As a Shropshire company continues to hold a candle to the Academy Awards, Welshman Anthony Hopkins bags best actor gong
Tinseltown may seem a million miles from the Welsh valleys and the Shropshire plains, but Wales and the Borders well and truly made their mark at the recent Oscars ceremony.
Anthony Hopkins was a surprise winner in the best actor category, beating the much anticipated posthumous win of Chadwick Boseman. The Welsh actor’s portrayal of a man suffering with dementia in The Father alongside fellow Brit Olivia Coleman is arguably his greatest performance yet.
Not that he was anticipating winning. The veteran actor chose to sleep though the 4am ceremony, but thanked the Academy via video the following morning from his home near Cowbridge.
“Here I am in my homeland of Wales, and at 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t,” said Anthony, amidst the backdrop of beautiful Welsh countryside. “I feel very privileged and honoured. Thank you.”
Meanwhile, across the Border a Shropshire business was also celebrating. For the third year running Soul Shropshire has been supplying its scented candles for inclusion in the Oscars goodie bags.
It all began when LA and London-based firm Distinctive Assets - which selects products for the bags - read about Soul Shropshire's candles and diffusers on Instagram and picked them for distribution to nominees at the Grammy music awards.
Stars such as the American singers Shoshana Bean and Kim Caldwell posted pictures of the candles on their Instagram accounts.
"It blew my mind being in a goody bag," said founder Gemma Vujnovic. "The impact on our business has been brilliant, and to have stars like Kim Caldwell and Shoshana Bean talk about our products and even post pictures of them is fantastic. It's absolutely huge for a small online business."
Gemma, who was originally in IT sales before starting a family, launched Soul Shropshire with a friend after her two eldest children began school, leaving her with some free time.
Now she is aiming to double production, thanks in part to the publicity, but also to cope with the demand generated by the Covid lockdowns.
"I still don't quite believe how far we've come, as it started at our kitchen table as a hobby.”