Earlier in March, Friends of Montgomery Play Park announced that Earth Wrights were selected as the company to develop the play park project for the town. Since then the group have been working closely with them to get plans ready to share with a wider community. The design of the park and the amount of space available in the new location, next to the football ground on the recreation field, will lend itself to a development which could be completed in a staged process depending on the level of funding achieved. Therefore, during April the Friends are inviting local involvement to help evaluate the proposal and prioritise aspects of the scheme that are deemed to be of most value and best serve the community. All the plans and background information can be found at the Friends new online page http://play.montgomery.cloud including a fantastic fly through video and an evaluation survey which will close midnight 25 April. Physical plans and copies of the survey will be up at the Town Hall and at the Institute for those who don’t have access to the internet. We encourage people to complete this community survey, as the feedback will help inform the final designs in preparation for a planning application. Crucially, the Friends are working with Montgomery Church in Wales Primary School to gain the opinion and feedback from pupils. As potential direct users of the park, their considerations will be key to the final design. Earth Wrights will be available for an online public discussion during the second half of April (date yet to be confirmed and announced on the Friends Facebook Page @montgomeryplaypark), where members of the Earth Wrights Team will be on hand to answer questions. If you would like to get in touch directly with the Friends you can email email@example.com or send a message via Facebook @montgomeryplaypark
It is with mixed feelings that this is my last Mayor’s Notes before I hand over to my successor. I would like to thank those of you that have given me your support and encouragement; it has been very much appreciated. It has been a very troubled two years between everything but thankfully we have got through it. The Covid pandemic has been a very trying time for all of us but things are easing slowly and getting back to what is being called a new normal. It would be great to see the Town Hall being used again for events and the return of the Saturday Coffee Mornings. Jane and I wish you all a pleasant summer and send our good wishes to Montgomery’s residents. Haydn Andrew - Mayor
Julie Davies, a former Montgomery Town Councillor, who was the very first lady to sign the historic record as a Freeman of Montgomery, following a change in the law which allowed women to hold this historic, inherited honour, had a strong and abiding love for her home town. Julie sadly died in early 2020 but her spirit very much lives on thanks to a number of generous bequests to community groups in the town; and now to her specially grown oak. Passionate about nature and wildlife, some ten years ago Julie grew a number of trees from seed and as the oak grew strongly she hoped that it would eventually find a place in the town. Cllr Lionel Weaver, also a Freeman of the town, and who looks after the town’s Whitegate Pool area, identified a spot for the tree, and Julie's partner, Ian Ward, assisted Lionel to plant the oak. Lionel said “I was pleased to be able to find a special place for this oak, and to plant it as a tribute to Julie where it will, in time, grace the area as a majestic tree providing a home for a range of wildlife.” Julie grew a number of trees and bushes and Ian has also planted a hazel at the Whitegate Pool area. Both will be a splendid memorial to Julie and a tribute to her service to Montgomery and the community. Photo: Julie with her father Colin, who was the keeper of the Freemen archive, wearing the Freemen of Montgomery tartan
As Montgomery celebrated St David’s Day, both the day and Wales Week were also being celebrated much further afield in South Eastern Hungary. The Welsh flag was projected onto Bréda Castle in Lőkösháza accompanied by Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and in nearby Kunágota, from the school and playground to the library and mayor’s office, everyone was learning about Wales for Wales Week Hungary - with some of the posters featuring Montgomery and a familiar face, Town Crier Sue Blower. Montgomery Mayor, Cllr Haydn Andrew, received a splendid illustrated book of Kunágota history along with a presentation pack and message from dignitaries of the town. Haydn commented, “We were delighted to receive this very special book on St David's Day. It will hopefully be placed in our Old Bell museum to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. We hope a good many of those visitors will be from Hungary in better times. The citizens of Kunágota expressed their wish to strengthen relations over the coming years and we are certainly looking forward to continuing to build bridges between our two cultures and extend the warm hand of Montgomery friendship over the 2,300kms to Kunágota.” Many members of the Montgomery community offered greetings to Hungary and Kunágota as they celebrated their National Day on March 