'Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines!' Sometimes it feels as though no
sooner is one thing finished, than another has to be thought about,
planned, carried out. It can feel as though our lives are ruled by
deadlines and we never take the opportunity to pause, review and reflect.
(Well, that's how my life often feels!)
My deadline is to complete this article for the May edition of the
magazine before my post-Easter break, which means writing it on Good
Friday! Still in the very middle of the most significant and most emotional
week of our year. Seemingly suspended between the moving drama of the Upper
Room and the time with Our Lord in the Garden, and the emotionally charged
anticipation of the Liturgy of Our Lord's Passion. The time spent at the
foot of the Cross, on which is hung the Saviour of the world.
Mary, Jesus' mother, also stood at the foot of her Son's cross. May is
often called 'Mary's month' and it is perhaps appropriate that I have been
thinking about Mary's place in the events of Holy Week. As we contemplate
Our Lady witnessing the final hours of her Son's life; receiving his dead
body in her arms; watching it being placed into the tomb, there is no doubt
that Simeon's prediction, 'and a sword will pierce your soul too', was very
accurate. In a sense Mary, in her motherhood, stands alongside all parents
who have had their hearts pierced in some way. All parents who have
suffered pain, anxiety, bereavement.
No record is made in the Gospels of Our Risen Lord appearing to his
mother, however Mary's heartache must have been transformed into joy at the
news of her Son's resurrection. As we enter 'Mary's month', we share in her
joy that Jesus is Christ is indeed risen from the dead. Alleluia!
At the Annual Church Meeting on 25 April we shall give profound and
heartfelt thanks for the long service of three of our members.
Thanksgiving for Churchwarden Ken Bradbury's 25 years
Ken has served as Churchwarden of Prestbury for over 25 years. In his
quiet and unassuming way, he has done so very much to ensure that the life
of the church has continued and flourished. As a member of the PCC, Ken has
taken a leading part in every parish initiative. He has been a support to
each of the clergy, not least in many practical ways. We have been grateful
for his many gifts, not least his professional experience and knowledge as
an engineer. Ken has been strongly supported in his role of Churchwarden by
Rosie, and they have been kindly hosts to many church social functions.
Ken continues to serve the wider Church as a member of the DAC (Diocesan
Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches). He travels around the
churches of the Diocese as the DAC expert electrical and sound consultant.
Thanksgiving for Eileen Jones' 14 years as Warden at St Nicolas'
It would be impossible to count up the hours that Eileen has given in
her most faithful service to God in her role as Assistant Churchwarden in
the whole parish of Prestbury with particular responsibility for St
Nicolas'. She has made sure that everything 'goes like clockwork' in
preparation for both Sunday and weekday services. Eileen has been a very
wise counsellor to the clergy, making sure that they were aware of the
varying views and needs of the church membership. She has been tireless in
her service. Last April Eileen was honoured to receive the Royal Maundy.
Eileen has also served the wider church as a member of the Deanery
Thanksgiving for Bill Riley as Parish Treasurer for 25 years
Over all the 25 years, Bill Riley has been treasurer of St Mary's in
particular, and for quite some time he has also had to produce consolidated
accounts for the whole parish. This has involved hours each week of complex
record keeping, and regular presentations to the PCC and to the Finance
Bill has served the wider Church both as a member of the Diocesan Board
of Finance, and of the Deanery Synod.
For quite some years Bill has been chair of Governors of Arthur Dye
School in Hesters Way. He has been very involved in local sport, and has
given countless hours to support youth football. For many years Sheila was
Akela at St Nicolas' Cubs. We wish Bill and Sheila every blessing and
happiness in Newcastle, when he will no longer have to travel to watch
every home match of the Magpies.
Most important of all, each has a deep faith, and has been constant in
prayer and worship. For all these things we give thanks.
After a tremendously successful 'mission brainstorming' on March 13, the
M&O team would like to bring you right up to date on what came out of that
afternoon, and what is happening as a result.
