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Local suppliers wanted for new state-of-the-art Swansea arena

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Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has opened a call for businesses in the Swansea Bay City Region to register interest in providing services to the new, state-of-the-art, Swansea Arena, currently being built within the city’s new Copr Bay development.

The new 3,500 capacity Arena is set to deliver an additional net GVA of £13.4 million to Swansea each year, and operator ATG is seeking to procure talented local businesses in the Building Services and Food and Beverage sectors to supply the new venue’s operations.

Businesses interested in entering the procurement process must register their interest for consideration by the end of February.

A Pavillion Cafe is being constructed as part of the Arena development (Image: Swansea Council)

Swansea Arena is expected to host 160 performances across music, comedy, egaming, sport and conference events for an estimated 230,000 visitors each year. The new venue will create the equivalent of 467 new full-time jobs, with the ambition that 70% of which will be recruited locally.

The development of the Arena marks the start of the council’s £135 million Copr Bay Phase One project which comprises the brand-new 3,500 capacity indoor arena – next to Swansea Marina – as well as new shops, restaurants, two new multi-storey car parks providing 960 spaces, city centre apartments, a 1.1-acre coastal urban park, and a ‘gateway’ landmark pedestrian bridge over Oystermouth Road.

The iconic Golden Bridge and the Arena behind under construction (Image: Swansea Council)

Phase One will create over 593 new jobs, with a target of 70% to be filled by local residents. Covid-19 has accelerated the shift towards flexible working, and increased interest in destinations that can offer access to natural environments and space, making coastal cities such as Swansea desirable destinations for businesses.

Swansea City Centre is one of the largest urban transformations currently being delivered in Europe; over £1billion is being invested across the city, allowing Swansea to realise its potential to be one of the most vibrant places to live, work, visit and study in the UK.

The arena also forms part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project which is being part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal.

Artists impression of phase 2 of the Copr Bay development (Image: Swansea Council)

Stuart Beeby, Group Operations Director, ATG says “It is important to ATG and Swansea Council that we work with appropriate partners from across the Swansea Bay City Region to source our services and products locally where possible.

“We encourage businesses that specialise in delivering Building Services or local Food and Beverage specialists to contact us before the deadline of the end of February and look forward to working with the Swansea business community when doors open to the Arena in late 2021.”

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Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council which is delivering Copr Bay, said: “Swansea is leading the employment recovery out of Covid and our local private sector sees the great opportunities in our ongoing regeneration work.

“I’m confident that ATG will get a lot of interest from businesses wishing to get involved with the arena.

“We have some fantastic local suppliers and operators who could be perfect partners for ATG and the arena. It would be great to see local businesses filling the available roles and I urge local operators to apply.”

Suppliers are invited to get in touch via email by Sunday 28th February and, following a filtering process, ATG will respond to them within 14 days with a bespoke supplier questionnaire.

Swansea Arena adds another music venue to ATG’s portfolio of nearly 50 operated entertainment venues across the UK, US and Germany. ATG UK venues regularly delight audiences with top talent from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to Emeli Sandé as well as comedy household names such John Bishop and Micky Flanagan. In its US venues, ATG has hosted world class names including Lionel Richie, Al Green and Lauryn Hill, with its German venues welcoming top acts such as Bonnie Tyler, FKA Twiggs and Sinead O’Connor.

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To register their interest, suppliers should email: swanseaarena@theambassadors.com 

Join the mailing list at www.swansea-arena.co.uk to be the first to hear when tickets go on sale for Swansea Arena. 

(Lead image: Swansea Council)


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Dance

Doctors prescribe dance classes to keep patients on their feet

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet.

Five of the health board’s clusters – groups of GP surgeries working together within a geographical area – are backing the scheme as the exercise to music is proven to aid falls prevention.

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Each class is led by a trained dance teacher with participants encouraged to follow a range of routines, designed to develop their strength and balance, with the option of using a chair for support if their mobility is limited.

The Dance for Health programme is a collaboration between the health board, clusters, local authorities, and Aesop, an arts focused charity.

Alyson Pugh, Programme Manager at Aesop, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the health sector to improve the health and wellbeing of people aged over 65 through the medium of dance.

“During each class participants will move to a variety of music from all around the world. The classes are fun and vibrant, increasing fitness, mobility and strength.

“Afterwards, participants will have a good chance to get to know one another over a cup of tea or coffee. No previous experience is needed, everybody is welcome.”

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So far classes are held in Pontardawe, Morriston, Seven Sisters, Cwmavon and Briton Ferry, Upper Killay, Reynoldston, Mumbles and the Waterfront Museum.

Alyson said: “The health board asked for 12 classes across Swansea Bay and funded the management side while the GP clusters are funding the delivery of the classes. They wanted it to be grass roots up.

“Anyone can walk in but they wanted the main referrals to come from the virtual wards and local area coordinators and social prescribers, a whole community approach.”

Lizzie MacMillan (Image: Swansea Bay HNS)

Dance artist Lizzie MacMillan (left), a development officer for Dance for Health, said: “It’s for older people and people who are struggling a little bit with perhaps balance issues, mobility issues as well, so we are not expecting them to foxtrot along the floor on the first class or anything like that. It builds up over the weeks.

