North Wales: Singer Aled Jones opens £4.5m extension at shopping outlet

TV and radio star Aled Jones burst into a medley of his favourite tunes as he officially opened a £4.5m extension to a North Wales shopping outlet.

Tweedmill Shopping centre

Shoppers who had flocked to see the multi-million album selling star at Tweedmill near St Asaph applauded the star as he concluded his performance, which included Ar Lan y Mor, Morning Has Broken, Bugeilo’r Gwenith Gwyn, Amazing Grace – plus a tiny snippet of his break-through hit Walking In The Air.

Tweedmill Shopping centre

“It’s great to be back in North Wales, performing these songs, which are some of my favourites – I’ll be singing some of them next month on my tour. I’m more used to singing in large concert halls or on stage, so performing in the centre like this is pretty unusual for me, though I know they do love a good song in this part of Wales,” said Aled afterwards.

Tweedmill Shopping centre

The Bangor-born singer, who shot to fame with the theme tune from The Snowman, now co-presents BBC’s Songs of Praise, plus a Classic FM programme, has a chat show on BBC Radio Wales and his own ITV1 show, Weekend.

Aled was at the busy shopping outlet to help it celebrate its 20th anniversary by opening a new extension, which has helped create 50 jobs. After unveiling a plaque he met fans and signed copies of his book before sitting down to a special afternoon tea with a host of supporters, including competition winners, plus toured the 50,000 sq ft outlet.

Tweedmill Shopping centre

Tweedmill, which employs 140 people, welcomes more than 650,000 visitors a year, making it one of the largest year-old attractions in North Wales. Bosses now hope to tempt even larger numbers of shoppers to browse its rails, stop for a coffee or visit the new farm shop, said Outlet Director Lisa Johns.

“This is a major investment by the company into the business and we wanted to mark both the opening of the extension, and our 20th birthday, by inviting one of the best-known North Wales faces to the outlet,” said Lisa.

“It was great to hear Aled perform his favourite songs, and he was so delightful chatting to the guests over tea and cakes. I’m so pleased he was able to find the time to visit.

Tweedmill Shopping centre

“We feel that we are much part of the North Wales community – we are one of the largest employers in this area, and we want to showcase the best that Wales can offer. Our aim is for all the produce in the Farm Shop either to be made here in Wales, or supplied by companies local to us.

“We already bring in thousands of shoppers from across the region every week, plus groups from much further afield, and we intend to build on that success with this new extension.”

The extension houses the Farm Shop, plus space for a variety of clothing ranges, a larger café and new entrances, a computer care centre, hair, nails and  beauty salon, sports injury and relaxation therapy, Elcon fitted furniture, travel agency and clothes alteration and repairs.

Aled took time out for the ceremony from rehearsing for appearing in the West End with singer Michael Buble in a Help for Heroes fund-raising concert, performing songs from Irving Berlin’s classic musical White Christmas.  Aled admitted during his singing that he was “full of aches and pains” from practising dance routines for the show, in which he has previously starred. It opens properly in November at the West End’s Dominion Theatre alongside actor and Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers.

He is also about to begin his new Songs of Hope and Inspiration tour, which kicks off this week in Coventry before a further dozen dates around the UK, including Shrewsbury, Llandudno, Aberystwyth and Swansea as well as promoting his new album The Heart of it All, which is released on November 3. And at Christmas he’ll be presenting festive editions of ITV1’s Weekend show.

“I’ve never been to Tweedmill before, though I’ve often seen the signs as I’ve travelled along the A55, back to my parent’s home on Anglesey, and wondered what it’s like,” said Aled.

“It is surprising to discover such a large shopping outlet here on the doorstep, and after looking around I quite understand now why it is so busy.

“Meeting so many fans over tea and cakes was also an honour –  the support of the people of North Wales, right from the start of my career when I was still just a choirboy at Bangor Cathedral, has been important to me over the years.

“The last time I was in St Asaph, I presented a special St David’s Day show for BBC Songs of Praise from the city’s cathedral – it does have a marvellous resonance and one day I’d like to perform there myself, though my diary is pretty full for the next year or so!”

Aled, patron of Hope House Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospices, in Gobowen and T’yn y Groes, Conwy, also encouraged his fans and shoppers to donate the charity, which supports seriously ill youngsters and their families.

The hospice’s chief fund-raiser Sarah Kearsley-Wooller was among those taking donations from the large crowd.

She said: “We were delighted when Aled asked if we could be involved in a collection here today at Tweedmill, and the Outlet’s owner Russell Booth has been extremely supportive.

“It was a real bonus seeing Aled perform as well; he is so supportive of our work at the hospice, and never fails to help us when and wherever he can – Aled is a star to us.”

Among the crowd listening to Aled sing, accompanied by pianist Ian Tilley from Rhondda-based AB Acoustics, were six residents from neighbouring Maes Elwy nursing home, with chief nurse Paula Jackson and helpers.

“I saw the signs that he was at the opening and asked if we could come over – I am big fan. His performance was brilliant and our ladies obviously loved it as they were singing along,” said Paula.

Olga Watkins-Williams from St Asaph brought along her mum Alwena for the occasion.

“I’ve always loved his music since he sang Walking In The Air, really I’ve grown up listening to him over the years as we’re about the same age. It is wonderful to be able to hear him perform like this, so close to home,” said Olga.

Emma Jacobson from Rhuddlan was one of the many who posed for a photo with the singer. “I can’t believe he did that, he’s so lovely,” said a beaming Emma, admiring at the snap taken by her 12-year-old daughter Annabel .”That’s going straight up online!”

Pensioner Glenys Williams from Bodfari was among the select group who sat down to tea and cake with Aled, after winning a competition for tickets. She also bought the singer’s autobiography, which Aled signed.

“I am a big fan, I love hearing him on the radio. I’ve seen him before at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power when he sang and presented,” said Glenys, who is also a regular at Tweedmill.

Another regular shopper at the Outlet is Patricia Daly, who makes the trip across from Rhos on Sea.

“I do like to hear Aled singing, I have many of his CDs and I enjoy watching him on Songs of Praise. As a committed Christian myself, I do think having a belief makes a difference to the enjoyment of the singing. His performance today has been lovely,” said Patricia.

Tweedmill has 50,000 sq ft of retail space, with a wide range of branded goods all under one roof, and has the added benefit of hundreds of free parking spaces for cars and coaches. It is also on the scheduled bus routes from Denbigh and St Asaph.

The shopping outlet includes men’s and ladies clothing, shoes, handbags and luggage, homeware, gifts,  garden and shed section, along with a computer care centre, hair, nails and  beauty salon, sports injury and relaxation therapy, Elcon fitted furniture, travel agency and clothes alteration and repairs. There is also a café and new barista-style coffee shop.

More details at

Related Posts with Thumbnails