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Prestbury Parish Magazine

September 2011

Cover photograph:
  Contestants in the Doggy Gymkhana at the Parish Fête in June
by  Frances Murton


The Spirit of God Invites Us

Thank you!

New Churchwarden

Andy Macauly

Ordinand Placement – Andrew Swift

FOSMP Summer Barbecue

Church fabric matters

One role or many – is this you

Therefore Be Patient…

Days in the Life of a Fête

A Banner for Prestbury St Mary’s Junior School


Out and about

A Malawi Experience

Reflections in the Water

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

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


The Spirit of God Invites Us

As the Northern hemisphere turns towards late summer, the leaves begin to fall and holidays become happy memories, it is important not to let it be a melancholy time. The schools and universities are starting back, which means a new start for many people, and in the church as well as other organizations new plans and projects will be getting underway. In Prestbury, the autumn will see the first moves towards implementation of the Team Vision1, a programme that will guide us in our prayers and action for several years.

Those who attend church regularly are always looking outwards, aware that worship encompasses much more than one event in the week, whether it is at the start (Sunday) or a weekday. Worship, as St Paul teaches, is the act of offering ourselves, our souls and bodies to God2. It is something that we can do all the time, although it is not necessary always to be thinking holy thoughts3. What we embody is the belief we share that Jesus – God the Son – became a human being and brought God’s love, his invitation and welcome, into the heart of the community.

So don’t be too surprised if you find yourself being invited to one of our church services in the next few weeks, whether it is the St Mary’s Patronal Festival (11th September), at which we will be remembering not only the birth of the Virgin Mary, but also the terrible attacks in New York ten years ago; or Harvest (2nd October), when we will be celebrating God’s generosity and justice and how we live it out, sharing what we have with others; or some other special event.

Only a few weeks ago this country was shaken by riots in London and other cities, described by police as the worst they have ever seen4. At its most profound this is a sign of the ‘disconnection’ that seems to exist for so many young people, something God is longing to reach out and heal. Perhaps now more than ever is the time to overcome our reserve, our nervousness in reaching out to others, to cross the street to say hello, to put that welcome note through a new neighbour’s door, or even to say to someone ‘I’m going to church on Sunday. Would you like to come with me?’ The more we do that the easier it gets. It is just one of the many ways in which we grow inwardly, becoming the change we want to see5, living icons6 of God’s invitation and welcome.

Fr Daniel



1 Working with the reflections drawn together over the past year, the aim will be to translate into action our aspiration to be a worshipping, serving and growing community, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ
From Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome, chapter 12

2 'It is not necessary, or even possible, to think about God all the time’ – ascribed to Meister Eckhart (source unknown)
3 BBC News, 9 August 2011
4 Ascribed to Mahatma Gandhi (source unknown)
5 Br Roger of Taizé, Peace of Heart in All Things (2004), P.77


Thank you!

Thank you to all those who made my ordination on 3rd July such a moving and memorable occasion. To all who sent cards, came to the cathedral and to Glenfall House, it meant so much. Thank you too for the very generous cheque from all in the North Cheltenham Team. I will use the money to buy a white stole and my preaching scarf. I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all as I serve amongst you. Many thanks!

Deacon Liz


New Churchwarden

On Sunday 17th July Liz Greenhow was elected as Churchwarden for the Parish of Prestbury with responsibility for St Nicolas’. This means that, after a few months delay, we have our full complement of four Churchwardens. We are grateful to Liz for volunteering to take on this role which she will hold until the next Annual Meeting along with Margaret Compton at St Nicolas’ and Margaret Holman and Mary Turner at St Mary’s. We again send our very grateful thanks to Sue Bolton who has served for six consecutive years and had carried on in the role until Liz was appointed.

Fr Michael



Andy Macauly

On 15th August Andy took up the position of Head of Education at The Rock in Cheltenham. The Rock is the charity based at St Peter’s church on Tewkesbury Road which works with young people from across the town. This is a part-time post and Andy will continue to be employed by PPY (the youth charity which operates across the North Cheltenham Team Ministry) but on a part-time basis. This new appointment builds on the excellent work that PPY has been doing in partnership with The Rock. That work will now be taken on solely by The Rock. Andy and the tremendous team of volunteers who deliver our youth work will now focus on the weekly youth groups and working with local schools, particularly those young people who are in their final year at Prestbury St Mary’s Junior School, Swindon Village Primary School and Gardner’s Lane Primary School.

