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Arts and gifts in Aberystwyth

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screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-31-14ABERYSTWYTH ARTS CENTRE have once again welcomed back the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, providing great inspiration for those who are looking for gifts and for those who are simply interested in seeing what local businesses offer.

The annual extravaganza, with over 80 stalls, opened on Friday (Oct 21) and will be available to browse around until December 23, with a Christmas Food Fair on November 26.

This means that it provides a great opportunity for a unique Christmas shopping trip and it is one that will not be forgotten.

The Winter Craft and Gift Fair has been an annual feature at the Arts Centre for over 30 years and as you walk through the lively Arts Centre, you will be able to discover a wonderful array of crafts and gifts produced by local makers from Ceredigion and Mid Wales.

The fair regularly features work from over 80 makers, predominantly working in Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire with such items including ceramics, textiles, candles, prints, original artwork, photography, cosmetics and jewellery.

It has helped to support many craft makers and producers in the region, and it has also expanded over the years to include Mid Wales-based food and drink producers. In addition, it also includes a range of toys and games for children.

This year, you can find a wide selection of stalls that will grab your attention and to give you a flavour of some of the businesses that are present at the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, The Herald decided to interview a few of the owners.

KUTIS SKINCARE

At the fair, you will find a section dedicated to ‘Kutis Skincare’, a wonderful skincare range that will catch your interest in no time.

Tiffany Villiers, co-founder, discussed with us about the business and their stall at the Craft Fair.

Tiffany said: “We are Kutis Skincare, a start up based in Llandrindod Wells. We chose ‘ku.tIs’ because it is Latin for ‘skin’ and when spelled phonetically makes for our unique branding.

“We hand-make and sell 100% natural skincare products using responsibly sourced ingredients that have been minimally processed to wholesalers and direct to our customers.

“We never use preservatives, parabens or stabilisers, not even the naturally derived ones. We want our customers to have peace of mind when buying and using our products – there’s no ‘green-washing’ at Kutis!”

Tiffany then went on to say: “Myself and my work partner, Kate Powlesland, run the business together from our little workshop at our local Community Gardens in Howey. We love working from Ashfield; it’s a beautiful place and has the facilities for us to move into growing our own plants to process in the future!

“Since we set up a year and a half ago, we have succeeded in being stocked in a total of 12 shops in Powys, Herefordshire and Somerset. We are small but we are growing!

“We chose to stock our full range of Organic Whipped Body Butters, Organic Lip Balms, Cleansing Masks, Organic Serums and Natural Deodorants as well as our Christmas Gift Packs.

“Most of our items are small and make really nice stocking fillers but it’s great to be able to pick up a ready packaged gift, which is why we chose to stock our Little Luxuries and Daily Face Care Gift Packs.

“Our ‘Little Luxuries’ gift boxes each contain a mini-sized version of our range, including our Organic Body Butter, Cleansing Mask, Organic Serum and popular slider tin Lip Balms. It’s a great way to sample a little of everything!”

LACEWING FAIRY COLLECTION

The Herald also spoke to Deryn Wilcox, designer of the ‘Lacewing Fairy Collection’, about the business: “I’ve lived near Llangrannog for many years, and started making textile fairies as a hobby while working as a University Office Administrator. They gradually took over my life when they started selling successfully at craft fairs and in local shops.

“I was even fortunate enough to sell some to Liberty of London several Christmases ago, which was really exciting. I have received many commissions for custom-made fairies as gifts and especially for weddings.

“The inspiration for the original fairy creations was based on the peg dolls of childhood. They are individually handcrafted in fine detail using quality textiles and other materials, including silks, vintage fabrics and laces.

“The arms, legs and heads are wooden, with the hand-painted faces giving each fairy its own personality. They are suitable as gifts for many occasions or as the start of a collection.”

Deryn then went on to explain to The Herald about her items that are currently displayed at Aberystwyth Arts Centre: “Over the years, the fairies have evolved and other smaller items introduced, such as tooth fairies, trios of fairies, bumble fairies, cotton and silk angels, felt dolls and Christmas decorations.

“The display at Aberystwyth Arts Centre shows a good selection of my current products, from large statement pieces to small stocking fillers and decorations.”

We then asked Deryn about how she feels the Craft Fair will help to promote her business.

“This is the fifth consecutive year I have been involved in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre Winter Craft and Gift Fair. I find it is an extremely good outlet, as people are attracted to the Fair from quite a wide area, and the Centre has long opening hours over several weeks leading up to Christmas.

“A number of my commissions have been as a result of first being seen there.”

RHIANNON ROBERTS

If you love art or are after a unique present for a loved one, then ‘Rhiannon Art’ stall is the ideal stop for you at the Winter Craft and Gift Fair, with bold designs and one-off items aimed to put a smile on your face.

The Herald was able to speak to designer Rhiannon Roberts about the business and why people should come along to visit her stall: “I am a full time artist from Ciliau Aeron now living in Cardiff Bay. I’m self taught and have a degree in Psychology, in fact! I have been a full time artist for six years now, ever since graduating in 2010.

“I started off just selling my originals but then slowly thought about different products. I now sell cards, coasters, placemats, prints and much more. I sell them to galleries and gift shops across Wales.

“I also sell them in markets and different stalls such as the Eisteddfods, Cardiff Christmas Market and local events. A big part of my job now is going round schools in Wales painting big murals with the children in my style, showing their local buildings.”

Rhiannon went on to say: “Children love the colour and the quirkiness. I think the style works as it represents me as a person – I try to always have fun and be happy. I enjoy life and hope that I have a colourful personality, just like my paintings.

“I say that I mix fantasy with reality to create a fairytale world. The buildings look realistic and then I bring unique and fun elements in like floating flowers or magical love boats to make it more eye-catching.

“I love being self-employed and working my own hours. Seeing a product or design that I created is a fantastic feeling and I always get a buzz out of it. I’m focusing now on selling more online on my website (www.rhiannonart.co.uk) – all products are on there – and I think that more people shop online now. I do a lot of promoting through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

Rhiannon went on to say that the Craft and Gift Fair is an important aspect to promoting the businesses: “I’m based in Cardiff now. However, I still find time to come back to West Wales to see family and sell my products in shops and events. I would say that I spend 50% of my time in Cardiff and 50% in Ciliau Aeron.

“However, I can’t be in two places at once and so by having my work at the Arts Centre for two months, it gives me a base and it gives new people as well as old customers a chance to see my designs.”

Rhiannon concluded by saying: “The Arts Centre gets so many visitors and it’s nice for them to have a souvenir of Aberystwyth to take home with them.”

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Community

Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown

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Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.

Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
venue.

In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.

Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.

The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.

“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
lifesaving donation.”

The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.

Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.

“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”

Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
welshblood.org.uk website.”

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Community

Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion

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During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.

Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.

Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.

To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.

Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.

If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.

Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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Community

The latest on plastic free Ceredigion

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At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.

Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.

The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.

Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.

In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.

Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”

This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.

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