The performance from the Dragon Big Band on 1st September was a real occasion for Montgomery in a number of ways. Not only did it see the very welcome return of live music to a highly appreciative audience, but it also marked a symbolic return of a band that started life in the town 25 years ago. Former owner of the Dragon Hotel, Mark Michaels, recalled how the band was started by Montgomery resident, Ivor Tanner, a former local dance band leader and trumpeter, along with professional trombonist, Paul Munnery. Mark remembers how, after many a night of Paul and Ivor sitting In the bar swapping musical anecdotes and bemoaning the fact that there was no live music in Montgomery, he persuaded them to give it a go and "The Montgomery Irregulars" were born. They played in the Dragon Coachway until the function room was created. Mark reminisced, “I remember well how Paul played with a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He usually managed 8 pints and at least 20 cigarettes before 11pm. At that time the style was more trad jazz than big band and we had up to 23 musicians playing at any one time from keen beginners to seasoned professionals.” “A notable occasion was when Stéphane Grappelli's guitar player, 'Diz' Disley, asked anonymously to sit in, a most unassuming looking chap in a tatty mac with a battered old guitar case. He had roots around Montgomery and had always wanted to play with Ivor. He didn't have to give his name, his artistry was all. It lifted the band - they'd never played like it - the word went around and the room was full within 15 minutes.” The Dragon Big Band went on to play regularly at the Horse and Jockey in recent years with only an occasional visit to Montgomery but the town is delighted that the band has now come home to Montgomery in the great acoustics of the refurbished Town Hall. The Dragon Big Band has a further date booked for Wednesday 15th September, from 8 until 11pm in the Town Hall Lower Floor, and plans further dates for the autumn. No tickets / £5 suggested donation at the door.
Mae Clwb Eiddew, grŵp darllen Cymraeg yn Nhrefaldwyn, wedi bod yn cyfarfod yn wythnosol ar Zoom dros y deunaw mis diwetha, ond ym mis Awst, cymeron nhw hoe fach o Zoom, a chynnal eu cyfarfod cyntaf go iawn cyntaf ers misoedd. Dwedodd Julie Pearce, trefnydd y clwb, “Am bleser mawr fynd am dro efo criw bach i fyny i Gastell Trefaldwyn a sgwrsio am y llyfrau dan ni ‘di darllen yn ddiweddar.” Mae’r grŵp yn gobeithio cyfarfod unwaith y mis eto yng Nghaffi Tŷ Eiddew o fis Medi ymlaen, ac maen nhw’n bwriadu cyfarfod ar Zoom unwaith y mis hefyd. Dwedodd Julie, “Dan ni’n darllen ‘Llwch yn yr Haul’ gan Marlyn Samuel mis yma ar gyfer ein cyfarfod cyntaf nôl yn y caffi.” Cysylltwch â Julie (Julie.email@example.com) neu Denice yn y caffi am fwy o fanylion. Clwb Eiddew, a Welsh book group in Montgomery, has been meeting weekly on Zoom over the last 18 months, but in August they took a break from Zoom and had their first real meeting for months. Julie Pearce, the club’s organiser, said, “What a pleasure to go for a walk with members of the group up to Montgomery Castle and to chat about the books we have read recently.” The group hopes to start meeting once a month again in The Ivy House Cafe from September onwards, and they intend to meet on Zoom once a month as well. Julie said, “We are reading ‘Llwch yn yr Haul’ by Marlyn Samuel this month for our first meeting back in the cafe.” Contact Julie (Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org) or Denice in the café for more details.
