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Pembroke Dock celebrates the building of iconic Star Wars starship in 1979

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Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre

A MILLENNIUM FALCON exhibition is opening to the public in the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre in West Wales on Monday, May 23 thanks to £8,000 funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The permanent installation tells the story of the building of a life-sized model of the iconic Star Wars starship in the town in 1979 for the Oscar-winning film The Empire Strikes Back.

“The worst kept secret in Pembroke Dock”

Craftsmen from a local engineering firm built the model – the first of its type ever constructed, in the Western Hangar – a former RAF aircraft hangar in the town’s dockyard.

“It was the worst kept secret in Pembroke Dock – everybody in the town knew they were building a UFO in the hangar and that period of time and that story is an important part of the town’s living memory” remembers Gareth Mills, a trustee of the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, we are now able to tell the story of the building of the Millennium Falcon in Pembroke Dock – an iconic event to fans across the globe, in a new and permanent exhibition. The exhibition will provide a significant boost for Pembroke Dock with increased visitor numbers helping with the economic regeneration of our town and will also have major benefits for Pembrokeshire.”

“One of the most iconic starships in science fiction history”

Work on the Millennium Falcon exhibition at the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre has been going on for some time under the watchful eye of local Star Wars expert and enthusiast Mark Williams.

“George Lucas set a new standard in both storytelling and filmmaking with Star Wars and the story of the Millennium Falcon being built in Pembroke Dock was big news at the time. The whole world knew about it, then the story faded into legend.”

“The idea of a town in West Wales making a significant contribution to this incredible story by being the place where one of the most iconic starships in science fiction history was built, creates a mixture of disbelief, awe and pride.”

Millennium Falcon

National Lottery funding

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded towards creating a permanent display in the Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre about the building of the Millennium Falcon model. A walk-through display will tell the story with photographs, film, models and costumes.

“Pembroke Dock – the birthplace of the first-ever life-sized model of the Millennium Falcon – now has a permanent exhibition for an often overlooked and largely unknown but major Welsh contribution to film and cinema history and popular culture,” said Andrew White,  Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.

“The funding for the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust has been made possible by National Lottery players who raise more than £30 million every week for good causes in the UK. It is just one of the more than 635,000 good causes in the UK that has received a share of over £41 billion raised by National Lottery players since 1994.”

The Millennium Falcon isn’t Pembrokeshire’s only connection to Star Wars. Lynwen Brennan, Lucasfilm EVP and General Manager, is a Pembrokeshire native. “I am so delighted that this wonderful moment and place in Star Wars history will be preserved,” said Lynwen Brennan. “I love that such an iconic, beloved ship was built in the town where my Mum was born and in the county where I grew up, and I’m hopeful this exhibit will become a new destination for fans around the world.”

Andrew White, Director of the National Lottery heritage Fund in Wales said “Wales has a proud tradition of myths and legends to which we can now add the little-know story of Wales’ contribution to the Star Wars films.This new exhibition showcases Pembroke Dock as the birthplace of the first life-sized model of the Millenium Falcon. It’s a great example of one of our small grants going a long way, in this case to a galaxy, far away and back again”.

The funding for the Pembroke Dock Heritage Trust has been made possible by National Lottery players who raise more than £30 million every week for good causes in the UK. It is just one of the more 635,000 good causes in the UK that has received a share of over £41 billion raised by National Lottery players since 1984.

Entertainment

Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival tickets go on sale today

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TICKETS go on sale today (Monday 16 May) for this year’s Fishguard and West Wales International Music Festival concerts. The full programme is available to view on the Festival website www.fishguardmusicfestival.com and features the largest number of performances in the Festival’s history extending over three weeks in August and September.

The events will be staged at thirteen venues across Pembrokeshire from 20 August to 10 September, with a launch concert by the National Youth Brass Band of Wales at St David’s Cathedral on 5th August.

Artists performing at this year’s festival include Dame Sarah Conolly who appears as soloist with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, and Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams. There will be song recitals by renowned Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans with pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, and tenor Stuart Jackson with Jocelyn Freeman. Chamber music concerts include performances by the Sacconi Quartet, Peter Donohoe, Harriet Mackenzie and Morgan Szymanski. The European Union Chamber Orchestra and WNO Chamber Orchestra make welcome return visits, and The Marian Consort performs ‘Music from the Sistine Chapel’ at St David’s Cathedral as well as taking part in the ‘Saints and Stones’ tour of historic churches and chapels. Folk group Vrȉ will perform alongside Pedair, and Khamira will close the Festival on Saturday September 10th with a fusion of Welsh and Indian music at the Merlin Theatre, Haverfordwest.

Tickets will be on sale from 9.00am on Monday 16th of May and can be booked via the Festival website at www.fishguardmusicfestival.com

Gillian Green MBE, Artistic Director of the Fishguard and West Wales Music Festival, said: “I am very excited about the variety of events in this year’s Festival which comprise a feast of world-class music covering six centuries as well as new commissions by Welsh composers Nathan James Dearden and Geraint Lewis. Pembrokeshire will greet musicians from across the UK, Mexico and India and there will be a talk by Professor Michael Spitzer whose book The Musical Human was a recent Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’.

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Entertainment

Jess Gillam to perform in St Davids Cathedral

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Jess Gillam

HAILING from Ulverston in Cumbria, Jess Gillam is animating the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. 

