The writer, Henri Nouwen, tells about a circus trapeze group in Germany called
The Flying Rodleighs. He admired them for the way in which they could swing through the air. It
was a breathtaking and beautiful thing to behold. The flyer risked his life taking massive leaps at a
tremendous height. Nouwen got to know them and he asked them, "What is it like being a trapeze artist in the
The leader, the flyer, said, "I'll tell you the secret. I must have complete trust in my catcher. The
public might think I'm the star - but the real star is my catcher." "How does that work?" Nouwen asked.
"The secret is that the flyer completely trusts the catcher. The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to
catch the catcher. The flyer must trust with outstretched arms that the catcher will be there for him."
The Cross is the symbol of hope
Nouwen writes: "The words of Jesus flashed through my mind as he said that. 'Father, into your hands I
commend my spirit.' It is trusting the catcher. Don't be afraid.
Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make the long jump. Don't try to
grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and trust, trust, trust."
Easter is the gift of the Catcher
Easter is a reality for the present and if we receive it, our
lives can be invigorated and renewed. Trust in God with outstretched arms.
Easter is a covenanted promise for life beyond death. The arms
of Jesus are outstretched for each one of us.
Easter happens all around us
In so many unexpected gestures of caring, of love, of hope. Clear signs that love is stronger than death.
Fathers Michael, Paul, Tim and John all join me in sending you love and greetings this Eastertide.
By the time you read this the church should have been handed back to us and we are planning for the first
service in the renewed church to be on Maundy Thursday. At the time of writing the
central light fitting has just been installed. All that
remains are some minor jobs and laying of the carpet, which should be completed by late March.
As we move back into the church the committee is taking the opportunity to review the organisation and
placement of the fixtures and fittings. At first many of the familiar sights will be missing because it would
be inexcusable to drill holes in walls to fix things only to change their positions later. During the early
period of experimentation your views would be welcome by the Worship Committee, in particular its chairman,
John Moles, or the wardens.
Some interesting statistics on the project:
It took 8 months, rather than the 4 anticipated. The final cost looks like being a little short of
£200,000, about half of which came from donations and fund raising by the congregation, the rest from grants
and our reserves. Just £20,000 is outstanding as a loan from the diocese.
Through the project I have handled nearly 100 e-mails, written 30 letters, attended 7 site meetings
together with regular informal discussions with the builders on site and lost count of the number of the phone
calls. I have a bulging briefcase and a file of correspondence 6" thick.
Signing off as 'Client Co-ordinator', Geoff Shaw
E-mail is a wonderful thing. Such an easy, fast and reliable way of sending items to the editor in good
time for the parish magazine. But, very occasionally, things go wrong, and last month the page outlining our
plans for Lent vanished into electronic limbo.
So I am very sorry that regular readers will have gained the impression that nothing was to happen in the
parish during Lent. You missed details of Fr Paul's series of sermons at the Sunday Eucharist, of the
ecumenical housegroups at All Saints' and elsewhere in Cheltenham, and of our annual bookstall. All of these
crept up unannounced, and for some people the opportunity slipped by.
An explanation is due too, to those who would have expected to join in a house group in the parish. In
recent years numbers have fallen very low, both for evening and daytime groups, as fewer people can find the
time to commit to a five-week course. The same pressures make it hard to find group leaders willing and able
to make what is a considerable commitment of time and effort. The excellent course at All Saints' should have
been an acceptable alternative for many, with the bonus of getting to know some of our neighbours.
I can promise you that Lent has not dropped out of the agenda at meetings of the Education & Nurture
Committee. We haven't decided against house groups for good - would you like one next year? Or we could run
one outside Lent, perhaps in late Spring or Summer. What do you think? If you could offer your home as a
meeting place, or if you might just like to come along, let us know your views about date and time. Have a
word with me, or with Marion Beagley, Linda Biggs, Margaret Compton, Sue Read or Fr Michael.
Easter banners, dressing up clothes and hot cross buns - that's just part of the exciting Palm Sunday
worship planned in Prestbury this year. And if you remember the success and impact of last year's Palm Sunday
celebration, you'll understand why we're doing it all over again!
Palm Sunday 2002 fired all our imaginations.
Pupils from St Mary's Infant and Junior Schools made glorious banners to lead the procession through the
village, and many parents and families joined us as we made our way to St Mary's.
This year, the Schools are once again taking part in a banner-making workshop. In addition, those who know
their way around the church hall loft are looking for costumes that everyone, but especially the children, can
try on, and wear for the procession. If you have your own dressing-up clothes, so much the better - please
wear them, or bring them with you!
