IT SEEMED A LONG time since Mary first received the news, and the
weeks leading up to his arrival weren’t easy, but they supported one
another and as the time grew closer, there was a sense of expectation,
despite uncertainty about the exact
date on which the promised event would take place.
In God’s good time, the waiting of Advent gave way to Christmas:
Emmanuel, God with us! They began a voyage of discovery. Things were
different, but became easier as they got to know the new arrival. With
Epiphany, the child was revealed for all to see. Unexpected visitors
brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Unusual gifts for a
little boy, but they symbolised a future yet to be revealed.
We too are looking forward to a promised event, and coming to the end
of a time of waiting. It’s not been very long, but sometimes hard work,
especially for those who’ve kept everything ticking over. But we’ve
supported one another, and there’s a sense of expectation as we look
forward to the arrival of our new Team Rector. And unlike a new baby,
we already know the exact date on which this will happen!
When we welcome Father Nick Bromfield and his family, they will
immediately be caught up in Carol Services and Christmas, as we rejoice
in God’s gift of himself in his Son. All too soon, it will be out with
the old year and in with the new. We will look back on all that we have
shared in the life of our Team and ask for God’s guidance and blessing
on our future.
A change will be taking place and things may feel strange at first.
It will take time to build relationships and get to know one another.
But we are looking forward to a new phase in the life of our Team, and
to new opportunities as we learn to work together.
All that God has in store for our future is yet to be revealed, but
we can be sure that Father Nick will bring his own gifts to be shared
with us, in worshipping, serving and growing, and in sharing the Good
News of Jesus Christ, for all to see.
We pray for a blessing on our new Team Rector’s ministry, that he may
help us discern where God-with-us is already at work in our lives, and
will enable us to combine our own particular gifts with those which he
himself will bring, to the praise and glory of God and in service one
May the peace of the Christ Child dwell within our hearts, and may we
know God’s presence with us, at Christmas, and throughout the coming
Please pray for him and his family
The Right Reverend Michael Perham
The Old Mill, Bleadney, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1PF
28 October 2016
Dear Friends of the Diocese of Gloucester
I think it is maybe time for an update on my health. Excuse an email
to so many people at once.
But first thank you for all the letters, emails, cards and other
messages and the prayers. We have a wonderful sense of being
encouraged, supported and upheld, for which I am grateful every day.
One of the things that hasn’t got much better is my ability to type,
and even more to write, which means that not all emails and letters are
getting a reply, for which I am sorry, but I am reading them and
engaging with them carefully and gratefully.
Alison and I had a good consultation this week with the oncologists
at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. The outcome, based on the decision that
I would prefer quality of life to length of days, is that I will have a
short three-week course of radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy
beginning on 10 November. The longer six-week course is gruelling, time
consuming and induces considerable fatigue and, although might achieve
more longevity, this might not be of sufficient quality to make it
worthwhile. We hope the three-week course will achieve some good
outcomes, with less overall cost, and should enable me to continue to
do some work and to enjoy the time that I would otherwise spend in
prolonged treatment. Any further surgery has been ruled out.
November into early December will be tough, but by Christmas and then
into the New Year life should look up and be more comfortable and
fulfilling, perhaps for several months. We know I am unlikely to
survive a year and that the best quality is likely to be from January
and February onwards, but that there will be a decline as time
continues. I’m really up for the cycle of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany,
Lent and then Easter, which will be an amazing journey to make for the
last time, with words and music that I’ve loved over the years, and
there are some family celebrations on the way too, not least our Anna
and her Tom’s wedding in February, and lots for which to be thankful.
I hope “Living well and dying well” doesn’t sound pretentious as a
description of how I might be able to play the next stages in my life.
I know Alison and our family want me to be able to do that and will
help it happen. There must be some challenging moments ahead, but I am
still with Julian of Norwich and “All shall be well and all manner of
thing shall be well”.
We’ll keep you posted and we rejoice in all the prayers.
With much gratitude and affection
Bishop Michael will be pleased to receive messages via e-mail and
cards, but does not want phone calls or visits.
From 1955 to 1984 there was a radio programme designed to link
families who were parted. It was presented by two famous radio voices -
Cliff Michelmore and Jean Metcalf. This two-way programme linked
British Forces posted overseas with their loved ones at home and a
popular piece of music was shared When I was in my
early 20s, I remember half listening to it on several occasions.
It was a heart-warming and feel-good programme. In the days before
instant communication between anyone who owned a smart phone or small
computer, it was thrilling to talk across the miles. The people
who took part enjoyed the contact and the choices of music helped them
feel together although miles apart.
The power of music is extraordinary. When I was in charge of a
primary school, I became more and more aware of the way music has the
power to pull human beings together. I thought then, and still
think, that music is an absolutely essential part of the curriculum.
