Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The latest 'On Song' column from the Carmarthen Journal and the Llanelli Star

The latest 'On Song' column (about the choral scene in and around West Wales) from the Carmarthen Journal and the Llanelli Star newspapers -

It’ll be all eyes on Burry Port this weekend as there’s a Christmas treat being served up by the award-winning Burry Port Town Band.
The band’s annual Christmas Gala Concert will take place on Saturday, December 10, featuring award winning guests Côr Aelwyd Y Waun Ddyfal and the Burry Port Junior Band.
It will be a relaxed show of Christmas classics, with cabaret-style seating and bar.
Côr Aelwyd y Waun Ddyfal is a youth choir from Cardiff.
In 2013, they won the very competitive junior choir competition Côr Ieuenctid Côr Cymru.
They have been successful in several other competitions, including Eisteddfod yr Urdd, the National Eisteddfod and also reached the semi-finals of Côr Cymru in 2009.
The choir was established in 2005 to satisfy the need for more youth organisations in Cardiff and its success is obvious as it has provided a home for both music and socialising.
Tickets for Saturday’s concert are available from Elgan Jones Butchers and Burry Port Premier Stores.
Alternatively please contact Edmond John on 01554 833749.
On Sunday, December 11, the Friends of Llanelli Museum are organising a Carols in the Park concert.
The event will feature Côr Glannau Gwendraeth and refreshments will include mulled wine and mince pie.
The venue will be Parc Howard Museum in Llanelli, starting at 2.30pm. Tickets are £5 and are available at the door or from Mrs Pamela Edmunds, 01554 773684, or Mr Frederick Hughes, 07949531750.
The boys of Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi will be Carol Singing at The Red Lion in Llandyfaelog at 7pm on Tuesday, December 20.
The Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi choristers have a busy Christmas.
Helen Wyn has stepped up to the podium as temporary musical director as Davinia Harries is on maternity leave.
With their regular accompanist, Maureen Chapman, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi have the following engagements planned for December –
Thursday 15th December, Glanmorfa Care Home, Kidwelly.
Monday 19th December, Towy Castle Care Home, Uplands Arms.
Thursday 22nd December, Gwernllwyn Care Home, Cross Hands.
The choir members rehearse at the Red Lion in Llandyfaelog and anyone interested in joining Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi, can contact Derrick Rowlands on email on or fill out the contact form on the website
Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir have something special in store for their fans this Christmas.
Their special treat will be an evening of Elvis Presley classics for their annual Christmas concert at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, on Saturday, December 17.
“It really will be a Côr Meibion Llanelli concert with a difference,” said choir musical director D Eifion Thomas.
“It all springs from last year’s Christmas concert by Côr Meibion Llanelli, when we performed a special arrangement of Blue Christmas with our friends from the ladies rock and pop choir The Phil Harmonics.
“The audience reaction was great and, for my sins, I suggested to the audience that it would be a great idea to have a whole concert of Elvis Presley classics for 2016.
“So, true to my word, this is what we have put together for the programme for Ffwrnes on December 17.
“Tickets are available at the theatre box office and I am told they are going like hot cakes, so my advice is to get in early and reserve a seat for what promises to be a very unique evening in the history of Côr Meibion Llanelli.”
The choir has been rehearsing the following Elvis classics – Stuck on you, Heartbreak Hotel, Return to sender, His latest flame, Can’t help falling in love, Good-luck charm, Are you lonesome tonight?, Wooden Heart, American Trilogy, Peace in the valley, Crying in the chapel, Love me tender, It’s now or never, Blue Christmas, Teddy Bear and Blue-suede shoes.
The programme for The Phil Harmonics is likely to include - You were always on my mind, Llipstick on your collar, Stupid cupid, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock and a Christmas medley.
On December 9, at Ffwrnes, you can catch The Rat Pack at Christmas.
The show features wonderful memories of classic Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior.
The touring live show is now in its 14th year.
Every song is a winner: Come Fly With Me, Volare, That’s Amore, Under My Skin, Mr Bojangles, Sway, Mack The Knife and many more.
Between December 21 and Christmas Eve, The Performance Factory will be staging A Christmas Carol at Ffwrnes.
Adapted from the well-loved Charles Dickens Christmas classic, a Christmas Carol follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who believes personal wealth is far more valuable than the happiness and comfort of others.
The show takes you back to Dickensian London and really lets the Christmas spirits flow!
On December 20 at The Lyric, you can see ‘The West End at Christmas’.
Stars from the West End present a magical evening of entertainment featuring hits from the musicals and the best of Christmas song.
The talented cast have starred in many West End productions and national tours, including Les Miserables, We Will Rock You, South Pacific, Singing in the Rain, Starlight Express, Phantom Of The Opera, Godspell, Joseph and Cats . . . to name but a few!

