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Arts and gifts in Aberystwyth

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screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-31-14ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE have once again welcomed back the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, providing great inspiration for those who are looking for gifts and for those who are simply interested in seeing what local businesses offer.

The annual extravaganza, with over 80 stalls, opened on Friday (Oct 21) and will be available to browse around until December 23, with a Christmas Food Fair on November 26.

This means that it provides a great opportunity for a unique Christmas shopping trip and it is one that will not be forgotten.

The Winter Craft and Gift Fair has been an annual feature at the Arts Centre for over 30 years and as you walk through the lively Arts Centre, you will be able to discover a wonderful array of crafts and gifts produced by local makers from Ceredigion and Mid Wales.

The fair regularly features work from over 80 makers, predominantly working in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire with such items including ceramics, textiles, candles, prints, original artwork, photography, cosmetics and jewellery.

It has helped to support many craft makers and producers in the region, and it has also expanded over the years to include Mid Wales-based food and drink producers. In addition, it also includes a range of toys and games for children.

This year, you can find a wide selection of stalls that will grab your attention and to give you a flavour of some of the businesses that are present at the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, The Herald decided to interview a few of the owners.

KUTIS SKINCARE

At the fair, you will find a section dedicated to ‘Kutis Skincare’, a wonderful skincare range that will catch your interest in no time.

Tiffany Villiers, co-founder, discussed with us about the business and their stall at the Craft Fair.

Tiffany said: “We are Kutis Skincare, a start up based in Llandrindod Wells. We chose ‘ku.tIs’ because it is Latin for ‘skin’ and when spelled phonetically makes for our unique branding.

“We hand-make and sell 100% natural skincare products using responsibly sourced ingredients that have been minimally processed to wholesalers and direct to our customers.

“We never use preservatives, parabens or stabilisers, not even the naturally derived ones. We want our customers to have peace of mind when buying and using our products – there’s no ‘green-washing’ at Kutis!”

Tiffany then went on to say: “Myself and my work partner, Kate Powlesland, run the business together from our little workshop at our local Community Gardens in Howey. We love working from Ashfield; it’s a beautiful place and has the facilities for us to move into growing our own plants to process in the future!

“Since we set up a year and a half ago, we have succeeded in being stocked in a total of 12 shops in Powys, Herefordshire and Somerset. We are small but we are growing!

“We chose to stock our full range of Organic Whipped Body Butters, Organic Lip Balms, Cleansing Masks, Organic Serums and Natural Deodorants as well as our Christmas Gift Packs.

“Most of our items are small and make really nice stocking fillers but it’s great to be able to pick up a ready packaged gift, which is why we chose to stock our Little Luxuries and Daily Face Care Gift Packs.

“Our ‘Little Luxuries’ gift boxes each contain a mini-sized version of our range, including our Organic Body Butter, Cleansing Mask, Organic Serum and popular slider tin Lip Balms. It’s a great way to sample a little of everything!”

LACEWING FAIRY COLLECTION

The Herald also spoke to Deryn Wilcox, designer of the ‘Lacewing Fairy Collection’, about the business: “I’ve lived near Llangrannog for many years, and started making textile fairies as a hobby while working as a University Office Administrator. They gradually took over my life when they started selling successfully at craft fairs and in local shops.

“I was even fortunate enough to sell some to Liberty of London several Christmases ago, which was really exciting. I have received many commissions for custom-made fairies as gifts and especially for weddings.

“The inspiration for the original fairy creations was based on the peg dolls of childhood. They are individually handcrafted in fine detail using quality textiles and other materials, including silks, vintage fabrics and laces.

“The arms, legs and heads are wooden, with the hand-painted faces giving each fairy its own personality. They are suitable as gifts for many occasions or as the start of a collection.”

Deryn then went on to explain to The Herald about her items that are currently displayed at Aberystwyth Arts Centre: “Over the years, the fairies have evolved and other smaller items introduced, such as tooth fairies, trios of fairies, bumble fairies, cotton and silk angels, felt dolls and Christmas decorations.

“The display at Aberystwyth Arts Centre shows a good selection of my current products, from large statement pieces to small stocking fillers and decorations.”

We then asked Deryn about how she feels the Craft Fair will help to promote her business.

“This is the fifth consecutive year I have been involved in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre Winter Craft and Gift Fair. I find it is an extremely good outlet, as people are attracted to the Fair from quite a wide area, and the Centre has long opening hours over several weeks leading up to Christmas.

“A number of my commissions have been as a result of first being seen there.”

RHIANNON ROBERTS

If you love art or are after a unique present for a loved one, then ‘Rhiannon Art’ stall is the ideal stop for you at the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, with bold designs and one-off items aimed to put a smile on your face.

