Swansea Celebrates the Annual Pride March

Swansea Celebrates the Annual Pride March

The atmosphere was electric, buzzing with joy, colours and PRIDE as Swansea witnessed its annual Pride March and Parade 2024.

Organised with the support of Swansea Council and individual charities, the march started from Wind Street at 11 am. Passing through the city centre, Oxford Street and St. Helen’s Street, the march finally culminated at the Guildhall.

 

All ready for the parade at Wind Street

 

The car park had various stalls for purchasing merchandise, and food, and also offered games. People from all walks of life came together to celebrate their being and support each other without any discrimination or prejudice. There was a stellar line-up of performances till the evening.

 

Drags performing on the stage

 

 

We talked to many participants from the march to understand what pride means to them.

Dianna D, a drag artist observed that pride is ‘still a protest’. She said, ” Rights in the UK are getting worse for the LGBTQ+ and pride is needed to celebrate our lives. We want equality. We want to be able to live our lives without prejudice and just be ourselves”

 

Dianna D with all her swag

Dianna D with all her swag

 

Pride parade can be a ‘lifesaver’ for people who have to live for condemnation, says Jain Haste who attended the parade with her wife. She adds, “It is so important to know that you are accepted and that’s what this [pride] is all about. It is a day for everyone and everyone is welcome.”

 

Jain Haste with her faithful companions

Jain Haste with her faithful companions

 

For Jamie Jenkins  ‘pride means community, and community means family. Peace out and pride!”

 

Jamie Jenkins says "Peace out and pride!"

Jamie Jenkins says “Peace out and pride!”

 

Here is a series of photos from the Pride March to highlight the joyous occasion.

 

Proud supporters

 

Virgin Atlantic extending their support

 

All the fun and colours

 

loud and string messages all across

 

SwanScene leading the parade

 

Ann, who attended the parade with her dogs, is an ally of the LGBTQ+ groups and has been attending pride parades regularly. She remarked that the atmosphere was ‘electric’ and that everybody should attend pride parades every time. Pride to her means ‘inclusion’  irrespective of one’s ‘religion, race, and sexuality’ because ‘love is love’.

 

Ann with her dogs

Ann with her dogs

 

The Pride March and subsequent events were free for all to attend. Everyone is always welcome to celebrate freedom in its true essence and to take pride in oneself, unapologetically.

 

Long-serving councillor becomes Lord Mayor

Long-serving councillor becomes Lord Mayor

TWO of Swansea’s longest-serving councillors have become Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor at a special ceremony staged at Swansea’s Guildhall today (May 17)

Cllr Paxton Hood-Williams succeeds Councillor Graham Thomas, to become Lord Mayor for 2024/25 and his deputy will be Cllr Wendy Fitzgerald.

Cllr Hood-Williams, who has been the ward member for Fairwood since 2004, has taken up his post following an inauguration ceremony at the Council Chamber, The Guildhall.

As Lord Mayor Cllr Hood-Williams will have an important civic and ceremonial role as the city’s official ambassador. He will also be involved in raising money for local good causes.

Lord Mayor Cllr Paxton Hood-Williams represents Fairwood ward, which consists of Three Crosses, Upper Killay and surrounding areas.

Cllr Hood-Williams said: “It is a huge honour and privilege to be serving the communities of Swansea as their Lord Mayor in the coming year.”

“I am really looking forward to getting out and about among the people of this fantastic city, as well as representing Swansea to visitors and as an ambassador at a very exciting time for our communities.”

As part of their year in office Lord Mayors often choose charities to support through fundraising events. This year Cllr Hood-Williams has chosen two local charities -Friends of Stepping Stones and the Killay Forget Me Not club.

Cllr Hood-Williams was born and brought up in Upper Killay and moved to Three Crosses on getting married. He has been a Three Crosses (since the mid-1980s) and Upper Killay (since the early 2000’s) Community Councillor and is passionate about serving the community.