We send our congratulations and prayers to Andy as he begins his new appointment and we also keep the work of PPY in our prayers as it enters this new phase. It is regrettable that we are currently unable to fund a full-time youth worker but we must look positively to the future and express our deep appreciation of all that Andy and the many volunteer leaders will continue to achieve.

Fr Michael



Ordinand Placement – Andrew Swift

As many of you know, the North Cheltenham Team Ministry has become acknowledged as a group of parishes that can offer students for reader or ordination training valuable experience as placement parishes. As our reputation spreads the most recent request has come from St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and we shall be pleased to welcome Andrew Swift for a period of four weeks beginning at the end of August. It is intended that Andrew will be offered the full range of experience that is available from our varied parishes and I am sure that you will all make him welcome when he is present in your local church and, I hope, at other times too. Of himself Andrew writes:

    ‘I am 24; Sarah-Claire, my wife, has just turned 25. Originally I am from a village in Staffordshire a few miles north of Lichfield and Sarah-Claire comes from Sussex. Before I was at College I spent a year working as a Pastoral Assistant in a church in Twickenham and prior to that I was at King’s College, London, reading for a degree in Law. Sarah-Claire’s interests lie in International Development and until half way through our first year at St Stephen’s she worked for Comic Relief in London and had done for several years; she now works for a charity called Family Links which runs parenting group leader training which equips parent group leaders with something called the Nurturing Programme which helps people to deal with particularly difficult children; they also work with staff at a number of primary schools across the country.

    ‘We were married in September 2009 so we are approaching our second wedding anniversary; we don’t have any children but we do have two cats who seem to take up as much time and cause as much trouble!’

Andrew and Sarah-Claire have just returned from a long-deferred honeymoon, such are the demands of theological training.

Fr Stephen



FOSMP Summer Barbecue

Sunday 24th July was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for the Friends of St Mary’s lunchtime barbecue held in the garden of the Plough and attended by ninety members and guests. Roger, the chef at the Plough, did a magnificent job cooking chicken, sausages and burgers for everyone. A selection of salads was also available to accompany the barbecued meats.

Many thanks must go to Dan and Cathy at the Plough for their support and for helping to make it such an enjoyable lunchtime for all. Some photographs taken at the event are displayed in the Welcome Area in St Mary’s church and can be seen on the Friends of St Mary’s website at

Phil Dodd



Church fabric matters

St Mary’s

I hope you will have seen the notice about the PCC’s application for a Faculty for the conservation of seven listed tombs in the churchyard. The need for this work was identified in our quinquennial (five-yearly) inspection and relates to tombs that are considered to be of some significance but, because of their age, do not have any living relatives to maintain them. You will see more details of the tombs which require work on the notice board inside the church door. We are very grateful to Phil Dodd who has been pursuing funding for this work. So far, the following funds have been promised:

PCC Churchyard funds £5,000
Leche Trust £2,500
Friends of St Mary’s £2,000
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust £1,000
Church of England Church Buildings Council £500

You will also have noticed the new blue carpet which has been laid in the chancel area. This replaces the gold coloured carpet which was wearing dangerously and also had shrunk over the years! The cost of the new carpet was met from a chancel fund which the PCC has held for many years. We are also very concerned about the condition of the floor under the blue carpet at the top of the nave aisle. If you lift that carpet you will see that it hides some very poor wooden flooring which definitely needs investigation. We are currently seeking advice about the flooring in that area of St Mary’s.

St Nicolas’

We have sufficient funds to replace the windows in the coffee room which are currently single glazed and in metal frames. The full length window (which is actually a door that is permanently sealed) is going to be replaced with a window to match the other two and the lower part will be bricked up. The new windows will be white μPVC and the replacements are part of our on-going programme of improving insulation and energy efficiency.

At St Nicolas’ there has recently been some discussion about the Hall and its use. This has been prompted by concerns about the windows and the ceiling in the hall. We have also been in discussion with representatives from the Diocese about the installation of photo-voltaic panels on the roof of the hall. This would link us into a scheme in which the Diocese would loan us the full cost of the installation and we would then pay back the loan by ‘selling’ the excess electricity which the panels will generate. This scheme is still under discussion and, although planning permission has been granted, the PCC have not yet decided whether to proceed.

Fr Michael



One role or many – is this you?

