Val’s wonderful windows are a Limerick tradition

first_imgNewsCommunityVal’s wonderful windows are a Limerick traditionBy Bernie English – December 3, 2018 3107 Val Holmes checking his handiwork at Brown Thomas.Photo: Cian ReinhardtIF THERE is an opposite to the Grinch who stole Christmas, it is Val Holmes.For 44 years, Val has been creating whimsical worlds of wonder to delight generations of children who have stood at the windows of Todds and now Brown Thomas, their eyes aglow, all words lost in a tumble of teddies, lights, fairies and snow scenes.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Val took up work as the store window dresser on December 16, 1974 and that has been his job ever since, the Christmas windows the highlight of his – and his team’s – year.This year will be his last window as he is retiring with every intention of travelling the world.“The year we did all the windows fully animated is the one I remember best,” Val tells the Limerick Post. “That was Christmas, ’79, the Year Of the Child. We usually had one animated window but people thought we were doing especially for that year but that was luck.“There was a great buzz about those windows. People come night and day to look at the Christmas windows because there’s something very special about the windows after dark and they just stand and look for ages”.Working in retail wasn’t originally his idea of an easy life, Val admits.“When I got the job and I was told that I would work Monday to Friday I thought all my birthdays had come together – no Saturdays. I was delighted. And I’ve loved every minute since – you couldn’t do this and not love it”.Val and the team are also responsible for all the other window displays during the year and the in-store displays. In the early days, planning for Christmas and the retail year started in April with a trip to London with the manager and merchandising manager to check out the big stores there for inspiration.Then it was on to Warrington, where many of the props for the coming year are bought, no doubt raising a few eyebrows at customs over hammer-wielding ailing and prancing reindeer.More lately, the travelling salespeople come to Dublin where Val and key members of staff from all of the Brown Thomas stores gather to lay plans for the year’s displays.Currently, the themes for the windows travel between the BT stores each year, with each store pulling their individual fashions and merchandise together in a Winter wonderland on the common theme.With no formal training whatever, Val’s eagle eye misses nothing.“You have to go outside and see what the public are seeing. There might be a mannequin posed the wrong way or something that isn’t quite in the right spot and needs to be moved. You just know when it’s right and when it’s not and you keep at it until it’s right”.Do things ever go wrong?Val admits there have been some bumps in the night.“You might come in and find a load of stuff has fallen down but the public never get to see that. The first job in the morning is to check the windows and the last job at night is to do a sweep and make sure everything is okay”.Another of Val’s favourite times are the sales.“At one stage, when it was Todds, the slogan was to wait for the real sale. And we would pile every window high with sale goods – household, fashion, you name it. They would queue from early morning for the 9am specials – it was like Black Friday in America long before that ever came here”.The father of two sons and a daughter and grandad to four boys and a girl is originally from Hyde Road in Prospect and has delighted in bringing his own family to see his handiwork at Christmas over the years.A spot of ill-health has seen Val off work in recent months but as well as being the man who puts Christmas front and centre in BTs he is is also the store ambassador, meeting and greeting customers during the Christmas period with a tilt of his top hat.“I’m looking forward to coming back for Christmas to do that – everyone knows me from the windows because at one time, there weren’t any blinds and people would wave to you when you were in the window getting a new display ready.“Now, being the ambassador as well is great. One woman asked me ‘are you the real Mr Brown Thomas?’Val is the longest-serving member of staff to hold the same position in the store. “Both my sisters worked here before me and we’re like a big family here in BTs,” he says.“I don’t think of myself as being in charge of windows – I’m part of a great team”.Val clearly has passion for his job, but does he have another passion, the Limerick Post wonders?“Rugby. What else?” Advertisement Print Population of Mid West region increased by more than 3,000 in past year Twitter Unstoppable Sean shows that all things are possible Previous articleWATCH: Andrew Conway believes there is plenty more to comeNext articleWATCH: Dreams snippet – reaction to Nickie’s save against Cork Bernie Englishhttp://www.limerickpost.ieBernie English has been working as a journalist in national and local media for more than thirty years. She worked as a staff journalist with the Irish Press and Evening Press before moving to Clare. She has worked as a freelance for all of the national newspaper titles and a staff journalist in Limerick, helping to launch the Limerick edition of The Evening Echo. Bernie was involved in the launch of The Clare People where she was responsible for business and industry news. TAGSCommunityFestiveInterviewLimerick City Housing 37 Compulsory Purchase Orders issued as council takes action on derelict sites center_img Facebook Vicky calls for right to die with dignity New parklet changes Catherine Street dining experience RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Linkedin Thefts of catalytic converters on the rise #crimeprevention Email WhatsApplast_img read more

