On Saturday, January 11, eight members of the Guild of Freemen of Shrewsbury visited Montgomery to meet up with some of the Hereditary Freemen of Montgomery and the Mayor, Councillor Haydn Andrew. The hereditary Freemen (and Freewomen) of Montgomery can trace their ancestry back to the burgesses of the town who were signatories to the original charter in 1227. They can appoint new Freemen, though these people cannot become hereditary Freemen, and one such Freeman in Montgomery is the Prince of Wales, who accepted the honour in 1977, when the town celebrated the 750th anniversary of the signing of the Charter. The recent visitors from Shrewsbury were met by Councillor Lionel Corbett Weaver and David Corbett Weaver, both Hereditary Freemen of Montgomery. The Chairman of the Shrewsbury Guild, Mr David “Taffy” Farmer, grew up in Montgomeryshire. Following photographs and a tour of the Town Hall, the members of both Guilds enjoyed a lunch at The Dragon Hotel and some of the Shrewsbury members visited shops in the town. It is hoped that an ongoing friendship between the neighbouring Guilds can be established.
More than 60 of Montgomery’s senior citizens attended the Town Hall on the 5th of January for the annual Christmas meal and entertainment. This event is organised by the Mayor and Town Council, supported by the Freemen and Freewomen of the town. Guests were treated to a three course meal, served by Town Councillors, entertainment and a raffle prize for each to take home. This year the entertainment was provided by dancers from the Sally Gartell School of Dance. The young dancers demonstrated their skills in modern and contemporary dance, and ballet. The performances were much enjoyed by all attending. Sally Gartell said, “This was an opportunity for the girls to showcase some of the new work that they have been rehearsing and I am so proud of how they all danced as this is the very first time some of the work has been performed in front of an audience.” Mayor Haydn Andrew said, “This annual event takes a lot of organising but we know it gives our older residents something to look forward to after the Christmas period.” He added, “I would like to thank my fellow councillors who helped by donating items of food and raffle prizes and in particular by helping out on the day. I would also like to thank Christine our caterer, who provided such a delicious meal.” This years' party was also supported by a donation from the Montgomery Music and Drama Group. This donation was made to the previous Mayor, Councillor Lionel Weaver, for the benefit of older people in the town; who passed it on to this year's Mayor, Haydn Andrews, as there had not been an opportunity to spend it during Mayor Weaver's tenure for the purposes for which it had been donated. Images from the Christmas Meal can be seen on the Council pages or by clicking here
The Montgomery Town Hall clock reads 23:50 on the 31st December 2019, and there's not a soul in sight. The Christmas lights twinkle through a fading mist while a soft breeze carries sleepy whispers and echoes of voices in the distance. No, wait -these are not sleepy whispers, it’s a party of revellers pouring out of houses and hotels onto Broad Street and holding hands together to bring in the New Year. Between 23:50 and 23:55, Broad Street is packed and in its centre is Jay Hall who has kindly stepped in for Town Crier Sue Blower. With bells a-ringing and official Crier hat donned, Jay organises the crowd with volunteer help to spread out in readiness for the New Year countdown. 3-2-1 and the New Year is welcomed in with the crowd singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, corks popping, hugging and a fair amount of kissing….. Happy New Year Montgomery!
Montgomery Christmas Festival’s carol and Christmas song community event took place at the Town Hall on Saturday 14th December. This annual event has been held for a number of years at the Town Hall, but in recent years it has undergone a revamp, with the timings moving from an evening event, with mulled wine and mince pies, to an afternoon event, with a sumptuous afternoon tea on offer to participants. Sue Blower, Festival chair, who hosted the event and organised it along with the Festival committee, said, “We find the afternoon event, with tea, works better on a number of levels.” She explained, “We attract a wider audience, of all ages - the youngest one this year was only four months old - and the older residents in their eighties. Also finishing earlier means people don’t have to worry about getting home late at night if the weather is freezing - or missing Strictly!” As well as the community singing of well-known carols and Christmas songs, with piano accompaniment from Claire Weston, the audience was treated to two solos from Montgomery school pupil Rhiannon Richards, a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Sally Orme and a story of the Fourth Wise Man, told by Nicholas Thon. Ruth Moucharafieh, who attended the afternoon’s festivities, said, “Christmas carols and afternoon tea - what a fabulous time in Montgomery Town Hall!” and Mayoress Jane Lloyd said, “Thank you all for a lovely afternoon - we really enjoyed ourselves.”
