The Rotary Club of Henllys Charity Concert 

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Canon Brian Pippen
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Blaenavon Ladies Choir

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Charity Concert at St Cadocs Church, Trevethin, which was put on by the Rotary Club of Henllys and compered by the brilliant Canon Brian R Pippen.

If you haven’t been to a concert compered by Canon Pippen, then please do so, as you’re missing a real treat, with his spot on comical one liners and professionalism, along with an outstanding warm welcome to his church.

Last nights concert featured Blaenavon Ladies Choir, conducted by Richard Watkins and accompanied with Pianist Lyndon Stevens.

The Choir dressed in red velvet outfits looked spectacular as the spotlights sparkled on their tops.

I also learnt that the choir has been running since 1975 and was founded by Jean Williams, who sadly passed away in 1996.

I’m sure that after hearing them perform last night, she is looking down on them very proudly!

If you want to become a ‘Blaenavon Lady’ then go and join them, they practice Wednesdays at 7pm.

A huge surprise to me last night was guest trombone player Jonathan Pippen and his wife Alex who were accompanied by pianist Mr C. Williams, as you may have guessed, Jonathan is Cannon Pippen and Paulas son.

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Jonathan, Andrew and Alex Pippen

Jonathan has played the trombone since the age of 7 and has enjoyed a career in music including playing with the Philharmonia, BBC National Orchestra, Ted Heath Big Band and many more, along with the RAF Central Band.

Last night he also played an exclusive specially composed piece along with his brother Andrew on the horn and his wife Alex, written for his parents and family, which was a very proud moment for all, who were privileged to be the first to hear it.

A very enjoyable evening, topped off with thanks from Paula Pipen, President Henllys Rotary Club.

Just to remind you that Theatre Adhoc will be preforming ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ on Saturday 30th April at the church along with various other venues and on May 7th from 10am to 3.30pm it will be open day at the church, this year’s theme ‘Our Industrial History’.

IMG_1015For more details and tickets, ring 01495 762228

How might councillors use social media as part of their work?

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How might councillors use social media as part of their work? Dyfrig Williams spoke withCllr Giles Davies, the Mayor of Torfaen.

The recent #PSDigital conference gave a lot of food for thought around how public services use social media. Ben Black spoke at the event about his Cwmbran hyperlocal site, and I also had a chance to speak to him about how Cllr Giles Davies, the Mayor of Torfaen, is using it to connect with the community of Abersychan. If you want to see what’s happening in the area, check out the hashtag #AbersychanWard, which Cllr Davies has started.

Local v National

Cllr Giles DaviesCllr Davies was kind enough to discuss his approach with me, and one of his first points was that people are interested in what’s happening in the locality by their front door rather than national party political issues. It’s by covering issues in Abersychan that Cllr Davies has been able to successfully communicate with his community.

Due to the workload involved in managing social media accounts, Cllr Davies has chosen to focus on using Facebook and Twitter. People aged 16-85 have contacted Cllr Davies through Facebook, and Twitter has been helpful as posts are uploaded quicker. The local press follow him too so they share his activities through their channels.

Social media enables Cllr Davies to be responsive to things that are happening in his area. If a road is closed, Cllr Davies is able to quickly share where has been affected to his community as his phone is always in his pocket. It also enables him to be available at all hours and chat straight away, which is much more convenient for community members.

Online v Offline

Since taking to social media, Cllr Davies no longer runs traditional surgeries, which were poorly attended. This hasn’t stopped him from engaging offline though, as he walks through the borough and meets residents to discuss any issues they may have. He uses social media to tell people when and where he is should they want to talk to him, and also uses the WiFi at local businesses to interact, which means he can give publicity to them and meet members of the public there at the same time. By meeting people in cafes, he highlights his support for shopping local and keeping communities vibrant.

Cllr Davies’ use of social media helps him to communicate what his work involves, and to show that he is actively responding to people’s concerns. When he is contacted about an issue, Cllr Davies posts his email to the council about the matter on Facebook so that people can see that he is responding to what they’ve said.

Cllr Davies is also able to showcase the difference he’s making to the community by sharing his litter picking when he’s out walking. By responding to comments on the post, he’s also able to help people deal with waste management issues.

Transparency

The transparency of Cllr Davies’ approach enables him to build trust with the community. He even published his expenses online and had a supportive response. He’s able to get feedback on ideas of things that might be able to help the community, like a Chamber of Trade, and even invite people to check whether his Draft Annual Report is accurate. It’s well worth reading the comments beneath the post to see how the community feels about him.

Overall I was blown away by how Cllr Davies is using social media. As someone who uses it myself I’ve always seen the potential for social media to change how elected members interact with people in their community. It’s fantastic to see how Cllr Davies is making the most of opportunities that social media has made available to better communicate with the people of Abersychan.

Nearly a year overdue!

