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Prestbury Parish Magazine

February 2005


Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent

Prayers in every church every day

Better Together

The Road to the Cross

St Mary's heating

Dr Bob Lyle MBE

It Takes Time

The End of an Era!

St Nicolas' Patronal Festival

Celebrate! Update

The Advent Trail - did you see the pictures?

Prestbury Parish Candlelit Epiphany Supper

When Children Rule the World

OUR TEACHER, Miss Hawkins

Prestbury Parish Annual Meeting & Vestry Meeting

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

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month

The Parish Registers 2004 & 2005


Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent

The roots of what we do in Lent are ancient, going way back even to Old Testament times. King David asked God's forgiveness with three symbols of penitence: putting ashes on his head, fasting and wearing sackcloth.

Christians try to make the six weeks of Lent a special season by three similar activities. They are powerful symbols.

  • Recognising our total dependence on God - starting Lent by being marked with the sign of the Cross;
  • Self-denial - giving something up during Lent, to remember that Jesus give up everything for us;
  • Simplification of living - recognising that we are too dependent on material things.

Our Services on Ash Wednesday contain this very old Christian custom. Churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes as a sign of penitence and mortality. The ashes are made by burning palm crosses from last year's Palm Sunday. The ash is sometimes mixed with anointing oil.

At the Service, this prayer is said:

God our Father, you create us from the dust of the earth.
Grant that these ashes may be for us a sign of our penitence,
and a symbol of our mortality.

Based on God's sentence on Adam in Genesis ch.3 v.19, the minister marks each worshipper on the forehead, and says,

Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return

and may add,

Turn away from sin and believe the gospel.

As we stand before the altar, the Cross is traced on the forehead exactly where we were marked at Baptism. It is a reminder of all those occasions when we have failed to live up to our baptism and confirmation promises.

The use of anointing oil reminds us of the anointing in the Holy Spirit that took place at our baptism, and that only the power of the Spirit can transform our human frailty.

The cross of ashes symbolises the way Jesus' sacrifice on the cross replaces the Old Testament tradition of making burnt offerings to atone for sin. The cross on the believer's forehead symbolises that through Christ's death and resurrection, all Christians can be free from sin.

The ashes also remind us that God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, we human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes. It is a timely reminder that death comes to everyone.

Some worshippers leave church with the mark still on their forehead so that they carry the sign of the cross out into the world. Others leave with the ashes washed off as a sign that they have been cleansed of their sin.

Please take the opportunity that Lent offers to look at your own life and your response to the freely given love of Jesus. Start as you mean to go on - join us at one of our Ash Wednesday Services, and be renewed under the sign of the Cross.

Fr Stephen


Ash Wednesday 9th February

The Imposition of Ashes will take place during a Said Eucharist at 10.30am at both St Mary's and St Nicolas' and during a Sung Eucharist at St Nicolas' at 7.30pm. Please join us to worship on one of the most important days in the worship cycle of the Christian Year.


Prayers in every church every day

Bishop Michael has asked that prayers be said in every church of the diocese on every day of Lent. The Worship Committee are aware that within the Parish, it is only on a Tuesday that prayers are not said in St Mary's. It is proposed that prayers will be said in St Mary's at 12 noon on each Tuesday in Lent and that these prayers will be led by a member of the laity. With this in mind a list will be displayed in the porch at St Mary's requesting people of the parish to sign up to lead prayers on one of these Tuesdays. An outline of a suitable format will be available from Father Michael.

Please sign the bright blue notice to ensure we fulfil Bishop Michael's request.

John Moles, Worship Committee


Parish Lent Course


A five-session course with booklet and audio-tape/CD

  • Family Relationship
  • Relating to Strangers
  • Church Relationships
  • Broken Relationships
  • Our relationship with God

This year's Lent Course begins in the week of 13th February. 'Better Together?' is a York Course in five sessions, looking at the way in which we deal with relationships. Please look at the posters displayed in church and sign up on the lists to indicate which day and time would be most convenient for you to take part. This is a Team-wide venture, so we hope to offer a number of venues to allow everyone to attend a group of their choice. More information is available from Colin Holman (St Mary's), Margaret Compton (St Nicolas') or Jennifer Swinbank (All Saints').