The procession will be a splendid spectacle: do try to join us for a short service and distribution of
palms at the Junior School Hall at 9.30am. Then link up with the procession to the War Memorial, where we
shall be joined by the choirs and servers. The procession will then move on to St Mary's for worship and
reflection, as well as squash, coffee and hot cross buns!
This is how Palm Sunday is shaping up in Prestbury right now: please feel free to join us at any point in
||Assemble at the Junior School Hall.
||Service begins: distribution of palms. Reading and song.
||Leave School Hall.
Follow the route through Fawley Drive, Southview Way, Finchcroft Lane, Noverton Lane, then the main
road to War Memorial.
||Reach War Memorial.The procession will be joined by the robed choirs and servers for a
further short service, and another distribution of palms.
Then leave for St Mary's Church.
||Arrive at St Mary's. Weather permitting, squash and biscuits will be provided outside
the church for those children who have taken part. Inside, enjoy a specially adapted service, with
coffee and hot cross buns afterwards.
The congregation were met by a smile and handshake, no bits of paper today. They entered St Nicolas' Hall
to a mixture of chilled out lighting, art work covered walls and the passionate honesty of Phatfish's songs
being played out on the CD.
The PowerPoint presentation kicked in. So it was going to be Lent, but going deeper. There was pin dropping
silence as we heard about the ultimate new beginning in the story of the Lost Son. We were soon faced with the
temptation of waiting to eat the chocolates in our hands. There was a bigger picture, peer pressure, media
pressure, pressure all around to 'have it now'. The worship group struck up - the reality of the good times
and bad in 'Blessed be the name of the Lord' moving into that sense of together connecting with God through
the heartfelt 'Here I am to Worship'.
A change to humour as the 'doctor and the hammer' sketch started to take a challenging look at free will
and responsibility. It was all drawn together: the temptations around us to forget about God with the reality
that God is the one who will be always there to begin again even when we've chosen to leave him.
Prayers, music and images combined to throw down the challenge to live fully for God - a life of worship,
joy and forgiveness. Having had a picture of such a great God - how better to finish than with the uplifting
'You Shall Go Out With Joy'. There was still time to engage with God in the candle lit quiet room or to spend
time chatting with folks of all ages.
The congregation gone, time to clear it all away, the second youth service over and this worshipping
journey well underway! The next service would be Sunday 6th July - as ever people of all ages would be welcome
Youth Work Special Events
360° Monday 14 April - Thursday 17 April
Working with a group of young people from Twilight Zone. Involving a mixture of practical work to make the
local area a better place to live and activities to provide new experiences and learn new skills. Tiring but
Maundy Thursday Vigil Thursday 17 April
The challenge of staying up all night to pray in creative ways and be together with God and each other
through this special time. There will be plenty of doughnuts and activities to keep mind and body awake!
For information on participating in or supporting any of these events please contact Andy Macauly, youthprestbury.net
Your prayers are always valued!!
Following in the footsteps of last year's Good
Friday processional Act of Worship, our parish is once again taking the story of Christ's passion onto the
streets of Prestbury.
This powerful worship and outreach will be staged on Good Friday, 18 April. Prestbury already has a great
reputation for dramatic portrayal of the Passion, and we will be building on this tradition.
This year will follow a very similar pattern to 2002: the presentation will be based on an abridged version
of the Stations of the Cross, using symbols and Gospel readings, as well as music and pictures to reflect on
We will walk from Capel Court, along the Burgage, up Mill Street and into St Mary's where everyone will be
invited to share coffee and hot cross buns.
If you would like to be part of this great event, please contact Daphne Philpot and join us for the
Sunday 6 April at 3.30pm - the route
Wednesday 9 April at 8.15pm - at St Mary's
Sunday 13 April at 3.30pm - the route
Wednesday 16 April at 8.15pm - at St Mary's
* Good Friday at 11am at Capel Court *
We look forward to seeing you!
Saturday 3rd May 2003
12:00 to 3:30pm
Come and view our newly
Raffle - Teas - Ploughmans
Bouncy Castle - Bric-a-Brac
Games - Books - Toys
Proceeds in aid of St Nicolas' Church Renewal Appeal
St Nicolas' Celebration Weekend 3rd - 5th May 2003
On Saturday 3 May the church will be open from 12 noon and will contain displays of the history of
St Nicolas' Church, the restoration work and current activities associated with the Church and Hall. See box
above for details of the Fair.
At 4.00pm there will be a Thanksgiving Service which will be attended by the Bishop of Gloucester, the
Mayor of Cheltenham and representatives of those who have been working on the building.