It’s been nearly a year since I last updated my blog, but what a year it’s been, the ward has ticked over nicely under the watchful eyes of my colleagues and myself, although I must admit I’ve taken a bit of a back step as my role as Mayor of Torfaen has taken much of my free time covering the whole of the County Borough.
It’s pleasing to see that several new businesses have opened; this is a remarkable achievement during the current climate and shows a great confidence in the ward.
The support that Victoria Primary School and Brynteg Nursery are receiving from the Community, Assembly Member, MP, Baron Touhig, of Islwyn and of course Ward Councillors, against the possible closure is very uplifting including the alternative action group document put forward to be considered.
A real professional well thought out alternative.
Main issues within the ward is still recycling and missed collections which needs to be resolved as many people are saying that they are going to stop recycling if it’s not sorted.
This would be sad if this was to happen as so much work has gone into reducing waste and aiming to reach our recycling targets set by the Assembly.
The ward itself looks a lot cleaner on the main drag, as you see any litter issues, it’s reported to us or Torfaen via the App and removed.
The ward pantomime was another success this year, as you know it’s sponsored by myself and Wayne Tomlinson to enable all children to attend free and receive a goody bag.

Some of the Hall Committee serving during the interval

Thanks to everyone at the Millennium Hall for making this possible and making it a success!
From May I’ll update this blog regularly again as my term as Mayor will end then and I’ll be a back bench Councillor until the next local election in May 2017.
Then either I will stay as your Councillor, or be kicked out, the choice will be yours!
Until then I’ll uphold my election pledge to be an approachable Councillor and to keep you updated as much as possible via social media, email or via a ward walk and chat.

 

An Evening of Thanks

I would like to thank Sue Malson, Community Coordinator at Trac2 for inviting me to their ‘Evening of Thanks’ which was held at Trevethin and Penygarn Community Centre last night (10th April 2015).

For the benefit for those who haven’t heard of Trac2, then here’s a short background.

Trac is short for ‘The Really Amazing Charity’ and after attending last night, I fully understand why, Trac2 was established over 4 years ago and is run by 4 part time staff members, 11 volunteers and 6 trustee board members.

The charity has helped over 700 families, donated over 1011 items of furniture and over 200 food parcels and helped low budget families to purchase excellent quality clothes, household furnishings, toys and much more at very affordable prices.

In 2014 Trac2 was officially granted charitable status!

Their shop, based at Trevethin contains household items, bric a brac, small items of furniture and clothing and are typically priced between 1 and 3 pounds.

Recently the charity has expanded to new offices and offer services linked to their partner agencies, which include, Citizens Advice Bureau, Gateway Credit Union, Job Club, Bron Afon and Communities First.

Over the years Trac2 has prevented over 18 tonnes of household items being entered into landfill and this is expanding year on year.

During the past 3 years Trac2 has been working extensively with TCBC and The Trussel Trust in issuing and supporting food bank access for local people.

Trac2 has also launched a website http://www.trac2.org which contains a lot of useful information about the charity and ways to get in touch.

Last night I was blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of Sue Malson the Coordinator who spoke about the trust, bursting into tears along the way, it showed her outstanding commitment to the community.

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Sue Malson - Trac2 Coordinator speaking about the charity

I was pleased to see that the charity has helped several families in my ward at times of crises.

So a huge Thank You from me for that, any charity that helps families in need in the Abersychan Ward is a now a firm favourite of mine as one of their representatives!

Once again Sue, thank you for inviting me and letting me be educated in what you do, which blew me away, you should be very proud, I look forward to supporting you over the coming year and onwards.

Trac2 is based at 2 Church Avenue Trevethin and can be contacted on 01495 764078

Easter at The Barber Shop

After seeing the Easter window display on Facebook with regards to The Barber Shop in the ward, I just had to pop down to take a look.

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Claire's Easter Farm Yard

As always the shop was very busy, but Claire the owner made me really welcome as she does with everyone who enters her shop.

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Her shop never ceases to amaze me, it’s so child friendly, the kids love it there, I wish we had Barbers like this when I was a child!

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This Easters theme is farm yard animals along with the Easter Bunny, the whole window ledge is covered in straw and farm yard animals along with bunting draped across the window.

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If you haven’t seen it yet and have young children, then pop down and take a look, also take them inside the shop to see Batman!

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Better still pop in and treat your children to a haircut and free lolly, they offer competitive prices and there’s ample parking outside!

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The Barber Shop can be found on Union Street Abersychan.

Ward Walk -24th March 2015

Enjoyed my regular ward walk earlier today, reported several fly tipping incidents before calling in to see Helen at Twin Trim Hairdresses and Nicola at The Head Gardener Garndiffaith.

Unfortunately for me I got soaked in the rain and sleet, although en route I did notice that the lamppost still under warranty outside the co operative which I reported several weeks ago was still full faulty, so will be chasing this up.

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Faulty Lamppost Garndiffaith

Went to call in to see Petals the florists in Abersychan but as she was just receiving a fresh delivery, I’ll call in next week.

Walking through the village I was pleased to see the Post Office full and people in The Cafe, Gabbys Diner and Abersychan Pharmacy.

I wanted to pop into Tikitiboo to have a look about for some gifts, but unfortunately they were closed today.

The whole area looked clean on the main routes apart from the fly tipping off the beaten track, but all areas suffer from this not just Abersychan ward.

