Town Tidy Team members spent the time between Christmas and new year sorting out hedges and pavements in the Tan y Mur and Bishops Castle Street area of the town. 46 wheelbarrows full of debris, litter, weeds, glass bottles, hedge cuttings and ivy were collected by Rob Harper, David and Margaret Beddoes, and Mac Mackenzie (pictured), with everything being composted or recycled that could be. Their efforts revealed some significantly increased pavement width to help pedestrians stay safe, as well as a wall that neighbours commented had not been seen for years. Many local residents cheered the team on as they worked. Cllr Rob Harper who organised last week’s efforts said, “Here's to a great 2022 and more projects to get involved with. Thanks to everyone who has supported us, encouraged us and helped out, both physically and also providing us with refreshments. This is what sets Montgomery apart: its wonderful people.” The “Town Tidy Team” grew out of the Town Council-organised street sweep and litter pick, and began tidying up the town centre of Montgomery back in September. It has now become a team of volunteers who help out with litter picking, hedge cutting, and road and footpath clearing. So far they have cleared up the Town Hall area, Princes Street, Montgomery Church pathways, Chirbury Road, Arthur Street and Maldwyn Way, in addition to the recent efforts on the Tan-y-Mur footpath. Mayor Jill Kibble said, “Thanks to all the Team who were out last week. The extra width to the footpath here on a dangerous corner is a real safety bonus. They also cleared two drains - a stitch in time before any winter storms arrive.” If you can spare an hour or two, the Team would gladly welcome your help. Cllr Rob Harper said, “We are in the process of tidying up our great and historic town. With your help we can work together as a team. All you need is a broom or shovel, and some elbow grease.” You can contact Rob via firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping the Team.
Montgomery’s Town Hall clock chimed in the New Year for the one hundredth time this year. The first chime of the clock at midnight is usually the trigger for community celebrations in the square led by the Town Crier, but the celebrations at the turn of 2022 were more muted for a second year. The clock was added to the Town Hall in 1921 in memory of the fifteen-time mayor of the town, Nicholas Fairles Humphreys, who had died in 1917. It replaced a previous clock which had been on the front of the building. The Town Hall itself was originally built in 1748 by William Baker of Audlem in Cheshire and replaced the earlier medieval Guildhall which was located in the middle of Broad Street. Photo: Nicholas Fairles Humphreys, wearing the mayoral chain that he presented to the town in 1909. Courtesy of the Old Bell Museum, from the J.E. Tomley (photographer) collection.
Katrina Collins’ Shed38 Supperclub has celebrated a successful first year of different dining experiences, with old friends and new. Each month sees a five-course tasting menu hosted at a relaxed and fun event in a home or garden, sometimes with a theme, and even the occasional murder mystery thrown in! Supperclub attendees don’t know where they will be going until they book; who will be there until they arrive; and of course what the menu is until the food starts to be served! Brenda Pugh attended the Christmas supperclub with family and enjoyed an Edwardian-inspired menu. She said, “Many thanks for your amazing food. We had a really lovely night. What a surreal evening: a group of complete strangers, and within 3 hours are all singing together around the table. There were some ‘pinch me’ moments of very beautiful singing. Thanks Katrina - with all the uncertainty around us, nights like that mean so much.” Katrina ran supperclubs from her home many years ago and decided to revive this, with her daughter Polly as waitress, as a way of folk reconnecting after lockdown. She said, “People were still anxious about eating out and socialising, yet we’re desperate to get out and do things. The supperclub offered a safe way with limited numbers to do just that. The best part for the host is we take care of all the food, tableware, service and washing up - the host just provides the space, so they are free to enjoy the evening too.” January’s “Murder in Mexico” supperclub is already fully booked, but anyone interested in attending or hosting a future supperclub, or with another event they would like catering, can contact Katrina on email@example.com or 07484724113.
The festive window display competition organised by the Christmas Festival Committee with a ‘Christmas Celebrations’ theme received a total of 15 entries from business and domestic premises. The displays were a pleasure for people walking by, and added to the sense of community that is really in evidence in Montgomery at Christmas. There were scenes of the nativity story with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, and exceptional lighting. A number of entries had an eco-friendly influence, using natural resources and products, or recycled items, and many handmade craft elements. The Festival’s good friend from Berriew, local sculptor, artist and jewellery maker, Andrew Logan, happily agreed to judge the competition for the second year running. He commented, “It was a pleasure to view so many artistic windows where the creativity of the home and business owners shone through. Congratulations to the winners and what a fabulously festive feeling it gives to the town.” First place in the competition for business windows went to Siop Lyfrau Trefaldwyn / The Bookshop Montgomery in Arthur Street and the runner up was Chameleon Hair Studio in Broad Street. For the domestic entries, the winner was Ruth Moucharafieh on Arthur Street; the runner up, Fran Louise on Bishops Castle Street; and Juliet Humphrey’s Verlon Close window was commended by Andrew. The Festival Committee extends sincere thanks to Andrew Logan, to all the participants, and to all the support from sponsors, Pickstock Homes, Montgomery Waters and SJ Roberts Construction.