Robert Lloyd works as a media consultant –
If you have any news about the choral scene in Llanelli, the please contact him on 07777 683637 or email 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Computers from Aberystwyth find new life in a Nigerian college

Computers from Aberystwyth University have found a new lease of life in Africa.
Staff at the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology in the Nigerian city of Jos, were facing the prospect of expanding their recently launched computer degree without enough computers for their students.
Their plight was brought to the attention of the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth by PhD student Edore Akpokodje.
Edore was head of the Nigerian college’s Computing department before coming to study in Wales.
As a result, 60 reconditioned computers powerful enough to run the software needed on the course have been shipped to Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos.
They are due to arrive there on Saturday 3 December 2016.
From Lagos they will be taken to Jos and installed in a new computer laboratory at the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology.
After being reconditioned, the computers were taken from Aberystwyth’s Computer Science Department to Cambrian Printers in Llanbadarn Fawr whose staff packed them ready for export, free of charge.
Professor Chris Price said: “We are delighted to be able to help our friends at the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology in Jos. It is great to see these computers being reused and put to good educational use, rather than recycled, as would have been the case here in Aberystwyth.
“I am grateful to colleagues here at Aberystwyth for making this possible and to Cambrian Printers who helped us pack everything for the journey,” added Professor Price.
“This donation of computers by the Aberystwyth University Computer Science department which was facilitated by Professor Chris Price has come as a very big relief to my College back in Nigeria,” said Edore.
“We were faced with the prospect of not having enough facilities for the newly mounted program. It will go a long way in strengthening our infrastructural base and I hope that this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration between our two higher institutions.
“I sincerely thank Dave Price (Director of Infrastructure, IMPACS), Sandy Spence and some of my PhD colleagues at Aber CompSci for all their help," added Edore.
As part of his PhD, Edore is working with Professor Price on the use of mobile phones in Africa to help farmers improve the quality of agricultural crops.
Edore and Professor Price will travel to Nigeria in January 2017 as part of their research, and are also planning to visit the new facilities at the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology during their time there.
The Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Vom, Jos was established in 1941 and is the first higher institution in West Africa to produce graduate Veterinary Surgeons.
It presently has two campuses and offers nine academic programs with a population of more than 1000 students.

Photo: L to R: Aberystwyth University PhD students Expo Otu and Edore Akpokodje, David Lowe, Commercial Manager at Cambrian Printers, and Professor Chris Price, from the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University.

The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column from the Carmarthenshire Herald

The latest Clay Shaw Butler Money Matters column from the Carmarthenshire Herald.
By Mark Jones, director of Carmarthen-based Clay Shaw Butler chartered accountants and business consultants.