The meeting was held to draw together ideas on how we might be more
effective in our outreach to the people of Prestbury. More than 30 people
form St Mary's and St Nicolas' joined us, representing many different
groups and committees.
By the end of the afternoon, we had begun to identify, or suggest, some
of the issues that might matter most to local people. These ranged from
feeling of isolation and a lack of community, to teenagers and single
parent families, to the elderly and the environment - and many more.
Suggestions on what we might do to address some of these issues, through
outreach, came thick and fast! But, more importantly, we began to sow
the seeds for a new way of working together as a Church.
We began to see that by bringing people from different groups and
committees together, we could communicate with each other effectively,
share suggestions, and create solutions that would involve everyone.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
We communicate! Our prime aim is to build a team which will represent
all our church groups and committees to work corporately on tackling those
issues which we identified.
We will strive to ensure that every member of our congregation is aware
of what is happening in our Churches via - for example - our noticeboards,
parish magazine, website, handouts, notice sheets and personal
- Communicating with Others
We will work to improve our communication with our neighbours in
Together, we will begin to address some of the very real issues for
local people, as highlighted on March 13.
What made me agree to walk 121.8 miles from Nottingham to Walsingham
during Holy Week? Madness? Possibly. Partly also the persuasion of friends;
partly the desire to be challenged by new ideas and physical hardship.
I encountered both. Student Cross began in 1948, and walking Northern
Leg I met people who first walked more than 25 years ago and were still
coming back. Nine Legs start from various places around England, each
carrying a 10' x 5' wooden cross on their shoulders.
The full distance seems daunting, but the pilgrimage is broken up into
days; each day into stretches; each stretch into the walking routine. Three
people carry the cross, switching every few minutes to the back of the
column to pull the 'dog', a little cart containing water and first aid, and
then into the main column. We often sang as we walked, talked with new
friends or walked silently. The first days were the longest, and very hard.
Once we overcame the pain of blisters, swollen ankles and aching joints,
however, there was more space for thoughts and emotions; a richer sense of
the spiritual. Distanced from much of the world to which we are accustomed,
life slows down. We discovered what was truly important to us: food, drink,
sleep; an arm around one's shoulders or a warm smile from a fellow pilgrim.
This was particularly important on Northern, as we were the only Leg
without a chaplain; as one walker noted, 'we are chaplains to each other'.
We were never asked to deny our discomforts, but in bearing Christ's cross
we bore them together. Faith carried us; not only belief in God but also
perseverance and faithfulness to the other pilgrims.
The journey was greatly eased by the generosity of people along the
route, some of whom had helped Student Cross since it started, such as the
lady into whose bungalow all thirty of us squeezed for tea and biscuits.
Every lunchtime and evening we stopped in pubs, churches or parishioners'
homes for food and rest. At our Wednesday pub a tab at the bar provided by
past pilgrims paid for two rounds of drinks for the whole Leg. Several
evenings we had a lock-in at the pub, and the landlord carried on serving
while we played and sang until 1am.
The week is very intense, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We
become close to the people we walk with, as we depend on each other to
complete our task. There is a richness and mystery in our worship, but also
a refreshment of the call to Christian life which found me thinking when
the bare wooden cross was laid down for the final time in Walsingham: 'Lord
Jesus Christ, may it be my privilege to bear your cross' (words from the
prayer on taking up the cross).
II - Catherine's Encounters with Napoleon
Mention of Catherine Younghusband's grave at Prestbury can hardly be
made without some account of the controversial career which has earned her
a footnote in Napoleonic history. She was already the widow of Capt
Robertson of the Bengal Artillery, with a 4-year-old daughter, Emily, when,
in June 1811, at 31, she married the handsome Capt Robert Younghusband of
the 53rd Foot at Calcutta. Six years older than her husband, high-spirited,
intelligent and ambitious, she soon became the dominant partner.
