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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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Minister opens film premiere for port stories

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WALES’ Arts and Sports Deputy Minister has launched a new film charting the histories and life of five port towns in Wales and Ireland.

Premiered at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth, the series of eight short documentary films and one feature-length film, At the Water’s Edge: Stories of the Irish Sea, aim to promote the ports of Fishguard, Holyhead and Pembroke Dock in Wales, and Dublin Port and Rosslare Harbour in Ireland, as well as the three ferry routes connecting them.

The films were produced as part of Ports, Past and Present, a project which explores the history and cultural heritage of the ports, showcasing stunning views of the landscapes and wildlife of the Irish Sea coast and revealing the human histories of the port communities.

In Fishguard, residents Gary Jones and Jana Davidson talk of invasions by pirates and French armies, while Hedydd Hughes explains how she teaches children about local legends. In Rosslare Harbour, the Todd family from Fishguard meet their Irish in-laws, the Fergusons.

Local historian David James shares the extraordinary story of how the son of a Japanese samurai came to plant a ginkgo tree in Pembroke Dock, and local councillor Josh Beynon explores the secret location where the Millennium Falcon was built for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. 

In Dublin and Holyhead, poetry by Gillian Brownson and Gary Brown celebrates the centuries old link of their ports. Historian Gareth Huws explains how traces of Bronze Age settlements can still be seen in the Ynys Môn town.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden MS, who came to the premiere, said:

“Through showcasing the rich and diverse cultural history of our ports, bringing life and colour through visual arts, literature and film, the Ports, Past and Present project will not only enhance the experience of visitors of all ages and interests, but also encourage more time and money spent in these communities.

“Engaging with local communities and increasing the awareness of port heritage through panel discussions, creative workshops and talks – is an excellent opportunity to gain the support of local residents ensuring there is a careful balance which works for the local communities as well as visitors from across the Irish Sea and beyond.

“I’m delighted to launch the film which will showcase and celebrate the best each community has to offer to prospective visitors and users of the ferry ports, but also capture the multilingual and multicultural nature of the ports and their surrounding areas.”

Professor Peter Merriman, project team leader at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Geography and Earth Sciences said:

“We are delighted that the Minister has officially launched our films, which portray the rich cultural and natural heritage of these Irish and Welsh port towns. They are the result of almost three years of work by the project team and our production partners Mother Goose films, and we hope that they will inspire visitors to spend more time in the ports as they pass through them.”

The films form part of a wider tourism campaign to raise awareness of the rich coastal and maritime heritage of the five selected ports and their communities.

Project leader Professor Claire Connolly from University College Cork said: “It’s a joy to see so many images and stories from Rosslare, Dublin, Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock on screen. The lives and cultures of the port towns come to life in the films and together they offer an extended invitation to stop and stay in these storied places.”

Ceredigion Museum is also hosting a travelling art exhibition looking at the rich coastal history and heritage of the port communities.

Over the coming months, the films will have free screenings around Wales and Ireland, and will then be released generally so that the local communities can promote their own areas.

Ports, Past and Present is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme, and operates across four institutions in Ireland and Wales, including University College Cork, Aberystwyth University, the University of Wales Trinity St David and Wexford County Council. The film has been led by a team in the Department for Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

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Aberystwyth Town to welcome Knife Angel sculpture

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A HUGE 27-foot sculpture, made from 100,000 confiscated knives, is to be welcomed to Aberystwyth town next month (1 June) as local community groups prepare to come together to promote key prevention, anti-violence and anti-aggression messages.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, working alongside Dyfed-Powys Police, Aberystwyth Town Council and Ceredigion County Council is bringing the Knife Angel to Llys y Brenin square, Aberystwyth, where it will stand for four weeks as a physical reminder of the effects of violence and aggression.

The iconic sculpture – commissioned by the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire and created by artist Alfie Bradley – will be on display in the town until 29 June 2022.

This will be the second time that Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn has bought the Knife Angel to the Dyfed Powys Police Force area, with it’s first visit being in Newtown, Powys in January 2020.  Mr Llywelyn has been keen to bring the Knife Angel back to the Force area since then, so that other communities can get involved in the key messages.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said; “The Knife Angel is a reminder of the devastating impact of knife crime, and any form of violence and aggression has on families and communities.