Making music is heart-warming and productive of a positive feel-good
atmosphere for singers and listeners. My wife and I are fans of
choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone and the way he encourages
ordinary people to sing and make music in groups. This brilliant
musician is well known for his television appearances in programmes
like The Choir. These highly enjoyable programmes focus on
singing and introducing choral music to people, old and young.
Gareth describes himself as an “animateur [someone who animates
others], presenter and populariser of choral singing”.
Why was the programme Two Way Family Favourites so popular and
successful as it brought parted families together? I reckon that
one reason is because of the power of music to help individuals bring
people together and develop.
I think, too, that singing hymns and worship songs as a congregation
helps foster togetherness and the feeling of being part of the great
fellowship of Christian believers. That is being part of the body
The restoration works in St Mary’s started on Monday 26 September
2016 and should be completed mid December in time for the Institution
and Induction of the Revd Nick Bromfield, our new Rector.
No weekday services were possible in St Mary’s but on some Sundays
the Eucharists were held.
These pictures were taken at the eleven o’clock service by Ken
Bradbury on 23 October.
Now is the time for Harvest Festival and on Sunday I went along to
Prestbury United Reformed Church for their annual celebration. Theirs
is the red brick building in Deep Street, which was built in 1866 as a
Congregational chapel and became United Reformed on unification in
They are a small band of loyal workers who are affiliated to St
Andrew’s Church in Montpellier. The Minister is the Revd Maz Allen, a
dynamic lady who was all ready to go when I got there at half past ten.
Still room for more but a warm welcome. We launched into an old
favourite “Come ye thankful people come” which you could either sing
from the hymn book or from the large print projection on the wall.
Harvest is a real time for old favourite hymns which I remember from
my early years at St Luke’s Church in our village of Tutshill. Those
were the days when the building would be decorated with piles of fruit
and vegetables, a huge sheaf of corn made by the baker and flowers in
every nook and cranny. Now the decorations are few and requests are
made for dried goods for the local food bank and contributions to
Readings were taken from the Old and New Testaments and then Maz
decided it was our turn. She wanted us to remember what harvest had
meant to us, especially in our earlier years. She had been surprised
when one man had said “radishes” was his earliest memory. It was when
he was five years old and his father had given him a small part of the
garden which he could look after himself. He cleaned it and pulled the
dirt over and then planted the seeds he was given. It was the sheer
delight when the small shoots grew up and the first plant he could pull
and eat – radishes.
The older members of the congregation were soon off with memories of
the old ways of ploughing with cart horses and later harvesting the
crop and turning the wheat into bundles that could be stored for winter
feed. The woman next to me remembered gleaning which was going around
the edges after the main event as corn was allowed to stay for the
women and children to collect for feeding the chickens and hens.
There were stories of the city children who were evacuated during the
war to the country and were amazed to find where the food came from,
which for them was only bought in the shops. Many of them could not
wait to get away fast enough but there were others who stayed and took
to the country way of life.
The prayers were followed by the
taking of communion, for which you stay in your seat as the elements
are brought around. A small pile of bread squares of which you took one
and then all ate together. This was followed by a tray of small glasses
which again you drank at the same time.
The church has a kitchen and small social room where they have coffee
mornings etc but today it would be the setting for a harvest lunch to
be served. I had to be on my way as I was so say looking after two
black and white creatures and bid Maz a hearty farewell.
Then out into the sun lit street when I met a friend who was saying
he has lived here most of his 78 years and thought how lucky we are.
With the harvest service behind me I could only agree.
Bishop Rachel has announced the appointment of the new Archdeacon of
Cheltenham, the Revd Canon Phil Andrew.
The Revd Canon Phil Andrew and his
Phil will come to us from Surrey, where he is currently the Vicar of
Reigate Parish Church. He is married to Sue who is a GP and they have
three adult sons, Tom, Dan and Josh.
Phil will start his role in March 2017 and is looking forward to
getting started. He said: “I am thrilled to be joining the Diocese of
Gloucester at this exciting time in its journey, with the new vision,
LIFE, taking shape across the Diocese. Jesus’ promise in John Chapter
10 of ‘life in all its fullness’ is one that has always been
significant in my own journey of faith.
“I look forward to working with churches and individuals to see this
offer of Jesus become even more widely understood and received across
the towns and villages in the Diocese. I am particularly looking
forward to getting to know and working with the churches of the
Cheltenham Archdeaconry, in all their diversity, as we seek to focus
around the mission and ministry priorities within the vision
Bishop Rachel is hugely excited by this appointment. She said: “I am
delighted that Phil has accepted my invitation to be the next
Archdeacon of Cheltenham. He will bring valuable gifts and experience
to this role and a fresh perspective for how we share the transforming
Gospel of Jesus Christ in our worshipping communities. I am greatly
looking forward to working alongside him.”