Well, that was interesting. Last week, the Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first, and last, Autumn Statement along with the Spending Review.
His speech and the supporting documentation set out both tax and economic measures.
Our summary concentrates on the tax measures which include:
  • the government reaffirming the objectives to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament 
  • reduction of the Money Purchase Annual Allowance 
  • review of ways to build on research and development tax relief 
  • tax and National Insurance advantages of salary sacrifice schemes to be removed 
  • anti-avoidance measures for the VAT Flat Rate Scheme 
  • autumn Budgets commencing in autumn 2017. 
In addition the Chancellor announced the following pay and welfare measures:
  • National Living Wage to rise from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April 2017 
  • Universal Credit taper rate to be cut from 65% to 63% from April 2017 
In the March Budget, the government announced various proposals, many of which have been subject to consultation with interested parties. Draft legislation relating to many of these areas will be published on December 5 and some of the details may change as a result.
Here are some of the details of the Autumn Statement –
The personal allowance:The personal allowance is currently £11,000. Legislation has already been enacted to increase the allowance to £11,500 for 2017/18.
Not everyone has the benefit of the full personal allowance. There is a reduction in the personal allowance for those with 'adjusted net income' over £100,000, which is £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000. So for 2016/17 there is no personal allowance where adjusted net income exceeds £122,000. For 2017/18 there will be no personal allowance available where adjusted net income exceeds £123,000.
Tax bands and rates:The basic rate of tax is currently 20%. The band of income taxable at this rate is £32,000 so that the threshold at which the 40% band applies is £43,000 for those who are entitled to the full personal allowance.
Legislation has already been enacted to increase the basic rate band to £33,500 for 2017/18. The higher rate threshold will therefore rise to £45,000 in 2017/18 for those entitled to the full personal allowance.
The additional rate of tax of 45% remains payable on taxable income above £150,000.
The Scottish government are expected to confirm the basic rate band, personal allowance, etc which will apply to Scottish taxpayers in the Scottish Budget on 15 December 2016. The Scottish government have pledged to 'freeze' the current higher rate threshold in 2017/18, increasing it by no more than inflation until 2021/22.
Long term commitments to raise the personal allowance and higher rate threshold:The Chancellor has reaffirmed the government's objectives to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of this Parliament. He also announced that once the personal allowance reaches £12,500, it will then rise in line with CPI as the higher rate threshold does, rather than in line with the National Minimum Wage.
Tax bands and rates – dividends:Dividends received by an individual are subject to special tax rates. The first £5,000 of dividends are charged to tax at 0% (the Dividend Allowance). Dividends received above the allowance are taxed at the following rates:
7.5% for basic rate taxpayers
32.5% for higher rate taxpayers
38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.
Dividends within the allowance still count towards an individual's basic or higher rate band and so may affect the rate of tax paid on dividends above the £5,000 allowance.
To determine which tax band dividends fall into, dividends are treated as the last type of income to be taxed.
Many individuals do not have £5,000 of dividend income and so their dividend income is tax free irrespective of the tax rates payable on other income.
Individuals who regard themselves as basic rate taxpayers need to appreciate that all dividends received still form part of the total income of an individual. If dividends above £5,000 are received, the first £5,000 will use up some or all of the basic rate band available. The element of dividends above £5,000 which are taxable may well therefore make the individual a higher rate taxpayer with the dividends being taxed at 32.5%.
You can find out more about the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on our website –

You can find out more about money matters on the Clay Shaw Butler website (under our news for business section) -
We have a strong and experienced team with great local knowledge all geared-up to helping you get the very best from your finances – whether that is as an individual or as a business.
We stay ahead of the game by putting great store by continual professional development for our staff.
With Investors In People status at Clay Shaw Butler, we care passionately about making sure our staff have all the tools they need to serve you, our customers.

Weblink -
The team at Clay Shaw Butler can be contacted on 01267 228500.
The team at Clay Shaw Butler are on Twitter. Look for @clayshawbutler.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Time to get ready for the annual Walrus Dip

Plans are underway for the 32nd annual Walrus Dip at Pembrey Country Park.
Hundreds of people are expected to take a dip in the sea on Boxing Day to raise money for good causes.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised for charities through the years ranging from West Wales children’s cancer charity, LATCH to the British Heart Foundation.
Leisure executive board member Cllr Meryl Gravell said: “The Walrus Dip is one of Carmarthenshire’s most traditional and most colourful events in the calendar. Now in its third decade, the event always brings a fantastic atmosphere and gives the opportunity for everyone to let their hair down and brave the Boxing Day waves while raising money for charity at the same time.”
Participants are encouraged to dress in fancy dress. Panto season traditionally comes alive on the sands with Santas and sumo wrestlers, pantomime dames and superheroes making a dash for the freezing surf.
The event, which was established in 1984, will be kicked off by council chairman Cllr Eryl Morgan who will also be handing out certificates to the chilly participants on the day.
Those braving the challenge are being asked to arrive by 10.30am to avoid congestion at the park entrance, and to be at the start line by 10.45am. Admission is free.
The dip kicks off at 11am, and participants are being advised that due to the tides this year, there will be a 10 minute walk to the start line.
Since its inception in 1984, only two dips have been cancelled. One due to an oil spill, and another when the sea froze over. Organisers are hoping for good conditions this year. The event is supported by the RNLI and Coastguard who will be in attendance.
This year a Walrus Dip event is being set up on the Pembrey Country Park Facebook page, people are welcome to send their photographs of this year’s event, plus ones from previous years.

