link to North Cheltenham Team Ministry website

The Parish of Prestbury

St Mary and St Nicolas

What's New?
Church Services
Pew Sheet
People and Teams
Our Churches
Our Events
Table of Contents



[Back] [Up] [Next]

Prestbury Parish Magazine

October 2005


Accepting the pain

Eileen Jones – in memory and thanksgiving

Open the Book

‘Open Weekend’ hailed a great success

Stewardship campaign raises the roof!

Greenbelt 2005

360° Holiday Project

Fair Trade stall at St Nic’s

News from Prestbury Fabric Committee

Four go on a soggy cycling adventure!

Harvest Gifts

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

Pictures from the Cheese and Wine Evening

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month

The Parish Registers 2005


Accepting the pain

Autumn is here. The leaves begin to fall. Here’s a parable for us to pause and reflect upon. We all might well benefit from shedding a few things.

Ask yourself about priorities, take stock.

What is really important and fundamental in your life?

What is of secondary importance? What is trivial?

How do you share your time between all these?

Have you got your priorities in the right order?

There may be things that you well could shed, in order to bring about more space in your life, and more time, more real quality of living, more opportunity for peace…   

It’s right that you also ask the same questions concerning your Christian journey. Questions about God.  How important in your life is the One who made you and gave you everything you have?  And how do you respond to his generosity and love?

It could even be that you need to shed some of the commitments you have made in order to concentrate on spiritual peace.  I think the most important gift we can impart to anyone is the gift of finding God’s presence, and finding an inner peace with Him. As Jesus put it, to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength.

As individuals we need to be slimmer and fitter in a spiritual sense.  Slimming requires controlled dieting and fitness requires regular exercise if we are to remain healthy.  In health terms we would consult an expert: it’s no use just picking and choosing at random.  As I look at our clergy team here at St Mary’s and St Nicolas’, I recognise that we are fortunate to have priests who are experts in just these things - Fr Michael is a highly trained and qualified spiritual director, whilst  Fr Paul and Fr John and Fr Tim come with a lifetime’s experience in spiritual counsel.  Use their expertise!

These, too, are the questions we are asking as we review our parish life.  At times, we seem to be bogged down with committees locked in permanent discussion, afraid to make decisions and to get things going, lest we offend. We have to face the fact that birth, growth and movement are inevitably painful, and we must accept that pain if we wish to see Jesus.

Fr Stephen 


Eileen Jones – in memory and thanksgiving

Over 190 people came to St Nicolas’ to give thanks for the life of Eileen at her Funeral Mass on 1st September. This spoke volumes about the amount of respect and affection in which Eileen was held.

Eileen came to Prestbury in 1966, when her husband, Stuart, became Head Teacher of St Mary’s School. Eileen taught Special Needs at St Mary’s, followed by stints at Dunalley, Gloucester Road and Swindon Village Schools. She finally retired in 1990 after 40 years’ service, 20 of which were in Gloucestershire.

The Jones’ family played a full part in the life of the Church in Prestbury. Eileen joined St Mary’s Players. She was Enrolling Member of the Mothers’ Union for six years. Eileen was on the PCC, St Nicolas’ own Committee, and the Hall Committee. Eileen served as Sacristan at St Nicolas’, where everything was always in apple pie order.

In 1990 Eileen became Assistant Churchwarden with responsibility for St Nicolas’. In the following years, she sang in the Camerata Choir, and the Occasional Choir. She was also an active member of our Walsingham Cell, and looked forward to our parish pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Eileen was prayerful. Her hard back copy of Celebrating Common Prayer, which we started to use nine years ago on each weekday evening in St Nicolas’, was almost worn out and had been repaired countless times. She had a strong faith – which had been tested in various ways over the years.

A great friend / babysitter / and house-watcher for subsequent curates in Boulton Road, Eileen was dearly loved by the clergy. And as parish priests, Fr Michael and I also found her to be both a strong support and a wise counsellor, not least at Churchwardens’ meetings to which she always arrived bearing a list of matters to be discussed. Eileen had a deep love of St Nic’s – and she could display quite a fierce guardianship. Who hadn’t been sorted out by Eileen at some point? We all had!

I can’t write this appreciation of Eileen without mentioning her love and care for David over the years. It was, of course, mutual, and they supported each other. In David’s own words, “She wasn’t just my carer, she was my best mate”. David is in our prayers very much at this time.