“We start off quite gently, just seeing where everyone is in the class – I like to gauge the class first of all to see if people are having problems with balance or perhaps giddiness or joint problems. I like to get to know each person in the class so that I can look after them and know their capacity for movement.

“We use the chairs quite a lot if someone is unsteady on their feet. They can still do a variation using the chair for support. We also do a standing variation if people are a little fitter or a little bit more able to push themselves further in the class.”

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Over 65s in Swansea Bay are being encouraged to attend dance classes in a bid to keep them on their feet. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Mike Garner, Cwmtawe Cluster lead, said: “We are delighted to be participating in this programme as it fits in perfectly with our goal of improving well-being and helping people remain fit and healthy.”

One participant, Pauline Anderson, said: “I’ve been to four or five classes. I thought I would try it to see what it’s like and it’s been very good.

“As you get older you become more immobile. I’ve been struggling with my knees and joints, so I have found it helpful.

“I would advise anyone thinking about it to just come along.”

Another participant, Betty Didcock, said: “I try to keep active as much as I can. I used to enjoy dancing when I was younger. I’ve made friends here. If you’re a bit shy, it’s a wonderful place to come to get used to talking to people. I’m a quiet one. I don’t always do it right but I have a go.”

While Amber Davies said: “I thought I’d come along to see what it was like. It’s important to keep busy and remain active. It’s also a good way of meeting new people.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Swansea

Swansea’s popular land train is back – and you can even take your dog for a ride!

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Taking your family for a day out along Swansea prom? Now your four-legged friend can join in the fun too by hitching a ride on the land train!

Officially known as the Swansea Bay Rider, the 72-seater land train runs along Swansea’s prom from Blackpill Lido to Southend Gardens in Mumbles giving passengers an incredible view of Swansea Bay as they travel along.

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Run by Swansea Council, the land train has been a feature of summer holiday trips for many years – whether it’s to soak up the sights in style, or hop on for a relaxing journey after a day of fun in the sun.

But did you know that dogs are allowed on board too?

The council has highlighted the little known fact that four-legged friends are welcome to ride the land train with their owners, as long as they are wearing a lead and are under control.

With more people than ever taking their dog on holiday or on days out, the land train is another fun activity that all the family can enjoy.

The Swansea Bay Rider is also fully accessible to wheelchair users.

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The land train runs every weekend from 23 April to 4 September, and daily during the school holidays between 30 May and 3 June, and again between Friday 15 July and Sunday 4 September.

The 30 minute ride from Blackpill to Southend runs 7 times a day at 10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm from Blackpill.

Return journeys from Southend are at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm, 4.30pm and 5.30pm.

Can’t get enough of riding the land-train? How about becoming its driver!

Swansea Council are recruiting a land train driver on a zero hours contract for £19,264 per annum (pro-rata). Applications are open until 24 May on the council’s website.

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Books & Literature

Author uncovers the lost tale of Swansea fairground legend

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From Swansea Bliz survivor to fairground strongman – an author discovers his grandfather’s fascinating story as The Welsh Hercules.

In the early half of the 20th Century, Jack Lemm was a household name in Wales. As the Strongman star of fairgrounds and Music Hall, he was famed for his feats of strength, wrestling and his dangerous headlining act, The Whirl of Death.

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Times and entertainment trends change, however, and now the once-famous showman is almost forgotten.

For one man, however, the story of the strongman had special meaning. Glaswegian Steven Blockley had always thought that his Great Grandfather deserved to be better known.

“I never actually met Jack,” he says. “I grew up listening to my uncles and aunts telling fascinating stories about all his incredible achievements around the Swansea area and I always knew I wanted to write a book to bring them to a wider audience. As I dug further into his past, however, even I was surprised by what I found.”

Looking into the background of Jack, Steven and co-author David J Thacker uncovered a rich life story and the perfect antidote to our troubled times.

Steven continues, “Jack lived through some harsh years – he was on HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland in World War 1 and was a survivor of the Swansea Blitz in the Second World War – but his focus was always to put family first and to provide for everyone at home, even if doing so took him away from them.”

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David takes up the story. “Jack came from a Greek family and his given surname was actually Lamnea, but his exploits on stage and at fairs all over the UK, including at Neath, were not always popular, especially with his authoritarian father.

“A lot of the tension in our book comes from that relationship, of a son trying to live up to the ideals of his father.”

The resulting book, The Welsh Hercules, took over a year to research and write but in doing it Steven found a kind of resolution.

“While we were writing the book, I turned 60. At that age, Jack was still doing 40 shows a day at the fairgrounds and even after he retired, he was helping roadworkers outside his house to fix the roads!

“Age really was just a number for him and I think that’s a great attitude to have.”

The Welsh Hercules tells the story of Jack, from his humble beginnings on Swansea Docks through to becoming a renowned boxing coach and fairground star. It takes him through two World Wars, as a survivor of the Battle of Jutland and the Swansea Blitz, and introduces a whole new world of showmen, acrobats and colourful characters.

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But at its heart, Jack’s story is one of family – of the challenges met, the hearts won and the enduring romance of a Showman and his wife.

The Welsh Hercules is available in paperback on Amazon priced at £11.99

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