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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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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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Driving Wales to international skills success

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AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.

“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.

“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”

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