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Prestbury Parish Magazine

November 2011

Cover photograph
Prestbury War Memorial in Spring 2007 
by Stephen Murton 



Remembering those who have died

Pray the Streets – A New Year Resolution for the Parish


PPY Update

A talk by Sir John Herbecq

Out with the Old, In with the New!

Barn Dance at St Nicolas’

A Malawi Experience – Part 3

Sidmouth 2011

Autumn Meeting of the Diocesan Synod

2011 Heritage Open Days at St Mary’s

Harvest Family Celebration

The Lion and the Lamb

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



A favourite saying that has stayed with me from youth is ‘Sometimes I sits and thinks – and other times I just sits!’

Sadly, opportunities of just sitting (thinking or not!) seem so far and few between in these hectic lives we lead these days, a fact brought home to me as I grabbed a few precious moments in the hotel grounds whilst enjoying the Sidmouth weekend.

I suddenly realised that the year was slipping away almost unnoticed and that November, with its theme of Remembrance, was very close indeed. This thought transported me back to Norfolk and our holiday earlier in the year.

We had gone to Little Snoring (mainly because of the name) and were delighted to find that St Andrew’s church possessed the only detached round tower in Norfolk – it is also a place of great peace and tranquillity.

But it was not always so, for during the Second World War one of the many East Anglian air bases was here. Inside the church is recorded a list of missions flown and decorations awarded in those dark times. It was very humbling to see young lads of eighteen and nineteen earning the Distinguished Flying Medal and Cross (DFM and DFC) – some of the Squadron Leaders were only twenty-one or twenty-two. What an amazing debt we owe them!

Outside in the lovely little churchyard could be seen, most appropriately, red poppies growing, reinforcing the theme of Remembrance. Deliberately planted or unintentional? It did not matter; they looked just right swaying in a gentle breeze. Truly a great place to sit and think about those young people – many of whom did not return – and just say a quiet ‘thank you’ for what they gave.

In 2009 there were three surviving veterans of WWI still with us. By an odd quirk of fate, the three represented the three branches of the armed forces. Bill Stone was a Naval man, Harry Patch served in the trenches and Henry Allingham flew over the carnage as a member of the Royal Flying Corps. By another bizarre twist, all three died in a short space of time, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch in consecutive weeks of each other.

Harry Patch’s words in particular still echo over the years. He lost three close friends when a shell, known as a ‘whiz-bang’, exploded in their fox hole. Harry’s friends were all killed – he was unmarked. And he always asked why. ‘Why did my friends die and not me?’ He almost had a sense of guilt at his survival. These are some of his words.

‘The day I lost my pals, 22nd September 1917 – that is my Remembrance Day. I’m always very, very quiet on that day and I don’t want anybody talking to me really. Nearly ninety years after and I always remember it. I shall never forget the three pals I lost’.

This is why we remember and mourn the dead, and observe their anniversaries, for we are guardians of their heritage. Each year we go back to this heritage as to a fountain from which we draw strength and inspiration. We are not so much reliving their deaths as remembering their lives and the heritage they left us.

Fr Mike French


Remembering those who have died

All Souls Day – Wednesday 2nd November

There will be a Sung Eucharist in St Mary’s at 7.30pm when the choirs from St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ will combine to sing Fauré’s Requiem. During the Eucharist we will remember before God, by name, our own departed loved ones. Please make sure you have entered any names you would like remembered on the lists in each church.

Memorial Service – Sunday 6th November

Each year we invite those who have been bereaved during the past year to join us for a service of hymns and prayers during which we join them in remembering their loved ones who have died. Anyone is welcome to join us for this service which is at 3.30pm in St Mary’s. Members of our bereavement support group will provide tea after the service. (Please note that there is no service at 6.30pm in St Mary’s that day)

Remembrance Sunday – 13th November

As part of the annual season of remembering, there will be the usual acts of remembrance on Remembrance Sunday. This will be during the 9.30am Sung Eucharist in St Nicolas’ and at 10.45am at the War Memorial in Prestbury village. At the time of the Magazine going to press the intention is still to hold the act of remembrance at the war memorial despite the damage which has been done to it. We will gather from our local community, joining with friends of other denominations, to remember those who have given their lives in the service of their country during a time of war. This is always a poignant and moving occasion and will no doubt be made more so by the act of vandalism which has pierced the heart of our community.

