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Prestbury Parish Magazine

March 2008

See!  The winter is past; ... Flowers appear on the earth ...   

Song of Songs 2: 11-12


Photograph: Snowdrops against the churchyard wall
by Ken Bradbury




Welcome to Fr Daniel

The Ministry of Ordained Women

The Legal Details of Ordained Women in North Cheltenham

Scheme for the proposed Team Ministry

Support For Young People

I wanna tell you a story...

School News -  Our Foundation Governors

Snippets from the Tower

Parish Quiz Night

From Gothic Revival to Arts and Crafts

St Mary’s Repairs

Jenn Lyle in the London Marathon

Follow the cross

Can dry bones live

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

Photographs of the Licensing of Fr Daniel Papworth

Reports on Football Games involving North Cheltenham Churches FC

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month



WHAT A STRANGE TIME of year to be starting in a new place! Strange because it means a real mixture of joy and solemnity: the welcoming smiles of that wonderful licensing service; the drama of Candlemas on my first Sunday; and the quiet thoughtfulness of Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. An odd time to begin, therefore, but a significant one as well. For Lent is one of those periods when we become more clearly aware that we are on a journey, that we are a work in progress, and that the best is yet to come.

Nationally, the early part of Lent has been dominated somewhat by a media furore following some remarks in a lecture made by Archbishop Rowan. Rather predictably the story has been fanned into flame by those with various agendas, be it selling newspapers or dissatisfaction with the Church. Whenever this kind of thing occurs I cannot help reflecting on how easily threatened we are. All it takes is a question or a thought and suddenly all hell (and I use the word advisedly) breaks loose. Jesus was aware of this tendency in people and was extremely careful about what he said and when he said it. On several occasions he resisted the temptation to become swept up in his disciples’ enthusiasm, sensing the time was not right1. When the time was right, however, he did not hold back2. Throughout Lent and Holy Week our readings show us how Jesus prepared for the storm and then, with great perception and self-awareness, brought it about. There were many shouting “Hosannah!” on that first Palm Sunday, but there was also a significant, powerful minority who knew Jesus was challenging them3. Their response was swift and brutal.

We are all familiar with the practice of fasting in Lent, usually in the form of giving something up. This is not about spiritual heroics, but rather a way of creating a space, an opening for God to meet with us. Fasting weakens us, making us more aware than usual of how we depend upon God. Is it possible to extend this discipline, therefore, when we encounter ideas or people who seem threatening? Is it possible to fast from defensiveness and instead seek to respond prayerfully? To remain silent in the face of provocation is one of the most powerful signs of the trusting of faith. It rarely makes things easier, but that is not the point. The point is that we stand for a way of life that is radically different from the world’s way. The world wants easy answers, a sense of security, and for everyone to be the same. The way of Jesus is to live with hard questions, to trust in God’s eternal love, and to accept people as they are. It is not a journey we can complete overnight, but perhaps by taking small, deliberate steps we can demonstrate that we are on our way.

1. See for example Matthew 17:9 or John 6:15. St Ignatius of Loyola writes; “See how the divinity in Christ chooses to hide itself”
2. For example, telling anyone that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” is pretty controversial stuff, let alone practising Jews of the first century. John 6:54
3. Luke 19:37-48

Fr Daniel


Welcome to Fr Daniel

It has been very good to welcome Fr Daniel to work with us in our Team Ministry and I have been delighted to gain a full-time colleague! As Bishop Michael explained during the Licensing service, Fr Daniel has been licensed as an Associate Priest in the Prestbury and All Saints’ Team Ministry. When the North Cheltenham Team Ministry is legally formed, he will be licensed as a Team Vicar. Although he is living in Prestbury Vicarage and will be ministering primarily to the congregations of Celebrate! and the ‘11 o’clock’ at St Mary’s, Fr Daniel’s appointment is definitely to the whole Team Ministry. The terms of the scheme which will establish the new Team will give both Team Vicars (Fr Daniel and Fr Stephen Eldridge) a share, with me as Rector, for ‘the cure of souls’ in the whole area of the Team. My role will be more of a ‘roving’ one, ministering primarily to the 9.30am congregation at St Nicolas’ and then being able to join with our other congregations to share with them in their worship. Currently as Priest-in-Charge, but in time as Team Rector, there are certain legal responsibilities which go with my office, including chairmanship of the PCC’s and holding ex officio places on the governing bodies of both schools. In time I am sure there will be possibilities for delegation! In the meantime, Fr Daniel’s arrival begins the process of setting in place the working arrangements for our new Team Ministry and we await the final pieces of the jigsaw.

Fr Michael


Sanctus bell

Did any of you count the number of times Fr Daniel rang the Sanctus bell at his licensing? After the first verse of the final hymn the new minister rings the church bell to make known to the community that he has begun his ministry. I was standing in the choir stalls next to the bell rope waiting to get on with the second verse and thought he was a little over enthusiastic, to put it mildly. Afterwards I heard it said that the bell is pulled once for every year the new minister thinks he will remain in the parish. We must have impressed Fr Daniel, as it sounded like he wants to stay a long while!

Brian Wood


The Ministry of Ordained Women

At the time when Fr Stephen’s retirement was announced, the PCC had to discuss the question of the Resolutions relating to the Ordination of Women Measure. The legal details are explained by Jerry Porter elsewhere in this magazine, but at the time of taking their decision the PCC expressed the hope that the matter would be discussed more fully when sufficient time could be given to it. This hope was also expressed at last year’s Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

It is important to acknowledge that for some in our congregations the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood raises strong feelings, both amongst those who are in favour and those who feel opposed. We must also acknowledge that, probably for many, this is not an issue at all; they simply have not given the matter any consideration and so would not have a view either way.

Following recent meetings of the PCC, an afternoon has been set aside to allow a time for discussion of the ministry of ordained women, particularly as priests, and of the implications of this ministry for our parish and for the wider Team Ministry. Canon David Hoyle, the Diocesan Director of Ministry, has been invited to facilitate the afternoon. Many of you will have heard Canon Hoyle speak and already know that he is very highly regarded. He will give some input, from an impartial perspective, and then chair the discussion which is hoped will allow people to freely hear and express opinions and to understand the differing views which are held.

For some it might be the first time that they have heard any discussion on this matter and so the afternoon might raise their awareness and help them to an informed opinion. Depending on the feeling of the meeting it may be that a further discussion takes place during the Annual Church Meeting in April and then the matter might be referred back to the PCC for them to reconsider the question of the resolutions.

I trust and pray that all of us will be open to one another and to the Holy Spirit as these discussions take place so that they might do so in an atmosphere of Christian love and understanding.

The discussion afternoon with Canon David Hoyle will be held in St Nicolas’ Church on Sunday 9th March at 3.30pm. All are very welcome to attend.

Fr Michael


The Legal Details of Ordained Women in North Cheltenham

Fr Michael has written elsewhere in this edition about renewed discussion of the ministry of ordained women in this parish and the wider team. So what does the law say, what has the parish of Prestbury decided in the past, and what are the implications for the current Prestbury and All Saints’ team and the future North Cheltenham team? This article tries to untangle the mysteries.

The Priests [Ordination of Women] Measure 1993 was passed by the General Synod of the Church of England to make provision for the ordination of women as priests. Under that Measure PCCs may pass either or both of these resolutions:

Resolution A says:
this parochial church council would not accept a woman as the minister who presides at or celebrates the Holy Communion or pronounces the Absolution in the parish.

Resolution B says:
this parochial church council would not accept a woman as the incumbent or priest-in-charge of the benefice or as a team vicar for the benefice.
Resolution B applies only to priests of incumbent status – the team rector and team vicar - not to any curate, house for duty priest, non-stipendiary priest or other ordained minister licensed to the benefice.

(Where the PCC of any parish has passed one or both of resolutions A and B, the incumbent and the PCC may decide jointly to ask the diocesan bishop for appropriate episcopal duties in the parish to be carried out in accordance with the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This is the Act which made provision for parishes opposed to the ordination of women to receive alternative pastoral oversight from a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, commonly referred to as a Flying Bishop. Such a petition is often referred to as Resolution C. No such petition has been made by either Prestbury or All Saints’.)

Once passed, a resolution continues in force until the PCC votes to change it.

The Prestbury PCC debated the issue at the time of the interregnum in 1994 and passed Resolution B. This resolution has been in force since then.

When a vacancy arises, as was the case when Fr Stephen announced his retirement, the PCC must decide whether to pass a new resolution or resolutions, or to rescind an existing resolution or resolutions, or to do neither of these things. If it does neither of these things, any existing resolutions remain in force. At the Prestbury PCC meeting in September 2006, after lengthy discussion of the issues and options, no motion to rescind Resolution B or to adopt another Resolution was proposed, with the result that Resolution B still stands.

This means that, whilst the Prestbury PCC does not support the appointment of a woman as team rector or team vicar, it has no objection to a woman priest presiding at Holy Communion or pronouncing the Absolution in the parish of Prestbury.

In benefices (teams) consisting of several parishes, the passing of Resolution B by any one parish is binding on all the parishes in the benefice. Of the parishes which will make up the future North Cheltenham team, both Prestbury and All Saints’ currently have Resolution B in force. This means that at present the team may not appoint a woman priest as either team rector or team vicar, but a woman priest may preside at Holy Communion and pronounce the Absolution throughout the team, except at All Saints’, which has also passed Resolution A.

Jerry Porter


Scheme for the proposed Team Ministry

The Church Commissioners have sent out the draft Scheme which is the legal document which will establish the North Cheltenham Team Ministry. There is now a consultation period which runs until 18th March. The Scheme has been posted on the notice board in both churches along with a glossary of terms and an explanation of how any representations can be made. Please do look at the paperwork and please do ask one of the clergy or one of the Churchwardens if there is anything you would like clarification on.

Fr Michael


North Cheltenham Team Ministry

Above you will read that the draft scheme for forming the new Team has been issued, so things are beginning to move a little faster. When the Team is formed we will have a newly-designed website. I’m still keen for you all to help design a new logo. If you have any ideas that might be incorporated in one, please, sketch it on the back of an old envelope and pass it to me. Who knows? From all the ideas some may come through to help identify the North Cheltenham Team.

Brian Wood


Support For Young People

Come to the PPY AGM, and for wine and nibbles beforehand, on 27th April 2008

The AGM of Prestbury and Pittville Youth will follow the Prestbury Parish AGM in St Mary’s on the evening of Sunday 27th April. As they did last year, the Executive Committee are inviting you for wine and nibbles between the two meetings. Please join us then to show your support for our young people.

Become a PPY Member

Prestbury and Pittville Youth was registered as a charity in 2004 and the youth work it funds and manages has expanded since then. There are now 4 evening groups every term-time week, a monthly group for older young people, summer holiday schemes, special sessions for young leaders and an alternative curriculum two days a week for secondary school students who are at risk of school exclusion. There is an annual challenge project open to everyone. This year it is based around arts, craft and music. Several of you will already have enjoyed the fashion show and there is more to come.

If you would like to become a member of the charity so that you can keep in touch with all that is going on, please ask the Secretary, Tricia Wilson, for an application form ( ). Membership is free.


Use for your on-line searches
This is a painless way of donating. It costs you nothing. If you name Prestbury and Pittville Youth as your nominated charity when you register to use then they will donate a penny to PPY's work every time you make an on-line search. Some of you will have tried using everyclick already and have given up, but the new improved version is well worth a second try.

Tricia Wilson



Prestbury and Pittville Youth

Please pray for....

the Good Friday Youth Worship on Friday 21st March 7pm at St Nicolas'.  We are inviting the many young people with whom we have contact.   It would b e great to communicate how world-changing the Easter message is!

Give thanks for...

the way in which young people have engaged with the re-create arts project and the way relationships of trust are flourishing in all the different groups.  It is great to have a number of potential new volunteers interested in youth work!

'I want my life to be about more than just work' (young person)

For more information about the youth work please contact Andy Macauly on 520534.

I wanna tell you a story...

No, it isn’t Max Bygraves writing this article but I hope the title may have caught your eye and encouraged you to read further! I am really writing to remind you of the work being done by our Open The Book team in St Mary’s Infant School.

Our team consists of about ten people from various churches in the area who, in groups of three or four, go into the school every Wednesday to read and bring to life a bible story at their assembly. We are welcomed by the Head Teacher, Miss Ann Fitzpatrick, and her very dedicated staff and given a free hand in how we try to get a bible story across to all the children. If we manage to get it right then these children will go home and tell their parents, thus spreading God’s Word even further.

Whilst we can manage with the number of people currently in our team, obviously, we are in a sense, talking to children in a church school, who will already have heard something of our Christian message. Think how wonderful it would be if we could widen our outreach by taking these stories into schools where there is not a Christian ethos and where perhaps bible stories and God are not so well known. To do this we would need more people to join us at St Mary’s Infant School, in order to release the more experienced members of the team to spread ourselves into other schools.

May I encourage you to think about this and if you feel you could give up an hour and a half every few weeks (on a Wednesday) and come and join us, I know that you will get as much out of the sessions as the children – it really is great fun and you don’t have to be dynamic or trained to work with children. All you need is to be able to read the stories and have the time to join a friendly group of people. If you can’t join us yourselves, then perhaps you can pray for us? Or pass the message on to someone else who you think may fit the bill. Please contact me or Julie Jefferies from the URC for further information.

Marion Beagley,
Julie Jefferies


A Thank You

On behalf of the Parish Events Committee may I thank all of the impromptu volunteers who helped us circulate coffee, wine and food to so many who stayed to join in the celebration of Fr Daniel’s Licensing in St Mary’s church.

Knowing we were expecting a pretty full house, hiding away a large enough quantity of food, bottles of bubbly, glasses and cups and saucers was a more difficult puzzle than feeding 90-plus diners at the Epiphany Supper!

Willing (and secure!) hands to carry the trays and plates arrived quite unbidden. Mavis Brick’s years of post office organisation equipped her brilliantly to plan the instant appearance of three fully laden tables in front of the Good Shepherd Chapel, Chair and Pulpit. Bishop Michael described it as “complete magic”. The very solemn service was followed by a real family party. The Prestbury congregations never cease to amaze me.

Thank you again to all of you.

Lynda Hodges


School News -
Our Foundation Governors

In the hall of the St Mary’s Junior School hangs a plaque: National School 1836. At that time, the school was run by the Prestbury Parochial Church Council acting as trustees. This Christian Foundation still holds good, although we now have two schools, two churches and the Local Authority increasingly plays the most significant role in the day to day running of the schools.

The church however still has a leading role in the governance of the schools. Nominated by the PCC and approved by the Gloucester Diocesan Board of Education, the Foundation Governors represent on our Governing Bodies our parish mission in Prestbury. They are the majority presence on the school Governing Bodies. A Foundation Governor is appointed for an initial 4 years but may be appointed for further terms of office. At the time of their appointment, a certain number of these Foundation Governors have to be the parent of a child at the school.

Their responsibility is in brief to celebrate and foster the Christian Ethos within the schools which alongside quality education offer a spiritual dimension to the lives of young people, within the traditions of the Church of England in an increasingly secular world (The Way ahead: Church of England schools in the new millennium).

How do the Foundation Governors support the schools in meeting this challenge? What does their role mean to them? Perhaps the following contributions from two of our Foundation Governors will shed some light on this question.

Rosie Dodd (Foundation Governor at the Infant School)

"Rosie," said Father Stephen in his most persuasive voice - "Oh yes," I thought, preparing myself for what was coming. "How would you like to be a Foundation Governor for St Mary's Infant school?" I thought for a few minutes, I had been in Education all my life and had always found it interesting. I knew that the Infant School had recently had a new head and that it was the start of a new era there. I thought that being a Governor would be interesting and fulfilling - also that it would provide an insight into a school other than the one that I taught in; so I said,"yes."

I have now been a Governor at the Infant School for nearly ten years and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable time, especially if you discount the two Ofsteds!

During this time I have been really pleased to be a Governor in a Church school in particular. It is good to see the Clergy taking such an active role in the life of the school and I find it very rewarding to be involved in a school with such a strong Christian ethos.

I truly enjoy the involvement that I have with St Mary's, the Staff and the children. It is always a privilege and very rewarding to feel that you are supporting the Staff and the children, even in a small way, and especially so in such a lovely School.

Kate Bestwick (Foundation Governor at the Junior School)

As Parent Foundation Governor of Prestbury St Mary’s C of E Junior School I am part of the Christian Values Committee (CVC, a committee of the Governing Body) – the focus of this group is to “celebrate and foster the Christian Ethos of the school” (Terms of reference). We support collective worship within school, nurturing links between the Church, school and local community. We meet once a term to discuss various aspects of worship in the school and to evaluate the Christian Ethos of the school.

One of the areas I monitor as Foundation Governor is RE, this involves going into school, reviewing the files and going through the strategic planning in this subject with the teacher responsible for RE; this usually happens once a term. After discussion I complete a monitoring form to record our meeting, a copy of which is sent to the Headteacher.

I also monitor worship at the school, again this involves going into school and meeting the teacher responsible for worship. Another part of the monitoring process also involves attending school assemblies, including parental assemblies – these are assemblies led by one class and to which the parents of that particular class are invited (each class will have a turn during the school year).

As Foundation Governor I enjoy attending these and find it useful to see how the aspects discussed at the CVC meetings come together. I also enjoy attending and supporting other school events such as school fetes, school plays and leavers concerts, to name but a few.

Being a parent Foundation Governor is a great experience and a way I feel I can ‘give something back to the school’ which taught and nurtured my two children preparing them for both life at Senior School and beyond.

We will be looking for new Foundation Governors for the next academic year, beginning September 2008. Would you be interested in this work, if not now perhaps sometime in the future? If the answer is yes or maybe, please speak either to myself, Daphne Philpot (Chair of Junior School) or to Fr Michael (Chair of Infant School).

Current Foundation Governors:
Junior School:
Daphne Philpot, Fr Michael, Cyril Beer, Peter Allsopp, Rachel Storey, Kate Bestwick, Karen Brook, Christine McKelvey, Dr Mark Jackson
Infant School: Fr Michael, Rosie Dodd, Fiona Hall, Mary Turner, Caroline Sexton, Allan Philpot, Miriam Barnes, Jane Turner.

Daphne Philpot


Prestbury United Charities

is a charity derived from a number of small bequests and from properties dedicated as almshouses. It is administered by nine trustees and has two functions: almshouses and relief in need; the area of benefit is the parishes of Prestbury, Swindon Village and Southam.

For various reasons the original number of almshouses has decreased and now consists of one dwelling and the right to appoint the resident for two of the maisonettes in Ann Goodrich Close. However, over the same period the income for relief in need has increased so that the trustees have a reasonable sum at their disposal.

People may be aware of the leaflets that have been distributed to churches, schools, local shops and organisations but the trustees would still welcome requests for help and appeal for a wider knowledge of the help they can give. All applicants are assured of strict confidence in the handling by trustees who wish to cause no embarrassment in administering charity money. There are local funds available for local needs of individuals or organisations.
Application for help can be made to the Clerk, Mr Brian Wood, 2 Honeysuckle Close, Prestbury, GL52 5LN, telephone 01242 515941 or any trustee.

Bob Lyle, Chairman of Trustees


Easter Lilies

With Lent underway we are now anticipating Easter and all that this Holy Season embraces.

In previous years several people have kindly sponsored a lily in memory of a loved one. Our church, at this Holy Season, is a profusion of flowers and colour and it may be comforting to know that a loved one is remembered in this way. If you are keen to sponsor a lily please contact Margaret Waker.


Snippets from the Tower

We were pleased to ring for the licensing service of Fr Daniel on Wednesday 30th January. On the previous Sunday evening we rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Minor for Evening Service which we dedicated to Fr Daniel. Nowadays we are rather short of local ringers: we usually need to invite ringers from other towers around Cheltenham to join us if we wish to ring a quarter peal. So, if any readers of the magazine might be interested in learning to ring, or if anyone reading this is a “lapsed” ringer who fancies returning to church bell ringing, why not pop along to our practice night between 7.30 pm and 9pm on any Tuesday (except in Holy Week, when we do not ring) and have a chat with us.

Jenni Scruton


Parish Quiz Night

On Saturday 9th February Noel and Michael Brick were our hosts in the Parish Quiz at St Nicolas’ Hall. To get our brains in gear we started by having to unravel the anagrams of names of famous people, not all were easy! There were questions for all areas of interest and ages. Some were simple and others were challenging. The round of pictures of local landmarks caught out a few people. This year we were guaranteed a new winning team as the winners of the last three years had moved to Cambridge! The results were close and the winners on a tie-break were Duffers United. Well done to them. They agreed to donate their cash prize to Prestbury and Pittville Youth.

