience of managing large volunteer projects.
Mr Spencer emphasised that his decision to step down had been made purely for family reasons and his forthcoming retirement on the Isle of Man, and he had no intention of leaving the W&LLR behind.
“I still want to come back and shovel coal in steam locomotives on a regular basis,” he said. “It was a great first five seasons and a pity the sixth was hit by the virus.
“But considering the circumstances, we will come to the end of this year in remarkably good financial shape thanks to the support of volunteers, staff, members and donors, and that’s a great position in which to leave the railway.”
The W&LLR Trustee Board has begun the process to appoint a successor, and Mr Clews emphasised that for now it is business as usual.
“Charles remains in post as general manager and in charge until the completion of a handover to his replacement,” he said. “He retains absolute support from the board and we look forward to working alongside him until his departure.”
Charles Spencer – stepping down as W&LLR general manager but not handing
over his firing shovel.
Photo: Andrew Charman/W&LLR
A unique tourist attraction and favourite amongst local people, the vineyard provides customers with the opportunity to discover the secrets of English wine within a relaxed and contemporary space. It also offers a café and kitchen which make good use of the exceptional local produce.
Located close to the Welsh border, 20 miles from Shrewsbury, the vineyard is open six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm and welcomes customers from all around Shropshire and Powys, as well as national and international visitors.
“Winning the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award is a true source of pride for the entire team at Kerry Vale Vineyard and we’d like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on Tripadvisor,” said owner Janet Cooke.
“There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s customers. With the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.”
Kanika Soni, Tripadvisor’s chief commercial officer, said: “Winners of the 2020 Travellers’ Choice Awards should be proud of this distinguished recognition. Although it has been a challenging year for travel and hospitality, we want to celebrate our partners' achievements.
“Award winners are beloved for their exceptional service and quality. Not only are these winners well deserving, they are also a great source of inspiration for travellers and diners as the world begins to venture out again.”
For more information about Kerry Vale Vineyard, visit: www.kerryvalevineyard.co.uk, call 01588 620627 or pop in to the café and shop.
Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said: “Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as we recover from the impacts of coronavirus. That is why they form a vital part of our recently announced £40m jobs and skills package, which will see more support being made available.
“Despite this being an incredibly challenging time, we have seen the talent and on-going commitment of our businesses, providers and learners shine through. The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those involved in our programmes and inspire others to follow their example.
“I encourage them all to use this occasion to share their experiences and successful learning journeys with us.”
Application forms are available to be downloaded from gov.wales/apprenticeshipawardscymru and the closing date for entries is 12 noon, 30 October 2020.
From the applications, finalists in 12 categories will be shortlisted for awards.
The employability category includes awards for Traineeship Learner of the Year for Engagement and Level 1.
There are also awards for the Foundation Apprentice, Apprentice and Higher Apprentice of the Year.
Introduced last year, the “Tomorrow’s Talent” category gives employers the opportunity to nominate a current apprentice who has ‘demonstrated significant personal progress’ and has made ‘a tangible and positive impact on the employer’s organisational performance.’
Successful businesses are recognised with awards for small (1 to 49), medium (50 to 249), large (250 to 4,999) and macro (5,000 plus) employer of the year, while work-based learning practitioners will compete for assessor and tutor of the year.
The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). The awards are valued greatly by learners, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners across Wales.
Phil Henfrey, head of news and programmes at ITV Cymru Wales, which won the Medium Employer of the Year Award last year, said: “I think making the finals and winning against such incredible competition from right across Wales has demonstrated to the wider business and public sector community in Wales how ITV Cymru Wales is changing as a business.
“When we set out on the Apprenticeship Programme, I hoped that our apprentices would teach us just as much as we could teach them - and so it has proved. They are bringing new skills and new insights into what we do, enabling us to become a digitally led media company that is creating new digital content for new audiences and that is really exciting.
“I entered the Awards because I was so fantastically proud of what we had achieved and of our apprentices and the managers who had worked so hard to make it happen.
“Winning the award has been a validation of everyone's hard work at ITV Wales to make a success of our Apprenticeship Programme. It was a memorable night that will live long in the memory.”
The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
ITV Cymru Wales’ head of news and programmes, Phil Henfrey, with apprentices Zahra Errami, Mollie Latham, Safyan Iqbal and Eugenia Taylor.
The final judging is being carried by an esteemed panel of celebrity chefs, Michelin-starred restaurateurs, popular food critics, influencers, buyers and food writers, all known for their love and knowledge of British food and produce.
Russ Honeyman, Monty’s Brewery’s commercial director, said: “It has been a very tough time recently for the brewing industry, but it is important to keep entering competitions and strive for these awards.
“When your product is judged against others and you are being awarded for it, you know you are on the right track. It is the first time we have entered the Great British Food Awards and so getting recognised by this calibre of judges is very humbling.”
The brewery’s two shortlisted beers are Monty’s Dark Secret, a 5.6% gluten free oatmeal stout, packed with coffee and chocolate flavours and Monty’s Magnitude, an 8.0% Barley Wine rich with warming alcohol and malty notes.
For more on the awards go to https://www.greatbritishfoodawards.com/blog/great-british-food-awards-2020-the-shortlist . For more information about the brewery, visit https://www.montysbrewery.co.uk
Russ Honeyman from Monty’s Brewery with the two beers shortlisted by the Great British Food Awards.
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