He worked at the Margam steelworks site, before retiring as a senior manager in engineering services in 2004. Since then he’s maintained his extensive involvement in serving his community as Chair of Three Crosses Community Council, a member of Upper Killay Community Council and governor at Crwys and Cila Primary Schools. He said: “I’m inordinately proud of the achievements of the staff, teachers and pupils of both schools.”

He added “We are so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Wales which is just one of the reasons why I’m involved in a number of local organisations looking out for the interests of the Gower AONB.”

Cllr. Hood-Williams and his wife, Patricia, have a daughter, Laura, and two granddaughters, Felicite, currently studying biology and marine biology and Gwenllian, studying aerospace engineering. Their family home is in Berkshire, where Laura’s husband, Stephen, who is a world champion glider pilot, has his aeronautical business.

Cllr Hood-Williams has been a Swansea City fan since the 1950s, and is an armchair spectator of most sports. Additionally, he and wife enjoy getting out into the local environment and that of south and west Wales

Beaches in Swansea getting ready for Summer with Blue Flag awards

Beaches in Swansea getting ready for Summer with Blue Flag awards

Visitors to some of Swansea’s best loved beaches will know they are at some of the best in the country following the announcement of the latest Blue Flag awards.

Ahead of the summer, Keep Wales Tidy has confirmed all the Blue Flag beaches and marinas in Wales for 2024.

A total of 25 blue flags have been awarded across Wales and three of those have been given to three Swansea Council-managed beaches, including Caswell Bay, Langland Bay and Port Eynon. A fourth blue flag has once again been awarded to the city’s main marina as well.

The Blue Flag Award is a world-renowned eco-label trusted by millions around the globe because it means bathing water is of the highest possible quality.

Along with the Blue Flag awards, Bracelet Bay has also received one of 14 Green Coast Awards issued across Wales, in recognition of its untouched and rugged beauty.

The award replaces the Blue Flag award but visitors can be assured that the beach and the water quality at Bracelet Bay are still of Blue Flag quality.

Green Coast recognises ‘hidden gems’ with excellent water quality and unspoiled environment, but without the infrastructure and intensive management generally associated with traditional seaside resorts.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “Our award-winning beaches are a real asset for the city and a huge draw for visitors and locals alike.

“Gaining and retaining blue flag status takes a lot of time and investment so locals and visitors can enjoy clean, safe and beautiful beaches all year-round. So we are delighted to once again fly the Blue Flags at some of our most iconic Gower beaches.”

Supporting Blue Flag recognition is all part of the council’s continuing commitment to the £500m-a-year tourism industry in Swansea that attracts millions of visitors every year.

Owen Derbyshire, Keep Wales Tidy Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to see another successful year of Coast Awards here in Wales, with 49 stunning locations recognised among the world’s best.

“Achieving these prestigious awards means meeting rigorous standards put in place to ensure the safe enjoyment of visitors now and in years to come. This success is testament to the hard work of all involved in maintaining and enhancing the natural beauty of our Welsh coastline.”

In recent weeks, the council has also rolled out a team of new seasonal cleansing operatives as well as the installation of barbecue bins at many popular beaches, encouraging visitors to help the Council keep tourist areas clean and litter free.

Extra money on the way for road improvements in Swansea

Extra money on the way for road improvements in Swansea

Roads in Swansea affected by cold and wet weather during the recent winter months are set to be improved.

Swansea Council has approved an additional investment of £600,000 to tackle repairs on even more roads across the city.

The extra funding will be split equally between the council’s current Small Resurfacing Scheme (SRS) and its main carriageway resurfacing programme.

In March this year, the Council’s approved annual budget included investment totalling £6.5 million for highways maintenance.

The additional investment will now mean more than £7 million will be spent repairing some of the 1,100km roads in the city, and will help to maintain the Council’s efforts to tackle the backlog of repairs to roads.

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure, said: “In March, we approved a significant amount of our annual budget towards highway repairs for 2024/25.