They arrived at St Helena with the Regiment at the end of October 1815,
a fortnight after Napoleon who was then lodged temporarily at The Briars
while Longwood House, the Lieut-Governor's country residence, was being
enlarged and renovated for him and his entourage. Catherine, determined to
meet the ex-Emperor, was soon making social calls, with 8-year-old Emily,
on the wife and daughters of the merchant, William Balcombe, who lived at
The Briars, a stratagem which shortly brought success. Napoleon, seeing an
elegant lady in the garden with a pretty young daughter, could not resist
coming out demanding 'Qui est cette Dame?'. Speaking first in French and
then in Italian, in both of which he found her fluent, he ushered her into
the house to give an impromptu recital of Italian airs 'in style
grandissimo', including an Italian duet with Emily. He was captivated. 'Ah!
voilà une femme d'ésprit!', he later exclaimed to his attendants, further
intrigued by learning that she claimed descent from Oliver Cromwell! When,
after Christmas, he was settled in at Longwood House, he invited her to
dinner, a privilege so rare that, during his exile, it was shared by only
two other Englishwomen, Mrs Skelton, wife of the dispossessed Lieut-Governor,
and Lady Malcolm, wife of the naval commander on the St Helena station.
Again she was asked to sing Italian songs, accompanying herself on his
newly arrived grand piano, which she declared, diplomatically, 'much
better' than the Governor's at Plantation House. A few days later she paid
a 'morning visit' to Longwood when Napoleon took her for a drive in his
'barouche and four ... insisting on my sitting next to him.' The Marquis de
Las Cases confided to her, 'he has paid you more attention than he has paid
to many Queens.'
Catherine did not fail to befriend such senior members of Napoleon's
entourage as Las Cases, the chief Secretary. Indeed she wrote to her aunt,
Lady Roche in Ireland, that she would rather talk and listen to him 'than
to almost any person I have ever met.' Her closest confidante at Longwood,
however, was Madame Bertrand, wife of General Bertrand, the self-styled
Grand Marshal of Napoleon's 'Court'.
'I have seen her every day ... and do all I can to alleviate the
uncomfortable state of a woman of high rank, placed in a Hovel without any
Proudly she told her aunt in March 1816 that few 'know so much about the
Court at Longwood as myself.' But her letter hinted that there were storm
clouds on the horizon:
'Sir Hudson Lowe is expected daily. Everyone regrets the approaching
departure of Governor & Mrs Wilks ...'
The amiable East India Company Governor, Manxman Mark Wilks, who, with
his staff, had accepted their unexpected French guests like any other
distinguished visitors, as 'gentlemen', was replaced by a military governor
with relevant European experience, with orders from Earl Bathurst on behalf
of the Allied Powers, to treat 'General Buonaparte' with 'indulgence', but
as a prisoner-of-war. Thus General Sir Hudson Lowe was cast, from the
outset, in the role of 'Napoleon's Jailer', and Catherine's affable
fraternization with the French would henceforth be deemed impolitic in the
wife of a senior regimental officer of the garrison. Indeed, after Lowe's
arrival, she seems to have paid Longwood less attention, perhaps because
her curiosity had been satisfied. But her troubles were, in fact, only just
Trevor W Hearl
Eighteen members met at Sheila Beer's house for their
annual meeting on Tuesday 30th March. Prayers were said with a special
mention to Margaret Waker and her family on the sudden death of dear
Raymund. Judy Atty, Wendy Thomas and Hilary Brick were welcomed as new
members. Unfortunately Hilary could not be present.
In Margaret's absence Sheila Beer read the Treasurer's
Report, which had been audited by Noel Brick. The report was adopted. It
was decided that the cost of a pedestal at weddings should be increased in
2005 to offset rising prices and expenses incurred by the arrangers.
