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Another great year for The Big Tribute Festival

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Festival goers: Enjoying the atmosphere (Pic. Keith Morris)

Festival goers: Enjoying the atmosphere (Pic. Keith Morris)

‘THE BIG TRIBUTE FESTIVAL’ was a success, as the event saw thousands of people flock to the fields of Lovesgrove for a memorable Bank Holiday weekend.

The festival ran from Friday (Aug 26) until Sunday (Aug 28) and had the added bonus of fantastic weather in the area of Aberystwyth.

The three days were filled with the UK’s very best tribute acts. The Main Stage saw Nirvana UK, Manc Floyd, Money For Nothing, Kings Ov Leon, Guns 2 Roses and Musest play on the Friday.

On Saturday, the stage invited Endorphinmachine, Atomic Blondie, Vicky Jackson as Pink, Meet Loaf, Ohasis and The Bohemians to entertain the crowd.

The final day had the crowd dancing along to the likes of Bryan Adams Experience, Ed Sheeran Experience, The Beach Boys Band, Maybe Gaga, The Stones, Bon Jovi UK and Coldplay.

The Herald spoke to Vicky Jackson about her career and her tribute act as Pink at the Festival: “I have been singing for 18 years, I have been a tribute artist for nine years and I am also a recording artist. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world performing and I still love it!

“I loved the festival atmosphere over the weekend and the lovely people. It was well organised and a brilliant crowd too as I performed all of Pink’s huge hits crammed into an hour!”

“I have more tribute shows lined up this year, and hopefully more festivals next year. I also have more dance releases out, too! You can find out much more on my social media @vickyjacksonfanpage or Twitter @ vickyjackson.”

‘Maybe Gaga’ also told the Herald about her singing career and what songs she performed at the festival:

“I’ve been singing all my life really; coming from a showbiz family, it runs in the blood.

“I’ve performed with, and for, various people on stages as big as Wembley arena. Then I fell into the tribute world, starting off as a Kylie Minogue tribute, then Gaga came on the scene and I just knew that I had to do a tribute to her.

“Our voices are very similar so it was quite easy to impersonate her. Plus, I just fell in love with everything about her! She’s just crazy and outrageous and so fabulous on stage.

“I also do tributes to Katy Perry and Jessie J, plus sing as myself as much as I possibly can!

“At the festival, I had my band and dancers with me and we all had a ball on stage – it was so good to be back! I think the performance went really well, and I think by the crowd reaction, they loved it.

“It’s the best feeling in the world when everybody is singing along with you and whatever you tell them to do they do! The crew are just so amazing, it really is a pleasure to work with such amazing guys. From the sound and lighting, to the security, Steve Pickup really does have a fantastic team.

“This was my fourth time appearing on the main stage and I’ve loved every single one more than the last.

“At the festival, I performed ‘ARTPOP’, ‘Just Dance’, ‘Pokerface’, ‘Paparazzi’, ‘Telephone’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Born This Way’, ‘Edge of Glory’, ‘Applause’ and ‘Radio Gaga’.

“I’m back and forth from Corfu at the moment. In fact, I travelled back straight after the Big Tribute Festival and performed on Monday night. I am also travelling all over the country at home in England too.

“I do a fair few big corporate dos and private parties, and I have some coming up, plus I’ve just been booked for a wedding in 2018!

“I will perform for anyone (within reason) and absolutely love doing big festivals, as it gives me a chance to work with my band more. All of my upcoming events are on my Facebook page.”

The fun did not end there as the Other Stage, which showcases the best local acts from Aberystwyth and around Wales, introduced Gunpowder Factory, Stix, The Moonbirds, Henebion, Calum Duell, Sgarmes, Aber Jazz and many more.

As well as the Ale and Cider Festival, the festival goers had a wide variety of food stalls to choose from to keep their spirits up.

From a Backyard BBQ, succulent pork from the Bow Street Butchers Hog Roast stall, the Dixie Kitchen stall that served hot dogs, Event Eateries, pizzas from the Fratelli Brothers stall, homemade curries from Mama Singhs, Rustic Cooks Field Kitchen and even sweet treats from Sarah Bunton Chocolates.

Among the other entertainment stalls that kept that crowds energised throughout the weekend were stalls from Spellbound Balloon and Party Shop, Isaacs Sweet Shop and Dress Rail X.

Talking about their support to the festival and the party atmosphere they provided, the owner of ‘Spellbound Balloon and Party Shop’, Alison Richards, told The Herald: “On Saturday, Spellbound Balloon and Party Shop sponsored the fancy dress day at The Big Tribute Festival.

There were five categories and if people wanted to get involved, they would just turn up in fancy dress. “There were a few judges walking around the festival throughout the day looking for good ideas and combinations. For example, the people who won ‘the best group’ made a cardboard rollercoaster with fake legs hanging over and went around the fields with their hands up shouting things like ‘to the left’. They made it look like they were going up and down like a real rollercoaster, which was great.