Lluniau Trochfa'r Tymor 2015 | Walrus Dip 2015 pics from Cyngor Sir Gâr | Carms Council on Vimeo.
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Christmas arrives in Ammanford on Friday

Christmas arrives in Ammanford on Friday with the switch-on of the town’s lights.
Organised by Ammanford Chamber of Trade and Ammanford Town Council, and supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, the event is set to bring hundreds of families in to the town centre for a host of festivities.
The main events happen along Quay Street with live music and entertainment, Christmas stalls and a funfair.
The Town Mayor will switch the lights on at 6pm but a whole day of activities is planned with an outdoor market from 8am-4pm.
From 4-7pm, children will get the chance to meet Santa, who will be in his grotto at the Pensioner’s Hall, and Radio Carmarthenshire will bring live music to the main stage at the top end of Quay Street.
Friday night’s festivities will be followed by more Christmas activities on the weekend.
Small Business Saturday kicks off early with plenty of local traders taking part.
Ammanford Library will also host a Christmas Book Fair with a chance to meet authors and get books signed.
On Sunday, the town plays host to its famous Santa Run, when hundreds of people dress up as Santa and descend on Ammanford Park.

Wraps coming off the next phase of Llanelli’s new Vocational Village

The wraps will come off the next phase of Llanelli’s new Vocational Village today (Thursday, December 1).
Special guests have been invited to get their first glimpse of the pioneering scheme, developed specifically to offer top of the range vocational learning opportunities for secondary schoolchildren in the Llanelli area.
A construction skills centre of excellence, built on the site of Bryngwyn School, is the latest element of the scheme to be officially launched.
Development will soon begin to create a specialist catering training facility at St John Lloyd Catholic School, a music technology facility at Coedcae School; a performing arts and media facility at Ysgol Y Strade and a caring and child care facility at Glan Y Môr School.
The vocational village is being delivered through Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme, with part funding through the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools initiative.
Pupils will be able to attend any of the five elements that make up the village, regardless of which school they attend, creating a person-centred approach to vocational learning.
The first tranche of pupils have already had some lessons at the £900,000 construction centre at Bryngwyn, which will be the hub of the village.
Cllr Gareth Jones, Executive Board Member for Education, said: “We are proud to launch the first element of the Vocational Village scheme at Bryngwyn.
“The aim of this scheme is to ensure that young people have access to first class vocational training in key employment sectors, right here on their doorstep.
“The feedback we’ve already had from pupils shows that we’re on the right track, with exciting times ahead.”
Other vocational learning facilities will be developed at the other schools through extending or refurbishing the current provision.
A specialist catering training facility and small training restaurant is planned in an extended, refurbished and re-equipped food technology room at St John Lloyd.
A music technology programme is planned to be developed at enhanced facilities within Coedcae; a performing arts and media facility at Ysgol Y Strade; and a caring and child care facility at Glan y Môr.
An automotive engineering facility at Coleg Sir Gar’s Graig campus is also being used by secondary school pupils as part of the plan. 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Withybush Hospital PACU paediatric unit opening hours 10am-6pm from next week