Fr Michael


Pray the Streets – A New Year Resolution for the Parish

One of the goals identified both in The Vision Exercise and in discussion within the Local Ministry Team was the need to reach out to the community around us. The first and most important way of doing this is through prayer. To aid this, the LMT is producing leaflets listing the streets within the parish. Each street is allocated to a certain date so that day by day, street by street, the whole parish is prayed for every month.

Leaflets will be available in both churches during November, and we plan to start using them at our services at the beginning of the Church’s New Year, Advent. We hope that everyone who prays will join in this project.

Clare Wyatt on behalf of the Local Ministry Team



Advent is the season which marks the beginning of the Church’s New Year. We move into ‘the year of Mark’, reading through St Mark’s gospel during our main Sunday services. Traditionally the colour we see in church is purple, reminding us of the penitential emphasis to this season. Advent prepares us for our celebrations of Christmas, but also is a time for us to prepare ourselves spiritually, not only for celebrating Jesus’ birth, but also for the time when he will come again in all his power and glory. Advent is a good time for personal reflection on our own lives, perhaps a time for personal reconciliation with God (the sacrament of confession is always available) and a time to resolve ourselves to re-focus and renew our relationship with God.

For those who meet together in our churches to say morning and evening prayer, Advent will mark a change to a new office book. We will be using ‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ which is the Church of England’s book of services for morning and evening prayer. Anyone is welcome to join us for any of these services – times and places are on the back of the magazine.

Fr Michael


PPY Update

It is great to welcome Joe Bird, a youth work student with University of Gloucestershire with us on placement. The placement forms part of a three-year course. Joe will be involved across the different groups. We also welcome Charlotte, Katie and Ben – all new volunteers with the team.

Our stay at Soul Survivor festival was amazing and inspiring. One of the areas of challenge from that event was that many of us have taken on reading the Bible in a year. Please pray for perseverance!!

Camping at Soul Survivor

The Community Challenge project is up and running again this year. Students from Pittville School started by helping to clear the churchyard at St Mary’s in Prestbury. There has been excellent team work so far!

All our evening groups are up and running. It is always great to have new members along – please get in touch for further information about our groups and activities.

Andy has started his new role at The Rock as Head of Education – the groups have made a positive start. This has of course meant that time is even more stretched than previously. One particular area of need is for help with admin – if you know of anyone who might be able to help in this please do get in touch!

One of our areas of focus over the next few months will be raising awareness of the issue of homelessness as part of the Diocesan ‘Insomnia’ initiative. We will be running an event later in November to learn more and to fundraise.

The Diocese of Gloucester Indaba team will be visiting California (following on from their visit to Tanzania) in November. Please pray for continued positive relationships.

Our next Reach worship service is planned for Sunday 13th November from 6.30pm at St Nicolas’ church.

Andy Macauly


A talk by Sir John Herbecq

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

Seventy members and guests attended a talk given by Sir John Herbecq on Saturday 17th September in St Mary’s church. Sir John, who is now an adopted son of Prestbury, had a distinguished career at the top of the Civil Service (even though he never wore a bowler hat).

Sir John gave a very interesting, entertaining and also humorous insight into the workings of various ministers and governments of different political persuasions that he worked with over many years. The behaviour, characteristics and foibles of several senior ministers including Christopher Soames, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher were revealed during the talk.

Light refreshments were available before and after the talk allowing members and guests to socialise during an enjoyable evening.

Phil Dodd



Out with the Old, In with the New!

Our Fabric Committee have been busy of late. As part of the drive to better management of our use of energy, the old draughty windows at St Nicolas’ Room (see photograph above) have been replaced with modern double-glazed windows (see below). The old French window has been partially bricked up and a new window put in its place. Users of the room will feel warmer and more secure.

Brian Wood



Barn Dance at St Nicolas’

At the Barn Dance held recently (one of the many Harvest celebrations), numbers exceeded expectations and a lively evening was enjoyed by all. John Boucher, our caller, cajoled everyone onto the dance floor, with music provided by The Bandycoots.