Lindsey McGowan has willingly offered to succeed Angela
Schofield to liaise with the brides and organise the helpers to do the
wedding flowers - not a small task as there are eighteen weddings to date
during the coming year. Ron Middleton's demonstration on 'pew end'
arrangements was warmly welcomed, especially as more people would be
involved in these arrangements in the future. Her tips on preparing the
flowers and foliage were most helpful.
We would warmly welcome anybody who feels they would like
to join us; it does not have to be female - don't be afraid, it is quite
Thank you to all who attended the meetings and showed
enthusiasm for the relaunching of the Mothers Union here in Prestbury.
There certainly seems to be a great deal of interest and I would like to
thank you all for your help and encouragement.
We plan to hold our first 'proper' meeting on Tuesday 25
May, at St Nicolas', at 7.30pm. It will take the form of a short service in
the church, followed by a friendly social time in the church room, to set
up the necessary programme for the remainder of the year. The meetings will
alternate between St Nicolas' and St Mary's but we felt a social evening
would be easier at St Nicolas'. Please bring a small plate of food for a
Bring and Share Supper and we will provide drinks. We would welcome as many
people as possible, both new and not so new! If you require a lift, that
can be arranged as well. Please contact me and I will be pleased to help.
On a Personal Note ...
I am so grateful to all my church friends, including our
clergy. Over the past few weeks your love has supported me and your prayers
have sustained me.
Church Cleaning and Churchyard Tidyup
We would like to thank everyone who turned up on Friday
and Saturday, 2nd and 3rd April, to help with the Church cleaning and the
Churchyard. We had a very happy band of helpers and a few of us stayed on
for fish and chips at Ken and Rosie Bradbury's house. We do thank them for
their hospitality. Our Church & Women's Institute Steps are also now
looking excellent, thanks to Sheila Beer.
Doreen and Henry Morris
Dates for your diary
Christian Aid Week 9-15 May
Volunteers (over 16 years old) are still needed to help
with the house-to-house collection during Christian Aid Week and the count
on 16 May. Please ask yourself if you could spare two to three hours for
this worthwhile cause.
Gill Ashman and Paddy Spurgeon
St Mary's Bakestall
Sunday 16 May is the date
for our next Bakestall with contributions from members with surnames N-Z.
Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's
There is to be a mid-morning concert at St Mary's on
Wednesday 19 May starting with the usual coffee at 10.30am. The music
will start at 11am. This is a unique chance to hear something completely
different. Lee Axford is a gifted pianist who left Dean Close last year and
his mother Carol is an excellent harmonica player. Please come and support
them. There will be a retiring collection for church funds.
Ascension Day -
Thursday 20 May
Join us at St Nicolas' at 7.30pm for a joint Sung
Eucharist to celebrate this special day. The choirs from St Mary's and
St Nicolas' will be joining together, and we hope to have some refreshments
after the Service.
Please pray for Claire and Vicky who are
preparing for confirmation. The confirmation service will take place in
Gloucester Cathedral on Friday 4 June at 7.30pm. All are welcome to
Corpus Christi -
Thursday 10 June
Once again we shall be joining for a United parishes
Festival at All Saints'. We hope for great turn out, including united
choirs. This will be followed by the now traditional Corpus Christi
sumptuous bring and share refreshments.
Ordinations and arrangements for first Masses
Fr Grant and Fr Peter will
be ordained priest in the Cathedral on Saturday 3 July at 5pm. All
are most welcome to come. Details next month.
Fr Grant will preside for
the first time at the 10.30am Mass at All Saints' on Sunday 4 July
(united service) followed by lunch for all at St Nicolas'.
(NB There will be no 9.30 service at St Nicolas' and
no 11.00 service at St Mary's)
Fr Peter will preside for
the first time at the 11.00am Eucharist at St Mary's on Sunday 11 July
(united service) followed by a pig roast in the Rectory garden.
(NB There will be no 9.30 service at St Nicolas' and
no 10.30 service at All Saints')