Phil was born in Kenya, but returned to England to attend secondary
school. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Nottingham University,
which was followed by 16 years mainly working as a Chartered Engineer
in the UK water industry, before he was ordained in 2002.
In his spare time Phil tells us: “I have the travel bug and enjoy
travelling and exploring different cultures, especially when combined
with walking and trekking. I enjoy a variety of sports, though
increasingly from the armchair or terraces! I enjoy running on a
regular basis and have recently taken up cycling.
“I am a (fair weather) supporter of Nottingham Forest and still
remember their glory days when I was at University in Nottingham. I am
a real ale fan and look forward to sampling Gloucestershire’s finest
Phil will be licensed and installed as Archdeacon at a service in
Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 11 March, to which all are welcome.
Our grandmother, Sarah Jane Williams, lived in the Monmouthshire town
of Chepstow, which was about a mile away from our own village of
Tutshill. Most Saturdays, until my teen years, we would go down the
hill and over the bridge and spend the day at her home. It was a little
rented house in Bridge Street, almost opposite the castle, and where
she lived until she died aged 91.
We would not be the only visitors, as several of her surviving ten
children had not moved far from town, so there would often be aunts,
uncles and cousins, calling in. She made us all welcome and was always
willing to help solve our problems.
As I was the youngest of twelve grandchildren, I always knew that she
would be on my side – for instance, in negotiations with my father over
an increase in pocket money. I was sorely aggrieved when my brother,
four years my senior, had a substantial increase to a shilling a week,
while I stayed at the three-penny bit level. Through skilful
negotiation between his mother and my father, I arrived at the princely
sum of a sixpence piece – which kept me quiet for a while.
Our mother died when I was 4 and Gran had told her daughter Florence
to leave her job as cook at the vicarage and become her brother’s
housekeeper to help bring up his two young sons. Naturally, on a
Saturday, she was only too willing to return to her home in Bridge
Street and take us with her. Thanks to the generous nature of our Gran,
it was something we never resented.
I could not remember her husband, though he was about when I was
born, and it was with him that she had borne 13 children, ten of whom
had lived. They had run a bakery in Moor Street but I think that had
failed and was the reason she lived in the rented house at the bottom
of the town.
It was a funny old place, with a front room just off the pavement and
then a step up into a large kitchen. It was there that Gran sat in her
wicker armchair, dressed in her widow black with a jabot of white lace
at her neck.
Her white hair became very thin and she had a sore place at the side
of her head which was always treated with boracic powder, but it was
never any problem to kiss her. She always wanted to know our news and
about what we were doing at school.
Besides us, there might be a daughter living at home: the youngest
one after leaving service under a cloud, or an older sister who had
become almost crippled with arthritis. The old kitchen range was always
burning away but for quick hot drinks there was a small free standing
gas fire which her plumber son had installed.
There was no problem about feeding us all on a Saturday. The fish and
chip shop was not far away and orders would be taken up to Scarrots,
where the formidable daughters ran the boiling hot fryers and ladled
out the sizzling food. I loved to go up with an older person to get the
order, until the great day came when I was entrusted to go to fetch the
food by myself. I rehearsed my piece all the way there, but had to
resort to the list in the end.
Her son, who had served in the trenches in the First World War, had
the garret bedroom. He was Uncle Perce who would take my brother to
Newport in the afternoon. There they would watch Newport County play
and then go on to the market for a meal of faggots and peas. How I
envied my brother, though I am not sure why, as I am not really
interested in football and later found that I was not struck on faggots
To make up for it, I found my love for the picture house up the
street and if someone would accompany me in, I was quite happy living
in a Hollywood dream world. And so began my love affair with the
pre-war cinema. Gran would slip me the entrance fee, and a few acid
drops from the bag she always had.
Another bag was “Granny’s Bag”, which was several bars of sweets
which would be bought from the nearby sweet shop and then given to us
as we left for home, but not to be eaten until after we had finished
our Sunday dinner.
One Saturday night there was a terrific thunder storm and my Aunt was
convinced that it was the end of the world. She made us all gather in
the one bedroom as we awaited our fate. Suddenly my brother was
missing. He was found and came in clutching something. It was “Granny’s
Bag”. Obviously, if we were going to go, then at least we would all be
chewing a bar of chocolate at the end.
Our other cousins were treated just as well, though Granny did find
the changing fashions for the girls hard to swallow. They became fans
of the latest trends from Hollywood and she was appalled at the shaven,
pencilled eyebrows and the bobbed or permanent waved hair styles.
