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Prestbury Parish Magazine

July/August 2001


As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed ...
Luke 9:29.

July/August 2001


Pastures New

Father Stephen writes ...

The Ministry Leadership Team

St Nicolas' Bell

Albania, Land of the "how many people can we cram into a bus" Game.

A Break in a Faraway Land

Working together

A Letter from Norway

Heydays - Amateur Stage

Summer Youth opportunites


Last Chance Dance

Some articles from this month's magazine have been included elsewhere in the web site:

Church Architecture - Pews

Pastures New

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 Valence School.

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 meet.

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.

Fr Paul


Father Stephen writes ...

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 depth.

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.

Fr Stephen

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 Taiz 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!

Fr Stephen


The Ministry Leadership Team (MLT)

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:-

Linda Biggs Pete Brown Margaret Compton Beryl Elliott
John Elliott Margaret Holman Sylvia McKenzie Jerry Porter
Sue Read Fr Stephen Fr Michael Fr Paul

You can see our 'mug shots' in both churches!

Fr Michael

Bible study

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.

Prayer Diary

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 by all.

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!

Jenni Scruton

St Nicolas' Bell


Prosperity to this parish A (bell) R 1700
From S. Oswald Lassington
To S. Nicolas Prestbury
Recast 1971
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.

Fr Stephen


Albania, Land of the "how many people can we cram into a bus" Game.

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 open countryside.

Elizabeth Murton


A Break in a Faraway Land

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 experienced.

Sue Read


Working together

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 evening.

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.

Daphne Philpot


A Letter from Norway

Dear Daphne,

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.

The concert 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 years.

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 concert.


[Colin Smith was formerly organist & choirmaster at St Nicolas']


Heydays - Amateur Stage

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 later.

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 congregation.

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 lingering smell.

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 of normally.

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 their shows.

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')




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.



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 September respectively.

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

Fr Paul, 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

at 11.00am

followed by a

Parish Barbecue

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 appearance on
 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

Summer Fayre has been postponed


Plant Sale

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.

Janet White

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.

Marion Godden


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.

Christine McKelvey

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 Woodcock.

Bob Lyle

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 Nympsfield.

Look out for further details of these events, with prices, booking arrangements, etc.

Summer Supper

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 remember!

Shirley Brown

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



Prestbury Parish Magazine - July/August 2001

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