Prestbury Parish Magazine
Meeting to mark Prestbury and Pittville Youth’s Fifth Birthday
PPY is five years old and we are hoping a lot of people will help us make the next five years as successful as the first five. So we are holding a ‘Consultation and Ideas Meeting’ on Sunday 21st June 2009 from 4.00 to 5.30 pm in St Nicolas’ Church. Please come along with all your ideas and suggestions.
There are over 300 young people aged ten and above who join our four regular evening groups or come to our school-based or summer holiday activities. Last year they joined in a project doing art, crafts and music making. This year’s project includes open-air activities and learning about the environment. What other activities would be good?
If you are a bit older, could you be a volunteer leader with one of our youth groups? Could you help spread the word about our many achievements, keep our website up to date or join a team running a fundraising event? What else could you do to support local young people?
We have also produced a full colour leaflet showing our work and our young people. If you have not yet had a copy, or would like more information, please contact
Prestbury and Pittville Youth, Registered Charity No: 1103099
Support PPY: Shop at Waitrose!
Throughout May, Prestbury and Pittville Youth (PPY) will be one of the charities being supported by the Cheltenham Waitrose store. When you have paid your shopping bill, you will be given a token to use to vote for one of three charities which will share £1000 at the end of the month. The more tokens in the PPY box, the greater the share of the money.
Waitrose say that ‘a lot of people nominated Prestbury and Pittville Youth’. Thank you very much to all those who handed in nomination forms.
The Prestbury Passion Play 2009
Reflection on playing the Blessed Virgin Mary
WHEN Daphne Philpot (Director) and I spoke at the end of the first Passion Play rehearsal about playing the part of Mary I felt quietly convinced it was the right thing to do although I was utterly daunted and somewhat appalled by the prospect!
How could I do justice to someone whose depth of anguish is beyond my comprehension? Even if she did have the inner conviction that this was meant to be – unlike the disciples – how do you endure watching your child being tortured, murdered?
Her caring and compassion was a strength – I could relate to that – her actions spoke louder than her words. There were few lines to learn (thankfully) although each line was emotionally charged, and finding the balance was challenging. Daphne’s insightful direction to simply ‘do what felt right’ helped hugely.
In the morning out on the field it felt so real; I remembered the impact, the shock, and the horror of the crucifixion scene at my first Passion Play, more than twenty years ago. I was also very aware of dear Pa (Bob Lyle) with his tribute painted on the backdrop and remembering his performances as centurion. He was a man whose actions spoke volumes.
It was such a different experience in the church, certainly more intimate, but I found it much harder, I can’t pinpoint exactly why, the ‘closeness’ made me feel very exposed and vulnerable, very much in need of the support from Mary Magdalene and John.
This has been an Easter experience I shall continue to reflect upon for a long time.
On Playing Jesus – Reflections from the Passion Play 2009
AS I WRITE THIS I am ‘recovering’ in front of a warm log fire, wondering how I might be feeling if I had performed the Passion Play in the pouring rain this afternoon. Spare a thought for the stagehands though. They had to transport all the props round to St Mary’s church and set up with no notice too. But the show went on and what a triumph it was too.
The telephone call from Father Michael last autumn asking me to play the role of Jesus again now seems a distant memory. I was flattered and really needed no persuasion other than to talk over the rehearsal commitment with my wife. It has been a privilege to be asked to take on the role for a second time. Back in 2005 I was scared and literally trembling on performance day and so nervous that those performances are now a bit of a blur. I was so focussed on trying to remember my lines that I did not really take in the fact that so many people were watching. This year I think I was a bit more relaxed and was carried along on a wave of goodwill and enthusiasm from all the cast members and Church community. Somehow, today, my lines seemed to flow out more easily and I almost, almost enjoyed myself. Bursting into the temple and turning over the tables of the moneychangers, shouting at the top of my voice, was a great way to release any of my anxiety and tension early in the play.