So we, in thanksgiving, commend Eileen to God’s keeping. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Fr Stephen


Open the Book

Where did you first hear the stories in the Bible? How do the current generations hear the stories from the Bible? These were some of the questions posed at the recent Open the Book training. You may well know the stories of Joseph, Moses and Jesus (to name but a few), but if you asked a 20 to 30 year old – what answer do you think they would give when asked who was Joseph, and what do you know about him?

Open the Book aims to share the Bible stories in an easy to understand story with primary school children. Jacqueline Rodwell shared a story of a little boy who went home and said to his mum that he loved the story of Joseph and his Technicolor dream coat so much he wanted her to read it to him again. The family spent ages searching for the family Bible hidden somewhere on a shelf. Then the little boy’s mum (who had no Christian background) had to find the story in the Old Testament, before she could read it! Each week it was the same until the boy said to his mum: I think we should go to church and find out more about these stories.

Each Wednesday a group from four different churches will be going into St Mary’s Infant School to share the stories of the Bible with the children. Please pray for the group, children, teachers and parents.

Julie Jefferies


‘Open Weekend’ hailed a great success

September 8th – 11th; 2pm – 5pm: this was the period when we opened our doors (both of them – south porch) to the general public.

English Heritage and The Civic Trust organise this weekend throughout England annually, and this year we were invited to join in. Considering their generosity to our sister church of All Saints, whose roof is quite literally leaking (down the back of the organ) it seemed rude to refuse.

We revamped our guidebook, produced four different quiz sheets and a young visitor’s guide. Oh, and some colouring sheets for children waiting for parents.

To our relief, our first visitor arrived at 2pm on Thursday, just as I was removing the leftovers of the final flower arrangement. He was followed by a comfortable trickle of friendly and interesting people.

On Saturday afternoon, the flash flood in Prestbury High Street marooned us and five visitors in the church. Cyril Beer, with his usual efficiency, stemmed the flood brimming over the porch steps with hands full of J cloths and we all settled down to an entertaining hour or so. Sadly it was so wet that no further people arrived. We managed to complete all the quizzes ourselves before we closed.

Sunday saw an increase in visitors. It was really enjoyable meeting, talking and exchanging local knowledge. It more than compensated for the previous day’s washout.

Because of the great interest in the early life of St Mary’s Church as we know it, and the discovery of so much of our background as a parish, we have been requested to produce a series of short articles for the magazine.

The title WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN? seems an appropriate one. It will not just be Victorian or Medieval St Mary’s, but the early days of St Nicolas as well; they have a good tale to tell, and I had glimpses of this as I ploughed through packages of old documents at the County Records Office. As a St Mary’s worshipper I know none of this and would love to know more. I hope others feel the same.

Thank you to Brian Wood, Ken Bradbury, Colin Holman and Cyril Beer for their magical working of computers, photocopiers and stapling machines; without them this event would not have happened. Thanks also to Linda Biggs for the loan of a remarkable degree dissertation and everybody else who helped in all sorts of ways.

Next year we must be more organised because we would love to go public again.

Lynda Hodges


Stewardship campaign raises the roof!

Riotous entertainment, cheese and wine, tremendous fellowship – and all in the name of good stewardship! This excellent event was staged at St Mary’s Infant School on Saturday 10 September; the second in a series of social activities organised by the Stewardship team to highlight our duty to make regular giving to God. About 70 people attended, and were treated to a truly original collection of sketches written and performed by many of the people who were involved in last Easter’s Passion Play. Under the direction of Daphne Philpot, the players had their audience in stitches with their tongue-in-cheek portrayals of the clergy, the stewardship committee, harvest, and much more!   See Pictures

The aim of the evening was to encourage people to think more deeply about regular, planned giving, which is essential to keep our churches running. Two more ‘fun’ events are planned: a Pudding Evening at St Nicolas’ on 22 October  3 December, and a quiz at St Mary’s Church Hall on 12 November. For more details, please contact Marion Beagley.


Greenbelt 2005 – ‘probably the best ever!’

This year’s Greenbelt Festival at the Racecourse was, in my opinion, one of the best so far. It provided a great mix of talks, music and fellowship resulting in a great weekend, enjoyed by, among others, more than 20 young people and five leaders from the Synergy and Elevate youth groups. We all camped on site for the duration of the weekend, and luckily we were blessed with good weather. We enjoyed four days of camping, cooking, malletball (!) and each other’s company. Particular group highlights were seeing Tim Hughes and Matt Redman, and the Sunday morning communion. My personal highlights included seeing the Proclaimers perform, and also volunteering in the Mix, which was the venue for 11-14 year olds. I found it really rewarding seeing and helping the young people develop friendships and their faith in such a short space of time. Overall, this year’s Greenbelt was a definite success, and probably my best Greenbelt ever.

Kathryn Porter


Setting up camp for a great weekend

On 26th August a group of about 25 young people and adults set up camp on Cheltenham racecourse for this year’s Greenbelt festival. There was a wide range of talks, music, and various performing arts for us to sample, catering for all ages from the youngest at two, through various ages of young people to the adult. Most enjoyed the music at night, especially the Proclaimers on the Sunday night. Camping was an interesting experience for all, luckily the weather didn’t get too bad, with rain only for one morning.  I think almost all of those camping for the weekend felt that there was a good atmosphere within the group, and staying there for the weekend meant that it could be quite a relaxing experience. All could be said to have had a very enjoyable weekend, although returning home to a shower and a sleep in a comfortable bed was also enjoyed!

Hannah Compton


Twelve Hours at Greenbelt – Saturday 9.45am - 9.45pm

I spent the first hour wandering round the site identifying venues for later in the day, but also managed to fit in a short while sitting on the grass in the quiet of the stable area painting a picture. The theme of Greenbelt this year was ‘Tree of Life’, so I painted a tree: brown trunk, lots of green leaves on the branches, roots dipping into a bright blue stream. Then I mixed the colours a bit and added flowers, butterflies and birds. No, I am not an artist, but it was fun.

I heard two talks, the second speaker a friend from my distant past – former minister of a Baptist church I attended as a student. Thirty or more years dropped away to nothing as we spent the next two hours chatting and teasing each other over lunch! ‘You haven’t changed a bit…’ was the mutual opinion.

A somewhat disturbing walk through a display on asylum seekers, a browse in the bookshop, and a quick bite to eat filled the rest of the afternoon and then in the evening I attended three services. Orthodox Vespers in a darkened room in the grandstand, with its haunting music, icons and candles, was both stirring and calming. Then down to a large tent for a vibrant African ‘bring your own drum’ Eucharist – spectacular, noisy and so refreshing! We sang in various African languages as well as English, we clapped our hands and danced, and those who had drums beat them.

By contrast the short service led in sign language by Deaf people provided a lovely peaceful end to a varied and enjoyable day.

Frances Murton


360° Holiday Project

During the summer, our youth groups were part of the 360° Holiday Project; a series of week-long projects for young people aged 11-18. The activities ranged from an outdoor activity day, to community action, to team building. The initiatives enabled our groups to be part of a great team doing something really worthwhile.


Painting – a community action project


Outdoor activities at Viney Hill



Fair Trade stall at St Nic’s

Some of you may remember we raised the idea of a Fair Trade stall after the Eucharist with a Difference which addressed the issue of Making Poverty History. I have made some enquiries and have decided to run a stall after the service on the second Sunday in the month for a trial period of three months to gauge the interest. It will focus on food and small gifts with nothing costing more than £5 and with items beginning at less than £1. The first stall will be on October 9th so I hope you will come prepared with your pennies! A few people have expressed an interest in helping me so if anybody else would like to help then do give me a ring on 678458.

Janet Waters


Thinking ‘Fair Trade’

The concept of ‘Fair Trade’ is being adopted with increasing fervour throughout our churches: stalls are being organised, and the youth groups have enthusiastically embraced fairly traded snacks and drinks at their meetings.

However, Fair Trade has also been under discussion by members of the Mission & Outreach team, in the context of a wider environmental concern – from recycling, to the efficient use of energy, to creating a greater awareness of what we can all do to care for our world.

Among the ideas from M&O members was a suggestion that we organise an event to highlight environmental needs and policy, including the need to think ‘fair trade’ wherever and whenever possible. We have set up a small working party to take this idea further, and will keep you posted on our progress.

In the meantime, please support any fair trade activity within our parishes – and beyond. Thank you!

Caroline Sexton


News from Prestbury Fabric Committee

St Mary’s Church Hall – a Hall Users’ Group has been formed consisting of many members of the church as well as interested parties. A solicitor is drawing up the lease at present. Hall has been painted and the hedge cut.