Sarah Voice and son Harry had the privilege of dropping off around 600 donated gifts to the Montgomery Family Crisis Centre last week. Local resident and specialist nurse Sarah has been delivering gifts to the Centre for around 4 years, beginning with a personal donation and expanding into an annual Christmas collection. Each year the collection points have grown, and this year included The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Montgomery Church in Wales School, The Dragon Hotel Montgomery, Tesco Welshpool, The Talbot Berriew and Tesco Newtown, all of whom Sarah thanks for their support. Sarah said, “Harry and I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Christmas collection for Montgomery Crisis Centre. For weeks we have collected donations from around the area ready for delivery. I felt extremely touched at everyone’s generosity and appreciated every single donation. This is a fine example of community spirit at its best.” The collected items of new toys, toiletries and gift sets for children and adults were all checked by Sarah and 6-year-old Harry who added batteries etc. if needed, and worried about fitting everything in their car! They then delivered everything to Fleur Frantz-Morgans, the Centre’s community liaison officer. Fleur said, “We can’t thank Sarah and Harry enough for their amazing efforts. We would also like to thank and wish a very merry Christmas to all who kindly offered to act as a collection point, and of course everyone who gave so generously; all these wonderful gifts will make such a difference to local people facing difficult times this festive season.” Sarah added, “I feel so lucky that I work with such generous people while my son grows up in such a caring, supporting community.” Montgomeryshire Family Crisis Centre provides specialist support for men, women and their children who have experienced, been affected by or witnessed domestic abuse in North Powys. Jane Stephens, the Centre’s General Manager, said, “It is vitally important that anyone experiencing abuse knows where to turn to for help.” MFCC service provision includes female and male safe houses where adults and their children can escape abusive relationships. MFCC also deliver outreach services for adults and children throughout North Powys. Support provision includes risk assessing, safety planning, group programmes, and 1-1 sessions giving survivors time to talk. MFCC also work closely with Welsh Women’s Aid delivering Ask Me Ambassador training to members of the local community; this also raises awareness of domestic abuse and creates safe environments so that survivors feel able to speak out. If you would like more information on Montgomeryshire Family Crisis Centre’s services, Ask Me Ambassador training or if you would like to help MFCC support our local community by making a donation you can call on 01686 629114 or email email@example.com Sarah Voice’s charitable efforts were also helped by the community’s generosity last year when she was able to fundraise enough funds to be able to purchase medical equipment for three families in need after completing a half marathon. She hopes to complete another fundraising event in May 2020 for families in need, when she competes in the Edinburgh Marathon.
Following the “real” hustings event at the Town Hall the previous week, Sarah Morris of Field Mouse Research organised and hosted an alternative comedy hustings quiz on the same stage, with panellists including prospective parliamentary candidates who didn’t end up appearing on the Montgomeryshire ballot papers. Team captains Myfanwy Alexander and Elwyn Vaughan (Plaid Cymru) were joined by guests Oliver Lewis (Brexit Party) and Jeremy Thorp (Green Party) for some light relief from the General Election 2019. The quiz, based on a well-known television format, was entitled “Have I Got Welsh News for You” and featured rounds such as ‘Whose Dog?’, ‘Odd One Out’ and ‘How Many Trees?’. Audience members were invited to bring along a sense of humour and leave their political affiliations at home, which they did - and in fact the first point in the quiz went to the audience! It wasn’t all silliness, with the audience picking up some statistical knowledge - such as that 1 billion trees would cover 1% of the UK’s area, and that 1 million eggs leave Powys each day - and hearing an interesting discussion on the processes behind the party decisions to form alliances. Host Sarah ended on a serious note, encouraging everyone to appreciate all the work of candidates and local party members who give up so much time for campaigning. Author Sandra Lindsey, who helped put together the evening’s on-screen presentation, live-tweeted from the event. Comments on Twitter included Maryline Leese: “Good fun at Have I Got Welsh News For You tonight. Great way to give the candidates that couldn't stand in Montgomeryshire (following Remain and Leave alliances here) a platform to hear their views. Thanks Sarah Morris for hosting. Really enjoyed it.” Emma Wilde Hale tweeted: “Fantastic evening, fun, laughs and genuine good humour from all, as Sarah Morris put it, the ‘reject candidates’. Big shout out to Field Mouse Research and everyone who arranged it. Craig Williams was even brave enough to join towards the end (missing the earlier comments about his hair).” Sarah Morris said, “A gazillion thanks to Myfanwy Alexander, Elwyn Vaughan, Jeremy Thorp and Oliver Lewis for making the event such a success. And thanks to Sandra Lindsey for her technical wizardry and Montgomery Vineyard and Montys Brewery for the fab prizes!” She added, “Most of all, thanks to everyone who came, laughed along with us - even when they were the comedy target (Craig Williams) - and left their political frustrations at home for the evening. It was so much fun. Just goes to show, there's not much in life that can't be improved by laughter!”