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‘MidMad’ at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

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The interior of the marquee: with kind permission from Rachel Scurlock, Marketing Assistant at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

THE ANNUAL MidMad event, for music and festival lovers, returned to the Aberstwyth Arts Centre on Saturday (Jun 25) for another funfilled day.

The event was held from 2pm, where people had the whole day to look forward to a packed schedule of activities. As well as dancing, singing and live music performances throughout the day, children were entertained by face painting, arts and crafts workshops and circus skills workshops, and families had the opportunity to enjoy the Arts Centre’s popular barbecue.

All was not lost for football fans as the Arts Centre televised the UEFA Wales game during the event.

At 2pm, the event kicked off with Manchester artist and musician Gideon Conn, a uniquely gifted songwriter who is currently based in London. Having toured extensively around the UK, he has played many UK festivals, including Glastonbury Festival, and is influenced by Soul and Jazz music from artists such as Stevie Wonder, OutKast and Nat King Cole. Conn has also had the benefit of being played on XFM Radio and on BBC Radio 1. With the likes of Ed Sheeran as self-professed fans, he supported popular American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his 2008 UK Tour.

An established clothing designer, painter, drawer and sculptor, he sells his artwork and accepts commissions through his official Facebook page and website.

With a list of released singles under his belt, that include first single ‘I Want You Around‘ on Mannequin Republic on 10-inch vinyl, and the release of ‘Highlights and Perceptions’ on 12-inch vinyl and digital download in November 2013.

Having already performed at the Leigh Folk Festival in Essex and the Green Note Basement in Camden, fans are able to see Conn at places such as the Glastonferret in Preston on July 10, the Cloudspotting Festival in Lancashire on July 30 and the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire on August 5.

Speaking to The Herald, Gideon Conn was able to tell us his thoughts on the MidMad event as a whole and on his performance: “The marquee tent was very large and almost empty as I was first on and the weather was good at that point so people preferred to stay outside.

“I did have a lovely email today though from a guy who watched the show and really enjoyed and engaged with my music. I mostly played songs from my debut album ‘New Bop Sounds’, but slipped in a couple from the following albums.”

At 3 .05pm, cabaret style singing group ‘Sgarmes’ were next to perform at ‘MidMad’.

Dynamic, bilingual and unique, Sgarmes are a close harmony singing group based in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales. Named after the welsh word for scrum, the group was set up by musical director Elinor Powell in 2006 with the specific aim of filling the gap between a formal choir and a covers band. Sgarmes sing a wide range of classic and contemporary songs in both English and Welsh.

They like to defy being categorised but are probably much more of a cabaret act than a choir that just love to sing and entertain. Sgarmes have performed at numerous events throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and even Germany and are ideal for wedding parties, charity events and functions large or small.

Speaking about MidMad, Sgarmes’ Manager , Huw Bates , told The Herald: “We’ve performed at this event a few times now and always thoroughly enjoy it. Free music, activities for kids, food and drink and Wales playing football on the big screen – what’s not to like?!” Sgarmes sung a variety of numbers showcasing their diverse repertoire from ‘Calon Lan ‘ and ‘Mambo Italiano ‘ to ‘One Day More ‘ and a couple of their newer numbers : ‘ A Little Respect ‘ by Erasure and Iko Iko, originally by the Dixie Cups.

The group have a busy summer ahead, with events ranging from a fundraising evening in Llangwyrfon to a wedding in Merthyr and will be performing on the Main Stage for the third year running at this year’s Big Tribute Festival.

‘MidMad’ was then treated to the fabulous Lady Gaga tribute and impersonator, Donna Marie. This show is the Lady Gaga tribute that raises the benchmark for all other tribute acts, and as Lady Gaga, Donna Marie is internationally acclaimed as the ‘Best Lady Gaga Tribute on the planet’! Even the real Lady Gaga agrees, when she squealed in excitement upon meeting Donna Marie, telling her: “Oh, my god ! You look just like me – you are amazing.”

Donna Marie is the only Lady Gaga Impersonator and Tribute in the world that uses an authentic working replica of the Lady Gaga Spark Bra. All the costumes are professionally tailored handmade replicas of the Haus of Gaga wardrobe, designed and created by Donna and her very own costume designer (who has worked on BBC Television and the West End as a theatre costume designer). The costumes cost thousands of pounds to make, but the attention to detail is noticeable with every single stitch, helping to re-create the experience of drama, attitude and fashion that is ‘LADY GAGA‘.