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Car Dashboard -Big Arch Field

Received good news about the blocked drain outside Pins & Inks Tattooist, this will be sorted by Friday.

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Will be cleared by Friday

Support Local Independent Businesses

Another good afternoon supporting #shoplocal and independent traders who have faith in our communities and support the local economy.

A real lifeline helping to make our home villages and towns prosperous.

One thing I’ve learned by supporting local independent businesses are how important they actually are within a community and what good customer service actually is.

No one wants a dead village, but its up to each one of us to support them, instead of complaining when they’ve shut down, without our custom they will eventually close and then others quickly follow.

All that will be left is your big multi national superstores, syphoning money from the local economy and spending, investing it else where.

Today my mission was to pop to Abergavenny Market to buy freshly baked soda bread and to pick up some fresh vegetables and cakes along with a coffee and a few Birthday Cards.

All of these I could have bought in my local superstore, but where’s the fun in that?

Passing through Blaenavon I decided to park up and call into Artie Craftie on Commercial Street to see if they sold home crafted cards as well as supplying the materials.

It was great catching up with Nick and Wendy, but although they supplied materials, they didn’t actuality sell the finished product.

They directed me to another local business over the road called Coffee and Cards, a quaint little cafe which sold a selection of home made cards along with coffee!

Lovely people, really helpful and friendly and nothing was too much trouble, real quality service.

Result knowing that my money was going back into Blaenavon World Heritage Town and helping a local business.

As always, Abergavenny was bustling and the Market was really busy, where I enjoyed a coffee and picked up several freshly baked products, along with enjoying several chats with local people and meeting Abersychan Ward residents along the way.

The broad selection of fresh produce on sale was outstanding, from Jams, cakes, plants to bric n brac, always a pleasure, especially the farmers market which is also held in the market hall during the month.

Much more pleasurable than visiting my local supermarket, especially with the socialising and sneaky coffee.

To support local independent businesses all you need to do is make little changes to your routine like top up Gas and Electric at a pay point in the local post office, pop in, use your local independent pharmacy or try a service in the area, like Barbers, Hairdresser’s, Cafes etc.

Without YOUR support, they are all at risk.  Use them or lose them.

#shoplocal #supportindependentbusinesses

Fingers and Thumbs – Abersychan

Last Wednesday, I took my daughter to Finger and Thumbs Nail & Beauty Salon in Abersychan.

Fingers & Thumbs is located above Syran John Hairdressers and has been based here for just over 4 years, the business is run by Vicky Edmunds, who makes you feel completely at home during your treatment with a cup of tea and a chat.

Vicky’s salon, offers a peaceful and tranquil environment, which allows you to totally unwind.

Within her salon she offers – Spray Tanning, Waxing, Facials, Eyelash and Eyebrow Tinting, plus many more.

Nothing is rushed and everything is carried out at a very professional standard.

My daughter had Acrylic Nails, which took around 2 hours, no electric files that ruin the nail, leading to infection, everything was unrushed and explained.

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Vicky hard at work

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My 16 year old was way impressed after using other Nail Bars!

She will definitely be going back and was shocked that Abersychan had such a professional business like this!

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The finished result. Nail edges also oiled

Fingers and Thumbs can be contacted on 01495 773409 and has a website www.fingersandthumbs.org.uk

The webpage also includes a list of services on offer along with current price list.

Take a look and go and spoil yourself or a loved one!

Fingers & Thumbs is a jewel in Abersychan Wards Crown.

Scam’s Chip & Fin – High Street Abersychan

Scams Hygiene Rating

Just got back from Scams Chip & Fin, Fish & Chips Shop which is located at 31 High Street, Abersychan.

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Tracey Scammell manager

Tracey Scammell manager as always was very friendly and helpful and customer service was outstanding.

The shop is always spotlessly clean and fish is always cooked to order and portion sizes are huge.

This has everything you need from a perfect fish and chip shop, including an amazing hygiene rating!

Can’t recommend this local business enough, you can also follow them on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scams-Chip-Fin/1491580064432452

Or contact them on 01495 774027

#SHOPLOCAL

13 Years of The Barber Shop

imageToday I called in to see the proprietors of The Barber Shop who were celebrating St. David’s Day with another of their Trade Mark window displays which is rapidly becoming iconic in the village.

They were also having a little known second celebration, which was marking 13 years to the day of opening their shop which has gone from strength to strength.

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Clare Roberts, who originally opened the shop on St. David’s Day 2002, explained the importance of putting the customer first and the benefits she has gained by offering a professional Barbers in the village.

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Ashden Davey aged 5 after his hair cut

Now after 13 years of hard work, Clare has now decided to work part time at the shop after handing the reins over to her children, Lucille and Louis.

The Barber Shop has a loyal following and is very child friendly with its man sized Batman and Superman dummies and motorbike barber’s chair for toddlers.

The Barber Shop Abersychan has a Facebook page and is a walk in business, no appointments necessary.

The Barber Shop would like to thank all their old and new customers for supporting their family business and a warm and friendly service always awaits customers.

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To help celebrate today, all customers were offered a welsh cake!

Another great family run business in Abersychan Ward #SHOPLOCAL

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