“The prizes were brilliant. In each group, there were drinks tokens from The Big Tribute bar for the adults, tickets for next year’s festival and also we gave a £25 gift voucher.

“The opportunity to be present at the festival was a good chance to promote the shop. We’re quite well known in Aberystwyth anyway which is good, and we liked the idea of being involved when they approached us about it. The festival organisers wanted to get a really good party atmosphere going and it was good to see what ideas people came up with.

“This year was our third year at The Big Tribute Festival. We attended about four years ago just for the Saturday and had a brilliant time. It is a good family festival and all of the other stall holders helped each other out for change and were really nice and friendly.”

One of the many great things about The Big Tribute Festival is that it caters not just to the adult festival goers, but the younger festival goers too.

The expanded Little Rockers Stage dedicated entertainment for the younger generation this year with live performances from pop tributes, puppet shows, circus skills, magicians, a disco and much more. In addition to this, the children had the opportunity to enjoy the bouncy castles, trampolines and the joys of having their face painted by The Funtastic Nets Team.

Emma’s Crafty Kids tent made another appearance this year to provide the Little Rockers with a range of children’s drop-in craft activities and workshops.

If that wasn’t enough, the Little Rockers under five years were occupied with toys and games throughout the festivities at the Mini-Moshers Marquee.

One of the supporters of The Big Tribute Festival, Radio Ceredigion, talked to The Herald about their role and involvement with the festival: “Radio Ceredigion, for the third year in a row, were proud to support The Big Tribute Festival, Lovesgrove Aberystwyth. We wanted to work with them to not only show our support of such a great feel-good family event, being organised by local people, but because we saw the potential this event has to grow and wanted to back it 100%.

“Event organisers Laura and Steve have done an amazing job and we look forward to working with them again in all future events.”

Taking the time to talk to The Herald about the inspiration behind the event and their thoughts on this year’s festival, organisers Steve Pickup and wife Laura Dodds said: “Myself and my wife Laura are festival goers and always wanted to do something in Mid Wales but knew it wouldn’t be possible to do something with real bands due to the cost.

“We knew we could recreate the fun aspect of a festival and that’s what we’ve done really with tribute bands. We have a beautiful location, camping facilities and all of the production settings that you would expect to find at a mainstream festival.

“This year, the turn out at the festival has been fantastic and we were very fortunate with the weather for the whole three days. We’ve been organising the festival every year and this year it felt like we were up on the numbers. We’ve yet to know the exact figure but the feedback that we received there, from acts to the festival goers, was absolutely superb.

“Both Laura and I organise The Big Tribute Festival alongside our full time jobs and it’s a year long timing thing. We do it with the support of a group of local people in Aberystwyth who are an incredible bunch of people. They help us with all aspects of the logistics, from the site team to the security.

“We are just fortunate that, in a place like Aberystwyth, we have people that we can turn to in order to make things happen. It’s quite incredible what we can achieve within the timeframe we have.

“We would love to bring the festival back again next year and we hope we can. There are always things you need to sort out first before organising a festival but we are hopeful we will be back again.

“We think The Big Tribute Festival is probably as big as we want it to get in order to maintain that family friendly feel. It was so enjoyable this year; the audiences came from the local area and further afield. It’s also amazing to get the feedback from people who travel from all around the UK to Lovesgrove in order to attend the festival. They all put in their diaries where they spent that Bank Holiday weekend and it’s great.

“The feedback that we have received so far this year was probably the best we’ve had. After all of the work and planning, you always hope it pays off, so this year it seems to be that it’s been great all round.”

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Join the stand against scams

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CEREDIGION residents will get the opportunity to learn more about how they can protect themselves against scams in an event to be held at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm.

Ceredigion County Council have joined the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team and Wales Against Scam Partnership (WASP) who will be touring Wales holding scam awareness events between 24 and 28 September.

Friends Against Scams is an NTS initiative that aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Protection Services said, “Scams often target the most vulnerable people in society but the reality is that anyone can become a victim of scams. Scams damage lives and can affect people financially and emotionally so I’m proud that Ceredigion County Council has joined the work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, Friends Against Scams and others who are working together to prevent people from being victims of scams. By signing up as an organisation we undertake to actively promote the Friends Against Scams initiative.”

Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.

Louise Baxter, Team Manager in the National Trading Standards Scams Team said: “The tactics used by scammers leave victims socially isolated and ashamed of telling their friends and families what’s really going on behind closed doors. It is fantastic to have a great organisation to help us tackle this problem on a local, regional and national level and I would encourage all those that are interested in showing their support to join the campaign and be part of our growing Friends Against Scams network.”

Call by at the Bandstand, Aberystwyth on 27 September between 9:30am and 1:30pm to learn more on how to protect yourself from scams. For more information about becoming a Friend Against Scams, visitwww.friendsasagainstscams.org.uk

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Victim speaks out about the impact knifepoint robbery

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Teifion Lewis: Robbed the man at knifepoint

THE VICTIM of a knifepoint robbery has spoken out about the impact the incident has had on his life as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in a national knife amnesty aiming to get weapons off the streets.