Montgomery School worked hard to ensure that Christmas 2021 was as normal as possible for their pupils and made sure that there was no “bah humbug” due to covid. The Foundation Phase classes practised and performed ‘The Inn-Spectors’ which was then recorded and shared with parents. The whole school visited St Nicholas’ Church for the annual Carol Service where pupils performed a range of English, Welsh and Hungarian Carols and the advent wreath was lit too. The children finished with ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ with accompanying Makaton signs. Hungarian carol ‘Kirje, kirje kisdedecske’ was also sung and shared with friends at Kunágota school, Hungary. Headteacher Anna Griggs said, “I am so proud of how embedded Languages, Literacy and Communication are within our curriculum and our worship too. Hopefully, next year we can participate in community carol singing and we hope to perform for the local Dementia Friends group soon too.” Music teacher, Theo Lawrence, organised and led the annual ‘Carols around the Christmas Tree’ at school. This showcased the Year 5/6 ukulele ensemble and talented Year 6 pianist, Sicily. The School Council organised a Christmas Jumper Day and Evie, Year 2, said, “I am very proud that we have raised £64 for the Save the Children charity.” Harry in Year 4 collected toy donations for the Montgomeryshire Family Crisis Centre. Other festivities included an online pantomime, Christmas parties and a delicious Christmas dinner. The whole school wishes everyone ‘Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!’ Photo: "The Inn-Spectors"
None of us were quite expecting to be moving towards yet another period of restrictions this Christmas. Powys has done such a good job of the vaccination and booster programme that we had reason to hope for a return to normality with family and friends, events, festivities and the economic boost Christmas brings to our incredibly hard working and creative businesses. Whatever is around the corner, Montgomery has shown its resilience and indomitable community spirit. Every day I am grateful for the good fortune of living here surrounded by beautiful countryside, history and the warmth, kindness and friendship of this community. I am so proud and honoured to be your Mayor and, along with my consort Brett, send you the warmest of seasonal greetings and every good wish for better days to come in 2022. We look forward to the Literary Festival, plays, Show, acclaimed musicians, Open Gardens, Hungarian Day and so much more with hope and positivity. Thank you all who make Montgomery such a special place. Happy Christmas. Keep well. Keep safe. Keep smiling! - Jill Kibble Photo from a chilly Montgomery Castle, December 2021
Following the cancellation of the “A Christmas Journey” live nativity and stalls last Thursday for reasons of caution regarding a rapidly changing covid situation, Santa determined to proceed with his drive through Broad Street, and extended it to a proper tour all around the town to give everyone a chance to keep an eye out for him and give him a big wave. While the reindeer were resting up for the main event this Friday evening, Santa’s trailer, bedecked with pine branches and lights, was pulled through town by a similarly decorated quad bike, driven by two volunteer elves. Music played from the trailer as Santa spent a good couple of hours touring the town, wishing everyone Merry Christmas, Nadolig Llawen and Joyeux Noel. The children loved it and were thrilled to be able to speak with Father Christmas, and to join in with him singing and dancing in the street before bedtime. Santa said, “Be good children and Merry Christmas Montgomery. I hope you all enjoyed our Christmas quad bike extravaganza. Keep safe, enjoy Christmas and I hope you all have a prosperous new year.” Parents took to social media to say that Santa’s visit to their road had made their children’s evenings, and many adults felt just the same. Jessica Broxton had moved into her new home in Montgomery that very day and said, “I loved it! It made my moving-in night all the more merrier that Santa welcomed me to Montgomery! Thank you!” Kate MacDonald from Friends of Montgomery Play Park said, “We were all disappointed not to run the full event, as we had been so looking forward to it, especially following on from the success of our scarecrow competition. We want to thank everyone for the generous support offered to the planned event, and to the three causes through the raffle. It was lovely of Santa to visit and it made lots of people’s evenings. We look forward to being able to hold further community and fundraising events in 2022.” Montgomery businesses also stepped up to make something of the evening, and decided between them to proceed with “late night shopping” until 7pm. The Christmas pop-up at the Old Midland Bank House will open for one last day on Thursday 23rd December, 10am-3pm; Made in Monty at the Institute/Library is open daily 10am-4pm and additionally on Christmas Eve until lunchtime; the Christmas pop-up shop at the Old Bell Gallery is also open daily 10am-4pm, then on Christmas Eve until around 1.30pm. The two raffle draws which had been planned for 16th December went ahead on Saturday 18th, drawn by Mayor Jill Kibble. The raffle for “A Christmas Journey” raised over £450 to be shared between three causes: Friends of Montgomery Play Park, Friends of Montgomery School, and The DPJ Foundation, which supports mental health in farming communities and is one of the Mayor’s charities. The raffle of a very large 'barrow of booze', with items kindly donated by local people and businesses, had been organised over several months by Gail Evans. This raised well over £1300 in aid of two schools in Kilembe, Uganda, near Gail’s former home. She commented, “This is absolutely fantastic and will mean so much to the schools. This amount of money may seem quite small to a school in Wales but for the Ugandan schools this will buy so much equipment and resources for the children. The generosity of donors and those buying raffle tickets has been amazing. I am overwhelmed by everyone's kindness.”
