AMMANFORD’S Christmas lights switch-on event has been hailed a huge success.
Ammanford town council organised a day of festive fun in the town on Saturday, November 27.
Despite a glitch with the switch-on itself with only the Christmas tree lighting up, and storm Arwen hitting the region, town councillors said the event proved very popular with local families.
Singers on Quay Street included Nia Phillips and Ammanford’s Daniel Garland, plus local talent in the form of Dawnswyr Penrhyd and Starquest theatre group also providing entertainment.
Helen Enser Morgan from Radio Carmarthenshire presented the artists throughout the day.
A town council spokeswoman said: “The whole day went really well with families enjoying the entertainment and making great use of the Christmas photo snow globe. The funfair also kept the children entertained.
“Santa arrived at 5.30pm to share delicious free gifts with the children and while the Christmas lights switch-on didn’t go as planned, the Christmas tree on Quay Street was turned on.
“Having the activities in the centre of town was a great boost to Ammanford’s trade.”
Elsa/Getty; Max Mumby/Getty Kate Middleton and Kendall Jenner in their Spells of Love gold hoop earrings
Kate Middleton and Kendall Jenner have been jewelry shopping from the same small independent business — and the designer couldn’t be more thrilled.
When Kate wore a pair of locally-designed gold hoop earrings during a visit to Wales last year, Hayley Jones, founder of Spells of Love, was inundated with orders from around the world. Eight months later, Jenner was photographed in the same pair of earrings and the label was catapulted into the spotlight.
“To have the Duchess of Cambridge and Kendall Jenner both wear my earrings, it’s so surreal, I don’t think it will ever fully sink in!” Jones tells PEOPLE. “Having both women wear my earrings has been so amazing and it has helped my business so much. I’m so grateful.”
Jones, who started her company from her kitchen table in the town of Caerphilly, South Wales, has since had to enlist the help of her sister, sister-in-law and dad to help run the business after sales continued to soar each time Kate wore her $105 gold angular hoops.
Ben Birchall – WPA Pool/Getty Kate and William at Barry Island, Wales in August 2020
“Every single time, my phone goes crazy. Now I have lots of customers in the US, Hong Kong, Mexico, all over Europe, Japan and Australia,” she says.
Shutterstock Kate Middleton during Baby Loss Awareness week – 14 Oct 2020
The royal first wore the handcrafted Alia Hoops during an official engagement with Prince William on Barry island in August 2020. Jones had managed to contact Kate’s stylist via email and she purchased both the earrings and a double-stranded necklace. Since then Kate has worn the earrings five times, including during another trip to Cardiff in Wales last Christmas.
Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Kate Middleton in Cardiff, Wales – December 2020
In a slightly more casual setting, Jenner wore the earrings to a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden in April 2022.
“I sent them to her and didn’t hear anything for a year. I just happened to click onto one of her Instagram Stories and saw she was wearing my hoops and I couldn’t believe it! I love Kendall and I think her style is amazing,” Jones says.
After selling “hundreds” of the Alia gold vermeil earrings, the down-to-earth jeweler says her number one fans are much closer to home.
“My dad is a postman so he does all the local deliveries! My grandparents love the royal family so they’ve been so happy and my grandfather [who sadly passed recently] was so over the moon, he would purchase every single magazine featuring the Duchess wearing my earrings and my nana would wear them around the town, telling everyone she met!” she adds.
Ethically produced using recycled gold and plastic-free packaging, the jeweler wants to focus on making her business as sustainable as possible. While the pieces are currently made in Thailand at a factory where all the employees are provided with healthcare, two meals a day and accommodation for their families — Jones hopes to find a U.K. supplier soon. She also encourages her customers to get their jewelry replated rather than replaced.
“We want to be as sustainable as possible, rather than things being thrown away all the time,” she says.
Despite the confirmed cases, figures at the health board have stressed that strict infection control procedures remain in place in all Gwent hospitals.
Read more local news here
Statement from the health board in full
Confirming news of the outbreak at St Cadoc’s, a spokeswoman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board told the Argus: “We are continuing to manage a COVID-19 outbreak affecting a small number of patients and staff at St Cadoc’s Hospital.
“Our Outbreak Control Team are managing the situation and affected areas remain closed to admissions until they are clear of infection.
“Staff at the Health Board have been working tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to care for our patients and to prevent the spread of the virus in our hospitals.
“We have strict infection control procedures in place within our hospitals and are taking every possible measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.”
Heavy rains and flooding across New South Wales may cause fruit and vegetable shortages around Christmas. There will be particular shortages of leafy greens like spinach, shallots and salad mix. Peaches and nectarines are good quality but not as abundant as usual. Early cherry varieties have been decimated by the heavy rain.