On Sunday 4 May there will be a Thanksgiving Eucharist at 9.30am and then the church will be open for
visitors. Cream teas will be served during the afternoon and there will be musical entertainment. At 6.30pm
both choirs will sing Choral Evensong.
On Monday 5 May the Church will again be open during the afternoon. There will be a barbecue at 5.00pm
followed by a Talent Show organised by members of the Parish Youth Groups.
As you can see, there will be lots happening, so make sure you have the weekend booked in your diaries and
let other people know all about it!
We were sorry to hear on 24 February that Bertha Hardman had died that afternoon. Bertha had always
looked forward to being our 90-year-old ringer. Sadly she died a month short of that milestone.
Bertha had rung at Prestbury since she moved here in the early 1980s. She was a faithful member of the
Sunday service band until ill health stopped her coming to ring. She encouraged learners at practice, and
enjoyed listening to the bells, either in the tower or, if unable to attend, in her garden when the wind was
in the right direction.
In the days when Prestbury had few skilled ringers, one quarter-peal was rung each year in March which was
dedicated to Bertha's birthday. She usually rang in these. Her favourite bell was the fourth, now known as
Bertha last came into the tower on 3 June 2002 when three quarter-peals were rung for the Queen's Golden
Jubilee. She was able to chime a bell, which made her very happy.
Before she died Bertha knew that a full peal (over 5000 changes), was to be rung on 29 March to celebrate
her 90th birthday. It is now proposed to ring the peal in memory of Bertha and in thanksgiving for her life.
Various local ringers gathered for Bertha's funeral at St Mary's on 6 March. We rang before the funeral
service and after it. As Bertha's coffin was carried from Mill Street to the church I was honoured to toll the
fourth bell. For the ringing we were joined by Fenny Smith, a former Prestbury ringer; Helen Taylor of
Leckhampton; Mike Clifford and Bob Bennett of St Mary's Parish Church, Cheltenham. We were delighted to
welcome Robin Turner who accompanied Clare Higby of Chilcompton, Somerset. Clare is the Hon Secretary of the
Ladies Guild, of which Bertha had been a member for many years. Gill Robinson, Bertha's niece, sat in the
tower with us.
We all have happy memories of Bertha. Everyone has their own story to tell about her. Her ashes are buried
within earshot of the bells as was her wish.
We shall miss a dear lady.
May she rest in peace.
On March 8th Gill, Roger, Leslie and I were invited to a party at Salem Baptist Church to celebrate
£352,000 raised by Christian Aid in Cheltenham in the last ten years, under the leadership of the Organiser,
the Rev Hazel Day, who is now retiring. Most of this money was raised in the house-to-house collections which
we all support, but the Christmas carol singing at the supermarkets, sponsored walks and swims, flower shows,
coffee mornings and evenings and table-top sales have all contributed to this excellent result.
It was a very enjoyable evening, with a bring-and-share supper. The Mayor and Mayoress of Cheltenham were
among the guests. Presentations were made to Hazel by the Chairman of Churches Together in Cheltenham and by
the Christian Aid committee. The Area Organiser of Christian Aid, Nigel Quarrell, read a letter from the
Director, Dr Daleep Mukarji, thanking Hazel and the people of Cheltenham for their work.
Supper was followed by a musical presentation 'Hunger for Justice' by four young people who had been
visiting Christian Aid's partners in Ghana. They showed how unfair trading made life very hard for the
Ghanaians, who were helped by aid workers to make a living in co-operatives, weaving baskets, smoking fish,
making beauty products and learning how to get a fairer price for their work. The 'Trade for Life' campaign
and the need to work for justice are Christian Aid's mission for this year. We hope that you will all help us
to support it as well as you have in the past.
Paddy Spurgeon, Gill Ashman
Christian Aid Week 2003
IT'S COMING UP FAST!
The annual Christian Aid Week is only a matter of weeks away - so here's a quick reminder to sign up and
offer your help as soon as possible!
Collecting envelopes, collectors' badges and all the materials needed for the door-to-door envelope drop in
Prestbury are due to be delivered any day now. Could you help Gill and Paddy with the sorting, and perhaps
co-ordinating the collectors?
Or could it be that you'd like to team up with someone else and share the task of delivering and then
collecting the envelopes? If so, your help would be HUGELY appreciated!
Whatever help you can offer - even if it's just an hour one evening - PLEASE come forward! You really will
make all the difference.
Caroline Sexton, Mission & Outreach Committee
Malcolm McKelvey did not found Musica Vera, as was stated in last month's Parish Magazine. Below is an
article from Musica Vera's current Chairman, Jill Yates, about the choir and Malcolm's involvement with it.