Sometimes her sons would have differing political opinions but if
there were ever any dispute, one would be told to go one way and the
other the opposite. The two elder daughters were also very different
and if it were suggested that they came home for a holiday, she always
made sure that it was one at a time.
I did not quite understand, that when the old lady took to her bed
this would be for the last time. Her daughters cared for her and the
visitors’ voices were hushed. After she died, the old home was not the
same but she left that fine example and warmth which is hard to copy —
she made us all feel special and wanted.
We met for the first time at St John’s, Churchdown. This is the
rather “New England” style church standing attractively in its own
grounds right by the traffic light controlled cross roads on the old
Gloucester road, Churchdown.
It is a modern church with a hall, kitchen and reception area linked
directly to the church itself - and a huge car park!
We began with a Sung Eucharist which always sets the morning off
The usual formalities were swiftly dealt with, together with the news
that Gloucester Diocese had passed the National Audit on the
Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults with great success.
Bishop Rachel congratulated everybody involved. We moved on to sit in
the church hall.
Bishop Rachel then told us of the work accomplished in her “LIFE
Vision” project so far. She stressed emphatically that this has been a
listening project. She and her team have been asking, talking and
listening to peoples’ life experiences and carefully recording
everything, apparently thousands of letters and “Post-it” notes.
Literally everything has been sifted, registered and tabulated so that
they can find out what people really feel and worry about in everyday
She insisted again and again that this must never to be a top down
operation by those in Church House, with the parishes and people in
congregations being told what they should be doing but the opposite.
If we are to be an effective part of modern life we must reach out
and share our lives with the communities around us; work out what we,
as those who believe in Christ, can do to share our lives with others
so they can also experience His support and love. We must tell the
diocese what we have found and want to do and they will then support us
in doing it.
I found it so reassuring that we are now working on the idea that the
Church of England is ordinary folk who worship in our churches, and
that our thoughts and feelings are being taken really seriously.
She told us to go out, turn the volume up because we are playing
fresh “Music”. Don’t get shy about it because we want people to stop
and listen to what we are talking about. We are to think of people of
all ages but must not get bogged down in masses of new initiatives,
think of a straightforward idea and then go flat out on it. The fact is
we have got to be looking and working to reach beyond our cosy circles
and not be so busy within them saying, “This is good but I can’t get
involved because I’m doing so much already.”
To stress this chief aim, Bishop Rachel has chosen to launch her
great venture not in a big church or the Cathedral but in a secular
venue, we are all invited to join her at a huge all-age party at
Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham. It is going to be a real
party with lots to interest and entertain all ages. This is happening
on the 26th November from 4pm to 6.30pm and we must get as many people
as possible to join the fun. If you have not met Bishop Rachel, now is
your chance. Do take it.
We then moved to the church hall and were seated around tables
covered in paper tablecloths. A pot of new felt tip pens sat in the
middle of each and we were asked to recount what we were doing in our
own parishes and write this down on the table cloth! Each table had a
theme: worship, mission, schools, and many more topics. You could move
about but only to an empty chair. The idea was to find out how other
parishes were coping (or trying) to solve these challenges. The table
clothes were collected up at the end of the session and all entries
recorded. Life with Bishop Rachel is certainly 21st century -
After a coffee break, we were updated on the progress so far in
holding shared conversations on Human Sexuality. This is to be
addressed more fully in the next synod.
The Budget then came up together with some lively discussion. Be
assured that the floor of the Synod was very determined to see fair
play. I think after this round it was a draw! The Board of Finance was
made aware of our concerns and is trying hard to understand and
maintain a sensible budget.
After a reading of the formal delegation of powers and responsibility
of the Bishop of Tewkesbury and the Bishop’s Council Update we were
rewarded with a pleasant buffet lunch and time to meet each other and
catch up on all the news across the county.
During the morning we were told of the sad illness of Bishop Michael
Perham. He has an inoperable brain tumour and except for a course of
radio therapy to try alleviating his symptoms, he is having no further
treatment. He is placing his trust in God to live his remaining life
well and die well with God’s support. He does not anticipate being with
us by this time next year. Please remember him and also his family in
Lynda Hodges, Diocesan Representative
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
Translated by Rod Bradbury
Allan Karlsson was not at all happy. He was faced with the
prospect of having to endure a party organised to celebrate his 100th
birthday but didn’t want to go. Instead, he climbed out of the window
of his retirement home in his slippers and walked to the nearest bus
station to see how far the money in his pocket would allow him to
At the bus station, Allan helped a desperate-looking young man with a
cumbersome suitcase, boarded the first bus scheduled to be leaving, and
unexpectedly ended up stealing a fortune in drugs money on its way to a
The story then twists and turns, following the police force’s rather
low key investigation into the disappearance of what the retirement
home believe is an absent minded geriatric, and the criminal gang’s
more desperate search for him and their money.
