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

Powerful moments at the United State of Women summit

first_imgRodin Eckenroth/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — When former first lady Michelle Obama took the stage at this year’s United State of Women summit in Los Angeles, the crowd erupted in cheers so loud that Tracee Ellis Ross joked from the stage: “Are you gonna be able to hear us if you keep screaming?”This was the start of a conversation between Obama and Ross, who are friends in real life. It was the start of the most highly anticipated speaking event at the USOW, following a day filled with high profile speakers including Jane Fonda, Valerie Jarrett, Tina Tchen, Aly Raisman and more.The women spoke about everything from education to childhood memories to what the future holds for the next generation of women.When Ross asked Obama, “Do you think there’s a way that we can help everyone dream in a more limitless way that is not gender based?”Obama answered that she’s “concerned about us as women.”“When the most qualified person running was a woman and look what we did instead. I mean, that says something about where we are,” Obama said to a full crowd at the Shrine Auditorium. “If we as women are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men, if we’re still doing that today, if we’re not comfortable with the notion that a women could be our president, compared to what?… That’s on us.”They spoke about how culture “eggs” women on to get married, have the dream wedding and have kids. When Ross said she missed that stage, Obama responded, “Good for you.”“Tracee Ellis Ross must not be happy because she’s not married with kids.”“Look where I’m sitting!?” Ross replied to a cheering crowd.“I think if we want our daughters to dream bigger than we did then we have more work to do,” Obama said. “So many of us have gotten ourselves to the table but were still too grateful to be at the table to shake it up.”Another incredibly powerful moment at the summit was when four athletes who all confronted disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar in court earlier this year took the stage as “sister survivors.” Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Tiffany Lopez and Jeanette Antolin took the USOW stage side by side after being introduced by Sophia Bush, who said it was “an honor to bear witness to their experience.”Raisman spoke first, telling the crowd that “speaking out is never easy. Each time I share my story I relive my trauma.”She told the cheering crowd, “If we do not keep up the fight, sadly, history is likely to repeat itself. This problem is bigger than Nassar. The #MeToo movement is not just in gymnastics and Hollywood — it is everywhere.”Her powerful speech was followed by Tiffany Lopez, who first reported Nassar’s abuse in 1998.“My voice is no longer silent and I’m taking back my power,” she said. “If I had been heard and believed 20 years ago, the women standing beside me — all of the 265 young women who have now barely come forward as victims — would have been spared from the horrors of sexual abuse.”Antolin followed Lopez’s speech and delivered her message of empowering children: “We need to teach our kids that their voice matters. It will be heard and we will listen.”Wieber was the last of the athletes to speak out and received rounds of applause when she said: “It ends with us … you are not alone and your time is now. Speak your truth. Hold your abusers accountable and regain your power.”The memorable moments continued at the summit when actress Jane Fonda and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, took the stage at the USOW together to speak about mass criminalization. Fonda started her speech off by saying, “When Trump was elected and the toxic bedrock of white supremacy in this country was exposed, I realized something … the lens through which I have been looking at race is too shallow — so I’m studying.”She went on to say that “it takes more than empathy. It takes intention, to even begin to comprehend what people of color, no matter their class, face every day.”Cullors followed Fonda’s speech by praising her and telling the auditorium “every white woman in the audience, please take heed.”They both spoke about disproportionally high incarceration rates in African American communities and racism in America and advocated ending the war on drugs and the construction of new prisons.Many of the powerhouse women who spoke at the United State of Women conference told “GMA” that they wanted women to leave the summit feeling not just inspired, but motivated by all of the memorable moments and speeches.“I hope that women leave with action items,” Sophia Bush said. “Not just inspiration. There’s big inspiration here, but one of the things I’m always so impressed by at this summit is that you walk away knowing what to do next, what the steps are that you can take to activate yourself, to activate your community to create the kind of change you want to create and I really hope that it’s the kind of day that inspires people to walk the walk even further when you walk out of this building.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Credit union branches 2016: Building relationships

Branches have been foundational to the credit union service proposition since the beginning. What’s more, branches continue to deliver unique value to your members today, remaining one of your most strategic assets.Focusing on fast-evolving mobile and digital platforms is vital, but so is investing in branching. For consumers, there are simply times when business is best conducted face to face.To keep forging forward in meeting members’ needs, keep the following three mantras top of mind:Self-Service Delivers Speed and Convenience.Your branch should be designed to serve members in any way they want to be served, and having the right self-service strategy in place helps you achieve this. Surveys, time and again, reflect that members value convenience and speed. And self-service works best when technologies deliver the same level of service that a live teller gives. So if a bank of smart ATMs makes it convenient for members to access their accounts, deploy the technology. continue reading » 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr read more

Copa America: Argentina thump Paraguay 6-1 to reach final

first_imgArgentina will face Chile in the Copa America final after an emphatic 6-1 demolition of Paraguay – in which Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Aguero all found the net.The two sides had already faced each other in the tournament – following their opening game 2-2 draw – and just like on that occasion, La Albiceleste took control of the match early on, grabbing the lead after 15 minutes when Rojo smashed home a finish from a freekick scramble inside the box.Javier Pastore doubled his side’s advantage before the half hour mark – finding the bottom corner with a low finish after excellent build-up work from Lionel Messi, who was the driving force behind Argentina’s impressive performance.Paraguay gave themselves hope of a comeback just before the break, when Lucas Barrios made the most of some slack defending to finish past Sergio Romero.But goals from Di Maria, Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain ensured that Argentina secured their place in Saturday’s final against Chile in style.–last_img read more