15th, which commemorates the Revolution and the War of Independence against Austrian-Hapsburg rule in 1848–1849. The greetings included a variety of displays in red, white and green - the shared colours of the Hungarian and Welsh flags. The Eaves & Lord bookshop window display featured a beautifully executed rendition of traditional Hungarian designs by Montgomery artist Jo Gresty. Helen Hayes baked some delicious authentic pogácsa, and the Montgomery Rangers came up trumps with their original red, white and green craft creations including origami flowers, painted rocks and drawings. Mayor Haydn displayed his Kunágota book and presentation album alongside a red, white and green floral display and said, “I have responded to the gift from Kunágota with a letter which has been translated into Hungarian, and was delighted to participate in sending greetings for the Hungarian National Day on March 15th.” Rising to a challenge from opera singer and founder member and Chair of the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association, Elizabeth Sillo, Montgomery’s community folk band Monty Folk created their own recording of a favourite Hungarian spring folk song, ‘Tavaszi szél vizet áraszt’. (Available on the YouTube channel via tinyurl.com/MontyCCC.) Because of lockdown rules in Wales, each band member recorded themselves on their phones and laptops at home, and then edited them together. Elizabeth sent voice recordings to Lydia Bassett so she could sing the track in Hungarian. Lydia said, “I was very nervous singing in Hungarian, but I am glad we accepted the challenge and we really enjoyed learning and playing the song. When we saw the lovely messages the people of Hungary sent to Wales for St David’s Day we wanted to reply with a message marking their national day. Tavaszi szél is a very special song to the people of Hungary, very much about the coming of Spring, and it felt a lovely way to send a message from Montgomery to help with their celebrations.” More stories about Welsh-Hungarian relations and the Montgomery-Hungary connection can be found on the Magyar Cymru page run by Balint Brunner, co-founder of the WHCA, at https://www.facebook.com/MagyarCymru
A planning application has been submitted to Powys County Council for what local residents know as "the care home site" at the corner of New Road and Forden Road. This application for 33 affordable/local needs homes can be viewed now at https://pa.powys.gov.uk/online-applications/ by searching for the reference 20/2118/FUL. The site plans have been placed in the Town Council noticeboard in Broad Street and on the back of the Town Hall. (Please remember to keep social distance when viewing these.) The Town Council organised a public meeting online on the 4th March at 7pm. This enabled residents to learn more about the proposals, share their own views with members of the Town Council, which will be submitting its own response to the application, and ask questions of the developers. The Town Council would of course have preferred to have a public meeting in the Town Hall, but that was not possible due to Covid rules. This meeting was recorded this meeting so those who missed it could catch up. Video link: https://montgomery.cloud/town/4mar21.mp4 Note that the Town Council is a statutory consultee on planning matters, and can make comments/recommendations but not decisions. If you wish the Town Council to be aware of any comments you make to the Planning Officer, then please copy these to the Town Clerk firstname.lastname@example.org
Montgomery’s links with Hungary, through the Building Bridges initiative, are developing rapidly, and through Magyar Cymru a musical friendship has been established with UK-based Hungarian opera singer, Elizabeth Sillo. This in turn has led to a newly commissioned piece of music by composer Georges Gondard being entitled ‘Montgomery Fanfare’. Ms Sillo, who began the annual Hungarian-Welsh concerts in Cardiff, is a founder member of the Welsh Hungarian Cultural Association and organises Europe wide concerts. In this role Elizabeth commissioned an organ piece from French composer Georges Gondard for an anniversary concert in Nice this year. Georges was born in Nice and himself has distant Hungarian connections. He has been a prolific composer of both film scores and concert works including a tribute to Frida Kahlo and a Memoriam for Hiroshima for the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra. The newly commissioned organ piece was written specifically for Adrian Partington who frequently appears as conductor with the National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales as well as being an organist of international repute. It came as a wonderful surprise that, learning from Elizabeth of the Hungary-Montgomery links, Georges has now entitled his piece a 'Montgomery Fanfare'. It is planned to celebrate the Montgomery-Hungary links with a ‘Hungarian Day’, once Covid restrictions allow. This event will include the postponed unveiling of the plaque presented to Montgomery following the bestowing of an honorary posthumus Freemanship of the town on the Hungarian national poet, János Arany. Arany based his epic allegorical poem The Bards of Wales at Montgomery Castle. Cllr Jill Kibble, who is leading this initiative, as Chair of the Town Council’s Tourism Committee, said, “Plans are advancing and we are hoping to have a really interesting day, welcoming friends from both Wales and Hungary, and including some very special surprises.” She added, “We hope we can host the premiere of a new scoring of Georges Gondard’s work, Montgomery Fanfare, here in Montgomery as part of this.” Although no date has been able to be set as yet, Jill said, “Watch this space for further news about this exciting event.” Photo: Georges Gondard
