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.
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.
Montgomery school children from years 4, 5 and 6 have been commended in the Hungarian national press after a video produced locally in the town went viral in the country. The Montgomery “Building Bridges” video, produced as a response to one produced by Magyar Cymru earlier this year, is intended to build further links between Montgomery and Hungary, where János Arany’s famous poem, ‘The Bards of Wales’, recounts a tale based at Montgomery Castle. The children worked on a greeting in both Welsh and Hungarian for the video, and were supported with their pronunciation by Veronica Hopkins, a Montgomery resident who speaks Hungarian, having Hungarian parents and relatives and being a frequent visitor to the country. The Hungarian Daily News reported that “the students of the local Ysgol Trefaldwyn primary school greet the Hungarians with a perfect pronunciation at the beginning of the short film”. As well as appearing in 11 national newspapers in the country, the story of the video also made national Hungarian TV. The video has now been viewed over 60,000 times with more than 30,000 views on YouTube and more than that again on social media channels. It is available on YouTube via https://tinyurl.com/MontyCCC.
For the final Mayor’s Notes of 2020, I’m afraid I would be fibbing if I said it has been a brilliant year. Interesting, in a very different way indeed. The people of Montgomery have rallied around really well under the circumstances we have been presented with. The shops, bars, cafés, services and volunteers have all been a credit to our Town. There have been a lot of cancelled events this year, especially after the March Lockdown and, I’m afraid, the Mayor’s Senior Citizens’ Christmas party in January 2021 is another event that will not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s hoping for a better 2021. By the time you read this, I will have switched on the Town’s Christmas Lights. Thanks to the hard work of the Christmas Festival Committee we will have a festive feel around the Town. So may I, on behalf of Jane and myself, wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy new year. Haydn Andrew Mayor
The Christmas Festival Committee are organising a Christmas display window competition themed ‘Christmas celebrations’. The competition is open to both businesses and private properties in Montgomery.An entry form needs to be completed, and is available from email@example.com or at the Bunners shop. Please return the form 28th November (private properties) and 27th November (businesses).The windows will be judged the week before Christmas, but all entries for businesses must be mounted and on display before 28th November.The committee have been fortunate to secure money prizes from local companies:RVW Pugh https://www.rvwpugh.co.ukMontgomery Waters https://www.montgomeryspring.co.ukand SJ Roberts Construction https://www.sjroberts.comGood luck to all entrants! Image: a Christmas window in Broad Street from our 2018 live advent calendar
The annual commemoration for those who gave their lives in the two World Wars and all subsequent wars will have a different ‘feel’ this year, due to the Covid pandemic. There will be a brief closed service at the Town Memorial Garden on the 8th of November, together with the laying of wreaths, and The Last Post will be sounded at 11am. But in line with current restrictions, there will be no parade or Church service, and members of the public are asked not to enter the Memorial Garden at the time of the service this year, in order to maintain lockdown regulation numbers and distancing. Traffic control is kindly being organised by the Montgomery football club and anyone passing on foot at the time of the service will be asked to remain along the outer pavements of Chirbury and Pool Roads. The possibility of live streaming the act of remembrance is being looked into and further detail will be posted on the Montgomery Wales website and Facebook page if this goes ahead. The British Legion said, “Despite the changes this year, we are encouraging people across the nations to ensure Remembrance Sunday is still marked appropriately by taking part in remote and socially distanced Remembrance activity, whether that be watching the [Cenotaph] service on television or pausing for the Two Minute Silence in their home or on their doorsteps.” At 4pm on the 8th, there will be a brief ceremony at the County War Memorial on Town Hill. Unlike previous years, transport will not be provided this year. Anyone visiting the County War Memorial as part of their own act of remembrance is advised to wear suitable clothing and footwear, and to carry a torch if it’s later on in the day. Whilst volunteers will not be calling at residents’ doorsteps with poppies and collection boxes this year, these will be available in town at Bunners, the Post Office and Spar, as well as at the school for the staff and pupils, and at Llandyssil Bakery, Abermule Stores and St Llwchaiarn’s Church. At 11am on Wednesday 11th of November, Armistice Day, a short service will be held at the Montgomery Town Memorial Garden, where again people are asked to respect the distancing guidelines in force at that time.