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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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Health

Local Businesses help raise astonishing £10,000 for Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital

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THE ORGANISERS of the 2021 Aberystwyth Businesspersons’ Lunch have donated the £10,000 proceeds to the Cardio-Respiratory Ward at Bronglais Hospital.

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands;

John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad

and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon

The lunch last December was in memory of well-known local businessman, jeweller and musician John Davies, who had helped organise the annual lunch for many years but sadly passed away just a few months before.

“John was such a lovely man, a pillar of the town and so well thought of, that we decided it was fitting that the lunch should be in his memory and that the proceeds should go to the cardiac unit where he had been treated for so many years,” said Aled Rowlands, who organised the lunch along with Frank Bridle, Layla Mangan, Gary Pemberthy, Huw Bates and Iestyn Leyshon.

“It was a very successful day, with nearly 200 people enjoying a lunch, comedian, band, auction and raffle. It was a fitting tribute to John who was such a big part of the town.”

John Davies joined his parents’ business at T J Davies at the age of 16 where he worked for 64 years after leaving Llandaff Cathedral School. He passed away in August 2021, at the age of 80.

John’s wife Ann and children Angharad and Rhodri said: “We were delighted at the generous amount that was raised in his memory at the Businesspersons Christmas lunch.

“Charity work was important to John, through his membership of the Lions Club and it is fitting that the money raised went to a department where he personally received such care and attention from Dr McKeogh and his team.

“John will be remembered not only as a businessman but also as a keen and talented trumpeter, playing with Aberystwyth Town Band, Aber Jazz and Philomusica, to name but a few, as well as playing carols with the Town Band every Christmas Day around Bronglais Hospital wards and care homes in the town.”

Pictured at the cheque presentation at Bronglais Hospital are (from left) Consultant Cardiologist Dr Donogh McKeogh; Aled and Rose Rowlands; John Davies’ widow Ann; Frank Bridle; John’s daughter and son, Angharad and Rhodri; and Iestyn Leyshon.

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Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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