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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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News

Meat Loaf dead: Bat Out of Hell singer dies aged 74

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SINGING legend Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 after a stellar career spanning six decades.

Born Marvin Lee Aday in Texas, but known as Michael Lee Aday thoughout his life, he shot to fame with his powerful, wide-ranging voice.

The rock veteran sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.

He was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony in 2016, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to “bring love back into this world”.

In a heartbreaking tribute posted on the star’s official Facebook page, it was revealed the star passed away on Thursday night with wife Deborah by his side, The Sun reported

Meat Loaf joins the cast as a special guest as he visits the musical Bat Out Of Hell on Broadway at New York City Centre in 2019. Photo / Getty Images
Meat Loaf joins the cast as a special guest as he visits the musical Bat Out Of Hell on Broadway at New York City Centre in 2019. Photo / Getty Images

The statement reads: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.

“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.

“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World. Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.

“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.

“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”

Meat Loaf’s cause of death has not yet been revealed.

His colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows – including the 1997 film Spice World.

Written and produced by Jim Steinman, singles from Bat Out of Hell, Two of Three Ain’t Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light, were both certified platinum in 2018.

He sold more 100 million albums worldwide.

The rock star was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s.

In 2016, he was forced to deny he had dead or almost dead as he had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he had died after collapsing on stage in June that year.

A cause of death will not be released.

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman during Meat Loaf in Studio Recording Bat Out of Hell II in Los Angeles in 1991. Photo / Getty Images
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman during Meat Loaf in Studio Recording Bat Out of Hell II in Los Angeles in 1991. Photo / Getty Images
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Half a million boost to Aberystwyth University’s new nursing education facilities

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A £500,000 grant from the Welsh Government will fund new facilities at Aberystwyth University for its nursing courses which will start in September this year.

The announcement comes six months after the University’s plans to offer nursing qualifications for the first time were given the go-ahead by Health Education and Improvement Wales.

The money will be used to invest in facilities at the University’s new Healthcare Education Centre, located opposite Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.

The plans include capital works and the purchase of equipment to create a suite of high quality clinical practice rooms, as part of a £1.7 million University investment at the site.
The new centre will include a Clinical Skills Unit with high fidelity simulation areas that reflect the patient’s journey from home and community services through to assessment, planned and acute care.
Work on the facilities is due to be completed in March this year, in time for the first nursing students to begin their studies in September.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan MS said:

“The people who work in the NHS are its lifeblood. Investing in training and the future workforce is a priority for us. I’m delighted our funding is helping to support a new phase for Aberystwyth University in providing nursing training.

“The new facility provides students with invaluable training in a rural setting and builds on the work of CARER (Community and Rural Education Route) programme, giving them experience of working closely with clinicians and patients in community settings.

“Over the past five years training places for nurses have increased by 72% in Wales and we are pleased that we have retained the NHS bursary for student nurses to support people into a career in nursing.

“I look forward to visiting the new centre when it opens in the spring and meeting those starting out on the journey to be becoming a nurse”.

Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure added:

“During the pandemic, the work of our nurses, and that of other NHS and care workers, has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is a great honour that we will be educating nurses here in Aberystwyth for the first time this September.

“We are very grateful to the Welsh Government for this important investment to support the development. The funding will help ensure that the new students have access to the best resources and a high quality education when they start in September.

“The Healthcare Education Centre will benefit the local recruitment and retention of nurses in mid-Wales, and offer wider benefits to the area. It also has the potential to inspire new models of healthcare delivery. Supporting community needs, in close co-operation with our partners, is central to our civic mission; and establishing nursing education here is an important part of that. Our plans will also make an important contribution to enhancing mental health and Welsh-medium provision locally and beyond.

“A big thanks goes to everyone who has been a part of developing our plans to provide nursing education here – including the Welsh Government, the local health boards and Ceredigion County Council – without whom these exciting developments would not be possible.”

The proposals to establish nursing education were developed by Aberystwyth University in co-operation with a number of partners including the Hywel Dda, Betsi Cadwaladr and Powys local health boards as well as service users and carers.

The new degree courses will also offer students the opportunity to study up to half of their course through the medium of Welsh.

26 January this year is the closing date to apply to study as part of the first cohort of nursing students at Aberystwyth University.

More information is available by going to www.aber.ac.uk/en/hec

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News

Financial support for businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions

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FINANCIAL support is available for retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism, freelancers in the creative sector and supply chain businesses in Ceredigion who have been impacted by the latest coronavirus restrictions.

The Emergency Financial Support has opened today (January 20 2022) and is available under a new Welsh Government support package following the move to Alert Level 2 in December 2021.

Businesses in Ceredigion are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply online: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/

The following business grants are available:


·         Non-Domestic Rate Grant
Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains who are registered for Non-Domestic Rates and meet the qualifying criteria may be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

·         Emergency Business Fund
This grant will provide support to businesses in the retail, leisure and tourism businesses, freelancers in the creative sector and related supply chain businesses who do not have a property or are not eligible to apply for the Non Domestic Rates Grant (NDR). Businesses who do not employ anyone apart from the owner (Sole traders, taxi drivers and freelancers) will be entitled to a payment of £1000. Businesses who employ staff through PAYE (in addition to the owner) will be entitled to a payment of £2,000.

·         Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund
The third element is a reopening of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF). On top of NDR based grants, this fund will see grants of up to £25,000 made available for severely impacted hospitality and leisure business – and their supply chains. As with previous ERF rounds, this will support businesses who have seen a reduction in their turnover of more than 60%.

More information and an application form for businesses is available on Ceredigion County Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/

The Non-Domestic Rate Grant and Emergency Business Fund will close on 14 February 2022.

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