'The Road to the Cross'

This 'Act of Worship for Families and Children' will take place at 9.30am on Good Friday in All Saints' church. All are welcome. It will finish in good time to get back to Prestbury for the Passion Play performances at 11am and 3pm.


Prestbury Passion Play

Good Friday 25th March

Scouts' Field, The Burgage

Performances 11am & 3pm

Free admission

See pictures taken during the rehearsals


Easter planning meeting

Thursday 3rd February 7.45pm at St Nicolas'. An opportunity to plan and implement our Easter celebrations in the Parish. If you usually organise an event, have any new ideas or suggestions, or would like to be involved in Easter planning in some way this year, please come along to this open meeting. Many thanks!

The Mission & Outreach Team


St Mary's heating

The new heating is now running in its final form. The boiler house is transformed, with a shiny white boiler, a blue computer control panel and lots of glittering silver pipework. Guided tours by appointment!

Every Sunday the clock timer is set individually for each day of the week to cover just each regular service and each 'one-off' occasion. To begin with it was set to come on two hours before an event, but we are experimenting to see how long is actually necessary. Also to begin with the church 'room thermostat' was set quite high, leading to comments about tropical conditions - something never before encountered at St Mary's! Again we are now inching down the setting to judge what is reasonable.

We have not yet had a really cold spell, so it has not been necessary to switch the fan convectors to 'Fast' before a service starts for maximum warm-up. There have been comments that even on 'Slow' speed the noise is noticeable. It might be that they can be arranged to go off completely at times, but the convectors are a necessary part of the system.

For the first hour or two of a heating period, the gas cost is about 4.50 an hour, dropping a little as the church warms up. It is not practicable to heat just one area, say the Upper Room, so there could still be a use for a small electric heater!

The white radiators will be painted by us and a small group are choosing some possible colours.

Ken Bradbury


Dr Bob Lyle MBE

On 16th November Bob was invested as a Member of the British Empire by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his 'Services to Young People and to the Community of Prestbury'. Below are a few facets of this service, in which he has been upheld and supported by Barbara in every way.

Bob served Prestbury as a family doctor for 37 years, retiring after a heart attack. For most of those years the surgery was in his own home. He is a Serving Brother of the Order of St John. He was Group Scout Leader of Prestbury Scouts, District Commissioner for Cheltenham, and County Commissioner of the Gloucestershire Scout Association. He is now District President and a County Vice President. He was closely involved with the Cheltenham Young Homeless project from its founding, and has acted as an 'Appropriate Adult' since his retirement, spending hours at police stations to support young people.

For 46 years Bob was Churchwarden of this parish. His contribution to church life has been significant. He was a governor of both St Mary's Infant and Junior Schools, chairman of Capel Court Management Committee and chairman of the Prestbury United Charities, which administers alms-houses and supports less well-off parishioners. He has been involved in every Prestbury Passion Play so far, and is now helping to plan the 2005 production. With his hobby of wood-turning he has made the staff for the Processional Cross at St Mary's, staves for the St Nicolas' Wardens and the ciborium for the Reserved Sacrament.

Despite his heart condition, Bob has cycled annually on behalf of the British Heart Foundation and the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Preservation Trust, usually covering over 20 miles.

Congratulations Bob! We give thanks for all your service done in God's Name for his people.

See pictures of Bob and Barbara taken on the day of the investiture on their grandson's web pages


It Takes Time

Progress with 'The Lounge' Youth Group

Recently I had the pleasure of relaxing in front of a lovely roaring open fire at my Dad's house. It is a fantastic feeling, but the initial process of ignition requires much patience, with false starts and flickers of flame which need to be gently encouraged. It is much the same with developing any relationship and particularly with youth work.

For many weeks Emma Bradley and I would sit in the lounge at St Nicolas' chatting over a coffee with, if we were lucky, a couple of young people dropping in to suss out the new youth venue idea. There is now a regular group of young people attending 'The Lounge' with a co-operative atmosphere which we are confident will continue to develop.

The group is made up of young people in Year 9 and above (aged 13+), with a total of 13 young people attending so far. The majority are local young people with whom we have built relationships through The Space and Twilight Zone (a blast from the past!). The emphasis is very much on providing a relaxed environment for conversation and mutual support, with growing opportunities for planning activities. Areas such as coping with school and starting out in employment have been significant areas for support.