Opening hours at Withybush Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit will be changed to 10am-6pm from Monday December 5.
The move comes following a decision, taken in the interests of patient safety due to a shortage of consultant paediatricians, by Hywel Dda University Health Board last week.
Referrals to PACU can continue to be made up until 6pm, after which necessary discharges or transfers to Glangwili Hospital when an overnight stay in hospital is required will be made.
Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Operations Joe Teape explained: “We are carefully planning this temporary change and will be spending a lot of time during the coming days finalising the activation plan and making sure that all our staff, GPs, including out-of-hours, and partners such as the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust and NHS Direct are aware and are able to appropriately advise and assist children and their families.”
A task and finish group with clinicians and managers is also being set up to closely monitor the change and ensure further work is progressed in areas including recruitment, technology and engagement with the pubic on a longer term plan to restore the service to a 12 hour one. Weekly updates will be provided to Hywel Dda Community Health Council, as well as regular updates for the general public.
The temporary change has been put in place as a result of national challenges in the recruitment of consultant paediatricians combined with particular problems in Pembrokeshire due to the retirement of one consultant coinciding with maternity leave of another and sickness.
The temporary service change, which will be active from next week, reflects the 10am-10pm model that has been in place and has been providing safe care since service change two years ago, but from the new times of 10am-6pm and with remote consultant paediatric support from Glangwili Hospital at night.
Parents should continue to access healthcare services for children in the usual ways.
If your child is unwell, you can do a number of things:
Call NHS Direct Wales – 0845 46 47 – they can advise you if you are unsure what to do, as well as provide health information on a wide range of conditions, treatment and local health services
Use your community pharmacy if open
Make an appointment with your GP as usual, including out-of- hours GP services, which are contacted through your normal GP telephone number
For a paediatric minor injury, go to Withybush Emergency and Urgent Care Centre (EUCC) 24 hours a day
In an emergency, if your child is very sick, you should dial 999 for assistance. Children who present at Withybush Hospital out-of-hours will usually be transferred to Glanwgili Hospital for paediatric input. In the exceptional circumstance where emergency resuscitation is required, emergency and anaesthetic staff will resuscitate, stabilise, and arrange transfer onto another hospital.
In the meantime, the health board continues to reduce the impact on families as much as possible. This includes provision of the dedicated ambulance vehicle for transfers between Withybush and Glangwili hospitals, provision of funded transport schemes such as that provided by Action for Children, help under the NHS Travel Costs scheme and, in exceptional circumstances where no alternatives are available, vulnerable families will be provided with a paid for taxi to return home.
Recruitment efforts will continue, both for substantive, permanent posts and locum (temporary) paediatric consultants. The health board has secured an agency consultant for an extended period of three months and is interviewing a potential candidate for a role at either Withybush or Bronglais hospitals in January. Adverts for Advanced Paediatric Nurse Practitioners are also being placed.

New social care and well-being information website

Organisations providing social, leisure or recreational activities in Carmarthenshire are being urged to promote their services on a new Welsh social care and well-being information website.
The Dewis Cymru website consists of a series of information pages designed to help people with their well-being and is a resource directory of groups and community services.
It’s the place to go for people who want information or advice about well-being – whether that’s their own well-being or the well-being of a family member or friend.
Twenty local authorities across Wales are now involved in the Dewis Cymru project. Local information is available for North Wales, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. All are actively using the website to support the provision of information and advice in their area. Carmarthenshire is currently in the development process.

You can upload your information directly on the website.

Development plans for key Ammanford Gateway site

Carmarthenshire County Council is working with Aspect Developments to regenerate a key Ammanford gateway site.
Ammanford’s old police station and former magistrates court is set to be transformed through a mixed use development, with plans that include retaining the Court House and conversion into office suites, together with the construction of an extension to provide retail space on the ground floor, and residential accommodation above.
Aspect Developments is to submit an application for planning permission.
The College Street site was recently discussed at the Ammanford Regeneration Taskforce, set up earlier this year by council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole.
He said: “This is a key gateway site to Ammanford and its redevelopment is part of our aspirations to regenerate the town. I’m really pleased to see the plans getting underway to transform this site into a development which will create jobs and housing.”
Hywel Richards of Aspect Developers said: “We are looking forward to bringing the site back into productive use, making a positive impact to the town and providing high quality commercial and residential accommodation to create jobs.”