Mayor's Notes I am honoured to have been re-elected as Mayor of this beautiful town. Brett and I truly value all your friendship and support. Montgomery has a hard-working Town Council and, although we have sadly said farewell to long serving and valued Councillors Mike Mills and Lionel Weaver, we warmly welcome new Councillor Cyndy Humphreys, who brings her many skills to the team. Montgomery-Hungarian Day was truly a special occasion with a warm and joyous atmosphere. A debt of gratitude to those councillors, community members and businesses who ensured its success. Business boomed and Monty’s Arany brew was a smash hit here and across Hungary. The Welsh-Hungarian concert in the church rounded off the day perfectly. Whilst thinking about the castle, a reminder: the car park is for castle visitors only and no dogs are allowed on the site. CADW set the requirements, not the hard working custodians, so please assist by observing them. The Coffee Morning and Silent Auction was another notable event, raising over £2,000 for Ukrainian charities. Montgomery is delighted to welcome our first Ukrainian family and applaud the perseverance of Sue and Mark Michaels in ensuring their safe arrival. A busy summer ahead, with the Jubilee Street Party and Montgomeryshire Literary Festival in June, and everyone looking forward to the return of the Street Fair, Open Gardens and Marc Corbett-Weaver’s long-awaited concert. Town Council is moving to the next stage of the community survey and action plan. A summary from the first stage will be found with the June/July Crier. We are working closely with the Montgomery Community Buildings Preservation Trust as they take on the lease for the Town Hall and encourage more activities and events, while ensuring the future of the fabric of this lovely building at the heart of our town. Looking forward to working with and for you all over the coming year. - Jill Kibble, Mayor
Residents of Montgomery have been delighted to see the recent return of the traditional Saturday morning coffee mornings at their Town Hall. Last Saturday was a coffee morning with a difference to raise funds in support of Ukrainians. Organised by the Town Council, the morning included a sealed bids auction co-ordinated by local artist Josette Gresty who had gathered a range of beautifully crafted items generously donated by herself and fellow artists and makers. Visitors enjoyed the spread of delicious home-baked cakes and pastries and a grand raffle run by the Town Crier, and were able to purchase unique Okami Makes origami cards from 11 year old Jenny Bailey-Beech. Outside, in front of the Town Hall and in glorious spring sunshine, beneath the fluttering Ukrainian and Welsh flags, Monty Folk played a variety of tunes throughout the morning. Their busking resulted in more generous donations and the catchy tunes had people dancing in the street. The town was delighted to welcome its newest residents to the event - a family escaped from war-torn Ukraine who are staying with a Montgomery host family. They were joined by another family being hosted in Bishops Castle. In common with other refugees, it has taken many weeks of perseverance supported by their host families to obtain all the necessary documentation to come to Britain. Thanks to the generosity of those attending, the Town Council have raised well over £1500 which will be split between Médecins Sans Frontières working in Ukraine and the Red Cross supporting refugee camps in eastern Hungary where the town has links with the Mayor and Council of Kunàgota.
Following closure for covid and a period of refurbishment work, Montgomery Library is now open again in the Institute building on Arthur Street. The library is currently open from 10am to noon, Monday to Saturday, but afternoon sessions may become possible as more volunteers are recruited and trained. The library has copying and printing facilities available currently; a public internet point is not yet set up but will be coming soon. The library is situated through the main Institute front door and to the left, having been relocated to what was the old Reading Room, while retaining a similar amount of shelf space, and receiving new stock for readers to choose from. It has a new telephone number of 01686 669 710 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
A busy couple of months in Montgomery. Final touches are being made to the Montgomery Community Buildings Preservation Trust taking on the Town Hall lease to ensure our gracious civic building is kept in good repair and remains a thriving community resource. Another beautiful building, the Institute, is steadily being repurposed. Lesley Williams and the Trustees are showing great initiative in ensuring this is another vibrant multi-purpose resource. Thanks to everyone who assisted with a lively Winter Tea with local musicians, a delicious tea and abundant cake. Also, everyone involved with the bustling Community Fayre, which showcased many of the 54 Montgomery groups and organisations. Our multi-skilled community leads me to Town Council elections in May. If you are a team worker with a passion for Montgomery and are a forward, positive thinker then please consider standing for Council*. Happy to talk to anyone interested; it can be immensely rewarding. Two important events for your diary: Ukrainian Fundraiser Coffee Morning on Saturday 30th April and the Montgomery-Hungarian Day on Saturday 14th May. Thank you to everyone who completed the Community Survey. The comments are extremely valuable and are currently being analysed. Initial results in the next Crier. Thank you too for all your support this year. It’s been a considerable honour and a privilege to be your Mayor. Jill Kibble - Mayor *applications should be submitted by 4.00pm on 5th April