The Ploughman’s supper enabled us all to have a well-earned breather before finally stripping our willows in the last dance of the evening. It was good to welcome so many new faces from the wider community.

Many thanks to all who helped in any way at all – it was much appreciated. We made an overall profit for church funds of £284.

Janet Ford

Photographs by John White



A Malawi Experience – Part 3

On Sunday we were to attend a new church for its consecration and first Mass by the Bishop of Upper Shire. The service started an hour late due to the late arrival of the bishop and as you see from the service sheet it was not short. We arrived in our bus to be greeted by a large choir of MU members and another of children who sang and danced for the whole hour whilst we waited for the bishop. Inside the church was its own choir, accompanied on an electric keyboard. Once the bishop had consecrated the church and knocked three times on the door, we all entered and we were given chairs at the front with the local dignitaries. The service was in Chichewa but it was easy to follow the liturgy. Whenever there was an opportunity the choir sang and could only be stopped by a signal from the clergy.

The Mothers’ Union welcome committee!

After the service the Bishop and his wife received gifts from most of the organisations present. First up was a goat carried by four men, then two chickens followed by various household goods. All of this was accompanied by singing by the groups in procession, which, when they danced up the aisle three steps forward and two back plus an occasional reverse move, took a long time. The speeches were delivered by everyone of importance including our leader, Richard Barton, who ended by getting us to stand and introduce ourselves. This had become a standard procedure at any formal gathering but this time we produced our surprise, singing a trio of songs which my daughter-in-law Annie had rehearsed with us. Firstly one which we did not know:

I’m going to sing, sing, sing
I’m going to dance, dance, dance
I’m going to sing, I’m going to dance, halelu.
When the gates are open wide
I’ll be standing by your side
I’m going to sing, I’m going to dance, halelu.

We then sang four lines of ‘When the Saints’ and followed that by four lines of ‘Swing low, Sweet chariot’.

The clever bit was for the basses to continue with ‘Swing Low’, the middle range with ‘the Saints’ and the top with ‘Sing, sing, sing’. This was repeated pianissimo for two lines then a crescendo into the last two. You try it, it works!

After that we were entertained to a well-earned lunch of chicken, rice and relish, a local vegetable dish made of edible leaves cooked in tomato juice and thickened with a paste made of ground-up peanuts. Wherever we went this was the main menu as it is usually reserved for important guests or other special occasions. Their main supply of calories is Sima which is made of ground maize cooked into a thick paste and usually eaten by hand as utensils are not readily available.

To be continued.

See Part 1    Part 2    Part 4

Roger Hodges



In July Roger spent several days in Malawi with the charity MACS. Editor



Sidmouth 2011

It wasn’t all eating and drinking, although meals are one of the attractions of a relaxing team weekend outing to Sidmouth and one we all enjoyed.

Cricket on the lawn

The catering staff did us proud: three-course lunches and evening meals and cooked breakfasts. This year, to our delight, there was wine on the menu!

Enjoying our lunch

Each day in the music room there was Morning Prayer and Night Prayer, and on Sunday Fr Daniel presided at the Eucharist and Fr David preached.

We prepare for the Sunday Eucharist in the music room

Frs Daniel and David had a full programme for us to participate in and enjoy. On Saturday morning there were several optional discussion groups for us to join, some very thought-provoking and others entertaining. Fr David ran sessions on the veranda on parts of the bible we had not read, not for lack of effort, more the bits that have been added by imagination and have stuck, such as the apple in the beginning and a donkey for Mary to ride to Bethlehem.

Fr David ran sessions on the veranda

After lunch many of us wandered to the sea front for a couple of hours or so where there are many places to take tea or to buy ice cream. The youngsters had a trip out. If that were not enough, Sidholme has a splendid swimming pool.

In the evening, after dinner, we assembled in the music room for some impromptu entertainment, full of energy and variety.

