AN INTREPID team of oarsmen (and women) will be rowing arund the west coast of Wales over the coming fortnight, as part of a programme of celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of Wales’ Millenium Centre.
Among the rowers will be 71-year-old Maggy Clarke from Porthmadog. She will be aiming to complete the first five legs of the ‘Cob to Cardiff’ challenge – a 230 mile row in a Celtic longboat from Porthmadog to Cardiff Bay.
The sea journey will form part of an array of celebrations for the Millenium Centre’s Ar Waith Ar Daith event, planned by world-renowned outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank.
The Porthmadog boat will stop over in Aberdyfi, New Quay, Fishguard, Whitesands Bay, Dale, Tenby, Mumbles, Porthcawl, and Barry before arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September, accompanied by a flotilla of Celtic longboats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast.
Setting out on 2 September, Ms Clarke, along with a 20 strong rowing team from Madoc Yacht Club Rowing Porthmadog, will attempt the club’s most ambitious challenge to date. On board their Celtic longboat, they’ll also be carrying an engraved slate plaque – as a gift to Wales Millennium Centre – brought down from Llechwedd Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog, by zip wire, mountain bike and finally the Ffestiniog railway, mirroring the journey taken by the piece of slate that formed the foundation stone for the Wales Millennium Centre, put in place by opera star Bryn Terfel. In Porthmadog the engraved plaque will be met by local MP Liz Saville Roberts, who will pass the plaque on to Maggy and the team in their Celtic longboat, ready to be rowed down to Cardiff.
Working in relays, the Porthmadog boat will be averaging around 20 – 30 miles of arduous rowing per day to complete the journey down the west coast of Wales to Cardiff Bay, facing the challenges of unfamiliar waters, unpredictable weather and high seas. As they progress on their journey, they will be joined by around 25 boats from sea rowing clubs along the Welsh coast, arriving into Cardiff Bay on 12 September to take part in Wales Millennium Centre’s breath-taking 10th Anniversary outdoor spectacular, the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event.
Maggy Clarke said: “It’s going to be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s wonderful that the Celtic longboats get to play a part in the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale and it will be a beautiful sight to see so many of them rowing into Cardiff Bay together.”
Co-organiser of the Cob to Cardiff Challenge, Richard Aherne from Madoc Yaught Club rowing Porthmadog said: “We’ve crossed the Irish Sea in the Celtic Challenge, rowed a marathon up the Thames in London’s Great River Race, and we regularly race at clubs along the coast, but this will be a spectacular challenge of endurance and determination in potentially tough conditions, a marathon every day, and the club is looking forward to rising to this exciting challenge.”
“We were inspired by watching Celtic longboats racing off Aberdyfi, echoing the race to get a pilot out to sailing ships to help them navigate into port” said John Wassell, Producer for Walk the Plank and originally a boatbuilder himself. “Realising that many ports and harbours around the coast of Wales are connected by a network of rowing clubs, we contacted the Welsh Sea Rowing Association, and we were delighted when 15 clubs responded. The Porthmadog boat is making the longest voyage: 230 miles through some treacherous waters…a tough challenge in a rowing boat! “
The flotilla of Celtic longboats will form a striking part of the Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event, in Cardiff Bay on 12 September. Taking place on an immense scale, with over 700 participants from across Wales, this unforgettable event will celebrate Wales’ rich cultural heritage and history with a breathtaking display of procession, dance, aerial artistry, projection, storytelling, music and pyrotechnics.
“More than 150 rowers will accompany the Riches of the Sea procession into the Roald Dahl Plas, and at the end of the event, the boats will set off back across the Bay, a flame blazing in each boat, symbolising the return of the fires of creative inspiration which nourish the Wales Millennium Centre to their communities “ added Liz Pugh, Artistic Director.
Danielle Milliner from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association commented: “When John Wassell of Walk the Plank and Wales Millennium Centre first approached the Welsh Sea Rowing Association with the idea that they wanted our Celtic longboat rowers to form part of the Wales Millennium Centre 10th Anniversary celebration event we were delighted. I am really pleased that so many of our clubs will be taking part in this event and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all in the WSRA that we are proud of ‘MYC rowing Porthmadog’ for taking on such an arduous challenge of rowing all the way to Cardiff. We are all excited and looking forward to forming part of the grand finale procession of Ar Waith Ar Daith at Cardiff Bay. This sensational sea spectacle will surely be a memorable event for all our sea rowing community and we thank you for inviting us.