It seems that my resignation as editor caused quite a stir in the PCC! As a result they feel it would be more realistic to recruit a team of people to take on the job. There are several stages in the production of each magazine, which I shall describe in reverse order.

The finished magazine is a single computer document sent by email to the parish office, where it is printed on the photocopier. My job as editor is to produce that document. This requires a certain amount of skill with a computer, but it need not be onerous.

In the document all the material, both text and pictures, has to be positioned on the pages. This is layout editing, and there are many different computer programs which can be used. All the editors I have met across the country seem to choose different programs, but the end results are similar. The attractiveness of each page depends on how artistic an eye you have, as well as on choice of fonts and styles.

All the incoming text is checked for spelling and grammar errors (‘emending’), and sometimes articles are shortened or reworded. This is copy editing. All you require is a large dictionary and a good grasp of English grammar. You do not need a computer.

Copy editing and layout editing can easily be done by two different people.

Who writes the articles and other notices? Not the editor! It is helpful for the editor to know what is going on in the parish so as to prompt others to contribute; but that can be done just as well by several different people spread around the congregations and organisations within the parish.

To summarise: the PCC are looking for:

  • someone to request and gather articles
  • someone to check the articles
  • someone to put everything together on a computer
  • an overall ‘leader’ to coordinate

Maybe you would like to do all of that, or maybe you feel able to take on only one of those roles. If you are interested, please get in touch with any of the clergy, or contact me .

Frances Murton

What is a parish ‘magazine’?

Above are the PCC proposals for a new editor. If more people are involved, then the amount of time any one person spends on the job will be reduced.

In my thirteen years as editor I have enjoyed the creativity of producing an ever-developing magazine. Think how different this magazine is, in both appearance and content, from even the 1960s, let alone the first issue in 1885! I have also enjoyed sharing something of my personal interests: my music, languages and grandchildren for example. Your new editors will bring you different interests.

The PCC’s main concern at the moment is obviously to recruit someone to carry on what I am currently doing. But there is so much more! Some of you do not have access to a computer, but I guess that many of you are choosing to read this paper magazine rather than our website version.

However, there is a whole generation out there (my children, for example) who communicate with each other via their laptops and smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, in preference to anything on paper. How are we to reach them with our parish news and views?

If what we in the church want to say to these people is so important, and surely the gospel of Christ is important, then we also need to use electronic media. Don’t worry, the paper magazine will never go away, but we should complement it, supplement it, in any way we can.

Frances Murton



Therefore Be Patient…

It was 7.20am and we were all lined up at the door like the queue for the Sales. The door opened promptly at half-past. Patients were welcomed and offered seats; superfluous relatives were dismissed. (There were not enough chairs to go round!)

Within little more than an hour, most of us had already been seen by an anaesthetist, a consultant and a nurse, and had settled down to wait our turn. For some it would be a very long wait, and with strict instructions to have nothing to eat or drink, a wait unrelieved by offers of tea or coffee.

I was third on the list, so surprised to be called in at 9.15am and even more surprised to find myself awake in bed before midday and eating lunch an hour later. Tea and supper followed at the appropriate times and I was allowed to go home later in the day.

This was one of the best hospital experiences I have ever had and I stayed for barely twelve hours, but even so, by 7pm I was getting bored and fed up and feeling rather lonely. My day as a patient had made me realise the importance of the Department of Spiritual Care in supporting patients during their time in hospital.

Cheltenham General has over twenty wards, which is far more than Katie McClure, the Hospital Chaplain, can hope to cover easily on her own. As a Chaplaincy Volunteer, I am one of about thirty people, lay and ordained, who give some time each week to support Katie’s ministry. I go wherever I am sent, visiting people of all faiths and none; to chat, to listen, to say a prayer, or perhaps just to give a quick wave or a passing ‘hello’. Some are in hospital for several weeks or even months, with few or no visitors.

I am part of the weekday team, because my Sundays are already rather busy, but other volunteers are part of Katie’s Sunday team, gathering at 8.30am for a service of Holy Communion in the hospital chapel before going out onto the wards to take the Sacrament to any patient who wishes to receive.

New volunteers are always needed and each year the Department of Spiritual Care offers training sessions for anyone who might be interested in becoming part of the Chaplaincy volunteer team, because new recruits are never simply sent out ‘cold’ without any training or introduction.

This year’s course begins on 21st September at the Redwood Education Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and is for anyone interested in becoming a Chaplaincy Volunteer at Gloucestershire Royal or Cheltenham General Hospital. The closing date for bookings is 5th September and booking forms are available on request: telephone 08454 224286.

I have been part of this ministry for almost four years now and I am not the only Chaplaincy Volunteer who has been recruited from within the North Cheltenham Team.

If you think that God might be calling you to be part of this, I would be happy to tell you more about it.

Deacon Jennifer



Days in the Life of a Fête

Just ten words started it: ‘Shall we do the fête at St Nic’s this year?’ Oh dear, once the words had escaped I couldn’t get them back, but hey, how difficult can it be to organise a fête?

Despite the current economic problems many of our regular donors supported us with items to be included in The Grand Draw. We much appreciate their generosity. The newly-opened Ellenborough Park offered Afternoon Tea as a prize and when we called to collect the voucher we were treated to coffee and a tour of the premises.

It seemed such a simple matter to ask for help running the various stalls at the fête: just put a note in the pew sheet! The trouble is that everyone reads it… and that’s as far as it goes! It’s amazing how much more successful the personal approach proved to be, and before long we had a full list of stall-holders. Father John Lewis and Hazel readily agreed to take on the Bottle Stall, even finding their own tombola, while Daphne and Allan once more agreed to stage the ever-popular Doggy Gymkhana. This proved yet again a real crowd-puller. We must have some very decorated dogs in the Parish, going by the number of rosettes awarded!

Although we had a complete list of willing stall holders, the worry then was that we wouldn’t have enough goods to sell. I need not have worried, as everyone responded marvellously. Requests after the Sunday services produced a deluge of goods – there were even reports of a herd of White Elephants approaching St Nic’s and filling the lobby!

Weather forecasts were not promising but we went for the outdoor option. If Synchronised Tent Erection were an Olympic sport then I feel David and his team would certainly be medal prospects as would Michael Brick with his Table-Collecting marathon. Many thanks to all involved with the hard work of the morning.

This year we had volunteers from all ages within the Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouting organisations. It was good to see them so involved with their various stalls and all happy to give their time on a Saturday afternoon. Many thanks to them and their leaders.

The dance group from Swindon Village Primary School performed an opening display, and once we had overcome problems with the sound system we were treated to a stunning routine, much appreciated by their audience. Outside we were treated to music by a select duo from the Blue Diamonds. Unfortunately the weather did not encourage many people to sit around to listen but it was certainly appreciated by those who did.

A second career running a little bookshop obviously beckons for Ruth and Geoff, ably assisted by Marcus and Liz. Also Lindsey and Diane appear destined for Flog It fame judging by their persuasive skills involved in reducing the size of the White Elephant herd.

No visit to any fête would be complete without taking Afternoon Tea. Marle Hill WI again rose to the occasion with a mouth-watering variety of cakes on offer. We really appreciate their help at these events.

Obviously we cannot individually thank everyone who helped with the Fête. My main impression was of so many people who cheerfully and willingly took on the shared responsibility of ensuring we had a successful day. We raised £2,009! Brilliant!!

Janet Ford

Photographs by Brian Wood



Books! Books! Books! We started the fête by unloading nearly thirty banana boxes on to tables at one end of St Nicolas’ hall. Fiction, sorted alphabetically, non-fiction by subject. A steady stream of people relieved us of a vast quantity and the residue almost fitted into the boot of one (large) car as we were left with a pile of empty boxes.

In brief forays on the field we saw enthusiastic owners urging their dogs to great feats of obedience (or otherwise) and enjoyed flutters (unsuccessful) on the tombola and purchases (successful) on the plant stall. The event was good outreach and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Ruth & Geoff Shaw



A Banner for Prestbury St Mary’s Junior School

At the annual service in the cathedral for Gloucestershire children leaving their church primary school for secondary education, we at Prestbury St Mary’s Junior School have for some years felt a little sad: we did not have a banner to join the traditional procession at the service. This year, being the celebration of two hundred years of church school education, seemed an ultimately appropriate time to try to do better.

After a few whispers in the wings, Janet White stepped forward, offering to help. She brought examples of her patchwork in to school and we knew right then that we would have a banner to be proud of.

The children first saw their banner at their morning worship on 14th June. They made comments such as: ‘It looks happy’; ‘It shows that we are all together’; ‘You can see we’re linked to the church.’; ‘We can see the hills just like that from our playground’. Fr David blessed the banner. It was ready for use.

On 28th June we were delighted to have Janet with us in the cathedral, and we felt proud as two of our children walking the length of the nave carried our banner past us.

Janet, it is thanks to you that we fulfilled our ambition to celebrate two hundred years of Christian education and to celebrate what our school stands for. Never did we think that it would be quite so beautiful and thoroughly expressive of the character of the school. Thank you from all of us at Prestbury St Mary’s Juniors. The banner will become part of our school tradition and will be making numerous outings. Look out for us carrying it through the village on the way to church. Weather permitting!

Daphne Philpot



Making the Banner

In summer 2010 I heard that the school would like to have a banner to take to the Annual Leavers’ Service in the Cathedral. The idea of making this appealed to me and I offered my services. I had done a couple of pieces previously that showed ideas and skills I had, and the school were keen to proceed. We had several meetings and the design evolved. So, over last winter, I began by dyeing all the fabrics, using an Egyptian cotton. I needed red, yellow, blue and green, which are the four house colours. I also dyed fabric for the various other colours in the design.

With the fabrics ready I began sewing: thoroughly enjoyable, watching the design come together. Once the background was pieced the other elements were all appliquéd. I pieced the backing from leftover fabrics and then the three layers were sandwiched together with wadding in the middle. A binding made of the four house colours finished it off. It gave me enormous pleasure to make and I am glad the pupils like it. It was lovely to show it to them at their Assembly and then to be with them as it was carried in the Cathedral.

Janet White




‘Variety is the spice of life…’ so the saying goes and we at CHADS think so too. CHADS is our Churches Amateur Dramatic Society and we are drawn up of church members from St Mary’s, St Nicolas’ and All Saints’ Churches. Every year we put on a variety show to raise money for good causes. In the past three years we have raised nearly £3,000 for Let the Children Live! and for our own Prestbury Hall.

This Autumn, on 14th and 15th October, we will put on another varied performance, this time to raise money for STEPS, a charity helping children born with hip and walking-related problems. We have decided to support them this year as one of our church members has a delightful baby granddaughter who was born with a hip condition and because of this most of her life has been in plaster from her trunk right down to her feet. She is the sweetest-natured baby imaginable, and yet has undergone a lot of invasive surgery to try to help the situation. The STEPS charity, as well as helping with the purchase of special equipment such as car seats, walking aids etc, also offers enormous support to parents of children with lower limb problems, and we feel it important to help a local child who is one of our own church family.

Please come and support us in this event – you will have a lovely evening of good honest entertainment followed by cheese and wine, all for only £6 per ticket. These will be available soon at all three churches. By supporting our show you will know that all of your ticket money will go to the charity as we have again been fortunate to obtain sponsorship to cover our costs.

So put these dates in your diary now to avoid disappointment as tickets tend to sell out fairly quickly and you wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you?

Sylvia McKenzie on behalf of all the members of CHADS



Out and about

In July a small group led by Deacon Jennifer paid an evening visit to the Evangelical Church in Whaddon Road. Warmly welcomed by the Preaching Elder, Jonathan Hunt, we were told of the Church’s foundation and history. Built in 1877 for the Revd James Walker, son of a former Rector of Cheltenham, it was at first known as the Church of Scotland or the Scotch Church, though never formally linked with that body. After the founder’s death in 1911 it became known as the Walker Memorial Church. Over the years the Church has both expanded and contracted. It has had some distinguished leaders and members including a Great War hero, Brig-General Frost, and Fred Easton, later a missionary in China and author of ‘A bit of old China’.

The original iron church was demolished in 1987 and replaced by the present building situated behind the Claremont flats.

James Walker’s life was dedicated to preaching the Word of God and this remains the raison d’être of the Church he founded.

R K Beacham

More information can be found on the website



A Malawi Experience

Last autumn I was asked by my daughter-in-law Annie’s father, Richard Barton, whether I would like to take the last place in a party of eleven visiting Malawi to see and learn about the work of the Malawi Association for Christian Support (MACS) of which he is chairman and would be leading the visit. It was an offer I could not refuse and e-mail instructions and advice soon followed. Word reached St Luke’s Hospital in Malosa of my past and a wish list of medical items was sent so that the spring of this year was used to collect medical kit and also optical items including your old spectacles which were sent on ahead last March. Now that I have returned I wish to share my experiences over the next couple of months and then in January Richard is coming to Tewkesbury Abbey to talk about the work of MACS, and we hope he will be able come to Prestbury too.

Malawi is a very poor country set in the southern end of the Great Rift Valley bounded on both sides by mountains for most of its length and with Lake Malawi occupying a large part of the country. When in the 19th century the Europeans were dividing up Africa Nyasaland, as it was then, was left as there were no minerals or oil and today it relies on tea, tobacco and sugar for exports. Wages are very low by our standards, a labourer getting £48/month, a secondary school head teacher £1,444 and a doctor £500 so there is a big need for help both practical and financial.

Our party was very mixed: Richard a retired Headmaster, Annie a music teacher, Molly a retired nurse, Steph a nursing auxiliary, Chris a lay reader and Jenny his wife, Evie, Amy, Alexandra and Alexander all in their teens and me. We met at Heathrow on 8th July for the overnight flight to Nairobi where we were to connect with a two-hour flight to Lilongwe, the Malawi capital, only to find on arrival in Kenya that it had been cancelled and after much slow negotiation Richard managed to get us on a 21.30 flight that evening. In the meantime we were taken to a hotel where we enjoyed the facilities until we were collected at 19.00. The flight to Lilongwe was late and on arrival we waited at the luggage carousel only to find that our 22 bags were still in Kenya. After more negotiations we departed to our hotel for a short night’s sleep before returning to the airport for the morning flight, which did not land until 1pm. This time our bags did arrive and after clearing customs we departed an hour later.

Our Sunday programme was disrupted by the baggage delay; we should have had lunch at the home of the local Archdeacon in Ntchisi district north of the capital. We visited his church, which MACS are helping to build by providing the roof. The local community usually provide the bricks and mortar for the walls and then MACS provides the roof.

We were welcomed by the Archdeacon and members of the parish, and we experienced our first greeting by the Mothers’ Union, who sang and danced for us as they all filed past as we shook hands. This became a daily event wherever we were welcomed. The MU are distinctive in their blue and white uniforms.

In order to catch up on time we raced through a wild life park before dusk, which we just managed to do, and arrived at our first stop for the night at KuNgoni centre near Nkhotakota. Here we slept in twin bedded chalets named after Hogwarts houses; I was in Gryffindor with Grafiud, MACS’ full time Malawian representative.

Monday’s programme took us to St Anne’s Hospital in Nkhotakota where we were shown round and had our first taste of the state of medicine in Malawi. The Christian Hospitals Association provides about 40% of health care, mainly in the rural areas, and this is one of the three that we saw. They all have smaller local health centres/hospitals in the villages which refer into them as needed. Just outside the hospital is a tree under which David Livingstone negotiated with the local chiefs to stop the slave trade. Nkhotakota was during the 1800s a main port for the slave trade with thousands of slaves being transported across the lake into Mozambique and then on to the east coast ports. We also visited a Lay training centre where MACS has funded classroom blocks and is currently building a science laboratory. After lunch we drove south for three hours to KuNgoni Cultural Centre at Mua Mission set up in hills where we were to spend the night.

On the Tuesday morning we toured the cultural centre and learned about tribal history and customs including that of the Yao and Chewa, who are the main southern peoples, although there were many more tribes. The centre was set up by White Fathers in 1902 and one of their main activities now is woodcarving. There was a gallery of their carvings some done in the most minute detail. Under a shelter men were carving a commission for a church using a paper template. After an interesting morning we then drove to Kaphiridzinja Cottage on the lakeside, which was to be our home for the next six days.

To be continued.

See     Part 2    Part 3    Part 4

Roger Hodges



Reflections in the Water

‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.’

St John 7:37,38 (NRSV)

At some time during the day, readers of this Parish Magazine will have turned on a water tap, perhaps to drink, wash, cook, clean, or refresh the garden. An everyday occurrence, taken for granted, perhaps occasionally accompanied by thoughts of conservation or concern for the vegetable patch.

Far away, in the early morning shadow, the cliffs on the east bank of the Jordan lie dark, barren and still, except for a rare green swathe, where a spring dribbles over the rocks down to the river. There, the imagery of water has an impact unfamiliar in our ‘green and pleasant land’. To the great crowd in Judea, listening to Jesus on the eighth day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, access to water meant the difference between life and death. Christ’s dramatic invitation to slake their thirst carried the message of spiritual life in imagery very similar to that used throughout the scriptures. Unsurprisingly, the people wondered whether a prophet had indeed come out of Galilee.

