It seems very strange to be writing to the parish for the last time as
we begin to look beyond the Cotswold Hills and towards the Weald of Kent
where from September I am to take up my new post as Chaplain to Sutton
It puts me into a reflective mood where all that I might anticipate
about what might be in store for me for the future is mixed together with
the memories of the last three years and the life that I have experienced
as an assistant curate in Prestbury. It has certainly not been dull, and
when people say that three years seems to have passed in no time at all, I
could tell them exactly where it has gone, hardly having any opportunity to
think about what to do next, never short of duties to perform or people to
Perhaps the greatest privilege that I have enjoyed while living and
working amongst the people of this parish has been that of sharing in
everyday life - real life - both in joy and in sorrow, walking alongside
those with whom I have shared a few moments from time to time. I never
cease to be humbled by how generous has been the welcome, how fulsome the
hospitality, and how genuine the love and care that has been shown to us as
we have struggled to learn the ropes and discover life as a clergy family
in a strange place.
But Prestbury is now no longer strange, - it has become the home from
which we shall depart to establish ourselves in pastures new, fresh fields
in which I shall be priest and pastor to a different kind of community,
somewhere where I shall take all that I have learned and attempt to apply
it in a different context, a particular calling and a new challenge.
So "Oak Cottage" turns out another curate, happy to take all that
Prestbury has been able to provide. I only hope we have been able to give a
little something in return.
Thank you so very much to all who have sent cards, gifts, and messages
after my accident. I have been carried along on a wave of prayer and
support, and I am grateful to everyone. You have all been in my prayers,
and the enforced 'rest' has given the opportunity for this in greater
In truth, this has been the first time that I have known any sustained
physical pain or disability. It has helped me to appreciate the experience
and difficulties of the very many people who know pain and disability on a
much greater scale and often on a permanent level.
Thank you Fr Paul
In the three years that he has been with us, Fr Paul has brought a rich
variety of gifts which have contributed much to the growth and development
of the parish. He has helped many people in their own faith journeys.
His pastoral concern has been especially appreciated at Bay Tree Court
where he has pioneered pastoral care and the weekly Sunday services. He
recruited a band of volunteers to ensure that the Twilight Zone youth club
continued. Genuinely interested in people and their welfare, his
informality, motorbike, dress and hairstyles have been appreciated by many.
He has played the double bass in Taizť services, musicals at the Everyman,
and concerts in local orchestras, and the bass guitar in our own Blue
Diamonds rock group.
Fr Paul is a man of the people, and will be much missed both by church
members and in the wider community. With his strong academic background,
and wide ranging experience, and his enquiring, lively and analytical mind
he has certainly kept an ageing Vicar on his toes!
Anna has played her part in our churches and in the local playgroup - as
well as performing in SNADS! - and we shall miss her and Madeleine and
Alice, too. Our love and prayers go with the Kish family in their new
venture in Kent. May God go with you all!
During Fr Stephen's enforced absence, we have tried to remind you of the
existence of the MLT. I have felt particularly reassured by their
availability and support - it has been good to be able to say to the
congregations that the members of the MLT are also there if they cannot
speak to one of the clergy.
Please do remember that you can talk to any of the MLT if you have any
concerns and we will pass them on (if you wish) to the clergy. This is
especially important if you are concerned about another member of the
congregation. You will notice if someone you normally see in church has
been missing. Now that the clergy do not see the same congregation every
week, it is much more difficult for them to be aware of people they have
not seen. They are relying on you, with the MLT, to be their eyes and ears!
Just to remind you, the Ministry Leadership Team is:-
You can see our 'mug
shots' in both churches!
A small but growing group continues to meet fortnightly - as the other
commitments of each allow - at a number of different homes around the
parish. We meet with the aim of reading through a short passage from the
bible and trying to tease out the significance of it for each of us in
Prestbury today. We are discovering it is lots of different things
including fun, challenging, rewarding, strengthening and encouraging. We
would love it if YOU were able to join us for one or more evenings. Here
are the dates:
Thursday 5th July
Wednesday 18th July
Thursday 2nd August
Thursday 16th August
Thursday 30th August
Wednesday 12th September
Thursday 27th September
If you need to check a venue or ask anything else about it then do
please talk to Kathy and Andy Beacham or Sue Read.