‘A baby owl whose name was Blanche…’

‘Nobody loves a fairy when she’s 40’

Brian Wood


Autumn Meeting of the Diocesan Synod

The Synod met on 15th October. Due to a certain semi-final, the turnout for this Synod was rather poor, although the Revd Jacqueline Rodwell, vicar of Emmanuel Leckhampton, looked very dashing in her red Welsh sports shirt: our Synods are no longer stuffy gatherings! The meeting was chaired jointly by the heads of the Houses of Laity and Clergy as Bishop Michael was attending the enthronement of the new Bishop of Salisbury.

We did not start with our usual Eucharist, but with a Lectio Divina session, our text being from St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Our small discussion circles are always a mixture of clergy and laity, and it is an excellent way both of getting to know other Synod members, and for setting the whole meeting in a context of prayer.

The agenda was simple: we were given notice that the General Synod requests us to study the arrangements for consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant in the New Year. There will be speakers to explain the covenant and discussion format in depth. The main business of the morning, however, was a motion put forward by the North Cotswold Deanery regarding trimming the Diocesan central costs as a way of dealing with a large and continuing deficit in our budget. We as parishes must find a way to live within our costs, and this must also be true of our central administration. Our Diocesan budget challenges us to increase our giving and income by 6%, enabling parishes that meet their costs to give in support of other parishes, and enabling those parishes and benefices like North Cheltenham that do not meet their costs to reduce the amount of support they receive from the rest of the Diocese. This has not been achieved over the last two years of the budget’s five-year plan: the overall shortfall is still growing, albeit more slowly.

Our central administrative team in this Diocese is one of the best in the country, and the support we receive from them (such as advice on mission, communications, integration of children and young people, architectural, employment and legal advice, all of which we in North Cheltenham have received) would cost far more to buy in privately than what we collectively pay in central costs. We must ask ourselves, however, whether we can afford such good help right now. A representative from St Mary’s and St Matthew’s pointed out that they had been forced to cut their administrative staff due to a lack of money. We in Prestbury have had to reduce the hours of our highly effective Youth Worker for the same reason. It was also noted, however, that even if we cut the whole central administrative team, those cuts would not cover the hole in the budget.

It was an interesting debate, at the end of which the motion was withdrawn, with the proviso that it would be re-tabled next year if the situation did not improve as the Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance predicts, and with the voluntary adoption by the DBF of a modified version of the second point of the motion, to improve budget transparency while safeguarding the privacy of individual staff members.

I hope you appreciate and understand the importance of the issues we are discussing in Diocesan Synod: it is not just a talking shop, and PCCs do have the power to look after parish interests in such meetings. If you care about our churches and clergy, please take notice and get involved in things like PCC and our Vision programmes. If you want your church to be ministering to your community for generations to come, we must balance our budget. This means cutting our costs, yes, but that will not do it on its own without reducing our clergy numbers. We must also increase our income. How we do that is going to be the great challenge of this new decade.

Lynda Hodges and Fr David, Diocesan Synod Representatives




2011 Heritage Open Days at St Mary’s

Once again a beautifully decorated St Mary’s has hosted a part of the Cheltenham Heritage Open Days weekend. The theme was the long standing families of Prestbury and some related farms. Due to welcome advance publicity, Lynda Hodges was able to make many useful contacts for the event. The early Church records were made available from the Gloucestershire Record Office and were a constant source of interest. One novel idea was to invite comments from visitors who had local knowledge to add to the presentations. This provided several good pieces of local information. The event proved so popular that it was kept open for part of Monday to accommodate people who were unable to come on the scheduled days. A colourful addition was an invasion by a troupe of Roundheads. The visit of Roundheads to the Plough and the Church was this time more peaceful than their previous visit during the Civil War.

The displays were assembled by members of the Prestbury Local History Society with assistance from the Friends of St Mary’s.

Tony Noel



Heritage Open Days

Prestbury’s participation in the nationwide Heritage Open Days this September featured a wonderful display in St Mary’s of previously unseen photographs and of family profiles. Jointly promoted by Prestbury Local History Society and Friends of St Mary’s the intention was to feature long-standing family connections, but an appeal for pictures and information produced a deluge of interesting material. In fact there was so much that all the available display space was readily filled. Consequently Roger Hodges, and his wife Lynda, had to buy materials to quickly construct new boards so as not to disappoint the many donors.

Such was the public response that visitors thronged the church on all three days. Many made return visits. And on Monday morning when the team arrived to take down the exhibition there were yet more visitors happily engrossed in their reading. Much appreciated among a wealth of interesting displays were the astonishing photographs supplied by Mary Eyre of Prestbury’s Elizabethan Pageant of 1931 with wonderfully elaborate costumes all made by local people. Mrs Banwell from Home Farm provided a ream of notes from the late Jack Chamberlayne recording his memories of all the farms in Prestbury, who farmed them, and the breeds of cattle favoured by each.

A huge thank you is owed to Lynda and Roger Hodges for the many hours of work that they both put in to this event. Nevertheless, Prestbury Local History Society would still be pleased to hear from anyone who has any unique material, in texts or photographs.

Michael Cole



Harvest Family Celebration

The Harvest Family Celebration in St Mary’s church on 4th October was enjoyed by members of all the congregations at St Mary’s and by many friends and families as well. A time of prayers was led by Father Daniel, harvest hymn singing was led by St Mary’s organist and choir, and then a delicious feast for all, of ploughman’s suppers with cider, made for a good community get-together, to give God our thanks and praise for His abundant provision for our needs.

A generous net profit of £416 was raised from donations for the meal and from the auction of harvest produce. This has been sent to Christian Aid’s appeal for Famine Relief in East Africa.

Many thanks to the organiser, Lynda Hodges, who provided all the food and drink, and to those who helped with and attended this happy event!

Gill Ashman



The Lion and the Lamb

"Stop crying and look! The one who is called both the ‘Lion from the tribe of Judah’ and ‘King David’s Great Descendant’ has won the victory. He will open the book and its seven seals". Then I looked, and saw a Lamb.
Revelation 5:5-6 (CEV)

I heard these words quoted once as a favourite text, by no less a person than an archbishop. It seemed to me then a surprising choice, and remained stuck in my memory as an unsolved puzzle.

Revelation is not generally a popular part of the Bible now, at least in this country. The imagery is too outlandish, there is too much violence and destruction, too much that seems to encourage wild contemporary prophecy. But not everyone finds Revelation a problem; in places where Christians are oppressed, it is a powerful resource for learned and simple alike. It is certainly a strange and complex book; John claims to be recording a divine message about ‘what must happen soon’ (Rev 1.1), so we must take it seriously as prophecy, but it also deals with the world situation as it was when John was writing. It is an apocalypse, literally an ‘uncovering’; it looks beneath the surface of society and state, and uncovers the real nature of the struggle in which Christians are suffering. This is where the persecuted churches of our time find a message that speaks to them. The young churches for whom Revelation was written had something in common with Christians in the shanty towns of South America, or those at risk from fundamentalists in Muslim countries.

In the passage leading up to the verses quoted, the narrator struggles with the limitations of language to convey his vision of the court of heaven. Colours like precious stones, thunder and lightning, creatures human and non-human joining in the eternal praise of God. The vision comes to focus on a divine figure seated on the central throne, and on the sealed scroll in his hand. Tragically, no one can be found in earth or heaven able to open and read the scroll. John weeps in despair. Then his heavenly guide speaks, ‘Stop crying and look!’ ...

So he dares to look, but is not prepared for what he sees: not a terrifying king in military might, but a lamb. A lamb moreover that ‘looked as if it had once been killed’. We understand that he is seeing the risen and ascended Christ. But why does John emphasise the contrast between what he hears and what he sees? Why the deep emotion expressed here? The problem which these verses respond to is laid out for me in a book for young people by a vehement atheist. Philip Pullman is a brilliant story-teller, his characters and societies convince in their strangeness and familiarity, but his universe is flawed. Its villain is its tyrannical ruler, inadequate and outdated, who still refuses to loosen his grip; the villain is God. One of the characters in The Amber Spyglass puts it like this: ‘The authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself... the Authority still reigns in the kingdom.’

Many people today would agree with Pullman’s idea of God. Sometimes, we might slip into that way of thinking ourselves. But if we take courage and look, we shall find that our God is indeed the God of love: the Christ who is to judge the world is the Jesus who died for us. Not a lion but a lamb.

Beryl Elliott




Prestbury Mothers’ Union

There is a Mothers’ Union Festival at Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 5th November at 11am, and it will have an African spirit.