“Roads earmarked for repairs during the next twelve months have been prioritised as part of our rolling five-year highway asset programme.

“The extra money we have now approved will take the investment for this year to more than £7 million and will ensure we can also deal with roads that have suffered the impact of a recent cold and wet winter period.”

During the previous year, more than nine kilometres of road were fully resurfaced, including Pentrepoeth Road, Morriston, and Gorwydd Road, Gowerton.

More than 6,500 potholes were also filled in 2023 with almost all of them repaired within the 48hr repair pledge made by the Council.

Some of the overall budget for 2024/25 has already been put to good use with a number of key routes in the city benefitting from full resurfacing work. Roads include Cockett Road, Llwynmawr Road – Tycoch and a section of the A483 Penllergaer.

Cllr Stevens, added: “Our highways maintenance teams are continuing to tackle the worst sections of road in the city, working through the night in most cases to reduce disruption to motorists.

“The reality of maintaining roads, not just in Swansea, but around the country, is there is never enough money to tackle everything that needs attention. That’s why we prioritise our maintenance work to tackle roads assessed as being in the worst condition.

“Motorists and residents in Swansea can also do their bit by reporting road defects to us so we can consider appropriate repairs. Our pledge to fill potholes within 48hrs is regularly above 95% and teams have done excellent work, responding to the requests by residents.”

Carers share their special moments for Foster Fortnight

Carers share their special moments for Foster Fortnight

Foster carers in Swansea have been talking about how fostering can make a hugely positive impact on the lives of young people as well as the foster families who care for them.

This week is Foster Fortnight which aims to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives.

The theme this year is #FosteringMoments and carers with Foster Wales Swansea, the council’s fostering service, have been sharing moments, big and small, that have left a lasting impression with them.

Holly Bowtell and her family have been fostering for just over a year and she says it’s the best decision they made.

Holly said: “My favourite fostering moment is probably taking the boy that we have with us on holiday. We went to France, and it was the first time he has ever been out of the country and just seeing his little face, his massive smile, and how excited he got when he saw the swimming pool for the first time, it was just so amazing, and it made the holiday just really special for all of us.”

Claire Hyett-Evans and her family have been fostering for six years. One of her favourite fostering moments happened recently: “The little boy that we care for has always had difficulties with his emotions – feeling his emotions, naming his emotions and being able to describe how he feels.

“We had a little one leave us recently, which naturally I got upset about. He was there and saw me cry. He came over to me and said ‘Claire, do you need a hug’.

When Mike, my husband, walked him to school, he told Mike that he was really worried about me because I was crying.

“Although Mike told him that I was going to be fine that day in school he asked his teacher if he could pick a prize from the prize box.

“He picked me a gummy bear ring and when he got home, he was so excited to give it to me.

“We had a cuddle on the sofa that evening. I told him how proud I was of him and thanked him for being so kind to me. I was just so proud at that moment to think that he’d done a 360 and had given us the love that we show him.”

Every foster carer will talk about the various rewards of fostering, often these are small moments or small wins where a child has done something for the first time.

But all too often, people who are interested in fostering don’t because they say that they could never give the children up.

Zoe Williams, a foster carer of 11 years who specialises in moving babies and young children on for adoption, said: “It does break our hearts every time a baby or child leaves us. The way I deal with it is by knowing that I have cared and loved each and every one of them for the time they’ve been with us, providing them with a good start and preparing them for their move back home or onto their adoptive family.”

Tracey Iturbe who has fostered in total for 13 years, said: “My top tip is, don’t wait, got for it, you won’t regret it.”

Suzanne and Paul, who have been foster carers for 20 years, said one their favourite fostering moments is when they had a phone call 10 years ago to take a little baby with down syndrome who then later became their own daughter.

Julie Nugent, a foster carer for 19 years, said: “My biggest fostering moment happened recently. I was asked to be godmother to a little one that moved on last year to their adoptive parents. It’s just absolutely amazing.”