If any adults or young people are thinking about being confirmed and
would like to know more, please speak to Fr Michael. If there is sufficient
interest, a group (or groups) could begin in the autumn.
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the monthly Parish Prayer Diary, which
is normally available at the same time as the magazine. If you would like
to be prayed for, please fill in the tear-off slip and put it in one of the
boxes which are in both churches. Also, if you feel you would like to
contribute material for some of the daily intentions for prayer, do speak
to Kay Porter or to Fr Michael.
Snippets from the Tower
The ringers' offering for the Auction of Promises in aid of the St
Nicolas' Renewal Appeal was a quarter peal to be rung for the evening
service at St Mary's on a date to be chosen by the bidder. We were
delighted to ring a quarter of Grandsire Doubles (1260 changes), on Sunday
May 27th after the Christening (at St Nic's earlier), of Jayne Elizabeth
Steel and Katherine Scarlett Steel. The quarter was also dedicated to the
90th birthday of their Great-grandmother Josephine. Members of the family
and friends listened to the ringing in the churchyard and many of them
visited the ringing chamber afterwards and saw us doing another 'touch' of
the same method as well as lowering the bells.
On Bank Holiday Monday (28th May), most of our ringers enjoyed a day out
visiting other towers beginning in the Malmesbury area proceeding to
Melksham on to Bradford on Avon and ending the day ringing at Colerne
followed by the necessary supper at a pub! Once again a good time was had
The wedding season is well and truly upon us and we enjoy ringing for
those who choose to have us, usually on Saturdays.
On Sunday 10th June some of our ringers joined others in the Cheltenham
Branch and rang for Evensong (3pm) at Gloucester Cathedral. Those of us who
had enough puff left after climbing the 151 stone steps to the ringing
chamber also climbed a further 50-odd steps to the top of the tower to look
at the view and stopped on the way down to view the bells as they were rung
by those we had left behind!
Prosperity to this parish A (bell) R 1700
From S. Oswald Lassington
To S. Nicolas Prestbury
Loughborough foundry mark
The bell weighs 2cwt 2qr 0lb and has a diameter of c.22". It was recast
without canons by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough in 1971 at the time the
church was built, and is hung dead, suspended from a metal bar. The former
bell from which the metal came hung in Lassington and was cast by Abraham
Rudhall I in 1700.
All this is recorded in Church Bells of Gloucestershire 1986 by
Mary Bliss and Frederick Sharpe.
During my gap year I am doing six months' voluntary work in Albania.
My main job here is teaching English to the local children. We have
three one-hour classes a day, four days a week. I teach these with one of
the young men from the church, and the classes have between three and 25
children, aged 10 to 18. The community I live in is a Christian one, and
lessons are held in the church, which is attached to our house. We also
have Bible study on Wednesdays and kids' ministry on Sundays followed by a
service for adults and young people. I have also managed to learn enough
Albanian to enjoy conversation with a neighbour's 3-year-old!
Albania has a very traditional society - the women cook, clean and raise
children while the men do the official work and socialise. I live with a
young woman and her two brothers. She and I keep house, which is a little
different from at home, with frequent power cuts, and water taken from a
well in the garden. We wash clothes by hand, and collect our drinking water
from certain clean taps around the neighbourhood. Paskuqan is on the
outskirts of Tirana, and is populated largely by people from the north. It
consists of big families living in small houses, generally made of
breezeblocks with corrugated iron or tile roofs. The English influence can
be seen in our garden - our lawn has trees and flowers round it whereas
most people keep cows and chickens, and are currently making hay from their
lawns. Little shops have sprung up on the edges of people's property, and
it is here that we buy dry and packaged goods. For fresh fruit, vegetables
and meat we go to the markets on the main road or in Tirana itself. Getting
into the centre of Tirana involves a 20-minute walk along rough unmade
'roads', dry at this time of year but deep in mud when I first arrived in
February, then a 15-20 minute wait at the main road, which is paved but
very potholed, for a minibus, and finally a half-hour drive to the centre
square. It is another 15-minute walk to the Abraham Lincoln Centre (an
American-run English language school) if I want to send any emails.
