Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of Christ, is now showing in our
cinemas. I am not sure that I shall see it as I cannot take any really
violent films. However, I do not want to deter others who can. Pope Jean
Paul is alleged to have said, 'It is as it was'. There is no doubt that
crucifixion was most cruel and ghastly. The age was extremely cruel. Codes
of conduct as we know them, when treating aliens and prisoners did not
exist - as is still often the case today. For the Roman army of occupation,
inflicting maximum degrading violence asserted racial superiority. Similar
cruel behaviour would also be the usual way of the Jewish Temple police.
(Amnesty International did not exist: Jesus' teaching on forgiveness was
outside accepted thinking and behaviour.)
However, as more people see the film, reviewers are pointing to the
serious need of a different warning.
The film concentrates on the final hours of Jesus'
life. It is about Good Friday, and really concludes with his death. With
124 minutes concentrating on the events of the Passion, and only 2 minutes
alluding to the Resurrection, viewers may leave the cinema in shock without
having grasped the joyful and essential news of Easter. Without the
powerful events of Easter morning, then Good Friday is just a tale of
So please help put the film in context. Truly, the violence of Good
Friday was real, was unspeakable. But it is quite overshadowed by the Good
News that Jesus overcame it all. He lives again and is invincible. More so
than all the pain and cruelty that the world has ever known and will ever
Thanksgiving for Faithful Service
At the Annual Church Meeting on 25th April three of our members will
retire: Ken Bradbury, who has served as Churchwarden for 25 years;
Eileen Jones, after 14 years as Assistant Churchwarden with
responsibility for St Nicolas'; and Bill Riley, who has served as
Parish Treasurer for 25 years.
We have just received news of the sudden death of Raymund Waker,
for many years Head Server and Sacristan at St Mary's.
An appreciation of the faithful service of each will be given in the
May edition of the Parish Magazine.
Ken Bradbury (Churchwarden), Eileen Jones (Assistant Warden) and Bill
Riley (PCC Treasurer) are all retiring from office this month. Between them
they have served more years in the parish than one cares to count! If you
would like to contribute towards a gift for any or all of them, please
place in a marked envelope and give to Jerry Porter (St Mary's), Peter
Attwood (St Nicolas') or hand it in at the Parish Office by 18th April.
Shrove Tuesday, as we all know, was a very cold frosty day. Well, for
those of us who were brave enough to venture out, we found a very warm
welcome awaiting us at the WI Hall that evening. On our arrival we were
given the choice of a red or white wine 'hot toddy' - good start I
The hall was looking very attractive, tables being set out in horseshoe
bays, each bay seating approximately ten or twelve people. Large slow
cookers containing mouth-watering soups were simmering away, awaiting us
all. In front of each cooker was a flag denoting the country of origin,
plus on each table were bowls of cubed cheeses, pate and crusty bread. We
were then invited to try as many of these dishes as we liked. I'm afraid I
could only manage four, but they were all delicious, varying from such
varieties as cock-o'leekie, tomato, minestrone, French onion, but to
mention a few. This was then followed by as many pancakes as we could eat,
ending with tea or coffee of our choice. Truly all in all a sumptuous meal.
To round off the evening we were then entertained by three very
versatile lads from Cleeve School on keyboard, clarinet and guitar, whose
music was a delight to listen to. My only regret was nobody from our local
newspaper was there* to take notes and publish
what truly was a most enjoyable evening.
My very big thanks to the members of the parish catering team. Here's to
a few more evenings in a similar vein in the very near future, from a much
replenished and satisfied parishioner!