Residents, visitors and shoppers had a special treat on Saturday morning as St Nicholas’ Church’s six historic bells sounded a quarter peal across the town – the first for nearly three years. A visiting group of ringers from Hereford – Paul, Kris, Lynn, Jason, Adam and Tim – successfully rang a quarter peal of Warkworth Surprise Major. The peal was heard across town, and because friends of Montgomery from further afield had expressed a wish on social media to be able to hear the bells, a short video was posted on the Montgomery Wales facebook page. Cllr Rob Harper was out with the Town Tidy Team weeding the cobbles outside the Old Bell Museum and commented, “The bells are such a magnificent part of Montgomery and lift your spirits. Sounded great - a truly awesome sound that the team certainly enjoyed.” David Thomas from the Montgomery bell ringers said, “Congratulations to the team from Hereford and thanks everyone for the interest and lovely comments.” After lockdown restrictions, bell ringing returned to St Nicholas’ Church Montgomery in May 2021 and community members were delighted to hear the bells ringing out across town during Monday practices and on other occasions. On March 4th, Montgomery bell ringers joined a campaign for bell towers across Europe to ring in support of Ukraine. This occurred simultaneously across Europe at 7pm UK time, 8pm Central European time and 9pm in Kyiv. The next quarter peal attempt will be on 14 May, when the tower will be visited by a group from Oswestry. Local ringers are also hoping to attempt a quarter peal to celebrate the Queen's jubilee in June. New ringers, or those with previous experience, are welcome at Montgomery tower's practice evenings on Monday nights at 6.30pm. The bell ringers are also planning a tower tour in September for those interested in finding out more about the bells and how they are rung.
To wish a happy National Day to Montgomery’s many Hungarian friends on March 15th, members of the community joined together with musicians from Monty Folk to send a greeting in song, alongside some fabulous images of Montgomery provided by David Wilson. Mayor Jill Kibble and Lydia Bassett from Monty Folk, who are members of the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association, challenged residents to come together in Montgomery Town Hall on a Sunday afternoon to learn, sing and record verses of ‘Ha én rózsa volnék’ (If I were a rose) and ‘Calon Lân’(A pure heart) in Hungarian, English and Welsh. Elizabeth Sillo, opera singer and Chair of the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association, helped out with the Hungarian song choice and pronunciation. The words of the Hungarian song, ‘Ha én rózsa volnék’, were written by famous Hungarian musician János Bródy to a traditional folk tune. The English version of the second verse, as translated by Elizabeth and Lydia, reads, “If I were a gate dear, I would stay wide open; Everybody welcome, my arms are open wide. I would never ask them, where they all had come from; I would not be happy, till they were safe inside.” Lydia said, “We loved the songs, and the words feel particularly relevant today. Music is an international language connecting us all." Jill commented, “Some of us could barely hold back the tears whilst singing it.” The video (available on YouTube via tinyurl.com/MontyCCC) reached some 23 thousand people across Hungary and the UK last week. The greeting gained media attention in the Hungarian and Romanian national press thanks to Balint Brunner of Magyar Cymru, a Welsh-Hungarian cultural initiative that specialises in news and stories linking the Welsh and Hungarian cultures, with the aim of building bridges between people in the two nations. The song ‘Ha én rózsa volnék’ is well known and loved in Hungary and the social media posts received many lovely comments, including a share on Ambassador Dr. Ferenc Kumin’s Facebook page with this message: “A lovely surprise for March 15th! I look forward to taking part in Montgomery Hungarian Day on May 14th, and personally thanking our Welsh friends for their thoughtfulness and long-standing friendship.” A member of the János Bródy Fan Club commented, “I'm in tears. Thank you, Montgomery. As long as Hungarians are alive, you will remain a part of our culture. We won’t forget ‘The Bards of Wales’! I wish [as in the first verse of ‘Ha én rózsa volnék’] that your roses bloom, more than once!” The Bards of Wales, an epic allegorical poem by János Arany, is set at Montgomery Castle and is one of the reasons behind the cultural connection and friendship between Montgomery and Hungary. A trilingual memorial plaque to János Arany has been in place in Montgomery since last year and will be officially unveiled in May by Dr Kumin. There will be a Montgomery Hungarian Day on 14th May with a full-day programme organised by the Town Council and Magyar Cymru. https://magyar.cymru/montgomery “Március tizenötödikére szeretettel Montgomeryből.”