Now that the daylight hours are increasing, we can hope for an early spring and some nice warm weather, if similar to last year would be great. I am sorry that there is not much eventwise to report on at the moment or for the immediate future. However, we can now all look forward to our vaccinations which seem to be just around the corner, then life will slowly return to a more normal time, hopefully. In the meantime, we must abide by Government regulations. Finally I would like to give thanks to those in our community who selflessly gave up part of their Christmas day to provide a Christmas day lunch for some of the people in Montgomery. Haydn Andrew - Mayor
The winner of the Friends of Montgomery Play Park’s first ever fundraiser was announced just before Christmas as Julie Owen, who won a miniature real Christmas Tree with lights and decorated with £15 of lottery scratchcards. When presented with the tree, Julie said that it had made her day and that she was delighted to have won. The tree and scratchcards had kindly been donated by a supporter of the association and has been on display for most of December in Montgomery’s Bunners store, who helped promote it. Treasurer of the Friends of Montgomery Play Park, Mrs Phillips, said, “We are very grateful to Bunners and the local community for supporting us with our first fundraiser to improve the play park facilities in the town. The money raised is a big step in the right direction for us and I thank everyone who bought a ticket or helped to promote it.” Due to COVID-19, the raffle draw was held as a live event on Facebook at noon on Sunday 20th December. If you would like to support the town to improve its play park you can donate at paypal.me/montyplaypark and follow the group on facebook at fb.me/montgomeryplaypark
Coronavirus restrictions, and the further changes announced by the Welsh Government placing the country in alert level four, mean that Montgomery folk will not be able to gather in Broad Street to celebrate the New Year as usual. However, Montgomery residents are being encouraged to link up at midnight in socially-distanced safety from their own doorsteps, much in the way the ‘Clap for Carers’ worked earlier in the year. The plan is that residents will stand on their doorsteps, or inside at a window, and shine a light, for example from a torch, at midnight. Neighbours will be able to see each others’ lights and feel part of the community at the beginning of the New Year. Mayor Haydn Andrew said, “We wanted to start the New Year on a positive note, and lights have been used for centuries to signal and link across communities and between people. This will be something that everyone can do, even if they are isolating, and we hope that seeing the lights spread across town will lift people's spirits.” He added, “We also felt parents of small children might not appreciate singing or applauding on doorsteps at midnight, so we feel this will meet the needs of all the community!” In addition, those with internet access can watch a small film in the lead up to midnight, including a recorded countdown led by Town Crier, Sue Blower, and a few words from the Mayor. This will be available to view on social media into the New Year.
As Montgomery makes links across Europe, Town Mayor, Haydn Andrew, sent warm seasonal greetings in Hungarian to M. Zoltan, Polgármestere of Kunágota. Kunágota styles itself the most Welsh village in Hungary and, although few of the residents have ever visited Wales, they enjoy an annual Welsh concert and never miss an opportunity to sing Sosban Fach or Cwm Rhondda. Kunágota is a village about twice the size of Montgomery situated in the south of Hungary near the Romanian border. The residents of the town were delighted by Montgomery’s ‘Building Bridges’ video that was even shown on National Hungarian television. The Mayor also took the opportunity to send greetings from himself, the Mayoress, Town Councillors and Montgomery residents to the Bureau de Commerce and residents of Montgommery in the Calvados region of Normandy, France who also made contact this year and sent the town a translation of the story of the de Montgomerie family and their descendants. In return, a copy of the seminal ‘Story of Montgomery’ book authored by Ann and John Welton has been sent to France. In his Christmas and new year greetings to our own Montgomery, Hendomen and Caerhowel, the Mayor commended the hard-working businesses and volunteers who had rallied around in true Montgomery spirit and were a credit to the town. He concluded by wishing all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy new year on behalf of himself and the Mayoress.