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Prestbury Parish Magazine

April 2003

Those who passed by hurled insults at him ...
Matthew 27:39


April 2003


Leap of Faith

St Nicolas Renewal - the final update

Lent: an Apology

Palm Sunday, 13 April 2003

The Youth Service - New Beginnings

Good Friday, 18 April 2003

St Nicolas Spring Fair

Snippets from the Tower

Christian Aid Celebration

Musica Vera

Calling Musical Talent!

Floating on Ice

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

The Calendar for April

The Diary for April

Leap of Faith

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 circus?"

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.

Fr Stephen


St Nicolas' Renewal - the final update

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

Lent: an Apology

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.

Beryl Elliott


Palm Sunday, 13 April 2003

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 the procession:

0930 Assemble at the Junior School Hall.
0945 Service begins: distribution of palms. Reading and song.
1000 Leave School Hall.
Follow the route through Fawley Drive, Southview Way, Finchcroft Lane, Noverton Lane, then the main road to War Memorial.
1030 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.
1045 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 Youth Service - New Beginnings

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 to worship.

Andy Macauly

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 massively rewarding!

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,

Your prayers are always valued!!


Good Friday, 18 April 2003

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 current issues.

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 following rehearsals:

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!


St Nicolas' Spring Fair

Saturday 3rd May 2003
12:00 to 3:30pm

Come and view our newly
refurbished church

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!


Snippets from the Tower

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's bell.

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.

Jenni Scruton


Christian Aid Celebration

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


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

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.

Jill Yates

Thank you!

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.


Calling Musical Talent!

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.


Floating on Ice

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 brain.

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.

Jackie Moles



Gold Cup Parking

Many thanks to Jackie and her team of helpers in the car park at St Nicolas' during Gold Cup Week and to Gillian and her team in the kitchen who made and served refreshments. The car parking raised 1320 and the refreshments 240, making a grand total of 1560 for the Renewal Appeal. Well done everybody!

St Nicolas' Church Spring Fair

Volunteers are needed to man stalls, help set up, make teas etc for the Spring Fair. If you have any suggestions/ideas for a stall or anyone wishing to sell their craftwork please contact Gill Wood.

Boxes will be at both churches for the following donations: Bottles (wine, sauces, soft drinks) for the Bottle Tombola; Toys for the Toy stall; Books (Book stall); Soft Toys for the Name Tombola; Bric-a-Brac for White Elephant stall and Small cakes (to be collected beforehand) for Afternoon teas.

Lastly, can anyone provide me with straw bales for a skittle alley?

Gill Wood


Parish Pilgrimage

Did you go to Rome in February? Would you write a short article for the magazine and tell the rest of us about your experiences - what you enjoyed, what you didn't? What you saw and heard? A couple of paragraphs would do, and maybe someone else will write something too. Maybe a photograph if you've got one. Send to me, handwritten if you like and I'll do the typing, or email me at


Sunday Morning Refreshments (St Mary's)

We will be giving another 100 to St Mary's Church Heating Fund from the profits this quarter. The new rota will be up on the notice boards by 13April  to take effect from Low Sunday. Thank you for your continued support.

Margaret Holman

St Mary's Bakestall

The very successful Bakestall in March raised 42.05. The next one will be held on 27 April  (G - M surnames). This is a week later than our usual third Sunday in the month because that is Easter Day.

Margaret & Linda

Reg Legg

Curate in the days of Canon Norman Kent. Older parishioners will remember Reg with affection; he and Hazel now live in Eastbourne and he is unwell. He writes: 'Do give our love to all the folk who still remember us - we think of Prestbury and all its kindnesses and encouragement with tremendous affection.' He gives news of his family; anyone wishing to read the whole letter please contact Bob or Barbara Lyle.


Support, Discussion & Prayer (& Food)

There is an opportunity for people to meet on Wednesday evenings (9th, 16th, 30th April) to have a meal together, chat about life and God and pray together. If you are planning to come or think you would be interested in this opportunity on a regular or occasional basis please get in touch with Sharon or Andy Macauly.




Prestbury Parish Magazine - April 2003

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