Foster Wales Swansea are looking for people to be part of a community which encourages children in foster care to have high aspirations and reach for the stars.

Cllr Louise Gibbard, Cabinet Member for Care Services, said: “Foster care is a vital service for the children and families in our community. Foster care is at the heart of our community, and we’re proud of our wonderful foster carers who keep children near the people and places they know and love. Behind every successful foster child is a loving foster carer who believes in their potential.

“During Foster Care Fortnight, I encourage everyone to consider learning more about becoming a foster carer as we need more people who can provide loving home to local children. There is no such thing as an ideal foster carer and there are so many ways to foster, many of them are flexible and you could make a real difference to a child’s life.”

If you live in Swansea, you can find out more about fostering on Foster Wales Swansea’s website: www.swansea.fosterwales.gov.wales. If you would like to speak to a member of our experienced team for an informal chat, ring 0300 555 0111.

Legendary jazz festival is back and you can be part of it

Legendary jazz festival is back and you can be part of it

Swansea International Jazz Festival is set to return and celebrate 75 years of live jazz music in the city with a line-up packed with legendary musicians, special performances, and familiar favourites.

Swansea Council has once again joined forces with Swansea Jazz Club, now in its 75th year, to present this year’s jazz festival, which will be held at venues across Swansea’s Maritime Quarter from Thursday 13 to Monday 17 June 2024.

The festival opens with a special gala dinner at Morgans Hotel on the Thursday evening, which will start the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of Swansea Jazz Club and the 80th birthday of festival patron, Sir Karl Jenkins, who will be the guest of honour.

The celebrations continue Friday when the Laurence Cottle All-star 16-piece Big Band go ‘Back, Down the Road’ to play special arrangements of Sir Karl’s jazz music in two concerts. These will take place in the Festival Pavillion, outside the National Waterfront Museum at 6pm and 8.30pm, with an introduction at the start of each show by the composer himself.

The Festival Pavilion is the setting for the festival’s further five ticketed concerts, featuring Denny Illet’s Electric Lady Big Band playing funky jazz arrangements of Jimmy Hendrix’s music.

Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, said: “We are delighted to be presenting Swansea International Jazz Festival once more, especially as it celebrates 75 years of live jazz music in the city and the incredible virtuosity of Sir Karl Jenkins in the year of his 80th birthday.

“The festival continues to attract some of the best musicians from the UK jazz scene playing a range of styles across the jazz music genre, which we’re sure will draw not only a local audience but also jazz lovers from further afield.

“Our thanks to Dave Cottle and Swansea Jazz Club for their input and support in programming the festival, which really has now become a popular and regular fixture in the city’s event calendar.”

Completing the line-up of ticketed gigs are the Power of Gower Festival Big Band, the Adrian Cox Quartet, Moscow Drug Club, and The Stacey Brothers’ Big Band Steely Dan project: The Royal Scammers who pay tribute to the iconic, multi award-winning American rock band Steely Dan.

This year’s festival also sees the return of a musical workshop for young instrumentalists, supported by Swansea Music and the National Music Service of Wales  and led by Pete Long and the Eddie Gripper Trio. Plus an engaging ‘First Steps’ musical workshop for children from 4-7 years old.

If that’s not enough jazz to keep your toes tapping, Swansea International Jazz Festival also features a stroller programme.  There’s no need to book tickets as the pubs and bars in the Maritime Quarter and surrounding areas will be packed with free smaller and intimate gigs, with some recognisable faces.

Swansea International Jazz Festival’s artistic advisor, Dave Cottle, said: “The festival presents an excellent and varied jazz programme again this year. There are great concerts to look forward to and some firm favourites are returning on the stroller programme – Swansea will be buzzing again to the sound of live jazz!”

People wishing to find out more or book tickets should go online and visit www.enjoyswanseabay.com.