As leaders, Emma and I have been particularly encouraged by the increasing maturity and openness of the young people. There is a real lesson about the way in which relationships are built up over time, it highlights the value of all those who have been committed to volunteering with our youth groups. I would particularly like to thank Emma for her commitment to the group, and the Guides for their flexibility in working alongside us. Please continue to pray for the group as we continue to build mutual trust and respect.

Andy Macauly
Parish Youth Development Worker, Prestbury & Pittville Youth


The End of an Era!

Many of you know that in December we said a very big 'thank you' to Frances Murton who retired from leading Rockers' Half-Hour at St Mary's. Frances took over the leadership of Rockers from Jean Williams in September 1984 and so had led it for just over twenty years. Frances estimates that over 400 children (with their parents or carers) have attended Rockers during this time, so this has been a tremendous ministry to them as well as a very significant outreach into our parish. The current Rockers presented Frances with flowers, book tokens and a card as an expression of their thanks and best wishes. We all join in thanking Frances for her enormous contribution over these twenty years and we send her our very best wishes for the future - part of which (thankfully) is still as Magazine Editor!!

Fr Michael


St Nicolas' Patronal Festival

was brought forward a couple of days to Saturday 4 December 2004.

In the Eucharist sermon slot we heard some of the stories of a wealthy young man who gave money to the needy and became the Bishop of Myra. Some younger members of the congregation helped to enact the story of a poor man with three daughters and no money for dowries. It was likely they would have to be sold into slavery. An unknown person on three occasions threw bags of gold into their home to provide the dowries. It turned out the mystery benefactor was our Bishop Nicolas.

After the Eucharist we found set out at tables around the Hall a simple tea of sandwiches and cakes and cups of tea. Our catering committee do not do things by halves. There were so many types of sandwiches and cakes it was hard to choose which to go for first. Having had our fill the tables were rearranged and the fun began. We had a Beetle Drive. It was very frustrating if you couldn't throw a two. The winners of each game had to move to the next table and if everyone followed the rules properly we should have met everyone else in the room by the end of the game! Being a birthday party we had another cake, which was cut by Fr Michael.


Brian Wood


Celebrate! Update

Thank you for your prayers while this initiative has become a weekly reality. We have much to give thanks to God for - an average attendance of about fifty, a good range of ages, an emerging pattern of worship and the support of differently gifted people.

What has been happening? We have met for worship since October at 9.30 on Sunday mornings at St Mary's church, with a short spell in the church hall during work on the church heating. Music is provided by keyboard, drums, flute and guitar with appropriate vocals.

 Part of the music group in action on Christmas Day.

Words and images are projected for all to see. Each week is themed round a topic or bible passage with activities intended to allow people of all ages and stages to worship God in a way that is meaningful for them. This has included flag waving, prayer writing, music making and weaving friendship bracelets.

What happens next? We shall be exploring some of Jesus' miracles in February. Please continue to pray for this work and worship.

Sue Read


The Advent Trail - did you see the pictures?

The Advent Trail was the brainchild of the Mission & Outreach committee to bring the Christmas message to the heart of Prestbury village in an innovative and fun way. It aimed to emphasise that Advent is a time of Christian countup rather than commercial countdown to Christmas.

Mary Turner and I worked on the project, with many thanks also to Kate Bestwick and Caroline Sexton for all their administrative support. We contacted a number of local groups including Sunday Club, Bushbabies, the Infant and Junior after-school clubs as well as individuals. (Ages ranged from 3 to 17.) The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and within days we had our pictures for the trail.

Our next task was to bring in local support to locate hosts for the pictures. Margaret Waker came to the rescue and with a blend of persuasive charm and dogged determination she engaged the cooperation of shopkeepers, householders, publicans, schools, surgery, churches and library to display our pictures.

As the days of Advent unfolded the pictures appeared inside or outside buildings. It was a nervous time with me walking around to see if the pictures had been put up. O me of little faith! Everyone turned up trumps.

Families and children started to follow the trail, clutching their orange quiz sheets, and even the most exposed pictures weathered wind and rain. I have had reports of people meeting and greeting one another on the trail. I certainly did when I followed the circuit with my grandchildren. All the children who completed the Advent Trail have been awarded a small prize and a certificate for taking part.