Donna Marie is constantly updating the ‘HAUS OF GAGA’, recreating the outrageous fashion trends and props in line with Lady Gaga‘s ongoing hits and ever changing wacky wardrobe.

But it’s not only the costumes that turn heads; Donna Marie, has an uncanny natural resemblance to Lady Gaga. The show has the support of a full team of professionals – choreographers, dancers, sound engineers, special effects, set and prop designer, stage manager, dresser and costume designer who together notch up over 80 years experience in the entertainment industry.

Donna Marie has won many awards for her Lady Gaga tribute show, including the prestigious GOSCAR award for the ‘Best Act of 2010’, which she then won again the following year. In 2013 and 2016, she won the Agents Association ‘National Tribute Award‘ as ‘The Official UK No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. In 2011, Donna Marie’s Lady Gaga tribute act theatre show at St David ‘s Hall in Cardiff was a sell-out.

The Lady Gaga tribute show is available worldwide and can be tailored to suit any venue, event and capacity. Clients to date range from global corporations and five star hotels (including hotels frequented by the real Lady Gaga when on tour!) to more personal private functions including birthdays and weddings.

Donna Marie was happy to speak to The Herald on how her performance went at the event: “It was great to be a part of the ‘MidMad ’ event in Aberystwyth. The crowd really enjoyed my Lady Gaga tribute performance. Dancing and singing along, they really got into the spirit of things. We had an amazing time. Thank you, Aberystwyth. “

The songs that Donna Marie performed at the event were: ‘Guy’, ‘Manicure’, ‘Do What You Want’, ‘Alejandro’, ‘Telephone’ and ‘Applause’. There was also a Gaga medley that included ‘Just Dance’, ‘Pokerface’, ‘Marry the Night’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Judas’ and ‘Born This Way’.

“There are a few exciting things coming up over the next few weeks. On Wednesday (Jun 29), I picked up my award at the National Tribute Music Awards. I have won the ‘UK’s Official No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. I’m then off to perform at Edinburgh Pride, a castle in Latvia for a wedding, Charlie’s Bar in Ibiza, and I’m also performing at the Royal Airforce 100 years Celebration in Kings Lynn. We are also in rehearsals for my theatre show at Blackwood Miners on October 14.”

After the televised UEFA match, international award-winning brass ensemble ‘Oompah Brass‘ performed for the MidMad crowd. The band have been described by Chris Evans from Radio Two as ‘The Legends In Lederhosen – they rock – so good‘.

Shortly after, Mid Wales band ‘Cartoon Violence‘ headed the event with songs capturing the classic British Pop scene, including music from The Kinks and Madness. Endless soaring energy, great sing-a-long choruses and wonderful piano melodies are all hallmarks of the band’s unique sound.

At 9pm, the event wrapped up with an over 18s disco with DJ Ed Underwood. As well as that, the additional entertainment at the event was Dripping Tap Theatre Company who presented ‘Webster and Jones: A pocket guide to Wales’, which was a comic interactive walkabout performance about two intrepid Victorian explorers conquering the great outdoors!

Additionally, 2009 Britain’s Got Talent competitors Jeffrey and Turbo, from ‘Flawless‘, provided a House and HipHop Dance Workshop from 2pm until 5pm.

Special thanks and credits for photos of the performers to: Dewi Alun Jones Photography and Donna Marie herself

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Success at Youth Work Excellence nominations

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CEREDIGION Youth Service have been successful in being shortlisted for a number of awards at this year’s National Youth Excellence Awards. The awards will take place on Friday, 28 June at Deganwy, Llandudno. Youth Workers from across Wales will gather to celebrate excellent practice in youth work over the last year.

The Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Awards recognise the value of youth work and youth services from across Wales. The Welsh Government has celebrated excellence in youth work since 1993 and the awards are now in their 25th year. Welsh Government said, “Celebrating Youth Work continues to be a priority, as we know that Youth Work continues to be an important part of many young people’s lives”.

Ceredigion Youth Service will not only be presented with both the Silver and Gold Quality Mark Awards for Youth Work in Wales by Minster for Education, Kirsty Williams at the event, but have also been shortlisted for a number of special awards, in which the winners will be announced on the evening.