Our next meeting here is on Tuesday 22nd November at St Nicolas’ Church at 7.30pm, when we are looking forward to Diane Lyle coming and bringing her Handbells for a Christmas theme. Everyone welcome.

Our December meeting will be on Tuesday 6th December at the earlier time of 7pm, when we will have Christmas music led by Frances Pavey and readings by some of our young family members. We will have seasonal refreshments and a evening with a difference when we hope Demi and family will be with us. Everyone is very welcome, especially young people and family members.

Sylvia McKenzie, Branch Leader




Autumn Churchyard Tidy

The next churchyard tidy up at St Mary’s is taking place on Saturday 12th November starting at 10am. Help will be needed to gather up all the fallen leaves, clear gullies, cut back ivy and generally tidy up the churchyard. Any time anyone can give to these tasks will be greatly appreciated. As usual refreshments will be served during the morning.

Phil Dodd




Leading Intercessions in Sunday Worship

A morning workshop run by the Bishop’s Worship, Prayer and Spirituality Group on Saturday 19th November from 9.30am to 1.00pm. Ideal for those who would like a ‘refresher’ in leading intercessions and for those who are just starting out. Please speak to one of the clergy or wardens for more information.



Bridge Drive – Saturday 19th November

The Friends of St Mary’s will be holding a Bridge Drive on Saturday 19th November in Prestbury Hall, Bouncers Lane, Prestbury. This is open to all card players who enjoy a game of bridge.

The plan is for players to arrive at 6pm and have a drink, then to play a few rounds of ‘Chicago’, to have a break for supper and then continue with further rounds of ‘Chicago’. To those who might feel slightly intimidated we should emphasise that this is a social occasion; and we will be glad to welcome players across the whole spectrum of abilities.

Tickets, to include a drink and supper, are £13.50; these are available from Jim Mackie and Phil Dodd.

Jim Mackie




St Mary’s Bakestall

Last month’s bakestall did exceptionally well, enabling us to send £25 to LEPRA, £25 to SOS Children and £20 to Smile Train: a grand total of £70. Thank you all very much for your generosity in both baking and buying.

This month’s stall after the 11 o’clock service is on Sunday 20th November and we invite the G-M team to supply the cakes. This will be the last bakestall this year.

If you would like to join one of our baking teams, please let us know, or just turn up with a cake!

Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews



Holy Family

Once again the Holy Family figures will journey around the parish during Advent, visiting different homes. If you would like them to visit you for a couple of days, please speak to Sylvia McKenzie at St Mary’s or Jeanette Behenna at St Nicolas’.



The ‘Real Christmas’

The Real Christmas this year will be on Saturday 3rd December in St Mary’s Church from 2pm until 5pm. There will be seasonal stalls, entertainment and refreshments. Entry is free and all are invited to come and spend some time with us.



Christingle Service 2011

‘Let light shine out of darkness’ (2 Corinthians 4:6)

This year’s Christingle service in aid of The Children’s Society will take place on Sunday 4th December at 4.00pm in St Mary’s Church. The Christingle Service carries a deep message of God’s love and is a particularly special way for us all to reach out together to help children and young people who are in urgent need.

During the service Christingle oranges will be given to everyone who brings a gift of money for the work of The Children’s Society; this will help them to continue to take direct action to support disadvantaged children all over the UK. All are welcome to the service. If you would like a collecting box, please ask one of the churchwardens.



St Mary’s Christmas Choir

Want to sing your favourite Christmas carols with a friendly group of singers? Why not join St Mary’s Choir for the Christmas season? Choir practice is from 7pm to 8pm on Friday evenings, usually followed by a well-earned visit to the Plough. The ability to read music is not absolutely necessary; more important is a willingness to give it a go and enjoy singing! If this sounds appealing, please contact the Director of Music, David Smith, at



New Magazine Editor

I still need someone to take over from me as editor of this magazine next year. Or rather, you need someone, because it will probably be one (or more) of you who takes it on when I leave! If you would like to know what exactly is involved in editing a magazine like this, please contact me at

Frances Murton




Prestbury Parish Magazine - November 2011

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