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Welsh writers excel in competitions

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Short story competition winner: Diana Powell receives her cheque from PENfro deputy chair Jackie Biggs

WRITERS from west Wales have excelled themselves in this year’s Poetry and Short Story Competitions run by PENfro Book Festival. Against strong contenders from across the UK writers from the area won both contests. 

And others from all over Wales have distinguished themselves by making the shortlists too. “We are delighted that so many fabulous writers from all over Wales, and some from our own area too, have proved themselves so strongly in these two competitions. We are especially pleased for them as they were judged completely anonymously against competition from all over the UK. It’s a great achievement and shows there is some fantastic creative talent in this area,” said competition organiser Jackie Biggs. Winner of the poetry competition is Katherine Stansfield, from Aberystwyth; and the short story competition winner is Diana Powell, from Mathry, Pembrokeshire.

They each win £250. Poetry results: Top prize (£250): Katherine Stansfield, from Aberystwyth, for her poem ‘The woman on my National Library of Wales library card’. Judge Dr Alan Kellermann said: “The winning poem strikes a difficult chord: it’s playful without sacrificing intellect. I was further impressed by the author’s ability to sustain a conceit and to achieve such crisp imagery while resisting the urge to embellish the poem’s diction. It was not only an enjoyable poem, but skilful.” Second prize (£100): ‘Postcard from the Ferris Wheel’, by Rachel Plummer, from Edinburgh. Dr Kellermann said: “It’s refreshing to see an author use form as a way of liberating language, rather than as a road map to the end of a poem.

It’s well-paced and the poem’s sense of longing—which can so easily be wound too tightly—was tuned just right.” Third prize (£75): ‘Divining Her Firstborn’, by Elizabeth Sennitt Clough, from Stretham, Cambridgeshire. Dr Kellermann’s comment: “This was quite a dense poem, but I don’t mind being asked to roll up my sleeves and feel around in a poem’s guts, especially when the effort is rewarded. And if the reader is willing to enter the space between the language and the visual, the reader is suitably rewarded.

A vivid, haunting poem.” A total of eleven poets made the shortlist, one with two poems. The others were: Angela Rigby, Conwy. – ‘Lotus’ Tom Gatehouse, Brecon. – ‘In Bloom’ Maria Isakova Bennett, Liverpool. – ‘Eight Day Chimer’ and ‘i hope you are well’ Natalie Ann Holborow, Swansea. – ‘Victoria Terrace’ Ian Humphreys, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks. – ‘Cruel moon’ Ken Sullivan, Reading – ‘ ‘79’ Stephen Giles, Lutterworth, Leicestershire. – ‘Your Tongue Stud’ Catherine Edmunds, Bishop Auckland, Durham. — ‘a warning’ Short story results First Prize (£250): Diana Powell, from Mathry, Pembrokeshire, for her story, ‘Ingrid Audrey and Jean’. Judge Maria Donovan said: “This is a short story perfectly in tune with itself. From its enigmatic title and first arresting image to the underlying themes of escape and belonging, it always keeps ahead of expectations. Calm, confident and disturbing: a treat to read and re-read.” Second Prize (£100): Shirley Golden, from Ringwood, Hampshire, for ‘The Parapet’ Maria Donovan said: “The subject of the First World War is very much in our minds this year, but it’s difficult to do it justice in a story written so long after the events.

‘The Parapet’ succeeds in making a soldier’s experiences so present and affecting that it brings an uncanny sense of what it might have felt like to be there.” Third Prize (£75): Jo Mazelis for ‘Marco’s Eyes’ Maria Donovan commented: “This is a consistently-voiced firstperson narrative – witty, observant, spiky and spiteful with the spite of hurt. The slowly percolating sense of the character’s pain made this story in the end more poignant than at first seemed possible.” The four others on the shortlist were: ‘Buttercup and Daisy’, by Wendy Smit-Taylor, Moylegrove, Pembrokeshire ‘The Eighth’, Tony Curtis, Barry ‘Oddly Sensitive Human Atoms’, James Doster, Pontyclun ‘Bristol Cream’, Janet Norton, Nottingham

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Cered organises a fun evening for Llandysul Cubs with ‘Britain’s got Talent’ star

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CERED: Menter Iaith Ceredigion hosted a fantastic evening for Llandysul Cubs where the comedian Noel James from ‘Britiain’s got Talent’ came to entertain them.

Rhodri Francis, Cered Development Officer said, “We are very keen to work with organisations like the Cubs in order to hold a series of Welsh language events for their members. The evening with Noel James at Llandysul Cubs was fantastic – everyone enjoyed themselves! We wish to organise more events there in the future. We would like to thank Llandysul Cub leaders for giving us the opportunity to work with them so that their members can have the opportunity to socialise and enjoy activities through the medium of Welsh”.

Alix Bryant,Cub Leader 1st Llandysul Scout Group said, “On behalf of Llandysul Cub Scouts I would like to say a huge thank you to Cered for organising a very entertaining evening for the Cubs. It was great for the children to be entertained bilingually by Noel James, he did an amazing job. I think the children especially enjoyed the impressions!”

“This session has inspired the children to complete their entertainers badge so maybe we will have a few budding Welsh comedians in our group. Thank you again and we look forward to working with Cered in the future”.

For more information about Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion events and activities, visit their website, cered.cymru or their Facebook page, @ceredmenteriaith, or get in touch by calling 01545 572 358.

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Time given to develop Parc Natur Penglais

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New steps: At Parc Natur Penglais

VOLUNTEERS, including students, have given around 500 hours of their time to develop Parc Natur Penglais.

Along with support from Ceredigion County Council, the Group have built around 100 steps in 5 different places which has made the park a great place to walk, play and enjoy around a number of safe paths.

Councillor Mark Strong said: “Knowing that we have the support of the local community makes such a difference to peoples’ enthusiasm and having the grant from Aberystwyth Town Council, Cambrian News and Tesco made it possible. Volunteers can make a relatively small sum of money go long way.”

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​RSPCA aim for Christmas number one​

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'Stars' by Lucy Ellie​: Help it get to number one

M​USIC fans across Wales can help the RSPCA secure the Christmas number one slot, and provide vital support for animals in need across the country.

The animal welfare charity has thrown its hat into the ring to claim the festive chart accolade – as up-and-coming singer Lucy Ellie covers Simply Red’s hit song ​’​Stars​’​ in aid of the RSPCA.

‘Stars’ is the soundtrack to the charity’s ‘Kindness at Christmas’ video, which has already gone viral with over ​two million views online across a variety of platforms.

The tear-jerking video tells the story of Woody the Christmas toy pup who who is thrown out with the rubbish before being rescued and taken in for care by the RSPCA.

Proceeds from the single are being donated to the RSPCA to help in their work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming thousands of animals every year.

RSPCA Cymru is again bracing itself for a busy festive period. In December 2016 and January 2017 alone, in Wales, 5,932 incidents were reported to the RSPCA – with 141 of these on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Lucy Ellie Cooper, who works at the charity, said: “This was a lovely opportunity for me to combine my two loves – animals and music.

“Outside of my job at the RSPCA I am a country music singer and songwriter, so when the chance came up to record such a fantastic and well-known song for the charity’s Christmas video, I jumped at it. I really hope people will take Woody’s story into their hearts and support the RSPCA this winter.”

You can help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animals in desperate need of care, and support the charity’s ‘kindness’ campaign online

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