She has been forging her own adventurous path since she shot to fame becoming the first saxophonist to reach the finals of BBC Young Musician and the youngest ever soloist to perform at the Last Night of the Proms. 

Passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music, Jess invites audiences on journeys of musical discovery through her electrifying performances and eclectic programming.

As well as performing around the world, Jess is a presenter on TV and Radio. She became the youngest ever presenter for BBC Radio 3 with the launch of her own weekly show, This Classical Life. 

The show is in its third year now and in 2020 won the prestigious ARIA Award for Best Specialist Music Show. She has also been a guest presenter for BBC Radio 2 and co-hosted a miniseries for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. 

Keen to explore the creative output of her home county, Jess presented a series of Cumbrian Chats on BBC Radio Cumbria.  TV presenting includes the BBC Proms and BBC Young Musician.

Jess is the first ever saxophonist to be signed exclusively to Decca Classics and both of her albums shot to No.1 in the UK Classical Music Charts. Her debut album was listed in The Times Top 100 albums of 2019. Jess’ second album – TIME – is out now and went straight in at No.1 in the Official Classical Album Chart. 

She has been the recipient of a Classic BRIT Award, has been nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2021 for Services to Music.

A free spirit in style and character, Jess is an advocate for the power of music in society. She is passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music and during lockdown, she formed her ‘Virtual Scratch Orchestra’, inviting musicians of any standard to come together to play music virtually with her. 

The orchestra played music by David Bowie and The Beatles as well as a Christmas special of Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’. Over 2,000 people from around 30 different countries took part across the two projects, aged 2-94, playing a huge range of instruments. 

Jess is a patron for Awards for Young Musicians and London Music Fund and enjoys working and performing with young musicians.  

Her infectious enthusiasm and passion for classical and non-classical music lights up every stage and she has performed in prestigious concert halls and with world-class orchestras around the globe including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Hannover, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic,  Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic. 

She also enjoys touring with her newly-formed Jess Gillam Ensemble bringing together a group of brilliant musicians who share her bold, uplifting and open-minded approach. Jess has performed live at the BAFTAs to millions of viewers at home.

Jess is an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall and an associate artist at the Royal Albert Hall, and she continues to promote her own concert series, bringing international talent to her hometown of Ulverston.

Jess is a Vandoren UK Artist and became the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa Saxophones aged just 13.

You can find out more about Jess here www.jessgillamsax.co.uk

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Community

Pembrokeshire film gets public premiere in Theatre Gwaun, Fishguard

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Cate Lovett as Diane

FOLLOWING a successful private premiere, Pembrokeshire-shot film will have its first public premiere this week. 

“Scam” is a neo-noir crime thriller feature, which follows the story of a family of scammers. It explores interdependence and abuse via a claustrophobic mother-daughter relationship, and illustrates how social media platforms provide an easily-accessible global reach for scam artists. 

The film also follows the story of Ella, the youngest daughter in the family. After learning the truth behind her father’s death, Ella is determined to avenge her beloved dad and finally set herself free by devising the greatest scam of them all. 

A desire for an easy buck may challenge our morality and brutalise our sensibilities, but how malicious must someone become to escape exploitation?

SCAM poster

‘Scam’ is a women-centred narrative that explores themes of interdependence and abuse, and touches on other issues such as ageing, grief, loyalty, entitlement, greed and ego. 

The film dramatises the challenge of living alongside someone with an undiagnosed mental health condition; in this case, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NCP). 

Through its depiction of the exponential growth and pervasive reach of social media scams, it also poses the question of how much criminals are victims and vice versa.

Pembrokeshire-based filmmakers, Nick Swannell and Alison Rayner, joined together in early 2021. The pair credit most of the film’s success to the help of generous locals. 

It was shot on a very limited budget, across several Pembrokeshire locations over 16 days during lockdown.

Megan Lote-Williams and Bibi MacDougall as Ella and Evie

When discussing the challenges faced when shooting a no-budget feature, director and co-producer, Nick Swannell, said: “The biggest thing was lack of personnel; when you can’t afford crew everyone has to do multiple jobs and it can get pretty hectic. 

“We bought props and costumes from charity shops, built sets, blagged locations, borrowed vehicles and lighting equipment.

“Yes, it limits the scope of your story and constrains what you can show on-screen, but that forces you to think more creatively.”

When asked how they met, and their experiences as co-producers, Alison Rayner said: “Both of us had experience writing and producing short films and in late 2019 Nick hosted a ‘Thriller Night’ of his short films in Narberth, Pembrokeshire. I’d been on the lookout for a local director to help me tell my stories and Nick was the only filmmaker I could find in Pembrokeshire (and his films were impressive)!”

Diane, Evie and Ella

Cate Lovett, an experienced actor, is joined by newcomers Megan Lote-Williams, a singer/songwriter, and actor Bibi MacDougall.

The public premiere will take place in Theatr Gwaun on Saturday, May 14. Tickets will be available at a discounted price.

There will also be a screening at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven at 7:30 on Friday, July 8, as well as a screening at Queen’s Hall Narberth at a date yet to be confirmed. 

The film will then be screened around the UK as well as being streamed internationally. 

To book tickets please visit www.theatrgwaun.com/cinema or telephone 01348 873421.

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