At Epiphany the pictures were put on display in St Mary's. In a sense they came home.

Something to repeat? Let me know when you see me. We certainly felt it was a welcome addition to our Christmas activities.

Daphne Philpot, Mission & Outreach


Prestbury Parish Candlelit Epiphany Supper

The evening started well with a lovely Epiphany service at 6.30 in St Mary's Church, Prestbury; Thursday 6th January, the twelfth day of Christmas. The church was packed full of eager people, church leaders, lay people and congregation. The church was candlelit in readiness and trestle tables had been arranged in the wings; tablecloths, table centres, the works!

Didn't we have such a lovely time! A suite of ladies had prepared a super supper of chicken and broccoli bake, goulash and a very special vegetarian option: everyone was catered for. There was wine and soft drinks for all and entertainment with Vital Spark later on.

We queued and dined and chatted with friends and the evening was punctuated with popping corks and laughter. Servers came round with more wine and second helpings; I don't think there was a dirty plate or anything but clean bowls and empty casserole dishes by the end of the evening!

The music was seasonal and historical from a group of eleven local musicians and singers whose repertoire was varied and fun, from Thomas Hardye's Stinsford and Puddletown Church choir offerings to Northern Soul (well, spiritual songs from the outskirts of Sheffield!!). With violins, a Serpent, clarinets and concertinas, and upbeat Psalms rewritten to meter, and rendered in Do Ray Me fashion - there were Shepherds watching their flocks by night, and verses from Luke and Matthew, and they wished Us A Very Merry Christmas in rounds to orchestrated cries of encore!!!

A special thanks was given by Father Michael at the end, who let on that all contributors had donated their time and efforts for free for the Tsunami fund and that so far that evening had raised also over 200 to the appeal. And the inevitable raffle brought cries of 'we've been trying not to win that box of chocs for the last three raffles - we keep putting it back in!' - well they grow on you, Gill! Well done all.

Karen Kurg

See pictures taken on the evening

Epiphany Supper

We had a very enjoyable evening. After the Eucharist we had a candle-lit supper of goulash and trifle and were once again entertained by Vital Spark - what a treat!

Thank you to everyone who prepared food, moved furniture and helped on the night. Vital Spark kindly donated their travelling expenses, which meant we raised around 440 for the tsunami fund - thank you.

Ruth Rudge

Grandmother's Recipe for Goulash

For several years when at Medical School my husband shared digs with a Hungarian Medic friend. Although George left Hungary at a tender age his family still used his Grandmother's recipe for goulash Budapest style, he would stew large fiery pots of it for parties. The Goulash we ate at the Epiphany supper was a more gentle version. If you would like a copy of the recipe, please contact me.

Lynda Hodges


Spirit of Christmas

On Friday 10 December 2004 the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, in partnership with the Stagecoach Theatre Arts, presented a Candlelit celebration in Gloucester Cathedral entitled 'The Spirit of Christmas' - 'both a celebration of Christmas and an affirmation of hope'.

Sophie, who is a member of our Junior Church and of the local Stagecoach Theatre Arts School, took part in this presentation along with 101 other students from the Cheltenham and Gloucester Stagecoach groups, ages ranging from 6 to 18. All those who took part were invited to write a poem entitled 'When Children Rule the World' - the winner having the honour of reading their poem out during the performance.

Sophie won the competition and consequently read her poem to a packed Cathedral on the evening of the performance. She also read it again at our Christingle Service at St Mary's Church on Sunday 12 December.

When Children Rule the World

When children rule the world
There will be no more war
There will be food for everyone
Including the poor

When children rule the world
Everyone will eat healthily
And all families
Will live wealthily

When children rule the world
There will be no more fear
And close to everyone
Love will be near

When children rule the world
The air will be filled with laughter
And everyone will live
Happily ever after

Sophie B (aged 8)


Optimistic towards anything and everything;


this was Miss Hawkins.
United as a class, as a family,
  with Miss Hawkins.
Respected by everyone as she respected us;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Trustworthy with our problems;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Exciting and enthusiastic in all our lessons;
  this was Miss Hawkins
Always interested and friendly to other people;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Concerned for other people in their time of need;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Happy to help when you were finding things hard;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Extremely pleased when good things happened to you;
  this was Miss Hawkins.
Really terrific teacher; brilliant at the job she did;
  OUR TEACHER, Miss Hawkins.

