FACILITIES PROVIDED BY AGE CONCERN TORFAEN: Reading through the winter edition of the Age Concern Torfaen newsletter there are a number of facilities that are rather unusual.

The first that I noticed was a shopping service for people who might have problems doing their grocery shopping.

The service can personally shop and deliver your grocery and fresh produce order to you at home if you live in the Torfaen area for only £5.

All you need to do is ring Age Concern and itemise your order. A member of their staff will then do the shopping and deliver the goods to your home on the allocated day.

SHOP MOBILITY: Next they mention the availability of the Pontypool Shop Mobility scooters. The service has been extended from the original two days to four days a week.

The opening times are now 10am to 3pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10am to 4pm on Thursday and Friday.

If you need to book the use of a scooter call Pontypool Regeneration, on 01495 766297.

ELECTRIC BLANKET CHECKS: Another excellent service that is provided is a free electric blanket safety checks for the over 60s. This is done by appointment only.

To book an appointment please contact Trading Standards, on 01633 649384.

CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING: This is one of those things that everybody thinks can only happen to someone else, but it is the most unexpected form of death.

Sometimes one person in a room can die from the invisible fumes, yet another one survives.

Age Concern are now taking orders for Carbon Monoxide Alarms. The cost is £29.95 and they are guaranteed for five years.

They also mention the availability of a free phone number to ring immediately and tell them your location if you can smell gas indoors or outdoors.

The people to contact are the National Gas Emergency Service, and the number is 0800 111 999. There is a free information leaflet available from Age Concern which explains exactly what to look out for if you suspect that carbon monoxide is being released into your house.

JOLLY BROLLIES: To finish up, there are these pretty umbrellas for sale in red or black for £2.99 each. Ideal for these days of continuous rain which we are enduring at the moment.

Something that I have not heard of before is your very own wheat heat bag.

They have hand, shoulder and water bottles ranging from £1.75 to £5.99. I assume that they are some sort of pads that you place on the affected part of you that is aching.

MORE NEWS FROM PANTEG HOSPITAL: My usual correspondent from the County Hospital at Panteg, Kath Evans, gave me the end of the story of Christmas in the wards of this extremely friendly hospital.

Father Christmas came along with a reindeer and two snowmen to visit the County and Taly-Garn, to take along presents for every patient who had to spend the holiday on the wards.

This and the carol concerts were the last events of a busy year for the League of Friends who, despite having few members, have managed to establish a trolley service on three mornings a week.

In addition, they have staged a fashion show, held several coffee mornings and a sponsored head shave to raise funds to keep the group going and donate items to the wards.

Kath said they would like to thank everyone who has helped them in any way during the past year, and they are look forward to making plans for the coming twelve months.

CONCERT TIME: Sandy Pretlove is an auxiliary nurse on Rowan Ward at the County. She tells me that she, along with her colleague Gemma Mahoney, are arranging a concert to take place on Thursday, February 7, at the Recreation Hall at the hospital, starting at 7.30pm.

The concert is being presented by "Centre Stage", a small theatre group run by the director, Lisa Smith, from Malpas in Newport. She is supported by R John Smith, the musical director and keyboard player, with Gareth Smith on the drums.

There are currently fifty members of Centre Stage, with the ages ranging from 4 to 80 years of age. They meet on a Friday evening at Malpas Court School in Newport.

They have been performing musicals, gospels and Christmas concerts for seven years, all in aid of charity. Many of these concerts have been sell-outs.

They are giving their time and talents to perform A Musical Night to Remember. Songs from the 30s and 40s will be included with lots of comedy and foot tapping. It will be wonderful show for young and old alike and is not to be missed.

All proceeds will be used to provide blinds for the conservatory, the dining room and the ladies' sitting area.

This is the first time that the two nurses have staged a show for charity and tickets at £2.50, are now available from Sandy or Gemma, by telephoning 01495 768660 or 01633 766057.

TREVETHIN YOUTH BOWLS TEAM: This is a side that plays in the Welsh Short Mat Bowls Association. They have at least 20 children in the team and their club coach is Michelle Smith.

There are disabled kids in the team and some who have been rejected by society because of the name given to young people today.

There are those with ASBOs and they even have a former drug dealer among their players. Others have learning difficulties.

This is their first year in the league and actually they are doing quite well. Their captain has epilepsy and plays in a wheelchair, and he plays in the team for the county.

They practice on Wednesday evenings at 6pm, in the Resource Centre at Trevethin.

Newcomers would be more than welcome and can have a try at the game just to see if they like it. Contributions are 50p up to the age of 16 and £1 over 16, and there are no age restrictions.

Michelle tells me that these kids are doing something brilliant. Other teams have approached them but they turned down their offers. She feels that no one in the area wants to help the children or the community as a whole.

The team are desperate for financial help, as the lack of funds is holding back any progress that they might make in the world of bowls.

If you would like to help these young people in any way please contact Michelle Smith, by telephoning 0792 9594 482, or e-mail her on angeleyesemma16@hotmail.co.uk as she would be delighted to hear from you.

THE RENOVATION OF THE AMERICAN GARDENS: I have just received a note from Phil Williams, who is the representative of the American Gardens Group, and no doubt getting his hands dirty at the same time.

He tells me that the work is progressing satisfactorily, and they are ready to show the results of their efforts in a couple of exhibitions due to be held in early February.

The two sessions will be held at Communities First Resource Centre Hall in Trevethin, on Tuesday, February 5 between 2pm and 5.30pm, and in the evening of Wednesday, February 6, between 6pm and 8pm.

You will have your opportunity to view and comment on the Master Plan drawn up by ADAS as part of the American Gardens' Feasibility Study.

The consultants and project volunteers will be on hand to answer any questions that you might have.

Do go along and see the progress that is being made in this exciting project.