I have been asked many times what it is like to play the part of Jesus and especially what it is like to be raised up on the cross. The words that come to mind are ‘draughty’ and ‘uncomfortable’. Physical discomfort aside, I felt a huge responsibility to perform well not just for my own sake but for everyone in the production and everyone watching. The true significance has been really quite overwhelming for me to comprehend. High up on the cross surveying the Burgage is obviously a very exposed place to be, especially when you are not wearing very much. It is also curiously very lonely. The process of raising the cross must be very dramatic when viewed from ten feet below and I have been asked if I am frightened up there. The answer is no, because the process has been tried and tested so many times and once the cross is fully raised it feels very secure. During the dress rehearsal and today I learnt what a wonderful hormone adrenalin is. It kept me warm and comfortable until the words ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’. At that point I slumped on the cross and realised that I had to hold the knees bent position until taken down by the Roman Soldiers without shivering or quivering. We have rehearsed it several times but I always forget how uncomfortable it is to hold that position and inevitably slumped too far. The most uncomfortable part was being lowered from the cross with the white cloth under my arms. But once cocooned in the burial shroud I was able to relax. Being carried through the crowd at the end feels as if I am floating away. This is my time to let the significance of our enactment of the Passion of Christ sink in.
The Passion Play from the Viewpoint of a Stagehand…
IT WAS a big, and very welcome, surprise to be able to help out as a stagehand at the Passion Play. Both performances were very busy for the stagehands because we had to make sure all the props and scenery were in place at exactly the right time; otherwise the play wouldn’t flow properly.
The rain in the afternoon meant we had to think on our feet and improvise a lot for that performance, as we hadn’t rehearsed for the church! On the field you had more room to work with and longer between scenes as they alternated from stage to stage. In the church we had to jump on and off the stage quickly between scenes and didn’t have anything like as much time; but it all worked out well in the end and everyone who came had a good time. I really enjoyed helping out with the play, and can’t wait for the next one.
James, age 10
… and a Serving Girl
BEING in the Passion Play has been a great experience for me and other members of the public too. I found the play very moving and hard work but with Daphne pulling us through and encouraging us we knew we could do it and all would be fine. When I arrived at my first rehearsal I felt welcomed by all, it quickly began to feel like a big family. Before each rehearsal we had a warm up to get us in the mood for being in such a dramatic play. Ellie and I were given special parts of serving girls so we felt even more involved. When show time came I was a bit nervous but before I knew it, it was all over. At the end of the last performance we had drinks and hot cross buns. I was relieved to be dry and warm, but sad to leave everyone and go home, but we will be back in four years time.
Lauren, age 11
An experience not to be forgotten
My Passion Play experience started one Saturday afternoon, when Amanda texted me to say that Daphne needed women to be in the re-enactment of the Lord’s Crucifixion. My initial reaction was that it could be a challenge and a bit of fun. At my first rehearsal everyone was so warm and welcoming that I knew straight away that fun was not all it was going to be, I was going to get a lot more out of this than I had first realized. The ‘main’ players had already undergone a lot of rehearsal time, understanding their characters and making them their own. The crowd which I was going to be a part of were also encouraged to think about how and why our characters had come about: whether they were a follower of Jesus or of Barabbas. So I came away with a lot to think about. After deciding to be a follower of Jesus (a small crowd amongst the larger one) I began to realize my character would need to go through many emotional changes from the high of the hosanna scene to the devastating lows of the crucifixion.
The rehearsals always started with warm ups. These were lively and fun, a chance to let inhibitions go and get to know each other better. They were also a mixed bag of laughter, tea and biscuits, more laughter and serious thought provoking work. The dedication from one and all was very apparent including Sheila and her team making costumes look authentic, Daphne making sure that the mood of the crowd was spot on, the Passover scene, a jolly and uplifting event. As Good Friday approached I was beginning to pray not only for good weather but also that we could do justice to something that was so powerful and moving. The big day was finally upon us: with adrenalin flowing, prayers of blessing from Father David, how could we fail to deliver? By the end of the 3pm performance I knew that I had been part of something very special, an experience not to be forgotten.
Four Footed and Winged Participants
WHAT a lovely addition to the cast was the appearance of two donkeys and six doves at the Passion Play on Friday morning!
The donkeys are owned by Canon Andrew and Sue Bowden and came all the way from Cirencester. This is not an usual task for the team and they were all dressed for the occasion in costumes of the Holy Land.
The doves’ owner is Jason Palin, who lives in Cheltenham, and one of his interests is to supply doves for weddings and other occasions. He can be reached on 07813258950.
All these characters were left off the cast list due to late entries but what a joy it was to have them with us.
Congratulations and Thank You…
… to all who contributed in many different ways to this year’s Passion Play. There will be a reunion at Daphne and Allan’s house at 7pm on Saturday 9th May.
The retiring collections at the performances raised £1,417.17, which will be divided between two children’s charities: Let the Children Live! and Winston’s Wish. These charities were chosen as there are parish and local links and because the Church of England has designated 2009 as Year of the Child.