Anna C (age 12) & Kathryn T (age 11)

Anne Hawkins was Deputy Headteacher at St Mary's Infant School for nineteen years until her death on 1st November 2004. Anna and Kathryn read their poem at Anne's memorial service at All Saints' church in December. Editor


War Graves, Prestbury (St Mary) Churchyard

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission would like to erect standard pattern war headstones on two graves in St Mary's churchyard. If you have any information about the next of kin of either A. V. HOLMAN or A. MCG. INGLIS please contact the Parish Office, The Rectory, Tatchley Lane, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL52 3DQ


Prestbury Parish Annual Meeting & Vestry Meeting

These meetings will take place on Sunday 13 March. There will be notices in the churches giving details of vacancies and nomination procedure.


St Mary's Bakestall 2005

Back to the usual arrangements of a Bakestall on the third Sunday of the month. Contributions for February 20th will be most welcome from the N-Z team.

In 2004 we raised a total of 360. We responded to a number of Urgent Appeals from Christian Aid, Care International, Unicef and World Vision to help victims in Iran (earthquake), Sudan and Dafur. Donations were sent to Let the Children Live, the Medical Foundation which cares for victims of torture, to Hope Africa, an initiative of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town responding to the plight of the poor, and to ITDG which applies technology to this problem worldwide.

Thank you to everyone who has baked and bought. Can we do as well this year?

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews


Christian Aid

Carol singing at Cheltenham supermarkets on Saturday December 18th was good fun and well supported. Many thanks to all singers! St Nicolas' raised 126.90 at Tesco and St Mary's raised 140.54 at Sainsbury's.

The Bethlehem Christmas Appeal: 175 was raised for this from St Nicolas' congregation. Thank you to all who contributed.

Asia Tsunami Disaster Appeal:
To date 970 has been sent to this from the bucket collections, via Christian Aid, from St Mary's and St Nicolas', much of it gift-aided, thereby raising an extra 30%. As well as the very pleasing 1100 raised by the coffee morning and sale held at All Saints' church on Saturday 15th January, through the efforts of all three of our congregations, the Appeal continues, and Christian Aid encourages us, if we pay Income Tax, to fill in the Gift Aid declaration on the envelopes, so that tax can be reclaimed by the charity from Inland Revenue.

Thank you to every contributor.

Gill Ashman and Paddy Spurgeon


Not only a flock of sheep for Christmas...!

The World Vision Alternative Christmas Card at St Mary's raised 223.87 which is sufficient to provide not just a flock of sheep for a family in Senegal but also a Tube Well for a community in countries like Ethiopia and Cambodia, a sewing machine to help start a family business in Bangladesh and, with the help of Gift Aid, a child's desk with educational supplies and a vegetable garden starter kit.

The Parish Christmas collections of 1504.46 have also been sent to World Vision, so together this makes a grand total of 1728.33.

Margaret Holman & Margaret Waker.


Christingle Service 2004

It was wonderful to see the church full for the Christingle Service. Father Stephen told the story explaining the relevance of all the parts of the orange, which the children all enjoyed (the adults too!).

A total of 304 was raised for the Children's Society. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this sum.

A BIG thank you to Waitrose, Jane's Hairdressers and Prestbury P.O. who kindly donated the oranges. Also thank you to all those who helped put the Christingles together.

Sarah Woodall

Children's Society Boxes at St Mary's

Money collected in boxes last year came to a total of 249. Thank you to all box holders. I will be collecting and opening the boxes again in the summer. The Children's Society reaches out to help over 50,000 children every year. Many are runaways who have been abused. Anybody who would like a box or could help me to collect or count the money will be greatly appreciated.

Ruth Rudge

The Children's Society at St Nicolas'

Very many thanks to all the box holders who have helped to collect a total of 377.80 during 2004. Thanks also to Enid Cowley who patiently helped me to count all those pennies.

Janet White



Prestbury Parish Magazine - February 2005

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