The Herald was able to speak to designer Rhiannon Roberts about the business and why people should come along to visit her stall: “I am a full time artist from Ciliau Aeron now living in Cardiff Bay. I’m self taught and have a degree in Psychology, in fact! I have been a full time artist for six years now, ever since graduating in 2010.

“I started off just selling my originals but then slowly thought about different products. I now sell cards, coasters, placemats, prints and much more. I sell them to galleries and gift shops across Wales.

“I also sell them in markets and different stalls such as the Eisteddfods, Cardiff Christmas Market and local events. A big part of my job now is going round schools in Wales painting big murals with the children in my style, showing their local buildings.”

Rhiannon went on to say: “Children love the colour and the quirkiness. I think the style works as it represents me as a person – I try to always have fun and be happy. I enjoy life and hope that I have a colourful personality, just like my paintings.

“I say that I mix fantasy with reality to create a fairytale world. The buildings look realistic and then I bring unique and fun elements in like floating flowers or magical love boats to make it more eye-catching.

“I love being self-employed and working my own hours. Seeing a product or design that I created is a fantastic feeling and I always get a buzz out of it. I’m focusing now on selling more online on my website (www.rhiannonart.co.uk) – all products are on there – and I think that more people shop online now. I do a lot of promoting through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

Rhiannon went on to say that the Craft and Gift Fair is an important aspect to promoting the businesses: “I’m based in Cardiff now. However, I still find time to come back to West Wales to see family and sell my products in shops and events. I would say that I spend 50% of my time in Cardiff and 50% in Ciliau Aeron.

“However, I can’t be in two places at once and so by having my work at the Arts Centre for two months, it gives me a base and it gives new people as well as old customers a chance to see my designs.”

Rhiannon concluded by saying: “The Arts Centre gets so many visitors and it’s nice for them to have a souvenir of Aberystwyth to take home with them.”

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Community

New Quay dog charity supported by national company

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John Burns: Has been feeding happy and healthy pets since 1993​

​A CHARITY based in New Quay, Ceredigion, that rescues and rehomes German shepherd dogs, is celebrating securing backing from the charitable arm of one of the UK’s biggest and most successful independent pet food companies.

The Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation, part of Burns Pet Nutrition, a family company in Wales that makes specialist foods designed for the health and well-being of pets, has unveiled three charities it will support in 2018.

One of these is the UK German Shepherd Rescue, a rescue charity made up of volunteers who donate their free time to helping rescue and rehoming unwanted German shepherd dogs and puppies throughout the UK.

Suzanne Syers, founder of UK German Shepherd Rescue, said she is looking forward to partnering with Burns on many levels.

Suzanne said: “UK German Shepherd Rescue are thrilled to be chosen as one of Burns’ Charities of the Year for 2018, and are grateful for the package of support from Burns which will help us immensely. We are looking forward to developing a strong partnership with everyone at Burns and also to benefit from the nutritional advice and support that they can bring to help improve the quality of diet (and overall wellbeing) of the dogs in our care.”

The other two charities backed by Burns in 2018 are: Forever Hounds Trust, which matches greyhounds and lurchers to happy homes; and Dogs for the Disabled, an Irish charity that trains assistance dogs to assist physically disabled children and adults to carry out a range of practical tasks.

The Burns Pet Nutrition Foundation has run the Burns’ Charity of the Year since 2015 in addition to other community schemes including Burns in the Community and Burns by Your Side, a scheme that helps school children improve their literacy and communication skills with the aid of trained volunteers and their reading dogs.

The chosen charities will receive free, healthy pet food which has been developed by Veterinary Surgeon, ​​John Burns and has been feeding happy and healthy pets since 1993. The charities will also receive expert advice from Burns’ team of in-house nutritionists, joint promotional opportunities, and in some cases, financial donations. These new charities will replace the two charities it supported this year: the National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) and Appaws for Autism.

John Burns, Veterinary Surgeon and founder of Burns Pet Nutrition, said: “Myself and the Burns Pet Nutrition team are extremely passionate about supporting and giving back to the community in any way, shape or form possible – and the same goes for charities in need of the support they aren’t currently receiving.

“We are looking forward to working with the selected charities throughout 2018 and, hopefully, they will feel the benefit of the support Burns Pet Nutrition can offer. We’re proud to be entering our third year of running Burns’ Charities of the Year, and we look forward to the years to follow.”

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Community

New Sensory Room for Aberystwyth respite service

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Opening the sensory room: Adrian Jones

A FANTASTIC facility is ready to use in Aberystwyth which will aim to benefit the disabled within the community.

Bryn Siriol, a respite service for adults with learning disabilities located on Fifth Avenue in Penparcau, has now opened a new sensory room for those with learning disabilities throughout Ceredigion and is the result of a three-year project.