The children of Israel were continuously reminded that water was the gift of God: for example by Isaiah, ‘I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, the chosen’ (Isaiah 43:20). In an age of popular travel, the concept of ‘wilderness’, as experienced by the Jews in the exodus from Egypt, can more readily be understood by those who, for example, may have travelled across the arid expanses of Sinai to reach St Catherine’s monastery.

The word of God was regularly compared to the life-giving properties of water. ‘May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew, like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth’ (Deuteronomy 2:2). Jeremiah contrasts ‘God the fountain of living waters’ with the worthlessness of a broken cistern (Jeremiah 2.13), while Isaiah extols ‘water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). To a Christian, the acquisition of ‘new life in the water of baptism’ is the ultimate symbol of conversion.

For Jesus’ audience, water was not just a gift of God, it was also His instrument. It could be benign, or destructive. The Psalmist portrays both the peaceful image of still waters and the despair of being helpless in the deep. The Old Testament records the devastation of the Flood and the engulfing of an Egyptian army in the Red Sea. In our age, the devastation of a Tsunami or the merciless impact of drought in Africa can raise difficult questions about God’s omnipotence.

In St John’s record however, Jesus does not simply invite us to slake our spiritual thirst. He extends the metaphor a stage further; vividly stating the implications for those who accept his offer. ‘Out of the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water’ (St John 7:38). The believers will themselves become conduits, spreading spiritual life to the wilderness of the world. Here, in the most powerful of allegories, are His expectations from those who believe in Him.

When we turn on the tap we should give thanks for our regional good fortune. As we look at the flow we might reflect on Christ’s universal exhortation, and consider how we can spread His living water in the Parish and beyond.

Tony Mason



National Heritage Open Days

On 9th, 10th and 11th September historic sites and buildings throughout England will open to the public with free admission. In Prestbury the Plough Inn and St Mary’s Parish Church, opposite one another in Mill Street, will have special displays. At the Plough the emphasis will be on the history of the pub and its many proprietors. In St Mary’s there will be a big display of photographs and other material, illustrating ‘Local People and Families’ exhibiting many pictures, some more than a hundred years old, many of them never seen by the public before. This display is organized by the recently established Prestbury Local History Society and the Friends of St Mary’s.

Michael Cole, Chairman, PLHS



A Day to make a Difference for our Churches!

Ride and Stride for the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust

on 10th September 2011
(Registered Charity No 1120266)

An annual sponsored walk, bike or horse ride. Walkers and riders turn out to follow their chosen route between churches which open for the day. Many of them serve refreshments as well as checking you in and providing a friendly welcome, directions and moral support.

You will have the satisfaction of raising money and the chance to see inside some historic gems which cannot always be open for visits. Half the money you raise goes to the church of your choice, the other half to the Trust.

Even if you are unable to ride or stride, you can ask people to sponsor you to be there in your church during the day to welcome the riders and striders, or to carry out other specific tasks while you are there.

Further information, together with sponsorship forms, is available from Local Organisers on the contact details below. For information about the Trust’s work and how to support it, please look at the website:

The Local Organisers for our churches are:
  St Mary’s:   Phil Dodd
  St Nicolas’: Nigel Woodcock




A Talk by Sir John Herbecq

‘Near the Heart of Government: the indiscretions of a former mandarin’

Sir John Herbecq, who now lives in Prestbury, had a distinguished career at the top of the Civil Service. From his vantage point in the Treasury he had an unrivalled insight into the workings of successive governments. Sir John disarmingly admits that all this was thirty years ago. But there is an enduring fascination in having the lid lifted on ‘the great and the good’ who govern us.

This event is organised by the Friends of St Mary’s and will take place in St Mary’s Church on Saturday 17th September at 7.30pm. Tickets costing £6 (to include light refreshments) are available from Jim Mackie and Phil Dodd.



St Mary’s Bakestall

This month’s stall after the 11 o’clock service is on Sunday 18th September and we invite the A-F team to supply the cakes. If you would like to join our baking teams, please have a word with one of us.

Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews



Being Prayed For!

Our Diocesan Calendar of Prayer includes prayers for every benefice in the Diocese spread throughout the year. The North Cheltenham Team Ministry will be prayed for on Sunday 18th September. On that day, a representative from our Team Ministry has been invited to read the second lesson during the service of Evensong in Gloucester Cathedral. Anyone is welcome to attend the service which begins at 3pm and the regular cathedral congregation will be very pleased to see representatives from North Cheltenham. Evensong on 18th September will be sung by the Cathedral Choir.