World-renowned musician set to close Swansea concert season

World-renowned musician set to close Swansea concert season

World-renowned musician set to close Swansea concert season
 
A successful Swansea season by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) is set to close with the help of globally renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
 
The season is being facilitated by Swansea Council and has included a programme of six BBC NOW concerts at the Brangwyn Hall, with the season closing concert there on June 7.
Sassy Hicks, BBC NOW head of marketing and audience, said: “Our Swansea season is nearly over and we plan to close out the season in spectacular style with Alisa and our principal conductor Ryan Bancroft.
“Still to come is a fun-filled CBeebies show on Saturday June 1 at Swansea Arena.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to our wonderful Swansea audiences for a fantastic year, and we can’t wait to unveil our new season of concerts starting in October.”
Council cabinet member Elliott King said: “It’s been a wonderful experience to welcome BBC NOW back to Swansea for the second consecutive year.
“Their contribution adds vibrancy to the music scene in the area. Performances throughout the season have moved and delighted audiences of all ages.
“The CBeebies Prom: Ocean Adventure – with some of their best-loved TV characters – and the closing Brangwyn Hall concert, with cellist Alisa Weilerstein, will be a great way for music lovers to see out the season.”
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has played an integral part in the cultural landscape of Wales for more than nine decades.
It has a distinctive role as both a broadcast and national symphony orchestra.
Part of BBC Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, it performs a busy schedule of live concerts throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and the world.
It works closely with schools and music organisations.
Its current Swansea season features internationally acclaimed music ranging from pieces by Penclawdd-born Sir Karl Jenkins and England’s Edward Elgar to Russia’s Sergey Rachmaninov and France’s Maurice Ravel.
Renowned performers have included Welsh harpist Catrin Finch, the National Youth Choir of Wales, saxophonist Jess Gillam and pianist Sergio Tiempo.
Students and under-26’s can enjoy the orchestra’s Brangwyn Hall concerts this season for just £5.
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Skatepark plans for Swansea move forward

Skatepark plans for Swansea move forward

Plans to make Swansea one of the best cities in the UK for skateboard and wheeled sports are moving forward

Swansea Council has pledged to invest £1million into developing state-of-the-art facilities across the city, providing better opportunities for skateboarders, scooter riders, BMX lovers and inline skaters.

International skate park experts – Curve Studio, have been brought in to help develop the ambitious plans.

Over the last two decades, Curve Studio have worked with partners in London, Devon, Eastbourne, Northern Ireland and across Norway to create much-loved skate parks and BMX tracks. They have recently completed the most northern skate park in the world, in the Norwegian Arctic.

The team has already carried out a survey of existing skate facilities in Swansea, visiting 20 sites around the city, gaining a better understanding of the current provision.

More than 300 people also took part in an online consultation at the beginning of the year, which has helped the Council and partners – Curve, get further knowledge of the public’s views.

The latest phase of the project will now involve sitting down with representatives from the skate community to share findings from the previous surveys and to share ideas and proposals for new facilities.

A number of city leisure centres are now hosting two days of special discussion opportunities for the public to attend and talk to the council and designers more about the plans.

Kenneth Waggestad-Stoa from Curve Studio is a keen skateboarder and has been instrumental in designing skate facilities elsewhere in the UK as well as abroad.

Kenneth said: “Lots of work has already been done in partnership with the Council, allowing us to get a better understanding of what provision there is in Swansea for skate and wheeled sports.

“We also had a great response to the recent consultation with hundreds of residents informing us of their leisure habits in relation to wheeled sports.

“We’ve now reached the stage where we can sit down with stakeholders, community skate groups and others, to discuss our findings and talk through proposals.

“The key aim of this project is to develop a masterplan of skate facilities across Swansea, ensuring that all communities in the city are not too far away from high quality equipment, enabling everyone to have fun and hone their skills.”

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism said: “We want to create some of the best skateboard, BMX and wheeled sports facilities in Wales.

