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Cross Guns Inn, Pant, Shropshire

Pantfest success

Last month’s Pantfest held at The Cross Guns Inn in Pant has been hailed a success – especially given the difficult situation pubs currently find themselves in due to COVID-19.

Cross Guns Inn, Pant, Shropshire
The Cross Guns Inn, Pant

The Cross Guns has announced that almost £250 was raised by and for three local organisations – the PTA at Bryn Offa School, Pant Memorial Hall and the Restore the Montgomery Canal! Appeal. All are to receive £60, with donations on the day to the canal group adding another £65.

Although the car boot part of the day didn’t pull in quite as many people as was hoped, the afternoon music event was very well supported.

Said Maureen from the pub: “We are really pleased at how the day went and it’s great to be able to support these local organisations with cash raised on the day. Due to the COVID-19 regulations at the time, we had to arrange the event at pretty short notice, but it was great to welcome more people into the pub’s gardens for the first outside performances of the year.

“Pantfest was our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the whole village for their support during the early part of the year when we were only open for takeaways.”

Recent changes to the regulations for pubs mean that the Cross Guns, along with all other pubs in England, will have to close by 10pm and will be restricted by law to table service only.

No table bookings of more than six are allowed and groups won’t be able to mingle with other people. You will need to give your contact details for future tracing if an outbreak is detected.

Staff will have to wear masks, as must customers if they are not sat at their table to eat or drink.

Added Maureen: “Times continue to be difficult for us all, but we are aiming to keep the Cross Guns at the heart of the community.”

If you want to find out more about the three local organisations, please visit: Pant Memorial Hall, The Montgomery Canal or Bryn Offa PTA.

Five members of the Montgomery Canal project team

Volunteers sought to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge

With the easing of Coronavirus restrictions plans are being made for the project to rebuild Schoolhouse Bridge, the last blocked bridge on the Montgomery Canal before it enters Wales.

Restore the Montgomery Canal appeal logo

For the last three years the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal has been raising money to rebuild the bridge between Pant and Crickheath in advance of work on restoring the canal towards Pant and Llanymynech. At the same time a team of retired civil engineers, all volunteers, has been preparing the designs for the project.

The team believes that the only way the bridge can be rebuilt with the available funds is by using as many volunteers as possible to undertake much of the work and to engage specialist contractors only when necessary.

Five members of the Montgomery Canal project team
Volunteer team members (from left to right): Glyn Whitehurst, Ken Jackson, Mathew Dorricott, Roger Bravey – Lead engineer – and Chris Busnesll.

After a series of online meetings the volunteer team held a suitably distanced meeting at a nearby hotel to prepare for the start of work. The plan is to carry out some preparatory work this autumn, with Covid precautions, with the main reconstruction in spring 2021.

Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal group said, “Canal volunteers have a great record of building or rebuilding locks and bridges and the results can be seen on canal restorations across the country. These volunteers have the skills and qualifications to use serious pieces of equipment, as they do on the Shropshire Union Canal Society working parties restoring the dry Montgomery Canal channel to the north of Schoolhouse Bridge.

“So this is our call to canal volunteers – any volunteers – to come and join this exciting project. Starting next spring we have to build a bridge in the space of a few months so we can reopen the road as soon as possible.

“Unlike many restoration projects, this is for one season: seven months and the job is done.

“It will probably take just one day to crane the bridge arch into position – that will be very exciting!

“This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in joining a vital part of the project to bring the Montgomery Canal back to Mid Wales. The completed bridge will be a permanent reminder of your achievement.”

The team plans to start in September by fencing off the site and laying a temporary trackway so heavy vehicles can get past the site. Next spring the main project will start by removing the existing road embankment so a concrete base and walls can be created for the new bridge. Contractors will then install the bridge arch, with volunteers backfilling to road level so contractors can surface the road. Volunteers will finish brickwork facing to the bridge, install bridge parapets and other fitments and complete landscaping so the road can be reopened to traffic.

Ken Jackson from the project team said, “Now we have to build the volunteer labour force. This will be a mix of skilled specialist volunteers such as carpenters, steel fixers and bricklayers and general volunteers to support them and carry out general ground works and landscaping.
“We are looking for specialised volunteers to join the project to drive excavators and dumpers to excavate the site in March/April 2021, from May to prepare for concreting in June, and in July and September to brick the faces of the bridge.

