Raglan Nativity Rises From The Ashes
A MONMOUTHSHIRE community has vowed not to let mindless vandals, who fi re-bombed
its £10,000 village nativity scene on Christmas Eve, deter them from its efforts to bring festive
cheer to residents.
The life-sized nativity scene has decorated the rural village bus shelter in Raglan every
Christmas for the past three years.
Miguel Santiago, owner of the nearby Beaufort Hotel, has spent thousands of pounds funding
the displays, whilst costume expert and resident, Liz Friendship is the creative force behind the
figures and costumes.
The display has had terrible misfortune since it was first thought up in 2018 when Mary was
stolen. Then in 2019 two shepherds were stolen, and last year it was completely destroyed in an
arson attack on Christmas Eve, leaving the community devastated.
This year, Mr Santiago and Ms Friendship were more determined than ever to ensure the nativity
scene returned to Raglan.
With a boost of an anonymous donation of £1,000 and a handful of volunteers, including
electricians and carpenters, a nativity scene has been created at the front of The Beaufort Hotel
for families to enjoy over the festive period, with extra security measures in place.
Ms Friendship, a visiting lecturer on the history of costume at the Royal College of Music and
Drama, spent six months lovingly creating the fi gures and colourful costumes with assistance
from her neighbour, Sue Whitehouse. The heart-warming display, valued at around £20,000,
features three kings, Mary, Joseph, three shepherds, a ram and a ewe, with baby Jesus due to
arrive on Christmas Eve.
Ms Friendship said: “What happened last year was devastating.”
“Following generous donations from the community towards this year’s display, I was
determined to put in as much effort as I could.”
“I started cutting the patterns in July and have very much enjoyed making them with help from
Sue,” she said.
Mr Santiago added: “After a diffi cult year with the continuing pandemic and the fi re attack
we felt we wanted to do something to bring back that festive cheer to the community and for
everyone to enjoy the display.”
Last year, CCTV footage captured the moment vandals launched a fi rebomb at the shelter on
Christmas Eve, destroying the entire display.
Mr Santiago, who was at the hotel at the time of the arson and put the fi re out, said he couldn’t
believe what had happened.
He said: “We added three kings which really made it a great sight, made sure the fi gures
couldn’t be taken, and we put CCTV in the bus stop.”
“It’s a shame the display was destroyed by mindless vandals because so much effort went into
putting it together for the community to enjoy.”
The Nativity scene is at The Beaufort, Raglan.
Pictures by Sudol Media