Parish Office - due to pressure of space the Parish Office will have to move from the Rectory. The possibility of using one of the vestries at St Nicolas is being explored. The advantage to the Parish of this will be increased parking and more easily accessible toilet and kitchen facilities. No meeting as yet with architect re. location.

New Signs - designs for new signs for St Mary’s, St Nicolas’ and All Saints’ are completed. All Saints’ is in need of a photograph; once this is available an order will be placed.

St Nicolas' Church - the Quinquennial report contained many errors and was of unacceptable quality. The architect has been requested to resubmit. The WC pan in the south toilet has been repositioned to provide space for the construction of a storage cupboard. Discussions are continuing with architect and window manufacturers regarding the ventilation of the church. The youth have decorated areas of the church as part of their 360 project. We are grateful to them for this. The hall, church kitchens and toilets have passed their hygiene inspection by the local authority.

St Mary’s Church - the tower is to have new electrical wiring installed. Emergency repair work is to be undertaken to the church floor. The architect is to be consulted re. a long-term solution. A stone shelf is proposed for the North Chapel. Local stonemasons are submitting designs, which will be put on display once available. The Quinquennial report is awaited.

St Mary’s Churchyard - it is proposed to increase the number of lamp posts in the churchyard.

St Nicolas’ Hall - a structural survey needs to be carried out re. the crack on the internal wall in the NW corner. A structural engineer is being appointed.

General Parish Business - English Heritage sent a 2005 Church Fabric Needs survey. This will be completed and returned.

Date of next meeting - Friday 11th November, 4.15pm at St Nicolas’.

Should you have any comments or questions, please submit them in writing to Jackie Moles at the Parish Office or by email to These will be presented to the committee at its next meeting.


Four go on a soggy cycling adventure!

On Saturday, 10th September, four of our intrepid church members took part in the Annual Cycle Ride of the Historic Churches Trust. Gill Ashman, Matthew Bestwick, Mary Turner, and Bob Lyle braved torrential rains to raise funds for our churches and the Trust – and seemed to enjoy every minute…!

Just the weather for plastic sheeting!

I set out at 10am to visit 12 churches, going north through Bishops Cleeve to St Martin, Woolstone. It was wrapped in plastic sheeting as the roof was being repaired – how could they do this without help from the Trust?

The road to Tredington is pretty straight and open – the heavens opened, too, and I wished I was wrapped in plastic! I was grateful for the shelter of St John, sharing the porch with the fossil of a Coelocanth and three riders from Tewkesbury who were quite dry; they had had no rain up to then.

I continued – and so did the rain – to St James, Stoke Orchard, Elmstone Hardwick, Swindon Village, St Nicolas, and home – 20 miles and 13 churches.

Despite the conditions I enjoyed it and one always learns something new – I know where the Bethel Chapel of the Slavic Baptist Church is – do you? And between us we raised over £350 for our churches and the Trust.

Bob Lyle

Oil, mud and dire thoughts!

Gloucestershire’s only heavy rain in recent months fell with a vengeance when I happened to be in the Church porch of St Mary the Virgin at Westcote. After the heaviest deluge, I ventured forth again, meeting a fellow-cyclist at the gate, who remarked that “at least we are both clean”; a somewhat dubious speculation considering my oily, muddy legs and feet (not to mention the dire thoughts in my head at that point!). But the wet I had been dreading all day was quite exhilarating, as I splashed through rivers and lakes on the roads and lanes. My brakes were in good working order, due to Roger’s careful checking and maintenance!

Starting from Upper Slaughter I look a route around Stow-on-the-Wold, trying to avoid the steepest hills, but finding a few where I needed to dismount and walk. Having left the Slaughters and Swells I headed towards Broadwell, then to Evenlode and Adlestrop, being reminded of its railway connection by the shelter and bench on a corner, and of Edward Thomas’ poem “Adlestrop”.

At Oddington I found two churches, Holy Ascension and the 11th century St Nicholas, with its Mediaeval “Heaven and Hell” wall painting.

 I met Roger for a quick picnic lunch at Bledington, afterwards straying into Oxfordshire to visit the churches at Kingham, Fifield and Idbury. Lastly, a visit to St Peters, Little Rissington and St Lawrence, Bourton-on-the-Water, where Roger picked up my bike and me to return home, both of us dripping wet!

In many of these lovely churches I found someone there with a welcome, drinks and refreshments, sympathy for the weather and help with directions. All the villages were so beautiful that the whole day was most enjoyable!