“We understand that planning outdoor activities is difficult at the moment but don’t let that stop you registering an interest in working with the Schoolhouse Bridge team; and don’t worry if you haven’t done this kind of thing before, we will provide induction training, personal protective equipment and all the tools.”

For more on the Montgomery Canal visit www.themontgomerycanal.org.uk.

To register an interest in volunteering, please email contact@montgomerywrtrust.uk.

Montgomery Canal stall in Pant

Helping to bring boats to Pant

A garden stall in Pant raising funds for the restoration of the Montgomery Canal has raised over £100 and the organisers want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to the villagers, walkers and cyclists who have been so generous.

The stall in Penygarreg Lane has been organised by Dawn and David Aylwin who are keen canal boaters and are members of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

Selling a variety of plants, fresh produce and donated items, such as books and DVDs, the stall has already raised more than £100 for the Restore the Montgomery Canal Appeal, which is organised by The Friends of the Montgomery Canal, the Shropshire Union Canal Society and the IWA, Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch.

Explained Dawn, the focus at the moment is fundraising for the reconstruction of the Schoolhouse Bridge between Pant and Crickheath: “When the canals fell out of commercial use, bridges across the canal network were removed or lowered and that’s what happened to our local bridge.”

A fundraising appeal was launched a couple of years ago to get the bridge reinstated in advance of the extension of the restoration effort to the dry section of canal between Crickheath and Llanymynech.

Added David: “We are passionate about canal restoration and our stall is just one of the ways we like to support the efforts to reopen the canal to the village. We are convinced that a reopened Montgomery Canal would be of great benefit to Pant, not only in terms of tourism and visitors to the area but also in making the village more attractive, especially as people enjoy walking beside water teeming with wildlife.”

To help support the fundraising effort, look out for the stall for the rest of the summer in Penygarreg Lane or you can donate online by visiting https://themontgomerycanal.org.uk/donate.

If you would like to find out more about the Montgomery Canal, please visit https://themontgomerycanal.org.uk.

Pacer at Gobowen

Plans to link Oswestry and Gobowen by rail take another step forward

Cambrian Heritage Railways, with sites in Oswestry town centre and Llynclys, has taken delivery of two Pacer train carriages from Porterbrook, the rolling stock finance and asset management company and long-time supporter of community rail.

The acquisition was organised following discussions between the Chester Shrewsbury Community Rail Partnership and Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant.

A Pacer carriage at Gobowen Station
A Pacer carriage at Gobowen Station

Sheila Dee, Community Rail Officer for the Partnership, explained that during conversations some months ago Mary was interested in the range of projects we were involved in and the Partnership’s support of the reopening of the line between Gobowen and Oswestry that was being promoted by Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR).

Sheila said: “Our work with Cambrian Heritage Railways has focused on assisting them on the bid to the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railways project earlier this year and introducing a community rail service.

“We have also discussed arranging a community rail working party involving Porterbrook and local volunteers interested on working on the Pacers when the conditions allow.”

Speaking about the donation Mary Grant said: “I was really excited when Sheila told me about the plans for the heritage railway linking Gobowen and Oswestry. Porterbrook is always keen to work with community rail groups and I am delighted that we have been able to make available some of our retired Pacer trains for this very worthwhile project.

“I very much look forward to visiting Cambrian Heritage Railways to see these trains as they embark on a new life serving both local people and visitors to this beautiful part of Shropshire.“

Cambrian Heritage Railways Chairman Roger Date said: “We are immensely grateful to Porterbrook for all their help in allowing us to acquire these units and to the Community Rail Partnership for making the introductions and working with us so positively over the past 12 months. Being a part of the Community Rail Partnership has assisted us with our aspiration to deliver a community rail service and bring economic benefits to the area.”

According to Cambrian Heritage Railways, timescales for a possible reopening of the line to Gobowen are hard to predict and are subject to government funding, but local people can support the proposals by keeping up pressure on their local and national politicians.

Local people are also being urged by CHR to become members to present a stronger voice to funding agencies. Here’s the link to their membership form: http://www.cambrianrailways.com/html/join_online.html

To see how you can help support the railway during the COVIS-19 pandemic, please visit https://www.cambrianrailways.com/html/covid-19.html

Whittington Castle

Can you help Whittington Castle?

Whittington Castle is an historic landmark which has welcomed the public through its doors free of charge for generations but is now facing imminent and permanent closure – thanks to coronavirus.

The voluntary and unpaid trustees of Whittington Castle, a 13th century border fortress visited annually by thousands of tourists and locals and an increasingly popular venue for major historical re-enactments, have issued a stark warning.

Whittington Castle, Shropshire

With its entire revenue axed to zero as a result of lockdown, plans are already afoot to seal the castle and its grounds to the public, posing a risk it will never re-open, unless funds can be raised to rescue it.

Chairman of the Trustees of the moated castle and its landscaped parkland, Jonjo Evans, explained: “I have a sinking feeling we are going down for good this time, after years of financial problems and this is tragic given that we started the new year with light at the end of a long tunnel.

For years now the Castle has been treading a financial tightrope, with no external funding whatever, relying on our tea room and car park for a regular modest income to pay wages. With free admission, we are heavily dependent on events such as weddings, re-enactments of landmarks in history and other popular activities to help cover the huge annual cost of keeping the place going. As a rule we do well to break even. People see the castle always bubbling with activity and life, swarming with tourists and assume finances are ticking over nicely. They should see the books.”

Our public liability and other insurance, for instance, cost more than £1,000 a month, so the maximum £10,000 grant we received from the Exchequer as a result of Corona virus will be gone on that and other running costs such as utility bills and other recurring and unavoidable overheads by the end of the summer. Long before that happens, leaving us in effect uninsured and with nothing left in the bank, we will need to take steps to seal the site off to stop people sneaking in. The law requires this and it is a bleak prospect.”

The gatehouse will still be visible from the road, but the moat bridge, along with the road approach to the rest of the castle and its grounds will have to be barricaded and in the absence of an injection of funds I can’t see any of it re-opening when the crisis is over. We need capital now to keep going and at the very least make the small improvements from we had planned to do from the income.”

If you would be able to financially support the castle, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/community-castle-in-crisis, where you can add your contribution.

Pant Memorial Hall with Amistice plaques

Village hall secures lifeline

Pant Memorial Hall has been awarded a grant of £10,000 as part of the Government’s Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund.

This fund is being used to support those businesses and charities in the leisure and hospitality sectors which have been forced to close during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the award, Sean from the Memorial Hall said: “Although the charity that runs the hall for the benefit of the local community does have reserves, we are very grateful to have been awarded these extra funds. During the lockdown we are obviously unable to take bookings for the hire of the hall, which is usually the main way we make money for its upkeep.

Pant Memorial Hall - main hall for hire
The main hall in Pant Memorial Hall

“We are expecting the lockdown to come to an end later this year, but it’s possible that bookings at the hall will suffer for some months to come, so this grant will mean we can be assured of keeping the hall at the heart of the community.”

This grant comes close on the tail of a Big Lottery award that has already been earmarked for a much-needed upgrade to the lighting at the hall. Obviously, this work cannot start until the lockdown has ended and a full specification for the works can be drawn up.

The trustees have invested consistently in the hall over the past few years to keep it in the best state of repair possible and they have managed to do this while increasing the number of visitors and bookings at the hall.
Added Sean: “Until this lockdown, the hall was booked almost every night of the week and most days, so it’s really sad to see it empty. We are continuing to keep the flower displays around the hall in tip top condition and it’s so pleasing when we hear local people say how nice they think it all looks.”

Find out more: www.pantmemorialhall.org.uk

Pant Memorial Hall with Armistice Artwork

Could you spare a few hours for Pant Memorial Hall?

As a charity, the oversight of Pant Memorial Hall is delegated to a small committee who keep the hall running for the benefit of the community.

Pant Memorial Hall with Armistice Artwork

The committee members are villagers, or people who live in the local area, and only meet three times a year to keep things running smoothly.

Next month sees the Annual Meeting at the hall, and the committee is seeking local people, who could attend just three meetings a year, to come along and stand for election.

Being a member of the committee doesn’t require any special skills, just an interest in making sure the hall is run in accordance with its charitable aims of providing a meeting place for various groups in the village.

Each of the committee meetings only lasts an hour or two, so the time commitment for new members is about six hours a year, especially as increasingly decisions are made by email or telephone where required.
The committee needs to have a minimum of seven members, but can accommodate more to ensure a wide range of views and opinions are considered.

According to hall chairperson Sean: “We aim to keep meetings to the minimum needed to ensure good governance of the charity and we also aim to keep them sociable too.”

Being a committee members is a great way to play your part in the community and would be really helpful in keeping the Memorial Hall as a vibrant asset for the village.

Committee meetings currently take place either at the hall or in the Cross Guns, usually in the early evening.

The AGM takes place on Saturday, 14 March 2020 at 2.30pm.

If you would like to find out more about being a committee member, then please email secretary@pantmemorialhall.org.uk or come along to the meeting.


Village Hall Photograph Competition

A national competition is looking for your photos on the theme of Village Life. There is a top prize of £500 for the photographer and £1,000 up for grabs for Pant Memorial Hall too.

According to organisers Allied Westminster, the competition will not focus on ‘pretty, pretty’ villages, but will celebrate village life and the role of village halls in their communities. Judges will be looking for photos that encapsulate the sense of village community.

Pant and the surrounding areas are great places to take photos – whether on Llanymynech Rocks, by the Montgomery Canal, on local farms or at community events – so you might already have the winning photograph ready to enter! And if not, why not get out and take some photos? It’s a great excuse to take a walk around the village and, with a closing date of midnight on 15 March 2020, there’s plenty of time.

Photos that include local people are encouraged
Wonderful Villages Photo Competition Rules

Our ‘Wonderful Villages’ photo competition is being run for the benefit of ALL RURAL village halls in the UK, large or small, rich or poor, connected to large social networks or serving tiny communities. So, the following rules are intended to make the competition as fair as possible.

We encourage ALL rural halls to enter, so whether you’re a snap-happy amateur with a smartphone or a professional with a Leica, it’s all about community spirit and content. Theme: ‘Village Life – a photo which characterises the value of community in your village’.

Photos must have been taken from within the UK, in UK villages, and the village shown must be specified in the entry form. See below for definition of ‘village’. So, to qualify for judging, an eligible photo must be taken in a UK village and show content which encapsulates the value of community in that village. It’s not our role to be prescriptive but landscapes, nature shots, architectural shots, and photos without identifiable people doing identifiable things are unlikely to qualify, although each photo will be assessed on its merits.

Entry Details: When submitting your photo, you must supply/confirm the following:
• Your full name and a valid email address so we can contact you if you win.
• The name and address of the nominated village hall which will receive
its prize if you win. The hall must be a legitimate village hall (or community / memorial hall) within a UK village community as defined in Clause 12 below and you must have the hall’s permission to nominate it. If you win, we will ask for contact details for the hall so that funds can be sent directly to the treasurer or chairperson. The photographer’s own prize will be awarded once the village hall has confirmed receipt of its prize. Your nominated village hall does not have to be within the same village as shown in the photo.
• The name of the village shown in the photo, together with region, county and country.
• A short description of the content of the photo.

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee. No purchase is necessary.
Final Dates: Last photo entry – midnight 15/3/2020. Last votes – midnight 6/4/2020.
Late Entries: Entries submitted after last photo entry date will not be included in the judging. Allied Westminster will not be held responsible for any delays or submission failures caused by problems with uploading images using the software provided.

1st prize £1,000 to village hall and £500 to the photographer
2nd prize £500 to the village hall and £250 to the photographer
3rd prize £250 to the village hall and £125 to the photographer
4th prize £100 to the village hall and £50 to the photographer
5th prize £50 to the village hall and £25 to the photographer.

To enter follow this link and instructions: https://villagehallsurvey.com/survey/photo-competition/photo-gallery

Please help Pant Memorial Hall win the £1,000 by voting!

Five eligible photos with the most votes will automatically go on to the final ‘short list’ for judging. So your votes really do count.

It’s also important that as many people as possible vote for their favourite photo: Please do so by following this link: https://villagehallsurvey.com/survey/photo-competition/photo-gallery

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant

Team Rickshaw returns for the ninth year and their challenging 400 mile route from Holyhead to London is due to pass through Pant and Llanymynech on Sunday 10 November.

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant
The new Rickshaw for 2019

The annual challenge, which is now in its ninth year, will see a team of six young people and The One Show’s Matt Baker take on the eight-day challenge.

It will begin on Friday 8th November in Holyhead and the team will travel across Wales for three days before crossing over into England in Llanymynech, and then eventually making their way down to the finish line at BBC Elstree Studios on Friday 15th November during the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show. The rickshaw will come through Llanymynech first and then Pant on day three of the challenge, which is the Machynlleth to Oswestry stage.

The team’s progress will be broadcast live on The One Show throughout the week, as Matt’s co-presenters back in the studio follow the team on their 400 mile journey. This year’s route will see the team tackle the highest village in the UK – Flash in the Peak District, and the steepest street in the world in Harlech, Wales.

Last year, a new custom rickshaw was built by a team of engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre to make the rickshaw accessible to a wider range of riders. An innovative seat-post system allowed team members with a range of mobilities to join the team. This year, McLaren has gone one step further and created an innovative solution that enables visually impaired and blind riders to take part in the challenge. A recumbent guide-trike, which fixes to the front of the Rickshaw allows steering and braking to be managed by a guide rider whilst a visually impaired rider pedals from the main driving seat of the Rickshaw.

The team taking on the challenge this year is made up of six young people, Adelle, 17, from Belfast, Emma, 18, from Nottingham, Josh, 17, from Carnforth, Lancashire, Kelsey, 17, from Watford, Thomas, 17, from Swindon and Uche, 20, from London.

Matt Baker with Thomas

Matt Baker, Presenter of The One Show who will be joining the team on the road, said of the challenge: “I can’t believe that in just a few weeks’ time we’ll be heading back on the road again for the ninth year of the Rickshaw Challenge!

Emma with Pudsey

“We have a truly inspirational team joining us on the road, and we’re looking forward to seeing all those friendly faces who will be cheering us on from the roadside, as we battle the elements and complete the 400 mile journey from Wales to Elstree.”

Since 2011, The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge has raised over £25 million for BBC Children in Need, with donations going on to make a difference to the lives of children and young people across the UK who need it most.

In an exciting first for the fundraising challenge, The Hunter Foundation (THF) has pledged to give 40p for every £1 donated by the general public to the Rickshaw Challenge, helping to make the public’s generous donations go even further in making a difference to young lives.

The One Show viewers will be able to follow Team Rickshaw’s progress on the show each day, but the full route – including a real-time update of the rickshaw’s progress once it sets off – is also available here.

Pant Autumn Bazaar deemed ‘Success

Pant Autumn Bazaar a success

This year’s Pant Autumn Bazaar, which took place on Saturday 5th October in Pant Memorial Hall, has been deemed a great success as it raised a record amount for the upkeep of the village hall and at the same time brought together a number of local traders.

Pant Autumn Bazaar has always had the dual aim of bringing the community together at an annual event as well as raising funds for the upkeep of the hall.

Locals and visitors enjoying Pant Autumn Bazaar.

This year, the bazaar was held between 2pm and 4pm and during that time locals and visitors came together to browse around the stalls and also to enjoy a cuppa and piece of cake along with a chat with friends and neighbours.

Stalls this year featured wood items turned from local wood, local honey, fresh produce and preserves as well as fundraising stalls for the hall.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work and donations the hall was able to raise over £600 which will be used by the hall to invest in the upkeep of the hall. The support of local businesses in Pant, Oswestry and Welshpool which donated items for the tombola, helped the committee raise such a magnificent amount.

Stallholders at Pant Autumn Bazaar offered a wide range of products.

Over the past few years, the committee that runs the hall has been keen to invest in improvements at the hall to ensure it can stay a vibrant and well used community asset.

According to Shaun, Treasurer at the hall, this year saw the highest amount raised at the bazaar. “We were delighted to raise over £600, which is a magnificent effort on the part of everyone who came along, donated items or had a stall. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone on behalf of the committee.”

Visit www.pantmemorialhall.org.uk to find out more about the hall and if you use Facebook you can find the hall at @PantMemorialHall.

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