Towy rowing club will be involved in the finale of the event, which will be shown live on S4C. Rowing coach Nicola Thomas told The Herald that it would be a fantastic display:
“There are two boats going up from the club – our junior rowers, who won the Welsh Championships, and our lady rowers in another boat,” she said.
“We’re meeting just outside Cardiff, for three days of rehearsals. All the boats will be rowing into the festival, coming together in a choreographed display.”
The Ar Waith Ar Daith finale event will take place in Roald Dahl Plas on Saturday 12 September at 7.30pm. Audiences are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage position to watch the show, and to dress appropriately for an outdoor show. The event is free to attend and suitable for all ages.
Christmas gift fair returns
NEXT Friday (Oct 20), the annual craft and gifts extravaganza will return to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to get the locals in the mood for Christmas.
The Winter Craft & Gift Fair is sure to get visitors feeling festive in the run up to Christmas with over 80 stalls selling a wonderful array of crafts and gifts, many produced by local makers from Ceredigion and mid Wales.
This year will feature many regular stalls, as well as some who will be selling at the fair for the first time, so prepare to discover the unusual and unexpected at this year’s fair with it’s new layout and products for 2017.
The fair will be open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday and 12 to 5.30pm on Sundays all the way up until December 23.
On Saturday, November 25, the Arts Centre’s Christmas Food Fair will take over the Great Hall for the day. There will be the very best of Welsh produce with cheese, meats, fish, wine, cider, pastries, puddings, jams and much, much more from many local producers. The Food Fair is the perfect place to stock up on a few gastronomic goodies in the run up to Christmas. There will also be live musical entertainment to get you in the Christmassy mood! The fair will be on 10am-4pm and entry is free!
‘It’s ok to say’
ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, farmers across Wales are being reminded that ‘it’s ok to say’ and the Farmers’ Union of Wales is urging them not to hide problems from themselves, their families and friends and to talk about their personal feelings.
The FUW made a commitment at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in July to continue raising awareness of mental health problems in rural communities and is therefore renewing the call for those who might be suffering from mental health problems to seek help.
“The focus of this year’s World Mental Health day is on mental health in the workplace and farms are just that. In our places of work we’ve faced some pretty low-points in the last few years. Bovine TB, price volatility and uncertainty about our future post-Brexit, this all puts a strain on our resolve and will have many feeling stressed and under immense pressure,” said Union President Glyn Roberts.
“But we must break the stigma attached to mental health, so if you’re feeling vulnerable, please open-up and speak to someone. That doesn’t just mean today, but always. Farmers and farming families need to continue talking openly about what they are experiencing and the FUW strongly encourages anyone who is worried about their own mental health or a loved-one, to seek help from the Farming Community Network, Tir Dewi, The DPJ Foundation, Mind Cymru or Call Helpline Wales,” added Glyn Roberts.
Scholarship scheme funds student’s Masters
A TALYBONT native is one of just 28 people in the UK to be awarded a scholarship granted by energy company ScottishPower.
Stella Foster, 32, gratefully received the grant from the Scottish Power Foundation for the 2017/18 academic year.
Having just completed an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of York, Stella will begin her Masters in Environmental Sciences this week at the University of East Anglia. Environmental science degrees integrate biology, physical science and information sciences to examine environmental systems (air, water, etc.) and how they interact.
The sought-after scholarship covers full enrolment costs as well as a living allowance. On top of this, the scholars will receive unique opportunities including meeting leading industry professionals.
“Travelling around the world and living in China before I started my undergraduate studies made me aware of the astounding change of pace in urbanisation; the two-hour bus ride from where I lived to Shanghai, there wasn’t a moment where you couldn’t see a construction site,” Stella said.
“This fast and dramatic development creates issues with the environment, and I’m really excited to learn about the creative and fascinating solutions out there, and hopefully come up with some of my own,” she added.
Since it was launched in 2010, the ScottishPower Foundation scholarships programme has provided £1.5m in grants towards training the next generation in their chosen field.
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