Pancakes and 'Soups of the World'
As old acquaintances of mine in the parish would know, I have never
organised a Parish 'Eating Event' before, so I feel I must say a big 'Thank
You' to all the people who really made Shrove Tuesday Evening so
successful. We have made a profit of £170 for the Parish Funds, eaten a
great deal of soups and pancakes as well as listening to some very talented
I have received several enquiries about our vegetarian pâté. Please
contact me if you would like a copy.
pictures taken on the
night by the webmaster
On a very wet Saturday at the end of January members of Bereavement
Visitors teams from All Saints', St Mary's and St Nicolas' Churches met for
a talk by Felicity Brasier, who is a volunteer with the West Suffolk branch
We met at Elizabeth House, Cheltenham Ladies College, and began with a
bring and share lunch, with tea and coffee served by Housemistress Vicky
Gregory in the senior girls' large and comfortable sitting room. This set
us at ease, and after general introductions all round, we listened to,
thought about and discussed topics relating to bereavement and grief
processes. We practised 'listening' skills in pairs, and were able to brush
up much of our earlier training, as well as absorbing many helpful hints
and ideas from Felicity. She provided us with a list of 'first aid', so
that initial help offered to bereaved persons can be easily used and
Beryl has prepared extra copies of this list, which can be found in the
churches for use by those who may be in contact with bereaved friends and
First Aid Tips for Neighbours and Friends of the Newly Bereaved
One of the things we brought back from the training afternoon for
bereavement visitors, this brief list of what to do and what not to do is
so reassuring and helpful, we thought it was too good to keep to ourselves.
Copies will be available in church for anyone who would like one; if you
can't see any, ask Jean Axton (St Mary's) or Beryl Elliott (St Nicolas').
More than 30 people took part in a discussion workshop on 13 March about
the future of mission and outreach in Prestbury. This response far exceeded
all expectations, and the M&O team was thrilled and delighted to welcome
the 'delegates' to the Infant School hall.
Individuals representing a wide cross-section of the Church responded to
our invitation to help lay the foundations for a local Mission Action Plan
- and before long the hall was buzzing with vigorous views and imaginative
This was an informal workshop-style event, with small group discussions,
and a firm focus on the issues that seem to matter most in our parish. By
the end of the afternoon, there was an extensive array of realistic,
workable and very exciting ideas for outreach.
The material gathered during the afternoon is currently being evaluated
and assessed by M&O as we take the next steps towards formulating the
Action Plan - we'll keep you posted!
Meanwhile, M&O would like to send sincere thanks to everyone who gave up
a precious Saturday afternoon to take part in this important exercise with
such enthusiasm and energy. Thank you!
Caroline Sexton, Mission & Outreach Committee
Quiet days are always an excellent opportunity for us to re-charge our
spiritual batteries in what can often be our busy day to day lives and
certainly the one on March 6th was no exception.
It may have been held in the more familiar surroundings of St Mary's
Infant school but there was ample scope for reflection and prayer as we
focused on the parable of 'The prodigal son'. We were encouraged to
consider the story from the perspective of the different characters. There
were a variety of activities for participants to explore - books, music,
art, self guided walks, a video and even a computer programme. It was
concluded with a simple but moving Eucharist.
If anybody thinks that Quiet Days might be too intense and serious then
a quick peep into the 'Ambient room' might make them re-consider as people
who are old enough to know better could be seen blowing bubbles and being
hauled, like beached whales, to their feet from inflatable (and sometimes
Thank you to everyone for a thought provoking and enjoyable day.
As usual our ringers have been busy. On the morning of Saturday 21
February a peal of Plain Bob Major was successfully rung. It consisted of
5056 changes, rung on all eight bells. Five Prestbury ringers were involved
which was quite an achievement. The peal was believed to be the 100th peal
rung on the bells of St Mary's. The first recorded one was rung on the then
six Abel Rudhall bells in 1818. Several quarter peals have also been
achieved recently for Sunday evening services.
On Tuesday 9 March at 9pm we held our AGM in the tower after ringing
practice. All of the officers were re-elected, namely, Mary Lynch as Tower
Captain, Jenni Scruton as Secretary and Treasurer, David Lynch as
Steeplekeeper and Anthony Smith as Quarter Peal Secretary. The meeting was
chaired by the new Chairman of the Cheltenham Branch of the Gloucester and
Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers, Mr R Bennett, who is a
ringer at St Mary's Parish Church in town.
I - Links with Napoleonic St Helena
A recent reference in the Cheltenham News (5 February, p17) to the
memorial in Prestbury parish churchyard to Major Arthur Inglis, 'the first
man in history to lead tanks into action', prompts me to mention two other
memorials there with links to a unique event in history, in their cases
commemorating leading personalities in the garrison guarding Napoleon in
exile on St Helena a century earlier (1815-21).
