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.
As many of you know, the Library/Institute is routinely used as a polling station and is due to be so again this May 6th. This time, however, we will be using this main library room, so that a one-way system can be employed and social distancing applied, in line with Covid restriction requirements. Whilst libraries are now permitted to open, we have chosen to leave it closed until after the election. This way, the room can be cleaned and prepared and kept as virus-free as possible ready for voting. Apologies to all those waiting to borrow books. Lesley Williams Library Co-ordinator
Montgomery Energy Group (MEG) has been gifted some raised beds and a pear tree for the Community Orchard, which are now in place, ready for soil and planting. The raised beds were generously donated to the orchard by Gwyneth Depport who is moving away from Montgomery to be closer to her grandchildren, and wanted the raised beds, which her late husband Alan had made for her, to become part of the Community Orchard. She has also given the orchard a Snowdon Queen pear tree, now christened Gwyneth, and some rhubarb. All of these are a perfect addition to the orchard, which lies on a piece of land in the junction between the Newtown and Welshpool roads at the bottom of town. The orchard was established following a license agreement with Powys County Council in 2017, spearheaded by Clinton Small and MEG with support from the Community Land Advisory Service (CLAS), and saw its first fruit trees - five rare Welsh fruit trees from Bunners - planted in April 2018. As soon as covid restrictions allow, MEG volunteers will join a working party to fill and plant the beds and do other tidying at the Orchard so it can continue to be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone in the town.
Last year, postmistress Denice Jaunzens challenged Montgomery residents to write about their experiences of living through lockdown, through creative writing, poetry or an essay. A writing competition was judged by Denice together with Barry Lord and Richard Eaves from the bookshop. Each winner was awarded a cash prize and a book token, sponsored by Montgomery Post Office and Eaves & Lord bookshop. The winner of the junior entry was Ciaran Taylor, who was commended by organiser Denice for his superb efforts. Ciaran is well-known to Montgomery residents as he regularly volunteers at public events; for this work, he was awarded the title of Honorary Freeman of Montgomery, of which he is very proud. A former student at Bishops Castle Community College, Ciaran, aged 16, is now studying Sports and Public Services at Newtown College, and he hopes to continue a career in public service by joining the Fire Service. The adult winners were Cyndy Humphreys for poetry, and Charlie Vaughan Jones for the best essay. The prose award winner wished to remain anonymous, and asked that their cash prize be donated to the local food bank. Denice said, “We were thrilled with the quality of the writing, and it was a very difficult task for us to choose just one winner in each category.” All the stories will be made available to read on the Montgomery Wales website shortly.