Members of St Nicholas’ Church have been busy researching, recording and sharing stories of the Church through the centuries with support from a 15 Minute Heritage grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. The Church now has three new bilingual panels telling the stories of Sir Edmund Mortimer and Catrin Glyndwr, as well as the Herbert family and their global influence, connecting Montgomery to the history of the wider world. Church members have also made films with local people, collecting their memories of the Church and their relationship to the building and its history. The trailer for the films is now on the Church section of the Town’s website starring lots of familiar faces from the Town at https://www.montgomery-wales.uk/church/nicholas/index.html Montgomery Church in Wales School has been working on the Montgomery Lives project led by composer-musician, Ian Morgan-Williams, and poet, Pat Edwards. Ian and Pat worked with the children to share the stories of Catrin Mortimer and Magdalen Herbert, and to think about the roles they and other remarkable women had played in our history. Pat wrote a poem focussing on how we learn from our ancestors, which Ian put to music and the children learned. A recording of the song sung by the children, with the words, has been shared on the Montgomery Wales and Church Facebook pages. The children then worked on a choice of three writing exercises: a letter from Sir Edmund Mortimer asking Owain Glyndwr for Catrin’s hand in marriage; a poem about the view from Montgomery Castle; or a speech to motivate either Glyndwr’s army or Thomas Herbert’s navy before impending battle. The work will be part of a display in the Church celebrating the end of the project, once the Church is able to reopen fully. [Photo by Adam at G17]
As restrictions are easing, Montgomery Town Crier, Sue Blower, has been back in business with a vengeance after a very literal quiet period, with several appearances in the last fortnight, supporting local charity efforts, businesses and events. Sue, along with other Town Criers across the country, had to be unusually quiet during lockdown, as Town Criers stuck to an arrangement made not to make announcements, or ‘cries’, during the strict lockdown period. Sue did deliver some special messages by video from home, and rang her bell without a ‘cry’ on a couple of occasions, and of course appeared in the Christmas special of Blankety Blank! Sue’s recent return to in-person events has included a bell ring to mark the end of the Montgomery Angels scheme, opening Montgomery couple David and Anthea Wilson’s new gallery and shop in Bishops Castle, along with BC town crier Jeff Aldridge, then welcoming not one but two charity fundraisers as they visited Montgomery. The first was supporting Cari and Emma, from Dolgellau, as they set off from Montgomery Vineyard to walk to White Castle Vineyard, near Abergavenny, to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease. Richard Shackleton, of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said, “Thanks to the beautiful town of Montgomery for your hospitality and welcome. See you again soon!” The second cry was to greet Alan Bateson from Bishops Castle, raising funds for mental health charity CALM by running the length of the Offa’s Dyke path. Sue met Alan as he reached his half way point at Montgomery, and the flying visit and link to Alan’s story can be seen on the Town’s social media page. Readers may recall Katie and Matt getting engaged at Montgomery Castle on New Year’s Eve 2018, and the community celebrating with them in Broad Street at midnight. Their wedding took place in Michigan this month, and Sue filmed a video message which was presented at the wedding reception. Sue said, “It’s great to be back in business and to support not only Montgomery events, but also those people giving up their time to support a range of charities, who are always welcome in Montgomery.” Sue will be appearing in the Monty Hour slot on July 21, joined by Town Crier colleagues from across the country and the globe, to tell the audience all about the role of Town Crier. See https://montgomery.cloud/hour for details of talks and how to join the session online. Photo: Montgomery Town Crier Sue Blower cuts the ribbon at Border Lights Gallery (L-R: Anthea Wilson, Sue Blower, Bishops Castle Town Crier Jeff Aldridge)
Carys Richards, aged 10, a pupil of Montgomery Church in Wales School, was once again selected as a finalist for the Welsh Learners recitation at the National Urdd Eisteddfod T competition which was broadcast on S4C and Radio Cymru on 1st June. Carys entered her online Welsh Learners recitation entitled “Antur” and was delighted once again to have been selected as a top three finalist. Carys was announced as the overall winner of the competition last year and achieved second place this year. Carys’ video was shown on S4C and she was interviewed live from her home. The Eisteddfod T is a virtual festival, held for the first time in 2020 during the lockdown period, giving children and young people from Wales and beyond a chance to take part in a virtual fun-filled Eisteddfod from the comfort of their homes. Over 12,000 children and young people competed at this year’s Eisteddfod T competition. Montgomery Church in Wales school have had numerous successes at local level and have reached national level for many years thanks to the help of Ceinwen Morris from Forden who has kindly volunteered her time to help teach all children wishing to take part in the Urdd competitions. Carys said: "I love learning Welsh and competing in the recitation competition. I do miss competing in the traditional way on stage but have enjoyed entering online for the last 2 years, and the experience of being interviewed live on television." Anna Griggs, Head Teacher of Montgomery Church in Wales school said: “Carys continues to be an excellent role model promoting Welsh within our school. Her successes at Eisteddfod T have been inspirational for our other pupils. We are all very proud of her”. Photo credit: Phil Blagg