Musica Vera was founded in 1964 by Graham Smallbone, at that time Director of Music at Dean Close School.
His intent was to form a small chamber choir of some 24 voices, with the purpose of performing a varied
repertoire of music, particularly works which were less often performed. That still holds today, and during
the nearly 40 years of its existence almost the only thing that has changed has been its series of conductors.
All have brought with them their own individual style and choice of music, so that longer-standing members,
like myself, have seen many changes in the choir, but all within Graham Smallbone's original framework.
Malcom McKelvey was one of our most distinguished and experienced Directors, and led the choir from early
in 1992 until retiring from its leadership after the Summer concert in 1995. Barely two months after Malcolm
had taken over as our conductor, the choir gave a performance of Bach's St John Passion - one of the
largest works we had ever undertaken - to a packed Tewkesbury Abbey in March 1992.
Rehearsals under Malcolm were always fun, and, as one would expect, his programmes carefully researched and
planned. His seemingly endless fund of musical anecdotes added to our enjoyment, and many of his past
students, now professional musicians themselves, were welcomed as our soloists.
One of our most memorable concerts was one given in January 1995, to celebrate Henry Purcell's tercentenary
- a recital of Purcell's music, in the lovely setting of St Peter's College, Oxford - Malcolm's old college.
During Malcolm's time as our Director, the late Dr Bernard Rose, Malcolm's tutor, and Organist and Master of
the Choristers of Magdalen College, Oxford, became our President.
Malcolm's influence over the choir during his years as our Director was enormous. From Tudor anthems to
Handel's Acis and Galatea, from English folk songs to Carissimi's Jephte, we were introduced to
and led through some wonderful music, and Musica Vera has reason to be very grateful, not only to Malcolm, but
also to Christine, who often acted as our accompanist.
Malcolm and Christine McKelvey would like to say a huge 'thankyou' to the Clergy, the PCC, the choirs, the
performers, the cooks and to everyone who came on 15 March and helped to make Malcolm's celebration such a
success. The generosity of the gifts was overwhelming - it was certainly an evening to remember.
We would like to establish a database of musical talent in Prestbury. This might be for occasional
instrumental groups or more regular playing. At Christmas a group played at Capel Court and the Crib service,
the Youth group have provided their own players and of course we have the
Blue Diamonds! A musical entertainment is planned for the
Rededication of St Nicolas' in May. Please contact David Lyle or Ian Higginson for more details.
As I stepped from the zodiac into my single kayak the reassuring sentence kept passing through my brain
'Orcas have never yet attacked a kayaker.'
Orcas or killer whales were circling; the Minke whales and Adelie penguins were under the kayak one minute
and alongside the next, as I paddled away towards mainland Antarctica. The sea was calm, I paddled gently and
rhythmically over the glassy sea braced for whatever was going to pop out of the water to look at me.
Looming upwards were the cliffs of Antarctica, snow covered and serene. The glaciers were an exquisite pale
ice blue with crevices of a darker, almost Bristol blue; I had not expected that. When the sun shone on the
ice the surface crystals glistened and sparkled silver white, which hurt the eyes and hid the intense blueness
underneath. The boom of a calving glacier or an avalanche in the mountains, the plop of penguins or the blow
of whales as they surfaced were the only noises to be heard. The bergs and the glaciers were awesome both in
size and grandeur and sitting in my kayak, realization dawned of my insignificance and my frailty.
Approaching land the brash ice thickened and I had to concentrate to manoeuvre the kayak through the gaps
or ride over the smaller pieces of ice. The grating of ice on polypropylene and the thought that only a few
centimetres of this man-made material was between an extremely deep icy ocean and me filtered through my
Suddenly there was an ominous creak, the glacier calved and the resulting surge wave sped towards me. I
spun the kayak bow on to ride the wave. Bergs pitched and danced as the wave reached them, one small berg
rolled over, larger ones rocked like pendulums and, fortunately for me, righted themselves.
I paddled on, dodging the penguins and large pieces of brash ice, and then I carefully judged the moment to
drive up onto the sand and rock. I stepped out, waded ashore, pulled the kayak up and yes, I'd made it, I'd
landed on the most inhospitable continent in the world. A moment of joy and yet I felt like bursting into
tears as I clambered over the rocks. Nimbly jumping the penguin highways to the sea, I climbed the glacier to
have a view over the bay I had kayaked across and the distant speck of the 'Akademik Ioffe', our Russian
research ship, waiting out to sea.
The peace and tranquillity of this landscape is indescribable, there is no noise pollution, the air is
crystal clear for there is no air pollution, there is no litter, it is a virgin landscape and for me to be
kayaking through it was a privilege that will remain with me forever.