On his travels, Allan picks up a rag-tag band of followers and they
set off with a rather strange pet on an adventure together, trying to
escape from the criminals, not realising that the police are also
searching for them all.
I enjoyed the flashback episodes in this book which cut to Allan’s
past life and how he became the resourceful person he is.
Without wishing to spoil any of the story, it weaves together Allan’s
inadvertent impact on 20th century history - the atom bomb, the Spanish
Civil War, the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, he had a hand in them
This is a very funny and entertaining book. My yardstick of how
much I have enjoyed a novel is whether it gets put back on my shelf for
a re-read at a later date or whether it gets put in the charity box.
This one didn’t get put back on my shelf; I put it back on my in-pile
and will be coming back to it again sooner rather than later.
Although I read it during the summer holidays, the mainly Swedish
setting would make it a lovely book to curl up with, in a cosy
armchair, over the Christmas break.
The Lives Around Us: Daily
Meditations for Nature Connection
by the Revd Daniel
(Christian Alternative, June 2016)
Paperback, 232 pages
“A book of surprises and challenges, making fresh and often
unexpected connections that deepened my self-awareness, strengthened my
vision and provoked me to pray in the midst of this amazing but too
The Revd David Runcorn, Associate Diocesan Director of Ordinands
Review by the Revd David Cole
Life is all around us. Wherever you are, the living world is there to
discover and learn from on both natural and spiritual levels. Learning
from nature has been part of Christian tradition from the beginning:
from Jesus’ “Consider the birds” (Matthew 6:26-30); Paul’s
declaration about God’s power in nature (Romans 1:20); through
the early saints to the present day. The 6th century St Columbanus
wrote that to truly know the Creator we must know creation. This theme
was picked up by later mystics such as the 14th century Meister Eckhart,
and today we see the rise of the ‘Eco-Church’ movement launched in 2016
by Rowan Williams and Ruth Valerio, of the Christian environmental
charity A Rocha.
The Lives Around Us invites us to rediscover those wild edges of the
church that we have lost sight of. Filled with thoroughly-researched
information, the reader learns about birds, insects, mammals, flowers,
trees, fungi… Many of these we see every day, but they have become
strangers in an over-busy and increasingly technological world. Each
chapter includes words of scripture and suggestions about how to turn
thought into prayerful action.
Whether you are new to the concept of nature connection for
Christians, a well-practiced spiritual naturalist, or anywhere in
between, this book will take you deeper into the world in which you
live and create opportunities for you to encounter God there.
Available in paperback and as an e-book from bookshops and online
Fr Daniel was Team Vicar in North Cheltenham from 2008 to 2013.
Fr David Cole, author of Celtic Prayers and Practices, is a priest and
retreat leader in the Diocese of Winchester.
The Big Sleep out will be happening again at St Mary Magdalene.
I will be sleeping out in the stable that is being constructed
outside St Mary Magdalene. I will be doing this from Friday evening
30th December to Sunday 1st January 2017. I hope to get around all of
the churches in the team during Advent so all the congregations know me
before the event. This sleep out will be raising funds for The
Children’s Society and Church Urban Fund. I am Ian Richings and
regularly attend St Mary Magdalene.
This recipe dates from the beginning of last century when Christmas
feasting was so looked forward to, and produce was enjoyed in season.
It seems now we are over indulged year round on every front.
Granny Tinker - not my granny in fact - had six surviving children
and a husband returned from the trenches. Baking was a regular
Friday job throughout the year, but Christmas dishes were prepared in
advance where possible, jars of mincemeat, piccalilli and red cabbage,
loaf cakes wrapped in greaseproof paper and stowed in a tin trunk in a
cold room (plenty of choice there). Turkey was largely unknown.
Shoulder of pork was the usual Christmas dinner, and for the following
days maybe rabbit or pigeon pie and sausage rolls with hand raised pork
But throughout the extended family it’s the Christmas pudding that is
still the preferred recipe, over and above any other, including
Betty’s of Harrogate or Fortnum and Mason. I shall be in trouble
this year as I haven’t made time for it.
So here it is, it makes three sizeable puds, cost negligible.
The carrot and potato with the sugar take the place of alcohol;
neither eggs nor liquid required. A small helping will stand to
the ribs !
1lb plain flour sifted
1lb suet, grated
1lb potatoes, grated
1lb carrots, grated
1 whole nutmeg, grated
4oz candied peel
Editor’s note for those who prefer to use metric
for 1 lb use 500g, for 4 oz use 125g
Stir thoroughly, fill three large basins, cover and steam for 4-6
hours. Reheat on the day.
