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
Farmhouse Breakfast Week is an annual highlight for the Farmers Union of Wales, showcasing all that is the best in Welsh and local farming. During the week, farmers sit around kitchen tables with friends, family and neighbours for a convivial breakfast, chat and a chance to compare notes. Despite the usual way of running the campaign not being possible this year, and not to be deterred by another national lock-down, local organic dairy farmer Glenn Lloyd and family sat down to a delicious breakfast sourced entirely locally. Glenn has himself recently established the thriving Daisy Bank organic milk business, supplying milk in returnable glass bottles, setting up local refill points and vending machines for milk, and producing a new line of naturally flavoured milks. Glenn commented “It’s not always easy to find the time to sit down for breakfast together on a busy dairy farm but as it’s Farmhouse Breakfast Week we made a special effort and determined to use only local produce.” The breakfast was made remarkably easy with Corfield’s eggs, Morwen’s bacon, Crowwood wild boar and apricot sausages, Daisy Bank milk (of course), a Montgomery Real Bread baguette and Amanda’s Bakery plum preserve, all sourced only a few miles from the Lloyds’ Llandyssil farm. These products are available at a range of shops in Montgomery. Shop manager at Taste, Katrina Collins, said: “Last year was so difficult for everyone including producers, with restaurants and other traditional outlets only open intermittently. Our producers have been creative and resourceful and went the extra mile to look after customers and build new markets. Several new high quality producers joined the Taste Montgomery group of local farmers and producers during the year, working together to help promote and sell their produce. I also opened the Taste shop in the town last year, which stocks produce from these and other local producers.” She added, “You can treat your closest family to a real, locally sourced breakfast without going further than Montgomery at any time of year.” The Farmers Union of Wales and local Montgomery producers are encouraging the public to get involved with Farmhouse Breakfast Week this week, by choosing locally sourced breakfast ingredients, and sharing photos and videos of themselves with their breakfast through social media, using the hashtag #breakfastweek2021.
The first of a new series of events, to be known as the “Monty Hour”, will take place on the 20th of January with a talk on “Recording Wildlife in Montgomeryshire” delivered by Simon Boyes (Bird Recorder for Montgomeryshire) and Clare Boyes (Bee and Wasp Recorder for Montgomeryshire). A group of Montgomery residents have started up this Monty Hour session which is open to all who are interested in topics relevant to Montgomery and its place in the World. The hour will usually take the format of a presentation given by one or more speakers followed by a question and answer session. Topics will be very wide ranging with the initial set including wildlife, reading, history, travel and celebrations. Town Councillor Gwil Stephenson, who is part of the group of residents organising the events, explained, "We know people are struggling with lockdown, and thought this might be a way of replacing some of the regular and one-off events that people are missing so much because of the pandemic." Gwil, who will be using his IT expertise to host the events, added, "We plan to work in partnership with local groups too. For our first talk, we were pleased to work with Montgomery Energy Group (MEG) who have moved their monthly presentations to the Monty Hour time slot. We will be working with other groups and individuals in the future to put on events covering a range of topics; we hope there will be something for everyone over the forthcoming period." The Zoom sessions, all taking place at 7-8pm on a Wednesday evening, can be accessed from the link https://montgomery.cloud/hour. People are welcome to attend an individual session, or to join each time, according to their interests and how busy they may be, and there will be no obligation to participate. Future events are being added to the calendar at the same link, and ideas for future sessions will also be welcome. If you are unsure how to link to the zoom session, or have any queries or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Monty Hour logo was designed and created by Keri Castrelo Brignell.
The Churchward County Trust, which is building a full-size re-creation of a Great Western Railway (GWR) 'County' class 4-4-0 locomotive named 'County of Montgomery', has unveiled the loco's new nameplates. Forty of the original 'County' locos were built between 1904 and 1912, with 11 named after Welsh counties on the GWR network. Montgomeryshire was not included in the GWR's naming scheme at that time as it was a Cambrian Railways stronghold, but the county found itself at the heart of the GWR following the grouping of railway companies in 1923 when the Cambrian was absorbed into the GWR. It was for this reason that the Churchward County Trust selected the name County of Montgomery for its new loco. The nameplates have been generously sponsored by John Buxton of Cambrian Transport, and were produced by the Procast Foundry in Yorkshire. The new loco is being erected at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, where the main frames (chassis) have been assembled, the first example to be built since 1912. The CCT has also placed the order for County of Montgomery’s two cylinders, which are to be cast in the coming weeks, and will soon be ordering the four 6ft 8½ diameter driving wheels. CCT chairman Gary Boyd-Hope said: “It’s wonderful to see the new nameplates, which have been manufactured in the traditional manner with individually-cast brass letters mounted on a steel backplate, and surrounded by brass beading. We feel this gives Montgomeryshire the recognition it missed out on over 100 years ago when the original engines were built.” Further details of the project and how to support it, including a ‘County for the Cost of a Coffee a Week’ scheme, can be found at www.churchwardcounty.org.uk Photo credit: CCT