Harris Farm said to expect shortages and price increases in fruits and vegetables due to the NSW floods. Graham Sutherland, from Lavender Hill Cherries, said there will be cherry shortages this year. Coffs Harbour farmer Paul Shoker said the relentless rain is taking its toll on the region which produces 75 per cent of the country’s blueberry crops. Growers are now hoping for enough sunshine to dry out their produce so they can be served on the Christmas table.
Cardiff plan to play Champions Cup matches against Toulouse and Harlequins with a shadow squad as most of their players continue to quarantine.
A group of 42 players and staff are due to leave South Africa on Thursday after securing a charter flight and quarantine accommodation in England.
Six members of the party will stay in Cape Town after positive Covid tests.
Cardiff are due to face European champions Toulouse at the Arms Park on Saturday, 11 December.
As the Welsh side will be without 32 players – and 16 members of staff – who will be quarantining in either England or South Africa, they intend to field a team comprised of academy players, reserves and Wales internationals who did not travel to South Africa.
Both Cardiff’s scheduled United Rugby Championship matches in South Africa against the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers were postponed but the club say they must play two Heineken Champions Cup encounters, against Toulouse and English champions Harlequins.
A 10-day period of quarantine means those self-isolating will be able to play no part in the European fixtures.
The players will still be in self-isolation for the Toulouse game, and while they will be released in time for the Harlequins match at the Stoop on 18 December, their conditioning will not enable them to be match fit after missing three weeks of training.
There are six members of Wales’ autumn squad who could be available after they remained in Cardiff while the rest of the squad travelled to South Africa.
They are Josh Adams, Willis Halaholo, Tomos Williams, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies and Ellis Jenkins.
“Anyone from this trip will be ineligible to face Toulouse and Quins but we have got a number of internationals back home and we’ll do everything in our power to honour these fixtures,” said Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young.
“The team will be made up of the internationals who haven’t come with us and some of our best academy players. I’m confident they will do the jersey proud but we need the Cardiff support to get right behind us.
“Gruff Rees will lead the team and he will be assisted by Thomas Rhys Thomas and Richie Rees, who remained in Cardiff to coach those not travelling.
“I know they and the boys will want to do it for the boys in quarantine, we will be watching from our rooms and it will be a real boost if we see a packed Arms Park.
“They will be supporting the boys, those of us in isolation and the club during what has been the most stressful and challenging period I have experienced as a director of rugby. I am confident those players will do the jersey proud.”
The party of 42 players and staff due to fly to the UK on Thursday have all returned a negative PCR test prior to travelling to South Africa, two negative lateral flow tests and a further five consecutive PCR tests, all with negative results, in Cape Town.
Six individuals have returned positive results and have been transferred to a South African Covid-19 quarantine hotel.
“Of course it has been difficult but people’s safety and wellbeing is the most important thing and we’ll be treated the same as everyone else,” said Young.
“It’s not ideal for professional sportspeople but it’s par for the course. There are a lot of people experiencing similar, stuck 1,000s of miles from our loved ones, and our thoughts are also with them.
“What sits really uncomfortably with me and the biggest thing that upsets me is going home and leaving people out here. As a director of rugby that’s the biggest thing I’m struggling to cope with.
“If it was an injury one or two of us would definitely stay out here but we are not actually allowed to do that in these circumstances – that doesn’t sit well.
“But they are in really good hands, the doctor is checking on them twice a day and all the medical things are in place if there were any issues, which there’s not.
“Thankfully all the guys staying behind remain in good spirits and any symptoms they have are mild.
“They will support each other and the people with SARU [South African Rugby Union], who have been first class, we have total trust [in].”
Strict new rules under Covid measures designed to halt the spread of a new Omicron variant could see vaccinated people in England face fines of up to £10,000.
People who have been in contact with a Omicron coronavirus case will be required to self-isolate for 10 days under new measures regardless of how many vaccine jabs they have had.
Other new rules include mandatory wearing of face masks in shops and on public transport in England, stricter testing requirements for travel.
Confirmed UK Omicron variant cases
£10,000 fine under new Omicron variant measures
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’re going to be throwing everything at it, in order to ensure that everyone eligible is offered that booster in just over two months.”
Anybody who has been in contact with a case will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
People who refuse to follow the guidance could be hit with a five-figure fine, reports The Mirror.
The penalty for refusing to stay inside when identified start at £1,000 with the possibility of rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders.
Covid concerns over Christmas
Dr Harries had earlier told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that even if “vaccines appear to be effective, but we find that the variant is more highly transmissible, having lowish grade infection, but in very large numbers of the population, (it) could still be a significant impact on our hospitals.
“And, of course, our behaviours in winter and particularly around Christmas, we tend to socialise more, so I think all of those will need to be taken into account.”
She added: “If we all decrease our social contacts a little bit, actually that helps to keep the variant at bay.”