We like it with thin brandy sauce (sorry, NOT a packet mix) but
I’m sure you’ll choose your personal favourite to serve.
If there is one left over it can be substituted for Black Bun at
New Year or frozen for Easter!
I would imagine that everyone’s family favourite is Christmas so
I’ll bypass that and go for another great get-together immensely
enjoyed by my wife, Pam, myself and the immediate family.
Many years ago when the children were toddlers (1961-66) we took
them on summer holidays to Preston Sands in the centre of Torbay and
adjacent to the seaside town of Paignton. We stayed with
life-long friends who lived a little inland from the coast.
While the children of both families played in the sand, supervised
by their mothers, Don and I sneaked off for a pint of best in the
“out-patients” department of the Redcliffe Hotel. This bar,
open to non-residents, was called The Wardroom, the walls of which
were decorated with floor-to-ceiling murals of a tempestuous sea.
So life-like was it that one did not need a drink or two to feel
As the children grew, so the visits to Preston Sands became less
frequent and in 1970 they stopped altogether. Some twelve
years ago Pam and I had reason to visit the Redcliffe once again and
immediately fell in love with the place. Since then we have
stayed for a few days every June and a few more in August. We
discovered that Dick Francis, jockey to the late Queen Mother and
world-renowned thriller writer, also stayed at the Redcliffe and had
been doing so since the 1950’s, even though for the second half of
his life he lived in Florida and Grand Cayman where he had a lovely
home on Seven Mile Beach (very different to Preston Sands!)
Such was the attraction of the Redcliffe Hotel. Not only that
but for the whole month of August he hosted his entire family there
from when his children were little until they were in their fifties
with their own children, right up until he died four years ago.
This made an impression on Pam and me so, for the last dozen years
we have done the same. Not for a month but for a few days and
not always the whole family. On the occasion of a special
birthday, a golden wedding and a diamond wedding then it is the
whole family – and what fun we have had. The Redcliffe is most
definitely a family favourite as far as we are concerned.
Gone is The Wardroom Bar for non-residents. That is now a
fitness centre and a great favourite with our two health-conscious
grandsons. The indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna are a magnet
for our grand-daughters, whereas I prefer the outdoor pool or,
indeed, the sea itself reached by underground tunnel from the hotel
bar to the beach. This feature they all find great fun even
though they have long grown out of childhood.
The hotel was built in 1852 by Colonel Robert Smith as his
retirement home and is a most unusual design. It is very
“Indian”, originally had minarets and was the only house on the
Torbay seafront. Because of it, Paignton was established as a
The Colonel, whose life-size portrait hangs on the grand stairway,
served in the Bengal Engineers spending all his time in India where
he designed bridges, railways, churches and palaces. He was
also a talented artist. Pam and I always stay in the tower
which is adorned externally with Maltese Crosses and symbols of St
George and is where the Indian architecture is most prominent.
The tunnel to the beach originally led from the Colonel’s dressing
room to his plunge pool built into the rock face and which filled
with fresh sea water at every high tide. It was destroyed in a
mighty gale in the1880’s but the tunnel, of course, remained.
When Colonel Smith died in 1873, the property which included five
acres of gardens, was purchased by Paris Singer (he who invented the
sewing machine). When he moved out in 1904 the house was
converted into the Redcliffe Hotel.
One of the joys of the place is that there is no road between
hotel and beach like all the other hotels. It is right on the
sand and at high tide the waves bash against the mighty walls that
separate the grounds from the elements. The dining room, hung
with chandeliers has lovely uninterrupted views of the whole expanse
of Torbay from Torquay and Thatcher Rock to Brixham and Berry Head.
In the corner is a white piano upon which is played gentle relaxing
music by Derek Upson, a retired concert pianist. He sells CD’s
of his music in aid of his church in Preston. We have a copy
and when played we are transported back to the Redcliffe with the
The Redcliffe Hotel is certainly, for Family Parkin, a real FAMILY
In October the sacristy team met at the home of Lynda Hodges for a
lovely afternoon of chat, tea and cakes. It was so nice to take time
to be all together and also to share the most wonderful and
sumptuous afternoon tea which had been prepared by Lynda and
We also used the occasion to acknowledge the work of two of our
retiring members - Linda Matthews and Rosemary Bradbury who, between
them, have clocked up over 40 years of faithful, behind-the-scenes
service at St Mary’s. Linda and Rosie were each presented with a
bouquet of flowers and a card, on behalf of the whole congregation,
to express our heartfelt thanks for all that the ladies have done.
All in all, a super afternoon which we hope will be repeated
before too long !
you join us for the switching on of the tree lights for the first
time last year? We’re returning to this and others ‘new’
family favourites at the library this Christmas. Come and join us in
the library this season – inside and out!