After being closed for the whole of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Old Bell Museum has reopened in June, acting Chairman Eric Fairbrother was pleased to announce. The Museum is initially opening for two days a week on Thursdays and Saturdays between the hours of 11am and 4pm. It is preferred that visitors book online, though it is possible to attend without a booking if numbers in the museum allow. There will be limits on the numbers in the museum at any one time to ensure proper compliance with Covid regulations and all the necessary Covid protocols will be in place including that visitors, apart from children, will be required to wear a mask. Risk assessments have been done covering visitors and stewards. Eric said, “We hope as Covid restrictions are eased we will be able to open more days in the week and allow more visitors in at any one time.” He added, “In the meantime, we would welcome help to staff the Museum and we are appealing to Montgomery folk who have previously helped with stewarding to come forward. Please contact Secretary David Thomas on 01686 668934 if you are able to help.” The Old Bell, like all museums and visitor attractions, has lost a great deal of revenue over the past twelve months and, with the restrictive opening in place, is not anticipating much revenue this year. Eric said, “Any donations to support the Old Bell, which is your museum, would be much appreciated, and can be posted through my door at Bronwylfa in Broad Street. Thank you.” Photo: G17 Photography Services
With restrictions easing and life looking more normal, the decision has been taken to stand down the Montgomery Neighbourhood Angels, set up at the beginning of the pandemic to coordinate community support in and around Montgomery. The scheme will be formally closed in June, and the plan is to transfer remaining funds to the Montgomery Welfare Fund. County Cllr Stephen Hayes, who initiated the scheme, along with Cerys Thomas and Claire Weston from the Community News Team, said, “If COVID should come back for a third wave, we’re confident that we have a resilient, caring community which will look out for neighbours. Meanwhile, it seems only fair to let our wonderful Angels and their support team lay down their responsibilities.” He added, “We owe our thanks to each and every one for stepping up so promptly and enthusiastically when the need arose, and getting on with the job. Along the way we solved problems like how to conduct COVID-safe money transactions, new friendships were established across the generations, and some Angels experienced for the first time the feel-good boost of volunteering.” The scheme was supported by PAVO and Montgomery Town Council, and “Angels” have been invited to a small thank-you event on Sunday the 13th of June.
An appetising alphabetical adventure is about to reach its 100th country’s cuisine. Five years ago, Stuart and Georgina Taylor, who are passionate about food and cooking, decided to spice up their culinary repertoire (sometimes literally!) by travelling the world, metaphorically, and creating authentic dishes from countries around the globe. Having two small children, Freddie and Sophie, they wanted to encourage them to eat well, taste new flavours, and learn about the world at the same time. And so began their Around the World Food Adventure. The adventure started with Afghanistan, from where the pair created a spicy dish called Kabuli Pulao. Stuart researches the recipes, sources the ingredients and cooks the dishes, and has also done some blogging about their experiences. Each time they prepare a new dish, the children find out about the country, geographically and culturally, reproduce the flag, and take a photo of the meal and flag as a reminder. At the start of the project, the children were a little fussy with what they would eat, being drawn to the familiarity of spaghetti bolognese or pizza, but over the years they have both started to look forward to each dish and mostly enjoy trying them. Sophie, who was 18 months old when the adventure began, has become a keen cook and likes to help her dad in the kitchen whenever she can. Along the way, the family has been joined by baby Charlie, now 2 years old. The family have now reached their 100th country, Lichtenstein, and are planning a meal of Käsknöpfle - triple cheese pasta with sweet onion. Georgii explained, “We have enjoyed all of the dishes, for their flavours and unique tastes. We find ingredients locally where we can, but we have had to be creative about where we find some things, like the Mahi Mahi fish we needed for our dish from Kiribati, which Stu had to source online.” The children have identified their favourite meals, with Freddie enjoying making and eating sushi, from Japan, whilst Sophie said her favourite dish was the jerk chicken and festival with mango salsa from Jamaica, as it was the tastiest and she loved eating outside. For his first Around the World meal, Charlie had Shakshuka from Israel, which has now become a firm family favourite. Stu and Georgii plan to continue what they have begun, and to create a book from all the recipes, photos and flags, to present to their children when they are adults. Photo: Sophie and Stuart prepare Kubaneh bread to accompany Shaksuka
On Saturday 17th April, Montgomery Bowls Club President Mr Tom Price had the honour of delivering the first wood to open the green for the 2021 bowling season. This first bowl traditionally takes place in mid April each year to formally open the green for the season. On April 17, club members also observed a minute's silence along with the rest of the nation for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Due to Covid restrictions full play is not currently possible, but some bowling activity has begun to take place, following Bowls Wales guidance, to mark the club opening. Since mid-April, club members are able to take part in some bowling events with social distancing and household mixing requirements in place as outlined by Bowls Wales. From May 10th the 'in house league' will commence with appropriate covid secure measures in place, again in line with the advice from Bowls Wales. New members are always welcome - please contact the Chairman John Thompson on 01686 668079, for more information.
As the nation came together at 3pm Saturday 17th April, members of the Montgomery community marked HRH Prince Philip’s funeral by observing the countrywide one-minute’s silence across the town. At the Town War Memorial, the Mayor and a small number of socially-distanced mourners stood in silence as Paul Hodgson lowered the Union Flag, laying it at the foot of the town’s Roll of Honour. Drawing the short ceremony to a close and signifying a serviceman’s final farewell, Nikki Pugh sounded The Last Post.