She suggested “being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to” and getting a booster jab.
The Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce will run its first business seminar in South Wales today, 1 December 2021.
The seminar which will run from 12-4pm at the Cardiff City Stadium the first of its kind for the not-for-profit organisation that promotes collaborative business activity between Wales and the South Asian country.
After a challenging eighteen months for business due to the pandemic, the Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce said it is keen to assist in reforging links between Wales and Bangladesh to explore greater commercial opportunities between the two countries.
Businesses who have most to gain from the December 1 event will be those interested in promoting their goods and services to Bangladesh and Bangladeshi businesses operating in Wales who want to extend their networks.
Two hundred business guests have been invited to the seminar representing businesses across South Wales. The Welsh Government’s business support agency Business Wales will also be taking part.
“Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce objective is to support trade in Wales, to put Wales on the business map as a destination to conduct business, and enjoy as a visitor,” said Abdul Alim, President Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce.
Imtiaz Hussain, the Chamber’s Director General, told Business News Wales that his Board of Directors were “very excited to be launching this first such seminar in South Wales,” and added: “We hope this will be an annual event both in South Wales and North Wales”
The Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce is a volunteer-based not-for-profit committed to expanding opportunities for its members in Wales and Bangladesh, and creating new and potent international networking possibilities.
Bangladeshi businesses employ thousands of staff in Wales and add richly to the Welsh economy and culture on a daily basis.
For your personal invitation and more information contact Rosena Alim at [email protected] Tel. 0792011812
Hensol Castle Distillery has launched its first own-name premium gin, marking a major milestone in the South Wales distillery’s continued success story.
Hensol Castle Welsh Dry Gin is currently available exclusively at the distillery’s on-line shop but is expected to be in supermarkets in Wales in 2022. Provenance has been the key in its development, as it is blended from the finest Welsh water with 11 locally-sourced botanicals. Juniper-led with citrus peel, it also features lavender, marigold and jasmine picked from the 400-year-old castle’s walled gardens.
Copper pot distilled in small batches of just 500 litres, the gin is inspired by its surroundings and has been hand-crafted by Hensol Castle’s four-strong team of distillers, led by Master Distiller, Dai Wakely (36), before being hand-bottled and labelled on-site.
The premium gin comes in 70cl fluted glass bottles and retails at £30. It can be drunk neat, on the rocks with a premium tonic and slice of grapefruit, lemon or lime for the traditionalist or as a main ingredient in classic gin cocktails.
“I am really proud of this recipe, which takes inspiration from the wealth of history at this castle and its surrounding parklands,” said Mr Wakely, who joined Hensol Castle Distillery in July to spearhead all new product development.
“I wanted to ensure there were authentic home-grown flavours in every glass, and myself and the team have poured a lot of love and hard work into ensuring that’s the case – along with the best Welsh water and ingredients we’ve hand foraged from the castle grounds.
“We really hope that people will also take to the design of the bottle and branding so that it becomes a showcase display item in drink cabinets.”
Hensol Castle Distillery is South Wales’s first full-scale gin and spirits distillery and contract bottling plant. Since starting production in spring 2019, it has enjoyed rapid growth, handling an ever-expanding order book for contract bottling; launching an on-trade collection of Benjamin Hall gins and vodkas as well as Trulo – its market-defining range of low calorie liqueurs.
The distillery has just received accreditation from industry experts SALSA, after being recognised as a beacon of best practice, and more recently opened a successful tourism visitor experience and gin school, which is earning five-star reviews with weekends sold out for weeks ahead.
With plans afoot for further gin recipes in the new year, along with the reinvention of some existing lines, the distillery has no intention of slowing, either – good news for the nation’s gin aficionados.
Figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association show UK sales of gin in shops, supermarkets and online up 30 per cent in a year, equating to 80 million bottles, worth £1.3 billion.
Christopher Leeke, managing director of Hensol Castle Distillery, said:
“We always believed in our vision for this gin and spirit distillery, which is the only one to be housed in a UK Grade I-listed building, but it has required a lot of hard work, love and perseverance to get to this point. In many ways, the launch of our first own-name gin is the culmination of that journey.
“I am proud of everything we produce here, but the unique connection Hensol Castle Dry Gin shares with this magnificent building and its grounds, through the selection of home-grown botanicals Dai and his team have included in this recipe, makes it particularly special.”
The 400-year old Hensol Castle sits with the four-star Vale Resort within 650 acres of Welsh countryside and has already become a popular wedding and conference venue following a multi-million pound investment in 2015.
It is owned by Leekes Retail & Leisure Group, owners of Leekes, the Vale Resort and Hensol Castle in south Wales, which become the sole owners of Hensol Castle Distillery following a buy-out of the minority shareholder in May 2021.