The 24-year-old was approached by a man he didn’t know while walking his dog in Carmarthen on July 20 this year. A knife was held to his chest, and he was forced to hand over the money in his wallet.

His attacker, Teifion Lewis, of Llammas Street, Carmarthen, was arrested and charged with robbery within four days, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Looking back at the incident, the victim, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “At first, I didn’t realise he had a knife on him. I just assumed he was another man who was out partying, given he was young and it was late on a Friday night.

“Even when he was right in front of me with his hand on my chest, I assumed he must have had too much to drink and just stumbled into me. Once I saw he was brandishing a knife, though, that changed everything. It was at that moment that I realised I was in far more danger than I’d first thought.

“I suppose the only real thing that was going through my mind at the time was to talk to him, do as he says, and get out of there as soon as possible without becoming hysterical. I just had to keep as calm as possible for the time he was blocking my route.”

He explained that it was only when Lewis had taken his money and walked away, that he realised what could have happened had things gone wrong.

“I thought about how easily he could have stabbed me and I’d have been left out in an empty street, cold and alone, bleeding to death, without even a mobile phone on me to call my friends and family to tell them I love them,” he said.

“I’ve never given much thought as to what my inevitable death will be like, but I’d never have thought it could have ended that way.”

The victim had walked his dog every night for two years – using this particular route for seven months – with no issue. Since being robbed, he has become wary of going out at night and hasn’t been able to walk down the lane where he was stopped without suffering flashbacks.

“It’s not necessarily the whole event that comes back to me, but different parts, such as when he started to sob to me about his home life, or when he apologised for ‘having to mug me’,” he said.

“By far, what’s stuck with me the most are the words said to me as I was being mugged. The words ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ have been repeating in my mind every day since then, without failure.”

On September 2, at Swansea Crown Court, Teifion Lewis was sentenced for robbery and possessing a knife in a public place. The victim read out a statement directly addressing Lewis, urging him to get his life back on track and forgiving him for what he did.

“You asked me that night to forget that the robbery had ever happened,” he read. “My assumption is because you were fearful as for what might subsequently happen to you. I’m afraid though, that the image of a knife being flicked towards my chest, and the phrase ‘I want your money, I don’t want your life’ is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, no matter how much I wish for it to go.

“I want you, however, to improve. I want you to use your punishment as your wake-up call, and as a doorway to improving both your future and the future of those who you are close to. There is help available for you, even in prison, and even when it seems all hope is lost. If I can get my life back on track after my autism diagnosis, so can you.

“You’re young, you’re able bodied, and you still have time. Use it wisely. I can’t forget what you did, but just this once I will forgive you.”

The victim has spoken out about his experience as Dyfed-Powys Police takes part in Operation Sceptre – a national week of action aimed at cracking down on the illegal possession of knives. A knife amnesty is taking place during the week (Sept 18-24), with people able to bin their knives at specific locations across the force no questions asked.

The 24-year-old has backed the operation, and the chance to get knives out of our communities.

“I’d prefer it if these people who carry knives with them be honest about who they are and why they have them on their person,” he said. “But it’s much more important that it’s an opportunity to get these weapons off the street.

“If the ability to do this anonymously is what gives these people the confidence to rid themselves of their weapons, then so be it.”

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A brand new Welsh language ukulele orchestra

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CAN you play the ukulele and would like to join a ukulele orchestra? Or would you like to learn a new skill and to socialise in a Welsh-speaking environment? Why not join Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl?

On Monday, October 15, Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Learn Welsh will launch Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl which is a brand new, Welsh language ukulele orchestra in Aberystwyth for free, for those aged 16+.

Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl will practice weekly between 6pm and 7:30pm every Monday night during the school term and practices will take place at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. There is no need for any experience or ability on the ukulele and there will be instruments available to borrow so that you can have a taste before buying your own ukulele.

Welsh will be the main language of Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl but there is a warm welcome to everyone whatever your level of proficiency in Welsh. Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl is supported by Learn Welsh as a great activity for learners to practice their Welsh outside the classroom in a fun and new way.

Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl’s conductor will be Steffan Rees who has held a number of Iwcs a Hwyl workshops over the last year as Cered’s Community Development Officer. Steffan is also a musician who composes and performs as “Bwca” and he has been playing the ukulele for years.

Steffan said, “I have really wanted to start a Welsh ukulele orchestra in Ceredigion for a while having seen the successes and popularity of those in Cardiff and South East Wales. The ukulele is an instrument that excites people of all ages and with some patience and perseverance, it is an easy enough instrument to master. I’m looking forward to developing a repertoire with the orchestra and play a few gigs; the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron in 2020 perhaps!”

Numbers for the first term of the orchestra are limited so contact the Arts Centre Box Office on 01970 632 232 to book your place in Cerddorfa Iwcs a Hwyl.

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