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Dobbies launches Swansea 2021 festive events programme

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With colder months on the way, the UK’s leading garden centre retailer, Dobbies Garden Centres, launches its events for the festive season, with booking open now in the Swansea store.

The ever-popular Santa’s Grotto experience is back. As one of the most loved, traditional festive experiences at Dobbies, little ones in Swansea will love walking through the outdoor woodland, spotting Christmas characters along the way before being welcomed by Santa and receiving a special gift. For those looking to create a lasting memory, a photo can be purchased.

New for 2021, at 50 stores across the UK, will be Quiet Grottos. Working in partnership with Autism Together, there will be Santa visits which are supportive of children with additional needs, considering sound and visual elements, and helping to minimise anxiety. 

Michelle Walklett, Head of Autism Together’s Autism Training and Advisory Service, said: “As a specialist UK charity supporting autistic people, we’re pleased to be working with Dobbies in Swansea to help enhance their Christmas Grotto experience for visitors with autism and other sensory needs.

“Through this partnership, we’ll also be delivering autism awareness training for Santa and all his elves and helpers in time for the festive season.”

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At Santa’s Breakfast, families will be able to enjoy the ever-popular Dobbies’ breakfast. The festive event includes breakfast options for adults and children, followed by fun games and a visit from Santa with a special gift for each child. This event is suited to families with children aged 10 and under.

Sarah Murray, Partnership and Events Manager, said: “At Dobbies we want to offer families an opportunity to come together and make memories that last a lifetime. There truly is nothing more magical than Christmas for a child and our range of events helps to bring the season to life for all the family.”

Dobbies’ Swansea Christmas events are available to view online, with customers requested to book in advance. Also new for 2021 is the opportunity to add a donation to the price of an event ticket, for Dobbies’ National Charity Partner, Teenage Cancer Trust.

Bookings can be made at https://www.dobbies.com/events 

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  • Santa’s Grotto starts on 27 November in all 50 stores, from £11.99 per child.
  • Santa’s Breakfast is available in 66 stores and starts on 4 December, £13.99 per child and from £6.99 per adult.
  • Quiet Grottos will be hosted on 10 December in 50 stores, from £11.99 per child.

Dobbies offers Book with Confidence. For more info: https://www.dobbies.com/book-with-confidence

(Lead image: Stewart Attwood Photography)

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Food & Drink

Pembrokeshire Lamb gets the ‘Golden Fork’ at Great Taste Awards

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Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd has received the highest accolade in the Great Taste Golden Fork awards 2021.

From the eleven Welsh products that received the top honour of 3 gold stars in the Great Taste awards 2021, the Golden Fork from Wales was awarded to Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd for their Hogget Shoulder.

Pembrokeshire Lamb produce lamb, hogget and mutton on their small family farm in North Pembrokeshire. Steve and Kara Lewis set up the company in 2019, with the aim of creating sustainable meat boxes with the mantra ‘fresh is best’.

Commenting on the 3-star product Pembrokeshire Lamb’s Steve Lewis said: “Our grass fed hogget is from our family farm in Pembrokeshire. It is richer and deeper in flavour than lamb and takes additional flavours very well. The way we rear and hang our hogget leads to a tender and flavoured product.”

In addition to getting a 3-star, they also gained 2-stars for their Lamb Shoulder, Mutton Shoulder, Mutton Mince and 1-star for their Signature Burger which is made with mutton. They also received 1-star  awards for their Brown Sauce and Indian Style Kebab Rub under the brand The Welsh Saucery.

Commenting further on their achievement Steve added: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the Great Taste Golden Fork from Wales award. It is a great achievement for us to have won a number of awards for our products in these prestigious awards and is a real testament to the hard work that we as a family have put into the business.”

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Congratulating Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths MS said, “I would like to congratulate Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements in this year’s Great Taste Awards. It is great to see Welsh businesses recognised for the outstanding quality of the food they produce.

“The judges from the Guild of Fine Foods have identified produce of the highest quality from every part of Wales, reflecting the hard work and creativity which is characteristic of our world class food industry.

“Everyone at Pembrokeshire Lamb should be very proud and I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers, and is described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world.

An exceptional 270 Welsh products ranging from small independent artisan producers to large scale distributors have been deemed worthy of this prestigious award, with 190 products achieving 1-star, 69 receiving 2-stars and 11 earning the gold stamp of approval with 3-stars.

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(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Lamb)

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Food & Drink

MP pledges support for local pubs in Gower

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Tonia Antoniazzi MP has pledged her support for the Long Live the Local campaign to help pubs and breweries in Gower recover and thrive.