Prestbury Mothers’ Union

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 27th September at 7.30pm, at St Nicolas’ Church. Our speaker will be Liz Curtis and her topic is ‘A Time for Everything: my poems and how God inspired me’. All very welcome – it is always good to see visitors – come for a chat and refreshments.

Sylvia McKenzie, Branch Leader




Choral Concert – 2nd October

At St Mary’s on Sunday 2nd October, instead of the 6.30pm service, we will be welcoming Gloucester Cathedral Choir, who will give a short concert commencing at 6pm. We will publish more details when we know their programme, but this date will certainly be worth keeping as it is only on very rare occasions that the choir sings in parish churches.

Fr Michael



Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival week in our parish is always special. Sunday 2nd October is the date for our usual celebratory services in the morning (9.30 at St Nicolas’, 8.00, 9.30 and 11.00 at St Mary’s), and then instead of the usual evening service there will be a concert by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir in St Mary’s at the earlier time of 6pm.

The following Tuesday, 4th October, at 6pm we shall gather in St Mary’s Church to sing harvest hymns, have an informal ploughman-style buffet supper and then auction the fruit and vegetables that have decorated the church. Any profit made during the evening will be donated to the appeal for Famine Relief in East Africa. Families and children are very welcome.

On Saturday 8th October St Nicolas’ are holding a Ploughman’s Supper and Barn Dance. Details of that are below. And St Nicolas’ Hall is just made for a good dance!

Lynda Hodges



A Harvest Celebration

Tuesday 4th October  6pm

St Mary’s Church, Mill Street

  • Favourite Harvest Hymns 
  • Ploughman’s Supper
  • Sale of Fresh Produce

Proceeds in aid of Famine Relief in East Africa

All welcome!


Barn Dance

Please come along to St Nicolas’ Church Hall on Saturday 8th October at 7.30pm for the Harvest Barn Dance. We will have the Bandy Coots playing and John Boucher as caller. Tickets are £8 to include a Ploughman’s Supper, with a bar available. Why not bring your friends with you? Tickets are on sale from early September.

Janet Ford




He spoke to them in Parables

An Education and Nurture Quiet Afternoon on Saturday 22nd October. More details next month.

Deacon Jennifer



Bible Study Groups

‘Study at Six’ on Tuesday evenings meets twice a month; please contact Deacon Jennifer for details. The Wednesday morning group in Prestbury meets weekly; contact Fr David for more information. If you would like to meet for bible study and fellowship on a different day, please let one of us know and we may be able to start another group.



Musica Vera Concert

The concert at St Nicolas’ in July raised £172.93 towards hall refurbishment funds, plus a very generous donation of £1,000 from The Helen Gill School of Ballet, whose students provided a very attractive interlude during the evening. Many thanks to all concerned.



Great North Run

Twelve months ago I was on sick leave suffering from depression after a very stressful year at work, when I watched on television, as I did every year, the Great North Run. This time, however, I got very emotional – not about the elite athletes at the front but about the overweight middle-aged people at the back who looked like me but, unlike me, they were actually participating and raising money for charity.

I couldn’t run at all but I started by walking and jogging as a way of raising my mood and then I entered the ballot for a place in the Great North Run and the rest is history! Work-wise the worst has happened and I have been made redundant, but I can cope and I know that it is a blessing that at my age I can achieve a slow plod around the miles. I am raising money for the Depression Alliance, whose resources I used when I was ill, and GARAS (The Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers), whose patron is the Bishop of Gloucester. I chose these charities because they are not popular causes. If anyone feels able to sponsor me or to give me some words of encouragement they can approach me directly or I have a web page: 

You never know, somebody might spot, puffing and panting around the 13.1 miles, and be inspired to go out and achieve something they never dreamed of either!

Janet Waters



Sponsored Swim

Shirley Brown is taking part in a Swimathon to raise money for The Ethiopia Link (Registered Charity No.1086141), which maintains an orphanage in Ethiopia. See the website  for more details.

Shirley plans to swim 2.5km (100 lengths of a 25m pool). If you would like to sponsor her, please speak to her in church one Sunday .




Prestbury Parish Magazine - September 2011

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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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