The family I live with are from one of the mountain villages in the
north. We spent Easter weekend there, visiting their mother. Life is very
simple up there, based on agriculture, with most families keeping sheep,
chickens, cows, goats and horses. Again, electricity is limited, and water
is piped from a spring. There is only one real road (unpaved) in the
village so most of the houses are reached by scrambling up the
mountainside. It is a beautiful place, and its isolation was emphasised by
the three feet of snow which fell on Easter morning. This made it a little
chilly going to the bathroom - a Turkish (French) style outhouse 60 steps
from the house!
In March we went to see the England v Albania football match. It was
good fun, despite one of my friends threatening to shoot me if England won!
Later on we saw ourselves on Albanian TV.
Now we are looking forward to taking the Paskuqan children to the summer
camp in NW Albania. There are ten weeks of camps, 50 children each week.
There is also a farm with dairy cows, pigs and chickens, and it is set in
Just before Easter I had the chance to spend a week with a Japanese
couple in Nagoya - that's some 200 miles west of Tokyo on the southern
coast of the main island of Honshu. On arrival I thought I'd better just
ask what to do in the event of an earthquake and was told that there had
been one just a few days earlier - and together we worked out an escape
plan for me!! I believe there is earthquake awareness day and drill each
year in the schools.
I slept on a mattress (futon) on a matted floor (tatami). Each morning I
folded the futon and bedding and put it away for the day.
Eating was fun - I was pleased I'd practised using chopsticks
beforehand. I enjoyed the wide range of soya, rice and fish based cuisine
but would say that I could only identify about three quarters of what I
ate. The final quarter remained a mystery. But, as Chris says, I'm
omnivorous and I reckoned that if they were eating it then it wouldn't do
me much harm. Probably the most difficult was a creature that looked like a
2 inch long octopus. I asked if it was an octopus or a squid and was
intrigued to discover it was a cuttlefish (fully grown so it was obviously
a different form from the ones which find their way into the cages of pet
birds in the UK). The good thing for foreigners (gajin) is that at each
meal there's a wide variety of food and all in small quantities so if there
is something one doesn't much like there's not a heap of it to swallow. So
just in case you may be interested yes I did manage to eat my 2 cuttlefish
- and I enjoyed them both. Here's a photo of one of the beautiful meals I
Members of SNADS met to discuss ways in which the group
could contribute to the life of our two churches. A first step was to
support the Christian Aid Week in a celebration of its work through music,
words, drama and art. We wanted to join with other groups across age range
and interests. The result was a vibrant evening with members of SNADS,
Synergy, Mission and Outreach, Christian Aid organisers and members of the
two congregations (younger and older) joining together for this memorable
The next "dramatic" event will take place at the Parish Barbecue on July
29th. Would you like to be part of it? Adults to rehearse and children in
their numbers on the day. If you would like more details, please contact
either Sue Watkins or Daphne Philpot.
Just a few lines to say a big, big "thank you" from me personally to all
who helped make last weekend a resounding success. Because that is just
what it was! I'm sure some of the guests will be writing to their hosts to
say so, so this is just a sort of collective one on everyone's behalf. Most
of them could scarcely find words to express their delight at your
hospitality, most being "overwhelmed", "speechless" etc. Everyone enjoyed
it so much. Tomorrow evening (Tuesday) we're having a little "end of term"
gathering at my flat where no doubt memories and photos will be shared.
was superb, it was a lovely feeling to conduct a bigger choir with (almost)
everybody looking at me, and not only that but remembering what I'd said at
the practice! It sounded like one choir who'd been singing together for
I'm sorry we weren't able to see anything of Fr Stephen. I hope he will
be able to make a speedy recovery now and get back to "parish life". Do
please give him my regards and thank him for the use of St Mary's for the
[Colin Smith was formerly organist & choirmaster at St Nicolas']
We moved from Chepstow to Cheltenham in March 1960 and, as good fortune
would have it, the Opera House reopened as the Everyman Theatre two months
Living in the nearby village of Prestbury, I became a member of St
Mary's Church. I began to hear about their amateur group St Mary's Players
and I started to go to their productions. When they decided to put on
Fodor's "The Vigil" for their Easter production I was asked to join them.