Join us for a weekend of culture and conversation in Montgomery over the weekend of 10th-12th June. After two pandemic-hit years, we’re delighted to announce that Monty Lit Fest is back for 2022. We’ll be celebrating writing from Wales, the Borders and beyond, bringing together a stellar line-up of literary talent for book-lovers to enjoy. As always, our programme offers something for everyone – whether you’re a fiction lover or enjoy a wide range of non-fiction; if poetry is your bag, you’re an aspiring writer or you just want to enjoy a pint at our Late Lounge or perhaps exercise your brain cells at our Big Saturday Night Quiz. Here are just some of our programme highlights: Visit the scene of the crime with top crime writers, Sophie Hannah, Janice Hallett and Myfanwy Alexander. Get close to the land with Bella Bathurst, author of Field Work and Patrick Laurie, author of Native. Enjoy a glass of wine with poet and painter, Frieda Hughes, who will read from, and discuss, her poetry. Find out which 12 poems can tell the history of Wales - and which nine foods represent the history of Welsh food. Hear from Hope Adams and Alix Nathan as they share the joys and challenges of writing fiction based on history told from a female perspective. Meet best-selling non-fiction authors, Horatio Clare and Montgomeryshire’s own Mike Parker. Take to the field with Marcus Berkmann and Roger Morgan-Grenville for our literary cricket tea. …and more. Budding authors can take advantage of two hands-on lunchtime sessions, one giving advice on how to write for radio, and the other aimed at helping budding food critics master the craft of writing about food. The Festival’s main venue will be Montgomery Town Hall, with other local venues in the town playing a supporting role. Festival go-ers will be able to buy books from not one, but two, bookshops: a pop-up Festival shop run by Oswestry’s Booka, as well as Montgomery’s own Montgomery Bookshop. Festival Chair, Sarah Morris, said: “After two years of running sessions online, we can’t wait to hold the Festival in- person again. We’re excited to launch such a wide-ranging programme that really does offer something for everyone. We look forward to welcoming book lovers to Montgomery to meet some amazing authors and make the most of what promises to be a very special literary weekend.” How to find out more Full programme details are available on the Festival’s website: www.montylitfest.com. Tickets will go on sale from 4th April and can be purchased online, from the website, or in person at The Montgomery Bookshop. Details of accommodation for the weekend, as well as where to eat and drink, are available via the https://www.montgomery-wales.uk/ website. To keep in touch with our latest news: Visit the website at www.montylitfest.com Follow @MontyLitFest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Sign up to our newsletter via the website Email: email@example.com Photo: Monty Lit Fest Chair Sarah Morris with Barry Lord of The Bookshop in Montgomery About us Monty Lit Fest is run by the Montgomeryshire Literary Festival Trust. Founded in 2018, our aim is to celebrate writing from Wales, the Borders and beyond. We are committed to programmes that celebrate a diverse range of writing and appeal to a wide range of audiences.
On Saturday 12th March, Montgomery Town Hall hosted a Community Fayre where many of the Town’s 54 organisations and groups were represented. With stalls, refreshments, raffle and live music filling the building, and even the weather being marginally spring-like, it felt like the town was returning to its pre-pandemic atmosphere. Artist Jo Gresty was there representing Solstice Painters, a Montgomery artists’ group and said, “It was a really enjoyable morning and we may have a few new members so we can start up again in the summer. It was a great success and we were certainly busy.” Sandi Coppi, representing the OUCH group and Versus Arthritis, said, “It was a blast! I love this place.” Visitor to the Fayre, Deborah Simmonds, commented, “It was a lovely morning and a great turn out. Very enjoyable to see the locals together again and to meet some new faces.” Graham Evans from PAVO, who co-organised the event along with the Town Council and a working group from community organisations, said, “What a great event to be involved with! It was lovely to see so many people back in the Town Hall and enjoying what Montgomery has to offer, and the atmosphere was great. It's so important to have a strong community spirit, especially during challenging times, and Montgomery has that in abundance.” He added, “Many thanks to all the clubs and organisations for making it such a successful event and to the public for coming out to support. A special thanks to the working group who came together to arrange and run the first Community Fayre in Montgomery. We smashed all the objectives and more!” Mayor Jill Kibble concluded, “Great day at the Community Fayre. What a buzz there was. Organisations picking up new members, coffee mornings restarted, a splendid raffle and a lovely ambience with chatting, music, fun for the tinies and a real sense of community. Only Montgomery could have 54 organisations and groups in this, the