“Curve Studio have an amazing track record for creating skate facilities all around the world and will work with the Council and with the skateboard and BMX communities, to develop a series of options, a strategy and support in the design of facilities that people will be proud of.

“Like us, they want to see the next generation of skate facilities in Swansea help harness the dedication and enthusiasm of skateboarders and BMX riders so that, whether it’s for fun, wellbeing or because they have aspirations of Olympic greatness, wheeled sports fans in Swansea will have somewhere to express themselves.”

Swansea-born Olympic BMX rider, James Jones is also backing the plans and thinks the aims of the Council could lead to the emerging of fresh young talent in the city.

The 29-year-old, who’s originally from the Sandfields area of Swansea, said: “BMX and skateboarding are already hugely popular, but they’re only going to get more popular in Swansea and elsewhere in the coming years, with both sports now featuring in the Olympics.

“It’s amazing that Swansea Council have recognised this and are setting aside quite a lot of funding for better facilities here.”

The drop-in sessions will take place at:

Penyrheol Leisure Centre on Tuesday 14 May from 11am – 3pm.

The LC on Tuesday 14 May from 6pm – 7.30pm

Morriston Leisure Centre on Wednesday 15 May from 5.30pm – 7.30pm.

Colourful celebration of diversity returns with Swansea Pride

Colourful celebration of diversity returns with Swansea Pride

There promises to be a carnival atmosphere as Swansea Pride returns for another year on Saturday, May 18, with a colourful parade through the city centre followed by an afternoon of live entertainment in front of the Guildhall.

Once again, the festival is free and an open invitation is extended to all.

The annual parade is set to depart from Wind Street at 11am and will make its way along Oxford Street and St. Helen’s Road to the Guildhall.

A stage will be set up in the car park at the front of the building hosting live entertainment between noon and 7pm.

There will also be food and refreshment stalls as well as traders selling a range of items and merchandise.

Just like last year, the Swansea Pride Community Zone will be indoors in the neighbouring Brangwyn Hall with lots of information stalls from organisations, support services, charities, community groups and some craft traders as well.

Swansea Pride is organised independently but supported by Swansea Council.

Council Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration, Events and Tourism, Robert Francis-Davies said: “Once again the council is proud to be supporting the hard-working volunteers who do such a great job in making Swansea Pride the inclusive celebration that it is.

“This year is shaping-up to be as good ever and we are very grateful to them.”

Council leader Rob Stewart, said: “This free event is one of the highlights of the year and there is an open invitation for people across Swansea and beyond to come along and enjoy what is always a great carnival atmosphere.”

A full list of acts, activities and other information can be found at www.swanseapride.co.uk

 

Swansea Airshow Flight Deck

Swansea Airshow Flight Deck

The Airshow is due to attract tens of thousands of people on July 6 and 7 July with a series of world class displays over Swansea Bay.

Wales Airshow is free – but tickets are now on sale for the hugely popular Flight Deck, supported by Travel House.

Right at the heart of the display area, this relaxed, fenced off and secure seating zone guarantees prime, unobstructed views of the air displays. Open from 11am-6pm on both days, there are tables, chairs, a marquee providing cover plus the option to purchase drinks and food in the same area.

The airshow is organised by Swansea Council. Cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “We’re delighted that the Flight Deck will be back in Swansea again this summer. It’ll be great to see people there enjoying the displays in the skies over Swansea.

“We thank all the traders and our sponsors for their contribution to the show’s ongoing success.

“The show always has a real family atmosphere which results in a great weekend for all involved. It contributes millions of pounds to our local economy.”

Already announced for this summer’s show, the world-renowned Typhoon and Red Arrows of the RAF will thrill audiences over the bay. Additional air displays will be announced soon.

On the ground, there will be a variety of family-friendly activities such as displays, the military village, food and drink outlets and live music to enjoy. Tickets flew of the shelves last year with the Flight Deck selling out, be sure to purchase your tickets quick.

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