Brian Wood



Duffers United
 Gill Wood, Janet Waters, Lindsey McGowan and Julie Lane


From Gothic Revival to Arts and Crafts

An Introduction to the Interior Decoration of All Saints’

For those of us who are frequent users of, and visitors to, All Saints’, its marvellous, uplifting interior needs no introduction. But for those who pass by it remains largely a hidden gem, concealed by a somewhat forbidding and severe exterior. It was therefore wonderful that so many people came to this talk, either to learn more about a familiar friend, or to be introduced properly for the first time.

This was a very well informed talk by Mary Greensted, as one would expect from the Curator of our museums highly respected Arts & Crafts collection. It gave us a glimpse of how fast things were changing and developing in Victorian England as a backdrop to the Gothic revival. It illuminated how central Cheltenham was to the development of the Arts & Crafts nationally, and how All Saints’ benefited from this wealth of talent. She did much to place All Saints’ and its decorations and contents in its original context, showing how Middleton developed the ideas started by Pugin into his own austere yet decorated style. I found myself thinking how well suited this was to accommodating the many changes to this church, both before and after Middleton’s death. It was wonderful, armed with our new found knowledge, to walk around the church again, seeing many familiar features in a new light, and seeing things we had never noticed before.

Peter Ireland

A Talk by Mary Greensted

On a warm sunny afternoon in February over 200 people packed All Saints' Church to hear a talk given by Mary Greensted who is the curator of the designated collection held at Cheltenham Museum.

She spoke of the link of Pugin and his Gothic vision through to William Morris and the rise of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was a very inspiring talk and Miss Greensted pointed out the influence of Pugin within the church and how colour and nature played a great part in the building of All Saints'.

She pointed out the Burne - Jones rose window in the south transept with its pink hues which was one of his better designs. She then pointed out the magnificent rose window at the west end of the church which sums up what the Arts and Crafts movement was aiming at. The window is full of bright strong colours and was designed by Sir William Richmond and made by the William Morris Company. She pointed out the wonderful Minton tiles on the Chancel floor, which she said was very much a Pugin idea. She made repeated reference to Rosemary Hill's book on Pugin, which was reviewed in last month's parish magazine.

All Saints' church is a treasure trove of wonderful art. Following the talk people walked around and asked questions, which Mary was happy to answer. Tea was served by members of the congregation. It was a very enjoyable afternoon, which the friends of All Saints' hope to repeat.

Raymond Hunt.

All Saints’

What a splendid afternoon my friend Mavis and I spent at All Saints’ Church. A very full Church of people enjoyed a talk by Mary Greensted from the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, entitled From Gothic Revival to Arts and Crafts. She ably led us through the different stages of the design and building of this magnificent building, that Architect being John Middleton.

Various parts were highlighted: the floor tiles by Minton; the pulpit and pulpit hood; the lovely hood covered in roses over the font; the stained glass windows and organ pipes. Mary also spoke of the various mainly Cheltenham companies involved including H H Martyn. She mentioned the brass lectern which at one time had been on display in London.

Mary had done a lot of research, especially going into the church on several Saturdays and what she noticed was the love and care taken with this splendid church. Fr Michael introduced and thanked Mary and even he was pleased to be able to sit and have various aspects highlighted.

The afternoon finished with tea and super home-made biscuits. The afternoon was organised by the Friends of All Saints’ Church.

Sylvia McKenzie



If you would like to know more about the Friends of All Saints’ please contact Peter Warwick.  Further events are planned for 6th April and 25th May.



St Mary’s Repairs

Working on tall ladders is fraught with problems, not the least these days being "Health & Safety". For this reason Mark Hancock, the mason to whom we have entrusted the St Mary’s repair work, decided to hire a "cherry picker" in order to replace slates on the chancel roof. He had also pointed out that the cross on the end of the chancel roof was leaning alarmingly. This was rather odd, because the previous, much eroded, cross had only been replaced by this one by Fr Ian Hazlewood not long before he retired about twelve years ago.

The first photo shows Mark's assistant having a first try of controlling the cherry picker from its platform. The cross turned out to be fine in itself, but there was a problem with the mounting. This might be due to deterioration of the old stone at the apex of the chancel wall.

The cherry picker has now departed, not being strong enough to be used to remove the cross. Scaffolding will have to be erected to carry out whatever repair is necessary. In the meantime, the area beneath the cross has been fenced off in case the cross should fall. Unfortunately the cost of this work will be extra to the contract price.

Ken Bradbury


Jenn Lyle in the London Marathon

This year I plan on fulfilling a life ambition by running the London Marathon! I am raising money for a really worthwhile charity, The Outward Bound Trust.

The Outward Bound Trust provides life-changing opportunities for young people, enabling them to explore their potential in a unique way. Outward Bound is a charity Mum (Diane Lyle) is heavily involved in and, when aged 17, I attended an Outward Bound course myself. It was a life changing experience where you were free to discover who you really were, try things you never thought you'd try and learn things about yourself from these experiences as well as the other people around you.

Having worked with young people and witnessed what Outward Bound can do for them I truly believe all the effort, time and pain I am going through is completely worth it.

I am hoping to raise £1300 for my charity and can't do this without the support of friends and family. The support by donation and prayer will be much appreciated as I think my legs and I need all the help we can get, 26 miles is a long way! I run the marathon on 13th April.

If you are interested in sponsoring me I have a completely secure fundraiser page on the internet which can be accessed by visiting

Jenn Lyle


Follow the cross

Again this year we will be joining with our brothers and sisters from the other church families in Prestbury to make a public witness to our Easter faith around the cross. On Palm Sunday at 10.00am, the cross will be carried in procession from the war memorial to a place outside the URC chapel in Deep Street. The cross will be put up, dressed with palm branches. On Good Friday at 10.00am we will gather at the cross for a short time of reflection, prayers and readings. Then on Easter Sunday morning at 10.15am, we will gather again as the cross is hung with a garland of flowers to symbolise Jesus’ resurrection. The cross will then remain in place for the rest of Easter week. This year we hope that the cross will be lit at night. Do make the effort to join us for these short acts of public witness; why not bring a friend?!

Fr Michael


Can dry bones live?

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones… There were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.’
Ezekiel 37, vv 1-5

‘The hip bone’s connected to the – thigh bone, and the thigh bone’s connected to the – knee bone ...’. It is a macabre picture, fascinating for young and old, a great story with a lot of repetition to make it memorable; no wonder it got made into a song that generations of children have sung with cheerful gusto. What is all this doing in the mouth of a serious prophet?

Ezekiel was living in terrible times. Jerusalem had fallen and was laid waste. Ezekiel himself was among thousands of prisoners taken to exile in Babylon. The background to his prophecy could hardly have been more bleak, especially as he understands the disaster of his country as the judgment of God for a faithless people. The vision that came to him in Babylon is a picture of despair: a bare valley, no grass, no trees; if ever there was anything productive or pleasant it has been destroyed. Just a carpet of bones. What is more, these bones have been there a long time, they are totally desiccated. The people they represent are not just dead, they are long gone, they are history. ‘Can these bones live?’ asks God. Ezekiel produces a tactful answer.

Yet, beyond all hope, the ‘word of the Lord’ brings new life where it seemed there was only death. God’s speaking is never just an empty sound; it is dynamic and creative. In Genesis, at the very beginning of things, we read again and again: ‘And God said...’. The whole world came into being by his speaking.

The new life Ezekiel foresees is not just a matter of restoring the physical status quo. God will transform the inner life of his people: ‘a new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you.’ Today, we are only too familiar with pictures of devastation and ruin. As individuals too, whether through sickness, bereavement or misfortune, or through our own wrong choices, we sometimes come to a place which feels every bit as empty, every bit as hopeless. Even then (especially then), God is waiting to bring new life to our dead world:

He speaks; and, listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive,
the mournful broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

One thing more: the prophet is not just a passive observer of the action. Ezekiel himself is required to play an essential part: it is he who must speak God’s word to the bones, and only then does the divine life flow into them. Is there another message for us here? When things are at their worst, God is always present, always offering healing and renewal, but when we are down, it is hard to realise it. Often we need someone else to bring us the message that will open up a channel for God’s grace. And sometimes, we ourselves need to be the messenger for someone else.

Beryl Elliott


Prestbury Hall Users’ Group

Prestbury Hall Users’ Group will be holding their Annual General Meeting at 7.30pm on Monday 3rd March. The meeting will be held at the Prestbury Hall and everyone is welcome. Thank you.

Cyril Beer



St. Mary’s Flower Arrangers Annual Meeting

If any-one is interested in becoming a “flower arranger”, do please join them at their Annual meeting on Thursday 6th March at 7.30pm at my home.
We welcome male, female or novice to our friendly group. Thank you.