Asia Center to support summer travel for 75 students

first_imgThe Harvard University Asia Center was established in 1997 to reflect Harvard’s deep commitment to Asia and the growing connections between Asian nations. An important aspect of the center’s mission is the support of undergraduate and graduate summer projects abroad. This summer, the Asia Center will fund 75 students traveling to east, south, and southeast Asia to conduct research, participate in internships, and pursue intensive language study.Harvard’s study of Asia is spread across the University’s departments and Schools, and a wide array of disciplines comes together under the auspices of the Asia Center. Through such a convergence, the center brings a layered, multifaceted approach to probe questions of history and culture, economics, politics, diplomacy, and security, and the relationships among them.View a complete list of grant recipients.last_img read more

This home at Upper Caboolture offers a serene tropical retreat

first_img4 Downey Court, Upper CabooltureSurrounding bushland and gardens make this quaint home feel like it’s in the heart of a tropical paradise.It was one of the main reasons Ali Johnston decided to buy the property at 4 Downey Court, Upper Caboolture. 4 Downey Court, Upper CabooltureIt has a firepit as well as built-in seating off the main patio and she has put tropical plants along the back fence.“That just gives it that tropical feeling,” she said. “When I wake up in the morning, I have all the birds calling out and it just sounds like I’m at a tropical resort.” 4 Downey Court, Upper CabooltureMs Johnston said the patio was her favourite part of the home.“The living areas actually look out to the back patio,” she said.“That was a big thing for me – to be able to see from all rooms the garden.”She said the cul-de-sac was quiet and the neighbours were friendly.Ms Johnston is sad to say goodbye to the home but needs to return to Sydney.“If I could pack this house up and take it back with me I would,” she said.center_img 4 Downey Court, Upper CabooltureShe moved to the area from Sydney after reading reviews of the highly rated suburb online.“I really wanted to be able to have a good-sized block of land and affordability was a big thing as well,” Ms Johnston said.The four-bedroom home is on a 605sq m block.More from newsLand grab sees 12 Sandstone Lakes homesites sell in a week21 Jun 2020Tropical haven walking distance from the surf9 Oct 20194 Downey Court, Upper CabooltureThe master bedroom has an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, while the other three bedrooms have built-in wardrobes.The home has an open floorplan with the living and dining areas flowing into the kitchen and family room. There is access to the outdoor patio from the dining and family rooms.The home was move-in ready, but Ms Johnston has added her own touches to parts of it, including landscaping the large backyard.last_img read more

Tours, admissions sessions canceled through April

first_imgWhile there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus at USC, the University will continue to monitor the situation as it develops across Los Angeles County and internationally. L.A. County reported the first coronavirus-related death Wednesday after confirming the first instance of community spread of the virus Monday. Last week, the county declared a public health emergency and the total number of confirmed cases has since risen to 29 at time of publication.  The cancellation follows the University’s decision to cancel or postpone most USC-sponsored events on and off campus through the end of the first week after spring break. The period of remote instruction was extended by two weeks; however the University has not said how this will affect events. As of now, USC campus tours and programmings are scheduled to resume April 14. “While we don’t like turning away visitors, there will be ample opportunity for prospective students to visit USC in the future — well in advance of the next cycle’s application deadlines,” Brunold said. “USC tours and campus visit programs are regularly offered year-round, and this temporary stoppage represents a relatively small percentage of our annual capacity.”center_img Admission ambassadors will continue to be employed during the period but will likely see a temporary reduction in hours due to reduced workload, Brunold said in the email. Students will continue to answer phones and perform administrative tasks. All USC-guided campus tours and admissions sessions have been canceled through April 14, Dean of Admission Tim Brunold confirmed to the Daily Trojan in an email Wednesday. Online programming will be available for newly admitted students before the enrollment commitment on May 1, Brunold said. last_img read more