The Montgomery Canal photo exhibition is now in place at Montgomery Library. Taking place until 29 February, the exhibition brings together photos taken by members of the local community with a great selection of pictures showing the canal being widely used for a range of leisure and recreational activities. There is a panel dedicated to the restoration of the canal with the focus this year being on the winding hole, a turning point for narrowboats, at Crickheath. It also shows narrowboats built and decorated by the Montgomery Guides. Opening hours for the exhibition are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10am to 12 noon and 3pm to 5pm; Thursday 9am to 5pm; and Saturday 9.30am to 12 noon. Cared for by the charity, Glandŵr Cymru, the Canal & River Trust in Wales, the canal is currently being restored by local volunteers as part of a £4 million Montgomery Canal restoration project being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Currently around half of the canal is navigable but work is underway to bring further stretches back into use. If you would like to support the wider restoration effort of the Montgomery canal, go to www.restorethemontgomerycanal.uk
Montgomeryshire Literary Festival is now in its third year and, for the first time, will take place in the historic town of Montgomery. Over twenty events are planned throughout the three day festival, running from 12th-14th June, ranging from authors’ presentations and interviews, poetry readings, writing workshops to an open mic evening, art trail, music, and even a literary cricket tea. Most sessions will take place in Montgomery Town Hall but smaller venues such as Monty Brewery Visitor’s Centre, Ivy House Cafe, St Nicholas’ Church and Montgomery Cricket Club will also be hosting events. Here are just some of the writers who have confirmed their attendance at Monty Lit Fest 2020: Bestselling crime writer Val McDermid, the historian William Hague, poet Frieda Hughes, The Warlow Experiment author, Alix Nathan; the cricket writers Marcus Berkmann and Roger Morgan-Grenville for a ‘Literary Cricket Tea’; Mike Parker, author of On Red Hill, and the award-winning writer Cynan Jones, who will lead a workshop on writing short stories. And as a special treat for fans of storytelling combined with music, Chocolat author Joanne Harris’s #Storytime band will be performing on the Saturday evening! The programme will be finalised in the next few weeks and tickets go on sale on 1st March. New Chair of the Monty Lit Fest committee, Sarah Morris, comments, “During the previous two years the festival took place in a single location; Bodfach Hall then Gregynog Hall, so it’s a big change this year to have at least five different venues hosting authors. We hope it will add interest to our exciting programme of speakers and make Montgomery a very special place to be on 12th – 14th June; both for the local community and for book-loving visitors.” Monty Lit Fest is an annual festival which celebrates writing in Wales and the Welsh borders. To find out more, visit the website at www.montylitfest.com, follow Monty Lit Fest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up to the newsletter via the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to start by wishing you all a happy and healthy new year. Now that Christmas and the New Year is behind us, I hope you enjoyed the many festivities that were going on in the Town. The Mayor’s Senior Citizens’ Party was a great success and was enjoyed by 55 people with the food cooked by Christine Williams and her helpers. Girls from the Sally Gartell Academy of Dance danced beautifully as the entertainment. I would like to thank everyone who helped in ensuring theparty ran smoothly. I feel that we must give a mention to our Community News Team who manage to gather all the Montgomery news weekly for publication in the County Times: they do a great job. The Town Council still have a vacancy for a Councillor. If you are interested please contact the Town Clerk. Haydn Andrew Mayor
The Whitegate Pool amenity area, enjoyed by townsfolk and visitors alike, is undergoing some radical changes. The imminent collapse of the long bridge and the cost of repairs caused a major review of the area by the Town Council and a plan created. Following an on-site consultation with Montgomery Wildlife Trust (MWT), work has begun to increase biodiversity and wildlife value by allowing in more light; managing tree cover; reducing silt run off into the pool, and creating a wide range of habitat areas. A tree surgeon has removed dead wood and pollarded willows then Cllr Lionel Weaver lost no time in putting plans into action to provide access around the whole site. Where possible, timber from the old bridge is being recycled to create new, smaller bridges. Grass is being cut less frequently, which improves soil health and increases bio-diversity, and with brash, log piles and some dead tree stumps placed strategically around the site, there is potential for a greater range of habitats. MWT carried out a specialist beetle survey recently registered a good number of species here already, and there is optimism regarding improving site ecology and the prospect of the area becoming a registered Local Wildlife Site. When completed, the area will have a minimal management regime with assistance from Montgomery Energy Group. Although the site is not currently accessible, plans are afoot for an Open Day later in the year with some expert information on hand. This green space management is at the heart of what Montgomery Town Council is trying to achieve at Whitegate Pool in line with the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 which puts a duty on all County, Town and Community Councils to maintain and enhance biodiversity and promote ecosystem resilience.
Montgomery residents took part in dementia awareness training, provided by Montgomery Dementia Friends, this week. During the session, they learned about what can help people with dementia to continue to live full lives in the community. Montgomery Dementia Friends have produced a wallet-sized ‘Hints and tips’ leaflet designed to serve as a quick reference. Businesses and services in the locality will help to distribute the leaflet. Tips on communication, including the use of body language, can be a good starting point when engaging in conversation. Hints about aspects of the environment such as background noise or poor lighting may be useful to some, and others may be interested in how to help people with dementia to make choices when in a shop or café. People with dementia can easily feel lost or have difficulty finding things, and they may find it challenging to handle money. Most fundamentally, dementia can mean that people may experience ‘reality’ differently and can easily become confused when two different realities collide. Patience and tact are called for, and all these skills can be learned. Businesses who display the leaflets have signed a pledge to say they will take part in Dementia Friends training and present a dementia-friendly face with people living with dementia. Those who have signed the pledge will be able to display a Dementia Friendly sticker in their window. According to a 2012 YouGov public survey reported by Alzheimer’s Society, 70% of people with dementia had stopped going out and doing things due to a lack of confidence. The same survey revealed that 35% of people felt uncomfortable or uncertain about having a conversation with a person with dementia. Montgomery Dementia Friends hope that their new leaflet will provide encouragement and support for people living with dementia to remain involved in the community.
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.