We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has
supported the library in 2016, particularly our hardworking team of
volunteers who look after the gardens, help with computer support,
Baby Bounce, Library Club as well as day-to-day help with books and
customers. Thank you all very much for your help and time.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from everyone at
Jo, Karen, Laura, Becky and Tessa
Christmas Tree Lights - look out for details in the library to
confirm our switch-on evening.
Christmas Crafts – Saturday 10th December is our fun and festive
children’s craft morning. And any time during December please come
along to help us make decorations for the library. All events are
free – no need to book.
Christmas Books – Our Christmas books are always popular. Many
favourite adult authors have a story set amongst the snow and
celebrations. Children can read family favourite such as The Snowman
and we have lovely illustrated versions of the Nativity. For
hands-on inspiration, find a book on Christmas cookery, knitting and
Our Knitted Nativity
Our beautiful knitted Nativity scene made its first appearance
last year and was appreciated by so many customers. Thank you so
much to our talented library craft club who made all the figures.
They also made the Remembrance poppies that you will have seen in
the gardens. Do look out for the Nativity scene again this year – a
lovely addition to our Prestbury Christmas.
Santa Loves Libraries
Of course, at Prestbury Library we know all the right people. If
you’d like to write Santa a letter (or maybe a younger member of the
family does!) drop it off in our special letterbox inside the
library. All letters posted by Saturday 17th December will get a
reply from Santa before the big day.
Opening Times: The library is open with its usual hours over
Christmas apart from being closed on Tuesday 27th December
Another November and another Annual Meeting. The year seems
to have flown by since the last one. The evening started with
the usual monthly business meeting before a coffee break with a
chat, and a browse at the book stall and then, having sung
‘Jerusalem’, we proceeded with the Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting went well with various reports for the year and
thank-yous. Sue Davies was elected as the President and we
wish her well in her new post.
We have had a busy month. The Group Meeting was a Soup and
Pudding Lunch with a choice of four soups and then a table of
delicious puddings to choose from, forget the diets for one day!
A few members enjoyed a crafty day with a Christmas theme at WI
House. On Remembrance Sunday we laid a wreath at the Memorial
in Swindon Village. I hope some people noticed the knitted
poppies in the Promenade, there were also some in Gloucester
Cathedral and outside around the trees near the memorial.
There were over 6,000 poppies made by WIs from the county. Our
Birthday Party meal was at the Everyman this year. A trip to
Aston Pottery to see, and spend, at the Christmas Shop with lunch
laid on by Little Compton WI afterwards, was much enjoyed. The
retiring Committee had their customary lunch at Cotes, more food!
The Craft Club have been busy collecting ideas and items to decorate
our tree at the Christmas Tree Festival at St Lawrence Church.
A day at the Races and some County walks have also been on the
We are looking forward to a Christmas Lunch at the Farmers Arms
again this year and the County organised outing to Tyntesfield to
see the house ‘Dressed for Christmas’. I must not forget to
mention the Annual Christmas Concert in the Town Hall where the
return visit by Laura Wright as guest artiste is by popular demand.
Wendy is again hosting a Christmas Lunch for the Solo Club.
In January there is an afternoon for ‘The Archers’ fans when
scriptwriter and producer Joanna Toye will be at the Pump Room.
On a different note, there is a Hand Embroidery Workshop at WI House
John and Hugh are coming to our meeting on 5th December with their
‘Sounds of the Sixties’. This sounds like a rather nostalgic
evening. On 9th January Naomi Boast and Harry Shenton will be
telling us about the Star Centre. If you would like to join us
on either occasion at 7.30pm at St Nicolas Hall you will be made
May I take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Happy
Christmas and all good wishes for the New Year?
On Monday 12th December Steve Rowley will talk about the history
of the Mummers in Gloucestershire from the 14th century to the
present day and how it has changed in that time. Steve has been
involved with his family since he was young boy and now enjoys it
with his own family. This promises to be an interesting evening
with audience participation actively encouraged!
On Monday 9th
January Janet Dowling will be giving us an interesting talk on
stress management and the importance of sleep, which could be a
perfect opportunity for guidance to help you achieve one of those
New Year Resolutions!
Visitors are always welcome at our WI meetings. They are held on
the second Monday of each month and start at 7.15pm in the WI Hall
on Prestbury Road.
For further information on WI activities please contact Hilary
Brick on 01242 517964.