Ceredigion Youth Service has been shortlisted for their ‘Prosiect 2050’ under the category; Promoting Heritage & Cultures in Wales and Beyond, their Cooking Club at Ysgol Henry Richard under the category; Promoting Health, Well-being & Active Lifestyles and the Inspire Program under the category; Promoting Engagement with Formal Education, Employment and Training.

In addition, Thomas Evans from Aberaeron Youth Club has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Volunteer in a youth work setting award and Lowri Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service has been shortlisted for the Outstanding Youth Worker award.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer with responsibility for Ceredigion Youth Service said, “It comes as no surprise that Ceredigion Youth Service have been shortlisted for such awards. The Youth Service team has achieved all three National Quality Mark Awards, and now having been shortlisted for so many special awards is a tremendous achievement.”

“The awards evening which celebrate outstanding youth work from across the country will be a fantastic opportunity for the Youth Service to receive recognition for their work with young people in Ceredigion. I wish them the very best for the night.”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk

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Local MP pledges to be a Bowel Cancer Champion

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BEN LAKE, Member of Parliament for Ceredigion, has pledged to become a Bowel Cancer Champion to lead the change in Parliament for people affected by the disease.

Someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer every 15 minutes, making it the UK’s fourth most common cancer. It’s also the second biggest cancer killer, nearly 16,000 people die from the disease every year. Yet bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. However, only 15% are diagnosed at the earliest stage of the disease when the chance of survival is highest.

As a Bowel Cancer Champion, Ben Lake MP, will work with Bowel Cancer UK – the UK’s leading bowel cancer charity – to increase early diagnosis and improve access to best treatment and care both in Ceredigion and nationally. By working together with people affected by the disease and the clinical and research community, as well as MPs, the charity’s ambition is that by 2025, survival rates can be transformed from 60% of people surviving bowel cancer to 75%.

Ben Lake MP says: “It simply isn’t acceptable that so many people die from bowel cancer each year. That’s why I’m proud to be working with Bowel Cancer UK and helping them make real change happen through my role as a Bowel Cancer Champion. I look forward to using my position in Parliament to call for changes which can improve outcomes for patients with bowel cancer in Ceredigion. Together we can stop bowel cancer.”

Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says: “I’m delighted that Ben Lake has pledged to become a Bowel Cancer Champion. Ben will serve as a valuable ally in helping us to put bowel cancer firmly on the political agenda and campaigning for crucial improvements to services for bowel cancer patients both nationally and in Ceredigion.”

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Ceredigion Youth Service Awards Night Success

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Ysgol Henry Richard pupils receiving certificates.

ON Tuesday, 9 April, over 220 young people and their families, from across Ceredigion joined Ceredigion Youth Service to celebrate their annual Awards Night. The evening was an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of all young people who have engaged with Ceredigion Youth Service during the past year.

Young people attended from each Secondary School in Ceredigion, Coleg Ceredigion, Ceredigion Training, young people working with the outreach service, and all the young people who attend youth clubs, youth projects and holiday provisions. There has been a wide variety of projects, activities and events held again this year, with up to 5,000 young people in attendance. These have been successful due to the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the young people from all over Ceredigion.

The special awards presented during the evening included awards for Young Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Contribution awards, Campaign of the Year, Special Achievements and Community Engagement awards. In addition to the special award categories, numerous local certificates were celebrated and distributed to young people achieving national accreditations or to those who have participated in various clubs and projects.

Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council leading the evening.

Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services opened the evening. The evening was then hosted by Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council. Guest speakers included Ashlie Day, Chloe Toose and Thomas Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service Young Volunteers. The awards were presented by Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council and Hag Harris, Chairman of Ceredigion County Council. Clips were shown on the screen including a message from MP Ben Lake. The night was closed by Chelsea Jones and Louise Bryan, members of Penparcau Youth Club.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Lifelong Learning and Culture said, “Both Ceredigion Youth Service and the Council are extremely proud that over 400 young people have achieved awards through the Youth Service during the past year. Youth Service provision is hugely valuable to young people’s development as they transition into adulthood. Our youth clubs, outreach provision, work within schools and holiday programs offer a variety of opportunities for young people to be a part of something that supports and interests them.”

“The number of young people achieving awards, accreditation and certificates this year is a reflection of our young people’s commitment and enthusiasm across the county and it was a pleasure to welcome so many young people and their families to celebrate with us in Theatr Felinfach. Congratulations to you all!”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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