This is a modern version of the Bible story and, as I was to play a
detective, I decided I could try out my Bogart impression. It was a large
cast and all these years later, I can still identify some of them in the
The Vicar made an announcement before the curtain went up, that there
should be no applause in view of the Lenten season - his "It wouldn't be
wise" can still make a friend and myself giggle. Our performances in the
Church Hall was where we had rehearsed all through the cold winter months.
During the day it was also used for the dinner sessions for the school
across the road and we could usually identify what they had by the
In excerpts from "Pickwick Papers" and the "Grove Family" I was joined
by our young son, but after those experiences he decided he did not intend
following in father's footsteps and making a fool of himself. I appeared as
the cleric in "Don't Utter a Note" while our new curate played the local
drunk - is this called cross casting?
In 1971 it was decided to tackle "An Inspector Calls" and to my
surprise, I was asked to play Inspector Goole. I looked at the length of
the part and all the questions he had to keep asking, and decided to say
"No", mainly due to pressure of work with overtime. Then the postal strike
arrived, our work load decreased and I started learning the lines with the
help of my wife and our daughter. The blue covered French's Acting Edition
was like an extra member of the family. We got as far as the week before
the show, when the actor playing Mr Birling was involved in an even heavier
work load and we had to call in someone from town to play the part, which
fortunately he had done a few years before. Tragedy was averted and we beat
the Royal National Theatre by 21 years.
"Book of the Month" and "The Bride and the Bachelor" did not attract me
much afterwards - particularly as I was trying to be an American airman in
my son's eagle jacket and platform shoes. It's amazing how the wardrobes
are dragged together and you can end up wearing stuff you would never think
Pantomimes were put on by the nearby St Nicolas' Players and I found
myself in "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Queen of Hearts". The most
difficult thing I found was trying to learn the lines of songs - I had
always picked them up easily off the radio but on the page they never
seemed to sink in. I still don't know all the lines of "Downtown" and have
a lot of admiration for singers who are able to carry so many verses in
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Herbert Soppitt in "When We Are Married"
(happily Priestley again) and was very chuffed when I was applauded as "the
worm that turned" on his shrew of a wife. You can't beat a bit of hand
clapping in your favour to warm the cockles of your heart.
By now, we were beginning to tone down on the make up box and the heavy
sticks of Max Factor 5 and 9 were being left on one side and we felt, and
looked, a lot better for it.
After watching a friend forget her lines rather disastrously I made up
my mind that this would not happen to me and I started saying "No".
However, amateur groups are usually short of men to cast and with the cry
of "Don't be a misery" for my last few shows I made sure I had parts of my
lines stuck somewhere I could find them if needed.
Nowadays I stick to reading my own monologues and am all right as long
as I have my glasses, my script, enough light, and a clear throat.
But I did enjoy my Am Dram days and would recommend them to anyone who
is looking for an absorbing interest - or just to show off a bit.
Tudor Williams (Courtesy of 'The Stage')
24-27TH AUGUST, CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE
A fantastic mix of Christian music and arts, with a heart for social
justice. We are going to be camping for the weekend - join us for camping
(£30 not including food) - come along to as much or as little as you like
and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere! Day tickets also available.
WED 15 - WED 22 AUGUST
Clearing and gardening for the elderly and housebound in Prestbury. Make
a difference and work as part of a team this summer! Young people and adult
supervisors wanted. Last year's projects were fantastic - talk to Andy or
any of those involved last year.
The Space, Twilight Zone and Synergy
start back on Thu 13th and Fri 14th and Sun 16th
Andy Macauly, Parish Youth Worker
I am very lucky because I have got a little pony and he was my
Christening present and his name is Ernie and I ride him. He lives with my
Grandma and Grandpa. In Prestbury I ride Misty and she belongs to Helen.
Before you have a ride on the horse or the pony you brush it and take
the mud and stones out of its hooves. Then you have to tack it up. This
means that you put the saddle and the bridle on. Then you can get on and
have a lovely ride. When you have a ride you have to sit up straight and
point your toes up.
Madeleine Kish, age 5
|Sunday 29 July 2001
Anna, Madeleine & Alice's
last Sunday in Prestbury
Join together to say 'thank you and farewell' in a
Combined Parish Sung Eucharist
in St Mary's Church
followed by a
in the grounds of
St Mary's Infant School, Bouncers Lane
Food will be served from 1.15pm (approx!)