Tonia joins over 125,000 people who have signed the petition so far, including 137 in Gower alone.

Ms Antoniazzi is calling on the Government to lower VAT for pubs and for an overall reduction in Beer Duty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on brewers and pubs throughout the UK and continues to do so as the sector tries to kickstart its recovery.

The campaign argues that the sector needs an immediate boost and the fact that a local pub adds £100,000 to its local economy, creates jobs and acts as a social hub, underlines how directly investment in the form of lower VAT and an overall cut to beer duty can help pubs and their communities to recover. It will also boost Britain’s world class brewing sector, a homegrown manufacturing success story that brews over 80% of the beer we drink.

Brewing and pubs in Gower supports 1344 jobs and contributes £29m to the local economy. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers and pub goers are overtaxed and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain`s brewers.

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Commenting on the campaign, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across Gower, but with pubs bearing a disproportionate burden as a result of the pandemic the Government should consider cutting unfair taxes on pubs that are hampering their recovery. I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall at this year’s Budget to support the recovery of pubs.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “85% of pubs are based in community and rural areas, bringing jobs to the parts of the UK that need them most. They employ over 600,000 people, of which 43% are under 25. Cutting VAT and an overall reduction in Beer Duty would go a long way to helping pubs and brewers across Gower that are desperately trying to recover.

“We are very grateful to Tonia Antoniazzi for her support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall.”

Lead image: Emma McClarkin with Tonia Antoniazzi. 

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Christmas

Christmas is coming to Swansea with the parade set to ‘be the best yet’

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Preparations are being made for the return of Swansea’s Christmas Parade – and the council says it’s set to be one of the best yet.

The event was last staged – to huge public acclaim – in 2019. Last year, like many other festive events around the UK, it did not go ahead due to the pandemic. As an alternative, Swansea Council hosted a virtual parade which proved to be popular. 

With restrictions now being gradually eased, event organisers at the council are planning a parade to match the 2019 spectacular on the evening of November 21. It will be in line with current guidance to ensure that people are kept as safe as possible.  

The parade and Christmas lights switch-on will follow a similar format to the 2019 event. It will feature a city centre route, special characters, community involvement, snow machines, fireworks and Santa who will switch on the lights. There will be expanded festive lights – with an extra special addition to be revealed soon.  

The council will ask those who attend to follow up-to-date safety guidelines – and to spread out along the route in order to allow for adequate space for themselves and others.

Two large Christmas trees will go up – one in front of the Dragon Hotel, the other in Castle Square. 

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Swansea’s Christmas Market is set to make a comeback, there will be new lights in the city centre’s Oxford Street area and there’s the return of the popular panto at the Grand Theatre. This year’s production – Snow White, starring Colin Jackson and Kevin Johns – is due to run from December 10 to January 3. 

A Christmas-themed attraction next to the LC is planned from mid-November. This will see the return of Waterfront Winterland with its own Alpine Village in Museum Park. Run by Sayers Events, there will be an ice walk and rink along with a food village and festive fun fair with big wheel. Safety measures will be in place.

The 2019 Swansea Christmas Parade (Image: Swansea Council)

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “As Swansea leads Wales out of the pandemic we want to make this a special Christmas. 

“Unfortunately, Covid is still very much with us so we’ll be asking everybody to continue to follow advice to ensure their continued safety and that of others. More details of this will follow as our planning continues.”

Safety guidelines for the parade are likely to include a request for those feeling ill to avoid the event – and for attendees to socially distance where possible and to spread out along the route rather than bunching in certain places. 

Council staff have already been reaching out to community groups and bands to seek their involvement. Groups keen to take part in the parade should email special.events@swansea.gov.uk before November 1. 

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The Christmas light switch-on in 2019 (Image: Swansea Council)

The Christmas Market, in Oxford Street, will be largely outdoors and is due to be staged from November 26 to December 21 in line with latest Covid guidelines. The council asks visitors to follow any instructions in place at the time.  

The new festive lights being installed will include colour changing features in Oxford Street’s trees, similar to those now in Wind Street’s trees. There are plans for illuminated icicles around canopies on Oxford Street, Whitewalls and Union Street.

One of the main Christmas trees – above the steps in Castle Square – is being sponsored by the council’s child and family services team, promoting support towards childcare costs for working parents of those aged three and four in Wales.  

Tickets for ice skating at the Waterfront Winterland attraction, from November 12 to January 3, are on sale now at www.bit.ly/SwanseaWW2021

Lead Image: Action from the successful 2019 Swansea Christmas Parade. (Image: Swansea Council)

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