The memorials in question are inscribed to Hamlet Obins (1775-1848), 'Lieut-Col
in Her Majesty's Service, formerly of the XXth Regiment', and his wife
'Annie' (née Keogh); and to 'Sarah Ann Catharine Younghusband' (1779-1860),
and her unmarried sisters Amy, Sibella, and Letitia Whinyates. As this
implies, Catherine (as she was always known) was a member of that leading
Cheltenham military family, the Whinyates of North Place, of which there is
a remarkable family group of ten, painted in 1840, in Cheltenham Museum, on
which some, if not all, of the above must be portrayed. Catherine died at
Cheltenham in 1860 'in her 81st year'. Of her husband there is no mention
though she was the widow of Major Robert Younghusband of the 53rd Regiment
who had died in 1853 aged 68. They had been stationed at St Helena from
1815 to 1817 where, as historians of the period all agree, she had been 'a
source of great trouble to her husband', after which he retired on half pay
to his family home in Northumberland.
Hamlet Obins also served on St Helena, where he was senior Captain in
the XXth Foot, from 1819 until Napoleon's death in 1821 when he transferred
to the 53rd which he later commanded in India before retiring in 1830. He
died at Tenby in 1848 at the age of 72; his widow, Anne, 17 years younger,
died three years later, at 59. Obins had no known connections with
Cheltenham and, despite the apparent links with the Younghusbands, through
St Helena and the 53rd Regiment, there is no evidence that their paths ever
The curious coincidence that these two memorials should lie side by side
in Prestbury churchyard, a few steps from the passage leading from High
Street, defies explanation in the absence of any research into their
background, but the odds on random chance must surely be longer than
winning the Lottery Jackpot! At present, despite encroaching lichen, their
inscriptions are reasonably decipherable. But many others are not, and
researchers seeking evidence from Prestbury's memorials have reason to be
especially grateful to Mrs Lilian Brockman for her painstaking deciphering
and cataloguing of their deteriorating inscriptions. The results of her
labours can be consulted by arrangement at the Parish Office, The Rectory,
Tatchley Lane, Prestbury, or at the Gloucester Record Office, Clarence Row,
Alvin Street, Gloucester. A copy is also held nationally by the Society of
Genealogists, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA.
Trevor W Hearl
In February I invited readers to write a rhyming, scanning poem based on
a short Bible passage, similar to the well-known carol 'While shepherds
watched their flocks by night', which is a metric version of Luke 2:8-14. I
suggested two more passages from Luke (8:8-14 or 18:35-43) or a short psalm
(93, 121 or 150).
The prize (for being the only person to enter!) is on its way to Janet
Waters. If anyone else would like to write a poem, do send it in - I can
always print it in a future magazine. Full details are in the February
We followed the Lord and we joined him at sea
As the boat sailed forth over Lake Galilee.
Then the dark clouds came and the rain poured down,
We started to cry for we thought we would drown.
Yet the Lord slept on, in spite of our fears,
Until the sound of our cries filled his drowsy ears.
'Be still!' he said and the waves obeyed,
We gave thanks to God, we sang his praise.
The forces of nature may be grand,
But they will obey just a wave of his hand.
Fishing Boat drawn in November 2003
by Daniel aged 10 years
Prestbury After School Club, St Mary's Junior School
'The Miracle Maker'
An animated portrayal of the life of Jesus told through
the eyes of a child. This film will be shown at St Nicolas' on Good Friday
at 9.30am for about an hour and a half. All are welcome.
On Maundy Thursday there will be a children's activity
workshop together with All Saints'. For further details please contact
Maundy Thursday Vigil, St Nicolas' Church
People of all ages are welcome to join in this time of
prayer, togetherness and creativity. Please get in touch with Andy Macauly
if you are interested. We will also be holding a planning meeting on
Tuesday 6 April to get people's ideas for the vigil. There will be a cost
of £2 per person to cover materials. Forms (available from Andy) will need
to be filled in by children or young people under 18.
Youth Clubs and Children's Groups Dates
The Space stops on Thursday 1 April and restarts on
Thursday 29 April.