smallest of towns. I am proud of everyone who does so much for the town. Big thanks to Lydia Bassett for organising the music entertainment and Graham Evans for all his excellent organisation - pleasure working with you." Bowling Club, Carnival Committee, Chatterbox, Christmas Lights / Festival, Church Choir, Civic Society, Clwb Coffi Cymraeg, Clwb Eiddew, Community News Team, Côr Trefaldwyn, Cricket Club, Crier Team, Destination Montgomery, Flower Club, Flower Arrangers (Church), Friends of Montgomery Playpark, Friends of Montgomery School, Games Afternoon / Monty on the Board, Gardening Club, Institute / Library Committee, Junior Football Club, Knit and Natter, Mini Montys baby and toddler group, Montgomery Community Buildings Preservation Trust (Town Hall Trust), Montgomery Community Care Project, Montgomery Dementia Friends, Montgomery Energy Group, Montgomery Football Club, Montgomeryshire Literary Festival (town committee), Montgomery Music and Drama, Montgomery Music Live, Montgomery Peer Support Group (ME/ Fibromyalgia), Monty Folk band, Monty Hour team, Monty Movers running club, Monty Muscle, Movie Club, OUCH/Versus Arthritis, Rainbows/Brownies/Guides/Rangers, Recreation Committee (Activity Centre), Scouts/Cubs, Show Committee, Snooker Club, Solstice Painters, St Nicholas Bell Ringers, Street Fair, Taste Montgomery, Tennis Club, Town Tidy Team, Trefaldwyn Ladies Club, Trefoil Guild, Walkers are Welcome Montgomery, Wednesday Walkers
On Tuesday 1st March, Clare Jones from Trefaldwyn Cheese was lucky enough to be invited to London by the Prime Minister for a St David’s Day Reception at 10 Downing Street. Unfortunately, due to the current situation in Ukraine, Boris Johnson was unable to attend, but Simon Hart, the Minister for Wales, hosted the reception instead. Clare said, “It was great to walk through the front door of number 10. Inside, there were daffodils everywhere and a Welsh choir was singing.” The event was a celebration of Wales and its people, and to showcase its impact on a national and global scale. People from all walks of life and every part of Wales came together to celebrate, including representatives from the NHS, the military, sport, businesses, and charities. Also among those present were the fashion designer Julien Macdonald and the adventurer and television presenter Bear Grylls. Clare added, “It was a fantastic opportunity for us to attend the reception and represent the food industry in Wales. We even saw Larry, the Downing Street cat!”
After a period as self-catering accommodation, The Checkers will now reopen as a restaurant under the stewardship of master chef Andrew Birch and his wife Rachel, a pastry chef. Once again, The Checkers is set to become a star in the crown of culinary Montgomery following in the footsteps of Michelin star chef Stéphane Borie who ran the restaurant for many years. Andrew and Rachel have had an illustrious career in a number of notable restaurants in the UK but it had long been a dream to have their very own establishment. When they came to the area to visit Wagyu beef farmer, Ifor Humphreys, they popped into Montgomery and immediately felt an affinity with the fine old town and since then have kept an eye on places to run their restaurant. Andrew has featured on Great British Menu on BBC2, and in 2016 was one of the chefs representing Wales. He has been head chef at The Bell in Monmouthshire and Fishmore Hall in Ludlow to name but two, and brings his imagination and expertise to Montgomery. Andrew and Rachel will be opening The Checkers on March 25th and are already fully booked for their first evening of 30 covers in the newly refurbished restaurant. They will focus on using the highest quality produce, locally sourced wherever possible, and creating the best in taste with their knowledge and ingenuity. Expect some very fine dining and, if you really want to make a night of it, the restaurant offers four beautifully furnished rooms and guests can book in for an evening meal, bed and breakfast. For people planning a special event, Andrew and Rachel will be happy to book the whole restaurant and rooms for a party of visitors. The pair will be offering dinner on Wednesday evenings then lunch and dinner on Thursday through to Saturday and a traditional lunch on Sunday. Andrew is never short of ideas and is planning handing the kitchen to a guest master chef on the last Sunday of the month as well as running cookery school events. Andrew and Rachel and their two children Elizabeth and Albert have been warmly welcomed to Montgomery by residents and fellow business owners. Elizabeth is loving Montgomery Primary School whilst Albert, who is just two, is looking forward to Mini Montys. The children recently met up with Mayor, Jill Kibble, who was promptly questioned by Elizabeth on whether she wore a crown or a tiara. The Mayor is considering which she will choose for her first visit to this fine addition to Montgomery that is sure to bring new business to the retail and accommodation providers in the lovely old town. For information and to book online go to www.checkerswales.co.uk Photo: The Checkers sign is repainted by Franklin Signs in preparation for the restaurant reopening later in March