St Nicholas’ Church in Montgomery is delighted to have been awarded £9700 from the National Heritage Lottery’s 15 minute Heritage fund. The support will help the 13th century church share stories of the people involved with the building through history with locals and visitors, school children and the wider world. The funding is part of the National Heritage Lottery Fund’s response to the pandemic, encouraging people to engage with history locally and explore their own area in more detail. Lydia Bassett, a church committee member who worked on the application, told us, “We have some incredible stories to tell about our church - from Wales’ warrior princess in peril to literary ladies like Magdalene Herbert and the heartrending tale of The Robber’s Grave. However, at the moment those stories are not easily accessible to visitors, and many are not even known and understood by local people and schoolchildren. We want to tell the stories of this richly connected building, including of the metaphysical poet George Herbert; Magdalene Herbert, John Donne; Shakespeare’s Mortimer, his connection to Welsh warrior Owain Glyndwr and marriage to Glyndwr’s daughter Catrin.” Lydia added, “Montgomery has been at the heart of the history of the borders for centuries and we’re looking forward to sharing some of those stories through the church.” The money will be used for:- Creation and installation of bilingual interpretation panels; The installation of a projector, and the creation and display of short films on the memories of local people in the church; Providing training to local volunteers to support Tower days and give guided tours; Working with the local School to develop events telling the story of the individuals linked to the building. A small working group has been set up to support the project, and they will be working with specialists in the field as well as the local Civic Society and Old Bell Museum. Photograph: The Herbert tomb in St Nicholas’ Church Montgomery Photo credit: Adam Cusack at G17
Sue Blower, Montgomery’s Town Crier, was watched by 5.3 million viewers on Christmas night as she took part in the popular game show Blankety Blank. Sue met six celebrities on the show, as well as the host Bradley Walsh, who was taking a break from Doctor Who to host this one-off special. Sue had to complete a number of phrases and, although she didn’t reach the final round, she came home with the famous Blankety Blank chequebook and pen. Sue said, “It was a fantastic opportunity both to take part and to represent my home town of Montgomery as its Town Crier. All the celebrities were very friendly and we had a lot of fun.” Anyone who missed the programme on Christmas night can still see it, using one of the catch-up services.
The online Advent Calendar developed by Montgomery teenager Catrin McDougal has been an outstanding success, with a different short film each day being viewed by hundreds of people, and positive comments received from across the world, as well as from local residents. The content included readings, dances, festive music, short dramas, bell ringing, crafts and an explanation of Hanukkah; as well as contributions from the school in English and Welsh, and Montgomery's youngest contributors at pre-school, who danced and sang enthusiastically to Jingle Bells. The calendar finished with a message from Father Christmas himself behind door number 23, and Rev Alexis Smith gave a short version of the crib service behind door 24 for Christmas Eve. Catrin said, “The advent calendar has been received really well by locals and people further away. My aim was always to bring the community together and – with the help of Adam Cusack, Claire Weston and everyone else who contributed – I think we have.” She added, “This Christmas is going to be difficult for all of us, but being able to watch these videos hopefully will have brought a bit of joy to people’s lives.” Anwen, living in Malta, said on the website, “I missed visiting this year, so it’s great to be able to share in a little bit of Monty cheer.” Elva Barros commented from Spain, “I love it! It is beautiful. How good that although we are going through difficult times we find time to do these beautiful things.” With many people congratulating Catrin on her efforts on social media, Montgomery resident Doreen Eaton commented a few days in, “Such a great idea. Look forward to opening them every day, it really cheers me up. Well done all - roll on tomorrow!” Montgomery neighbour Rob Harper added, “This is a great idea and just what we all needed to get into the Christmas spirit. Thank goodness for our lovely community here in Montgomery, we are all extremely lucky to live in such an outstanding place.” Cartrin says, “The videos are still available if you’ve missed any or not been able to watch them.” https://www.montgomery-wales.co.uk/christ/advent/advent.php Photo: Lesley and Mike Mills sent a specially recorded short video for Catrin’s Advent calendar
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
The Christmas Festival committee were pleased and privileged to welcome Andrew Logan to Montgomery to judge the 'Christmas Celebrations' window competition. Andrew Logan is a local artist, sculptor and jewellery designer based in Berriew with his work found at https://shop.andrewlogan.com and https://andrewloganmuseum.org Andrew judged the competition based on two categories - business and residential/domestic properties. Andrew had a wide variety of designs and displays to choose from and the Christmas Festival Committee, on behalf of Andrew Logan, are pleased to announce that the Bookshop (Eaves & Lord) and The Flower House were the joint winning entries for the business properties and two properties on Broad Street and Castle Street were the joint winning entries for the residential/domestic properties category. Andrew was really impressed with all the entries and a prize from the competition sponsors and an autographed postcard from Andrew Logan will be handed to all entrants. Andrew commented it was difficult to make a choice from such an array of fantastic and creative entries. The prizes were left on doorsteps / mailboxes on the morning of Sunday 20th December following the latest lockdown news. Well done to everyone, it has been a fun and exciting build up to the judging and especially during the visit by Andrew and his team. The Montgomery Christmas Festival Committee would like to offer a big thank you to Andrew Logan for his creative inspiration and innovation and feedback about all the entries. Thank you to all the competitors and the businesses who have sponsored the event, namely RVW Pugh, Montgomery Waters, SJ Roberts and Pickstock Homes - we couldn’t have made this happen without you all. Please keep an eye out for the red hearts displaying #montymagic while walking around the town, especially along Broad Street and Arthur Street. Best wishes to you all over the festive period.
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.