The Herald spoke to Karen Dagg, who had been the registered manager at Bryn Siriol for seven years.

Describing the sensory room and its benefits, Karen said: “The sensory room provides a ‘quiet’ room where the people we support can relax. The people using our service have varying support needs all have a learning disability and some have physical disabilities.

“The sensory room is now equipped with fibre optic lights, bubble/light machine, projector, glitter ball and a water bed. The room is accessible to people who are in wheelchairs.”

She described the journey that was taken to open the sensory room: “The sensory room has always been a dream for myself and the staff at Bryn Siriol. A few years ago we were fortunate enough to receive a bequest from Mr Williams, whose daughter Thelma used to use the respite service before moving into supported living in the Cardigan area.

“The money Mr Williams left to us was enough to purchase the sensory chalet, have it erected and for some of the equipment, however there was a considerable shortfall.

“The shortfall has been possible due to the hard work of the staff team at Bryn Siriol doing car boot sales with items generously donated by the residents of Ceredigion. Also some of the staff from CTLD (Local Authority) did a sponsored walk.”

“How important do you feel it is for Bryn Siriol to have such a facility?” we asked.

“The sensory room will be available to all people with a learning disability and this gives them the opportunity to enjoy the facilities as well as meeting other people from within the area. As far as I am aware there is not another facility like this within Ceredigion.”

Karen told us how successful the sensory room had been so far and how she thinks it will bring the community together.

“The sensory room has been used by people who access the respite service and there has been fantastic feedback not just in words but in the faces of the people with profound disabilities who are unable to communicate verbally.

“The sensory room has only been open since October 4 and we are anxiously waiting for people from outside of our service to enjoy the facility.”

Bryn Siriol will be holding a tea party on November 8 at the service. People are welcome to go along and join them for tea and cakes, as well as to look at the sensory facility.

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Community

Going for Growth event helps businesses reach new markets

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Going for Growth: A successful day

F​OOD CENTRE WALES recently hosted a very successful ‘Going for Growth’ event to help local food and drink businesses to focus their attention on developing and reaching new markets.

The event was well attended with over 70 attendees, mainly consisting of local food and drink producers as well as other business support agencies.

In extending a welcome to everyone to Horeb, ​​Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, said​:​ “The food industry is one of the main industries in the County, with some 3,700 people working in it and, of course, based on our excellent agricultural products. Some of the most strategic and iconic companies of the food sector in Wales have sites in Ceredigion, for example, Rachel’s, Dunbia (formerly Oriel Jones), Tŷ Nant and Volac. Horeb Food Centre has served most of the Ceredigion food and drink companies since it opened in 1996. We are very pleased that the Centre has also successfully provided services to many other companies across Wales and beyond.”

Rachel Rowlands, founder of Rachel’s Organic, opened the event by sharing her experience of growing a food business. Welsh Government presented the latest industry research data to help businesses identify potential growth areas for their businesses. Ruth Davies from Cwm Farm, who shared her experience of product development, supplying Selfridges and exporting.

Arwyn Davies, new Business Development Manager for Food Centre Wales who will talk about how food and drink producers can benefit from the support offered by the Food Technologists and the HELIX project. The morning finished with Morrisons buyer, Matt Trigg, explaining what they look for in food products and how to get onto their supermarket shelves. He also met with many of the producers for private meetings in the afternoon.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development highlighted the important role of Food Centre Wales in the food and drink industry in Ceredigion, saying, “This event goes to show how valuable Food Centre Wales is for small and medium businesses. I’m certain that local food and drink businesses were inspired from the Going for Growth event where they were treated to experience, knowledge and advice. We’re proud of the high standard of our locally produced food and drink within Ceredigion and are enthusiastic about how we can show support in local businesses to flourish. I’m very much looking forward to the exiting developments in the food and drinks industry in the future.”

The delegates enjoyed a lunch of locally produced food incorporating many food producers who have received help from Food Centre Wales. The afternoon started with attendees participating in a tour of the Research and Development building, followed by 1-2-1 sessions with Food Technologists, Matt Trigg and other business support Agencies – Business Wales, Landsker, Finance Wales, Antur Teifi, Menter a Busnes and Lantra.

The event was organised in collaboration with Cywain and the LEADER groups – Arwain Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), RDP Sir Gâr (Carmarthenshire) and Cynnal y Cardi (Ceredigion).

The HELIX project is a Welsh Government initiative designed to help develop the food and drink industry in Wales take advantage of the much needed funding available to help their businesses grow in the marketplace. New and existing small and medium enterprise food and drink manufacturers are able to access bespoke assistance from food technologists that is specific and tailored to the individual business.

If you are a food or drink producer and would like to receive help from Food Centre Wales, phone 01559 362230 or email gen@foodcentrewales.org.uk.

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