Photographs by Neil Jones and John White
St Mary’s Flower Arrangers AGM 30 March 2009
TWENTY-TWO members of the Flower Arrangers met at Sheila Beer’s house, with twenty apologies. The meeting opened with a prayer and the 2008 report was read and agreed. Margaret Waker gave her Treasurer’s report which had been audited by Noel Brick.
Again Lotte Rule and Thora Anstee were thanked (in their absence) for organising the Mothering Sunday sprays and Harvest Festival posies. Thanks went to all the ladies who willingly helped with these tasks (they are not all flower arrangers.) Some ladies from Celebrate! provided some of the sprays. They were all very pretty and there were plenty to distribute.
There are sixteen weddings booked to date. The increase for the cost of a pedestal and pew ends for weddings, and festival flower allowance, which was approved last year, has been implemented. A big thank you went to Lindsey McGowan for all her hard work entailed with the weddings and festival flowers. The ladies who assist Lindsey on these occasions were also thanked.
We welcomed three new ladies to the team – thank you for offering your skills and time. Sadly we had one lady who felt she should retire and thanks were given for her services.
The All Saints’ Flower Organiser has requested help from St Mary’s Flower Arrangers to do a pedestal on their rota. They are exceedingly short of arrangers. Some of St Mary’s ladies have kindly offered to assist with this.
A reminder was made to the ladies who arrange the flowers on the window sills that the flowers should remain for two Sundays and be removed after this at the discretion of the arranger. Watering and caring for the flowers is the responsibility of these ladies. If anybody is unable to do this during the week Doreen Morris has agreed to water as necessary after the Thursday morning Eucharist, but she must be contacted if she is required to do this.
After some discussion and the sanction of the clergy it has been decided to discontinue the posy arrangement on both altars.
The Flower Arrangers are very grateful to all the people who contribute to the cost of the flowers at Festival times and give their thanks. At all other times the arrangers personally fund the beautiful flowers seen week by week, throughout the year in church. I am sure you will agree that they do a fantastic job. Thank you ladies!
Pictures from Ken Bradbury
Thank you to all those who helped with the spring clean in St Mary’s church and the tidy-up in the churchyard.
We are very grateful to the team of people who mow the grass regularly throughout the year. Some have been doing this for many years while others have joined the team more recently. We can always use more people: in particular we would welcome holiday cover during the busy period. If you can help in this way, even if only for a couple of sessions a year, please do get in touch.
Consider the Ravens
Do you worry? I do, about all sorts of things. I worry mostly at night without there ever being any intention to so do. Tired and ready to sleep, the light is put out and I settle down in bed. Suddenly it is as if someone has switched my brain into overdrive. The smallest thing takes on a totally different perspective from during the day; it seems to grow in size and complexity and goes round and round and round in my mind. And I don’t seem able to stop it. I wake up in the morning with a sort of mental hangover wondering why I was worrying over such a tiny, unimportant thing.
There are many things to worry us. The current financial situation is unsettling most of us even if we have not had to change our lifestyle. Some are facing redundancy, the loss of a hard won expected pension, the realisation that a holiday this year will be impossible. The list goes on. And yet Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about food and clothes and all the basic things of life that we see as totally necessary. We look at the haves and have-nots. Probably, at the moment, looking more at the haves as they are in high profile in newspapers and on the television.
I love watching the birds in the garden and they get a generous amount of food each morning: mixed seed, soft bill mix, currants, oats, black sunflower seeds; something for all tastes. Blackbirds and robins in particular respond to my call when I go out with the food. Always territorial there is constant scrapping. One morning there were seven or eight blackbirds in different areas of the garden. One male bird rushed at the pile of currants, grabbing at one or two. But he quickly caught sight of a threat – another male blackbird. Immediately he left the food, stretched his head forward, wings splayed and ran towards the other. There was a stand off, each strutting around the other slowly. From time to time they would rise in the air, wings beating noisily, claws reaching out to scratch: up and down, up and down. What neither of them noticed, so busy were they fighting over the food, of which there was plenty, was that a couple more birds had quietly crept to the feeding station, had fed happily on the currants and oats and had retreated under the hedge with a large piece of apple.
Jesus challenges us to look at our priorities, to be thankful for all that we have, even when times are hard. It is so easy to look at what others have and to miss the good things that we do have. Jesus invites us to trust in Him and not to be afraid of the future. ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.’
Christian Aid –
The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933
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