“Whilst there has been a 105% increase in knife crime in Wales over the last decade, rest assured that the Knife Angel has not been brought to Aberystwyth because of any major problem with this kind of crime in the area.

“However, we do acknowledge, that knife crimes have taken place here within the last year. Although a proportion of these were domestic, not street based, it is worrying that a small number of these involved suspects under the age of 18. I am pleased to see however that the Police and partners have come together over the last 6-months to put interventions in place to divert children from knife crime.

“Prevention of crime and diversion away from crime is essential. We hope that the Knife Angel will greatly assist us in raising critical awareness of knife crime whilst creating a widespread intolerance to violent behaviour within our communities.”

Inspector Andy Williams of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “While Dyfed-Powys Police is one of the safest places to live and work in the country, we still see the devastating effect knife crime has on our communities.

“In July last year we had a murder in Ceredigion involving a knife, when John Bell died after being stabbed in Cardigan.

“That case showed the devastation knives can have, with the loss of a life and the impact that has on Mr Bell’s loved ones, withs the man responsible rightly being sentenced to life in prison.

“The Knife Angel is a very dramatic and powerful sculpture that aims to inspire people not to turn to knife crime or even to carry a knife for protection.

“I would urge anyone to go and see it. Take your children and make a day of it to take in this poignant reminder of the dangers of violence and aggression, particularly when weapons are involved.”

Aberystwyth Town Mayor, Dr Talat Chaudhri, said: “We welcome the Knife Angel to Aberystwyth and stand together with towns and cities where knife crime is a bigger problem than it is here. There is no place for violence of any kind in our community.”

Children and young people from across Aberystwyth and neighbouring areas are being encouraged to get involved as well as community groups and organisations, in visiting the Knife Angel and taking part in engagement activities which focus on the key messages – the impact of violent crime, prevention, and diversion away from violence.

If you would like to find out more about how you, your community, school, college or university groups can get involved, please contact the Commissioner’s Engagement Team on OPCC.Communication@dyfed-powys.police.uk.

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Young person celebrates kickstart job and overcomes several obstacles

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22-YEAR-OLD Lee from rural Ceredigion found it challenging to secure permanent employment. Having no mode of transport as well as his diagnosis of autism and depression meant that Lee has experienced significant barriers with finding and maintaining employment. Communities For Work Plus (CFW+) provided Lee with the right tools and opportunities to find the right role for him. He now has a job at ASN Watson (Savers), with a more positive future ahead.

Lee was struggling financially with increasing debt and although he had been working in the past, the nature and environment of the work was not practical for Lee’s abilities; he was often misunderstood by employers.

After being referred to CFW+ from Job Centre Plus, Aberystwyth, Lee received support with job searches, applications, cover letters, cv writing, and interview skills. He’s now in paid employment, secured through the Kickstart Scheme. The UK Government Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

Lee said: “The project helped me a lot as I struggle to know where to start when it comes to finding jobs, but this definitely helped. Communities for Work+ has got you covered!”

Communities For Work Plus is a Welsh Government funded project, delivered by Ceredigion County Council which supports individuals in or at risk of poverty, aged 16 or over, across Ceredigion and throughout Wales. Participants may be experiencing in-work poverty, unemployment, living on minimum wage, or struggling to pay basic monthly outgoings on sporadic zero-hour contracts.

Misha Homayoun-Fekri, CFW+ Mentor said: “Lee has been a pleasure to support. He was always very responsive, and we worked together every step of the way. I am so pleased for Lee that he has found a job that he can be happy in.”

Since starting his new role, Lee has become a lot more independent, his mental health has improved, and has started to save money for the future.

Councillor Wyn Thomas, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said: “One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum. A report released by the Office for National Statistics shows that only 21.7% of autistic people are in employment; meaning that businesses are missing out on the opportunity to benefit from the strengths that autistic people can bring to the workplace. So, it’s great to hear that Lee has found an autism-friendly employer through the support provided by CFW+ and I encourage more employers to be more inclusive to all abilities when considering employees.”

If you think the project may be able to help you or if you would like more information, contact the team on 01545 574193 or email TCC-EST@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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