Synergy & Elevate stop on Thursday 8 April and restart on Sunday 2 May.
Sunday Club (St Nicolas') and Sunday School (St Mary's) restart on 25
Rockers (pre-schoolers) restarts on Thursday 29 April at 2pm in St Mary's
Greenbelt, 27 - 30 August, Cheltenham Racecourse
Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival is back in Cheltenham again this
summer, with its mix of international quality music, speakers, issues and
creative arts. Youth Leaders are organising to go camping with young
people. If you are interested in camping with us or would like tickets,
weekend prices are lower before 30 April. Contact Andy Macauly or log on to
www.greenbelt.org.uk. Look out
for more info on who will be contributing this year.
Prestbury & Pittville Youth Charity
There will be a Special General Meeting in St Mary's
church on Sunday 4 April after the 11am Eucharist to adopt revised wording
of part of the Constitution. All members are welcome. Further details are
in the weekly pewsheets.
St Mary's Bakestall
The date for our next Bakestall is Sunday 18 April, with
contributions from members with surnames G to M.
Linda Matthews and Margaret Waker
Prestbury Parish Annual Meeting & Vestry Meeting
Sunday 25 April 6.30 pm St Mary's Church
the Vestry Meeting starts at 6.30pm followed by the Annual Meeting at
There are three key vacancies: Churchwarden, Assistant Warden and
See notices in the churches for full details of nominations etc.
Christian Aid Week
The Churches' own charity for the poor, needy and
underprivileged of our world, and the originator of house to house
collecting, Christian Aid's work is an important part of our Christian
giving. As representatives/organizers for St Mary's and St Nicolas' we
always ask for help with envelope distribution to and collection from the
homes in our parish during Christian Aid Week, and much appreciate the
generous response regularly given to this request.
This year we again appeal to you for help, as the task
requires many hands, not to mention quite a few legs and feet! Young people
over 16 years old will be particularly welcome to join those regular
stalwarts who keep this vital work going.
If you can help in any way please contact: Gill Ashman
(St Mary's) or Paddy Spurgeon (St Nicolas').
Craft Workshop Day - Saturday 15 May
9.00am to 4.00pm, St Nicolas' Hall
Choose from Sugar craft flowers, Flower arranging,
Pressed flowers or Patchwork type creating, eg a pretty box or photograph
If you have ever thought you could not do any of the
above, now is your chance to come along and try. You will be delighted and
amazed at what you will be taking home with you.
Cost £12.50, which includes refreshments and lunch. To
book contact Gill Woodcock. All proceeds to the St Nicolas' Church funds.
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk
Last September's annual sponsored Ride/Walk raised
£47,069 for the Trust. Altogether there were 310 participants, cycling or
walking, and 143 participating churches or chapels. In our parish we raised
£573 from St Mary's and £250 from St Nicolas'. Half of this has gone to the
Trust and half directly to our own churches.
This year's Ride/Walk is planned for Saturday 11
September 2004; further details and sponsor forms will be available nearer
Benjamin Michael Carley-Macauly (if you want the full
name) will be baptised on April 25 at 9.30am at St Nicolas' Church. We
would love to see members of the church family from across the Parish who
are able to be with us supporting Benjamin at this special time. Afterwards
there will be a bring and share buffet in the hall, to which all are
invited. (Please bring a small plate of food.) Thanks again for the love
and fellowship, from so many, shown to Ben and ourselves over the last
Sharon and Andy
Please hold in your prayers the children from our two
parishes who are preparing to receive Holy Communion for the first time on
Gold Cup Parking at St Nicolas'
Many thanks once again to Jackie and Gillian and all
those who helped with parking and refreshments at St Nicolas' during Gold
Cup Week. The refreshments raised £170 and the car parking £2000, making a
grand total of £2170 for the Renewal Fund.
Enquiries to parkingprestbury.net
Racehorse drawn in
by Eleanor aged 8 years
Prestbury After School Club, St Mary's Junior School
St Mary's Sunday Morning Refreshments
Thank you for your continued support. During the winter
months we have given £100 to the church heating fund and £50 to
Let The Children Live!. The
next rota is due to start just after Easter and we will experiment with two
refreshment helpers each week instead of three.