Bring your own drinks, rugs and garden chairs
Games and entertainment will be provided
Tickets: Adults £4, Children £2, Family ticket £10 on sale in both Churches
or order through the Parish Office
(There will be a Said Eucharist in both St Mary's and
St Nicolas' at 8.00am)
Don't miss the ...
Last Chance Dance
with our own ...
Dance (or just
listen) to favourites
from the 60s to the present
Fr Paul's last
the bass guitar in Prestbury!
St Mary's Hall, Bouncers Lane
Saturday 21 July 2001
Doors open 7.30 p.m.
Tickets: £5 adult /
£3 children / £12 family
Ticket price includes a summer supper
Licensed cash bar
All proceeds in aid of the St
Nicolas' Renewal Appeal
September Spectacular Fayre
Saturday 15th September 2 - 5pm
Celebrity opening, lunches, teas,
displays, stalls, games, competitions, raffle,
lucky numbered programmes; at St Nicolas', inside and outside (weather
permitting). Fun for all the family - see you there!
Abertillery Orpheus Male Voice Choir
Saturday 6th October
with soloist Gill Padfield at
Christchurch. Tickets £6 in advance, £7 on the door available from St
Nicolas' Renewal Events committee members
has been postponed
The sale at St Nicolas' on 26th May raised £300 for the
Renewal Appeal. This excellent result was due to all the generous gardeners
who gave us plants, the helpers who sold everything so quickly to a crowd
or customers, and the lovely weather. Many thanks to everyone.
Celebration of Marriage
Thank you again to all who supported this event in any
way. The total profit from the weekend came to £1400, which has been given
to the Renewal Appeal.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's (MMMSM)
The next concert is on Wednesday 18th July and
will feature a programme of piano and organ music played by Malcolm &
Christine McKelvey. Do join us in St Mary's church at 10.30am for
coffee, and the concert will start at 11 o'clock. Admission is free. There
will be a retiring collection in aid of church funds.
Christian Aid Week
The final total raised from the Parish house-to-house
collection is £4886.35.
This includes the Sunday School/Club contributions from
St Mary's shoe-shine and St Nicolas' sale of home-made chocolates - well
done and thank you to both groups!
The total also includes the collection in St Mary's on
Sunday, May 20th, following the evening presentation "A Celebration of
Christian Aid", performed by members of SNADS and Synergy, which was much
enjoyed by those present, and demonstrated the theme this year of "Making a
Difference." Thank you to SNADS and Synergy.
Again, our many thanks to all collectors, donors and
counters of money given.
Paddy Spurgeon & Gill Ashman
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Sponsored Cycle Ride/Walk/Horse Ride
Saturday 8th September 2001, 10am to 6pm
The Trust has helped St Mary's Church in the past and has
promised £2000 for St Nicolas' renewal. Riders can plan their own route and
take their own time, a chance to visit some of the many varied and
beautiful churches in the diocese and beyond - it is a nationwide activity.
Half the sponsor money raised goes immediately to our
churches, the other half to the Trust to help any church in the diocese.
Please consider taking part or sponsor generously (Bob Lyle cannot take
part this year!). Further details will be available from Bob Lyle or Nigel
Dates for your diaries
Saturday 8th September
We will celebrate St Mary's Patronal Festival with a
Parish Sung Eucharist at 11.00am, followed by a celebratory lunch.
Saturday 22nd September
Following last year's very enjoyable day, book this date
for the Parish Quiet Day, which will be held at the Marist Centre in
Look out for further details of these events, with
prices, booking arrangements, etc.
A big thank you to all who came and supported the Summer
Supper on the 2nd June in St Mary's Church Hall. Following the supper we
were admirably entertained by Alan & Karen Gillespie and Friends
(Impromptu) who took us on a singing trip down memory lane and made a
fitting end to a lovely evening. This was topped by Alan, Karen and Friends
donating their fee to our profits and enabling us to give £325 to St Mary's
Church Heating Fund. Thank you to everyone who helped make this a night to
St Mary's Bake-Stall
From the March, April and May stalls £100 has been sent
to SOS Children's Villages and £20 to the Children's Rescue Fund in
Ethiopia, two charities which have sent us special appeals.
Thank you to everyone who has baked and/or bought.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews