Mark and Sue Michaels, who two years ago won the Powys High Sheriff’s award for their voluntary inter-faith work, recently celebrated Sukkot, sometimes known as the Jewish Harvest Festival, at home in Montgomery.

This festival moves in the calendar (like the Christian Easter), falling on a different autumn date each year, and lasts seven days.

It involves creating an outdoor structure called a Succah, where meals are taken and special prayers recited.

The structure is to remind people of when they lived near the fields where they worked, symbolising the temporary structures erected when people are forced to travel and the precariousness of life in general.

It must consist of three sides and have a roof, with the stars visible from inside the Succah.

Sue said: “The Succah is often created by a community, and is decorated with fruits and vegetables which the family will be eating after the Sukkot period.

“Ours took us several hours to construct as we were working on one of the windiest and wettest days of the year, and all the fruits and vegetables had to be made secure, but without damaging them, so it was quite tricky.”

Four key ingredients are then used during Sukkot - a citrus fruit called etrog (or a substitute, which for Sue and Mark was a lemon), some willow, myrtle and a closed palm leaf, all of which represent different characteristics, and together are called the Lulav.

The Lulav is then pointed and gently shaken to the north, south, east and west, as well as up and down, to celebrate that God is everywhere.

Sue said: “Sukkot is a very joyful celebration, usually shared with families and friends giving hospitality; we were not able to do this because of the pandemic.

“When the seven days are up, the Succah is taken down. The following day is Simchat Torah, which marks the beginning of the reading of the Torah, which is read from beginning to end every year.”

Cycling trails around the town

With an increase in people walking and cycling locally, and many people having taken up the offer of a bike from the Montgomery Energy Group Recycled Bike Scheme, Destination Montgomery is encouraging people to use one of their tried and tested Trails routes to take some healthy exercise and explore the area.

Jill Kibble, Destination Montgomery committee member and keen cyclist, said: “For people who are not too confident map reading or haven’t cycled much in the last few years, the trails have been such a popular resource.

“We count ourselves extremely fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the country and are delighted to share its pleasures.”

The Montgomery Trails series, which includes walking as well as cycling trails, is available as free leaflets in Montgomery from Bunners, Ivy House, The Cottage and the Tourist Information Box at The Pound.

These can also be downloaded in pdf format from, where you will also find updates to the route details found by volunteers.

Alternatively, look for the posters in Montgomery displaying the QR code, and download from there.

With half term coming up there are two additional family friendly trails with quiz challenges, which can be purchased in town.

Short story competition

Denise from Montgomery Post Office has been all too aware of the challenges facing residents as they share their experiences when calling in for the essential services.

In response to this, she got together with Richard and Barry from the town’s Eaves & Lord bookshop, to launch a competition to capture the town’s experiences of this time.

She said: “For some of us the last few months have been frightening, debilitating even; for others they have been liberating - a time to discover new passions or to focus on what really matters.

“However, one thing is universal. lockdown in Monty was a relative privilege compared to what many have lived through.”

People who live or work in Montgomery were invited to submit a piece of writing on what lockdown in Monty has meant for them. The suggested word limit is 2000.

The judges will be looking for the writing which most evokes in them the feelings that people themselves experienced being in this special place at this special time.

The competition deadline has now been extended to October 31 and entries can be sent either by email to any of the following:; or