Sheila Beer



Women’s World Day of Prayer

Town-wide Services will take place on 7th March 2008. This year’s Service takes the theme God’s Wisdom Provides New Understanding and comes from Guyana.

Nearby services are being held at
10:30 in St Mark’s;
11:45 in St Michael’s, Whaddon;
13:45 in Highbury;
14:00 in Salvation Army, Bath Road;
14:30 in St Peter’s, Leckhampton;
19:30 Warden Hill URC, and
20:00 in St Luke’s.

Jen Swinbank



Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir

The Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir has kindly agreed to give a concert on behalf of the St Vincent Centre, Pittville, Cheltenham, on Friday 7th March. It will take place in All Saints’ Church at 7.30pm and we hope to raise a substantial amount towards the excellent work carried out by the members of staff and patients at the centre. Tickets are available at £6 each and can be obtained from members of the choir, David Axton or Marion Beagley.
Please come along and enjoy an evening of song whilst raising money for this important charity. Thank you.

Marion Beagley



Churchyard and Church Annual Spring Cleaning Day

Saturday 8 March 2008 from 10am

Please come and help if you can, even if only for one hour. More hands make light work. We had great fun last year and we all like to take a pride in the upkeep of our churchyard and beautiful old church. Bring necessary equipment if you can. Just turn up at 10am or you could even come for the 9:30 Eucharist!

John Petchey has offered to come on the Friday afternoon to deal with the high cobwebs. Thank you, John.
Please let me know if you can help.

Doreen Morris



St Mary’s Bakestall

Proceeds from the January bakestall enabled us to give £25 to Christian Aid and £25 to Care International, both for relief in Kenya.
The next bakestall will be on Sunday 16th March, proceeds to Water Aid, and we welcome cakes and other contributions from those whose surnames start with A-F.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews



Music for Malcolm

The next concert in the Music for Malcolm series will be given by our organist, Peter Greaves, on Wednesday 19th March. It will include works by Mendelssohn; Stanford; Herbert Howells and Henry Smart.

Coffee will be served at 10:30 am followed by the recital at 11:00 am.

Christine McKelvey



Prestbury Mothers’ Union

At our next Mothers’ Union meeting on Tuesday 25th March we welcome the Revd Maz Allen from the URC to give us A Kenya Presentation. Maz regularly takes groups of young people to Kenya to help with various projects out there and it will be very interesting to hear about this valuable work and ministry. Please join us at the URC at 7.30pm if you can and please encourage others to come along to hear all about this work.

Marion Beagley



Team Lunch at The Royal Oak

Our next team lunch at the Royal Oak has been arranged for Sunday 30th March at one o’clock. Please book your place as soon as possible as we are limited to about seventy people and places seem to get filled very quickly. Thank you for your continued support in the time of relaxed fellowship together.

Marion Beagley



Drama Group

Following my initial enquiry before Christmas I had several people show an interest in reforming a Drama Group in Prestbury. (This will not impede on the Women’s Institute Christmas Pantomime, as the idea would be to do occasional "one -off" productions.) For those who are interested I have booked St Nicolas' church room for 7.30pm on Wednesday 9th April and hope that all who previously contacted me, plus anyone else who may be interested, will be able to come along. We will then decide, depending on the number involved, whether it is a viable proposition or not. Many thanks.

Marion Beagley



Parish Annual Meeting
27 April 2008

Please make every effort to attend the Annual Meeting of Parishioners and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, on Sunday 27th April at 6:30pm. During these meetings, Church Wardens and PCC members will be elected. Please see church notice boards for nomination lists which will be posted from Saturday 12th April.

All Churchwardens are elected for one year only. This year Jerry Porter is not eligible to stand for re-election under the 6 year rule which requires him to 'stand down' for a year. There will be 2 vacancies for the PCC; 1 for each church.

Liz Underwood, PCC Secretary

Calling all committees

Our Annual church meeting will take place on Sunday 27th April. Prior to this meeting, I have to prepare a report which needs to include a small “thumbprint” paragraph for each committee or work in a specific area that needs to be mentioned. I would be most grateful to receive your short article by Sunday 6th April.

Liz Underwood, PCC Secretary




Prestbury Parish Magazine - March 2008

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

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