It has been a long time since Prestbury Women’s Institute members
have laid a wreath at the War Memorial on Remembrance Day. This year
the members have been busily knitting poppies to make our own
remembrance wreath and Sheila Beer laid the finished wreath on our
We said a sad
‘goodbye’ to Jessie Strawson on Sunday 13 November. Jessie has been
in Cheltenham for many years but has decided to sell up and start a
new life in Guiseley, South Yorkshire. She has been a valued member
of the St Nicolas congregation for many years, but is now moving
nearer her daughter, granddaughter, grandson and four lovely great
grandchildren. Marcus Steel, churchwarden, presented her with
a plant and card signed by us all, and we all enjoyed cake and
coffee after the service. We will miss you, Jessie, and wish
you good luck for the future and send you off with love from all at
Society works with children living in poverty and teenagers at risk.
As you can imagine, this covers a broad range of work. Each month we
are bringing you a story from one of the areas of our work. Last
month we talked about some of our research and how Bishop Rachel has
been working with young people in the county around the issue of
body image. This month focuses on an aspect of one of our campaigns
called the Debt Trap and the idea of offering breathing space to
families in need.
Families across the country face a daily battle to pay their
bills, and meet their mortgage or rent payments. For some families –
particularly those on low incomes – debt repayments and creditor
demands can spiral into unmanageable situations that can devastate
lives. All it takes is one mistake for families to fall into the
Our front line work with families across the country tells us that
children see, hear and feel what is going on around them. They feel
debt’s sharp effects and are often left sad, confused and scared.
Parents have told us that they are lying awake at night, worrying
about how to provide their children with the very basics. They are
stressed and fearful for their children’s future.
Our recent report has found that children living in families
struggling with debt are five times more likely to be unhappy than
children in families who don’t have difficulty with debt, putting
them at risk of developing mental health problems. Debt has negative
effects on a child’s mental and physical health. It can undermine
their relationships with their peers and their school experiences
and cause long term harm to a child’s life. Our campaign lifts the
lid on the damaging impact debt has on children.
We know that nine out of ten parents in problem debt have had to
cut back on essential items for their children within the last year
so they could keep up with repayments.
We are calling for breathing space for families, giving them time
and space to repay their debts free of rising fees, and visits from
intimidating bailiffs and the space to get support for their mental
health problems. Ministers need to take action, or risk the impact
of mental health issues scarring families for years to come.
You can help us by emailing your MP today to ask them to support
the most vulnerable families. There are more details on our website.
Your donations, actions, prayers and time enable our work with
children and young people who are living in families with problem
debt. struggling with mental health issues. If you would
like to read our report
on how debt can damage children’s mental health please head to
The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not
understood it. (John 1:5 NIV)
THREE THINGS DOMINATE the months of December and January; the
Winter Solstice, Christmas and the New Year, of these three events
only the first is outside human control.
No one knows when Jesus was born but the tradition of celebrating
this on 25th December probably began in the first half of the 4th
century and was made official by Pope Julius in 350 AD.
The New Year has always been celebrated at different times in
different cultures. In England before 1752 the New Year began on the
Feast of the Annunciation, Lady Day, on 25th March. A look at old
parish records will show that, for instance, 24th March 1749 was
followed by 25th March 1750 and that January and February came at
the end of the year rather than at the beginning - a real trap for
On the other hand the Winter Solstice depends on the tilt of the
earth’s axis as it orbits the sun. For us in Prestbury this means
long dark nights and short days with the sun low in the sky. For
several days around the 21st December there seems little change in
the sun’s midday position (solstice comes from the Latin
solstitium meaning ‘the sun stands still’) but by the time the
next magazine comes out the days will be getting a little longer as
the planet unwaveringly follows God’s laws of gravity and motion
(discovered and described by Sir Isaac Newton).
Just as there is a variation in daylight throughout the year so
there is a variation in our spiritual lives. Sometimes we may feel
that our faith has grown dim and that our path no longer seems as
clearly lit as it was once. Changes to our spiritual lives are
to be expected. C. S. Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, talked
about the Law of Undulation. He argued that human beings are half
spirit and half animal and as such they experience a series of
troughs and peaks as they swing between their two natures. Lewis
makes the point that God often uses the troughs rather than the
peaks to help us to grow into the sort of creatures He wants us to
Something like this occurs in nature, with many plants requiring a
time of cold and darkness. During the winter, deep underground and
within apparently lifeless trees, small changes are occurring which
will enable them to spring into abundant life as the days grow
As we travel through the troughs we need to hang on to the promise
Jesus made that He is always with us. (Mathew 28:20) Jesus is our
light shining in the darkness and He will lead us out of the
darkness and into brilliant day. As we look forward to the
long summer days we know that they will eventually become short
winter ones again but Jesus promises that, when we come into His
kingdom, the light will last forever.
When Jesus spoke again to the people he said ‘I am the light of
the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will
have the light of life.’ (John 8:12 NIV)