With high hopes of third time lucky, the Trustees are busy planning for the Montgomeryshire Literary Festival in Montgomery over the second weekend in June. Main events will be In the splendid Georgian Town Hall but visitors can expect a range of fringe activities around the town. There is an impressive line up of authors raring to go after the restrictions of the last couple of summers. The Trustees have been selecting their Christmas picks, reminding everyone of the Festival to come and providing a bit of last minute inspiration for stocking fillers. Inevitably, Trustee and Montgomery Mayor, Jill Kibble, gravitated to the shelves of the town’s own gem of a bookshop and enjoyed discussing and reading her choice of Toast with owners Richard Eaves and Barry Lord by the deliciously warm stove. Jill said, “Toast is the perfect book for those semi-comatose hours in front of the log burner, full of good cheer and Christmas pud. You may even digest the book in one sitting. Celebrated chef and cookery writer Nigel Slater explores his troubled, dysfunctional childhood through a cornucopia of food bites. A light read but surely and deftly written at a pace to keep you turning the pages. A perennial favourite since it won the Richard and Judy award back in 2003. Delighted to find it on the shelves.”
The noted community spirit of Montgomery is well reflected by the fifty active groups and organisations that function in the town. These vary from snooker club to Friends of the School to the OUCH group for arthritis sufferers or Taste Montgomery for food producers. Hosted by Graham Evans (Mid & North Powys Network Development Officer), along with Mayor, Jill Kibble, Wednesday evening 1st December saw the first opportunity for representatives of these groups to get together to share ideas and information, and identify community needs. Some organisations are now looking to start up again having not met for nearly two years and, in some cases, are seeing this as an opportunity for a fresh start. With such a range of activities on offer the need for good communication and publicity is clear. A list is being produced detailing all Montgomery groups along with contact details and an outline of activities. This will be available shortly on the town website and will be of particular value to newer residents. The group determined to hold a Community Fayre in Montgomery on January 29th 2022, where clubs and organisations will be displaying what they have to offer. Everyone is welcome for tea, coffee and cake and to have the opportunity to talk to group representatives to find out more and how to take part. Entertainment will be provided by Monty Folk and Côr Trefaldwyn, whilst Trefaldwyn Ladies Club will provide the refreshments. More detail will be provided shortly but if you require any further information on the project or the event, please contact Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org Photo from our archive
Montgomery Christmas Festival committee, as well as organising the illumination of the town, has also organised a Christmas window display competition to bring an extra bit of sparkle to the town. Residential and business entries are invited to decorate their windows throughout the town with a ‘Christmas celebrations’ theme. The competition is showcasing the magic of our Georgian gem Borders town and has been supported by Pickstock Homes, Montgomery Waters and SJ Roberts Construction who have kindly offered prizes. An entry form needs to be completed, and is available from email@example.com or at the Bunners shop. Please return the form and mount the window displays as soon as possible for all to enjoy, and by 15th December. The committee are delighted to announce that internationally renowned artist, jewellery designer and sculptor Andrew Logan will be judging the windows during the lead-up to Christmas. Sue Blower, Christmas Festival Chair, said, “We would like to thank Andrew, the sponsors and all those who are busy creating wonderful window displays which are such a joy and a delight to see!” Photo: Andrew Logan judging the "Christmas celebrations" windows in Montgomery in 2020