I visited 15 churches and covered some 30 miles. Thank you very much to all those who generously sponsored me.

Gill Ashman

A feeling of achievement, satisfaction…

and wet trainers!

On Saturday 10th September I woke to the sound of fairly heavy rain – a bit of a disappointment as this was the day I was to accompany my grandson, Matthew Bestwick, on the Historic Churches Sponsored Bike Ride.

We spent the latter part of the morning making sure our bikes and ourselves were ready and roadworthy – I had to have a little practise also as it is about fifteen years since I last rode a bike!

We set off about 1.45pm, duly helmeted and illuminated. The plan was to visit as many Cheltenham churches as possible in a round circuit. We had visited five before the afternoon deluge began; undeterred we went on to visit another eight - by which time we were well and truly soaked and so decided to head for home.

It wasn’t really just because we were so wet that we called it a day (after all, once you are soaked to the skin you can’t get any wetter), it was also because we were making our way through flood water, and visibility was extremely limited. (I’m sure Mike Brick will vouch for us as he passed us in Swindon Lane pushing our bikes up the last hill, in the pouring rain).

In spite of the weather Matthew thoroughly enjoyed his ride and wants to do it again next year! I’m not sure that ‘enjoyed’ is quite the right word for me, but I certainly felt a sense of achievement and satisfaction and we have raised well over £100 in sponsorship money.

We both enjoyed a hot bath (not together) when we arrived home and a lovely tea cooked by Kate (Matthew’s Mum). I later went on to the Stewardship Cheese and Wine party and was able to sit and recover and enjoy the wonderful entertainment provided by our talented Church members.

Our trainers are still wet!

Mary Turner


Harvest Gifts

Our gifts for Harvest this year will once again be collected for Cheltenham Community Projects.  Gifts of tins, dried, and packet goods will be gratefully received at the harvest Services at St Mary's and St Nicolas' on 2 October.

Thank you for your support and generosity which is greatly appreciated by the team at CCP.

Caroline Sexton

St Mary’s Bakestall

The next bakestall will be on Sunday 16th October, when we shall be happy to receive contributions from members with surnames beginning A-F. We are still hoping for new members to join our three baking teams – if you are interested, do please contact one of us.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews

‘Jesus Prayer’ – Quiet Day

Saturday 8 October, 9.30am – 4.45pm, at the Marist Convent, Nympsfield. Cost £13 including lunch. Transport can be arranged. There may still be a few places available – if you are interested please contact

Karen Winder (All Saints’),
Margaret Holman (St Mary’s) or
Margaret Compton (St Nicolas’).

Mid-Morning Concert

There will be a performance by scholars from Dean Close School in St Mary’s church on Wednesday 5th October at 11am preceded by coffee at 10.30am. Please come and support these young musicians. There will be a retiring collection in aid of church funds.

Christine McKelvey

Prestbury Mothers’ Union

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 25th October at St Mary’s, starting at 7.30pm.

Kate Thompson will speak on Boarding School Life. All are welcome.

Marion Beagley


Earth Care Day: Christians and the Environment

A day at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday, 29 October, looking at the way we live and thinking about how our choices affect the environment. The main speaker is Bishop John Oliver, and Bishop Michael will preside. Special sessions for children who come with their parents. 10am to 4pm.

Going green

The Church’s role in environmental issues was high on the agenda at the meeting of the diocesan synod on September 3rd. Following a vote, all churches and parishes will be provided with information to help them devise their own appropriate environmental policies. Bishop Michael will also write to local and national governments pressing them to actively pursue forward-looking measures, and the synod will debate the issues at least once every three years. General information on the environment and the Church is in the Social Responsibility section of

Diologue – newsletter of Gloucester Diocese

The September issue of Diologue, focusing on the Urban Church, is available in church. Do take a copy and one for someone else too. This is the last issue of Diologue. It can also be seen on the diocesan website




Prestbury Parish Magazine - October 2005

[Back] [Up] [Next]

Welcome • What's New? • Church Services • Pew Sheet • People and Teams • Our Churches • Our Events • Magazine • Table of Contents • Links

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933

This website does not gather information about its visitors nor does it place cookies on your computer.  Please read Policy for this website

For general enquiries email  or telephone the Team Office  01242 244373  Mondays to Fridays 09:00 to 12:00
Send mail to with comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1999-2015 The Parish of Prestbury, Gloucestershire, UK
Last modified: 06 June 2015