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Prestbury Parish Magazine

February 2017

Download the PDF version (5,942KB)

Cover photograph:
The rarely-seen Clerestory Saints in St Mary's Church
by  John White

Clerestory Saints
The view of these lights shown on the cover is obscured by the organ loft but when the scaffold was in place during the recent refurbishment of St Mary’s Church John White was able to climb up and take the picture.
The Clerestory Saints shown are St Cuthbert – Bishop of Lindisfarne, later of Durham; St Wilfred – eighth Archbishop of York; The Venerable Bede holding the Bible which he translated into English.
We’re told cobwebs are best left in churches as they help control the numbers of woodlice!

Brian Wood



I have called you friends
Our Friends and Neighbours
Good Relations
Friends and Neighbours Opposite
Ian Richings Sleeps Out
Fr Nick writes:
‘The Rock’ Faith Nights
Drawing on Abbeyfield’s Art and Soul
Friends and Neighbours
St Nicolas Patronal Pudding Evening
Further Adventures of a Race Horse Owner
Thursday Morning Service
Christmas Round-up
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
Troubled Teens
Reaching Out to Isolated Friends and Neighbours at Prestbury Library
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation

To see the Diary,  Calendar, Registers and Advertisements please download the PDF version (5,942KB)

I have called you friends

JESUS SAYS: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’. I remember seeing these words at the entrance of the ancient ancestral home of the Vaughan family, at Courtfield, near Ross on Wye. They tend to stop you in your tracks. Suppose the worst has happened and you are totally paralysed and you can do nothing. All you can do is talk. With this edition’s theme in mind, what if a strong and powerful friend promised to live with you and do whatever you needed done? The veteran evangelist John Piper expands on what Jesus says and puts it in the following way.

How could you glorify this friend if a stranger came to see you? Would you glorify his generosity and strength by trying to get out of bed and carry him? No, you would say, “friend please come and lift me up and put a pillow behind me and prop me up so I can look at my guest and would you please put on my glasses for me?” And so your visitor would learn from your requests that you were helpless and that your friend is strong and kind. You glorify your friend by needing him and asking him for help and counting on him.

However, in John 15,5, Jesus says, ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. So we really are paralysed. Without Christ we are capable of no Christ-exalting good. This is quite a shock, especially if we are educated, capable and confident people! As Paul says (Romans 7,18) ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature’. But John 15,5 also says that God does intend for us to do much Christ-exalting good – in me you will bear much fruit, he says. So as our strong and reliable friend, ‘I have called you friends’ (John 15,15), he promises to do for us and through us, what we cannot do for ourselves. How then do we glorify him? Jesus gives the answer in John 15,7: ‘if you remain in me… ask whatever you wish and it will be given you’. We pray, we ask God to do for us, through Christ, what we cannot do for ourselves. Bear fruit. Verse 8 gives the result, by this my Father is glorified, ‘that you bear much fruit’.

So how is God glorified by prayer? Prayer is the admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need. Perhaps thinking of Jesus as a friend is a new way of thinking about Him and your faith. As the year gets underway, thinking of this friend we have in Jesus might provide the hope and reassurance we crave in an uncertain world and troubled times.

Fr Nick Bromfield, Team Rector


Our Friends and Neighbours

When Jesus was teaching about our need to be loving people he told a story about men who were traditional enemies (rather like Jews and Palestinians today?). In the parable (an earthly story with a heavenly meaning), which is known as the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’, an unfortunate Jew is set upon by bandits on a lonely road.

This poor traveller falls into the clutches of violent bandits who strip off his clothes, beat him up, and leave him half dead.

First of all comes a religious man - a priest is going down that road, and when he sees the wounded man, he passes by on the other side of the track pretending he sees nothing untoward.

Time passes and another religious man, a Levite, comes upon on the graphic scene. But when he sees the seriously hurt victim, wanting not to become the brigands’ next victim we suppose, he too creeps by on the other side away from the man in desperate need - ‘passes by on the other side’.

But, fortunately for the man dying on the ground, a Samaritan traveller comes along to the place where the man is lying, and at the sight of the seriously injured traveller he is touched with pity. He goes across to him and bandages up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine to ease the pain. Then he puts him on his own mule, and gets him to an inn and does what he can for him. Next day he takes out two silver coins and gives them to the inn-keeper with the words, ‘Look after him, will you? I’ll pay you back whatever more you spend, when I come through here on my way back.’

So Jesus puts the question to the questing young man, “Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbour to the bandits’ victim?”

The answer he got was: “The man who gave him practical sympathy”.

“Then you go and give the same,” returned Jesus. These people are our neighbours. Give those in need practical sympathy and practical help.

Jesus’ teaching makes it crystal clear that being his followers means helping our neighbour - doing our duty to the people we are on earth with and meet in our everyday lives and helping all those in need in parts of the world in far distant lands.

There are many who help those in need. You will know of the wonderful work done by the volunteers who sit and talk comfortingly to those phoning the Samaritans. Surely this is Jesus’ teaching in action?

What about our friends? When there was a shortage of drinking water several years ago our neighbours (and friends) helped the less able by bringing us welcome bottles. How do we get friends? Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American thinker, once wrote: “The only way to have a friend is to be one”.

Finally on the subject of friendship let’s think of the well-known hymn which describes God as our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and FRIEND. There are several hymns and worship songs which get us thinking about the friendship available to us. One asks: “What a friend we have in Jesus!”

We can think of Jesus as our friend who will always be true.



Good Relations

In the December/ January edition of the magazine I wrote about my Grandmother who lived in Chepstow. I mentioned that she had a dozen grandchildren and for her ninetieth birthday we all arrived at the little house opposite the castle, and the local photographer came to take a group photograph in the back yard.

Our three girl cousins came down each year from Wolverhampton and as their father was a train driver, it meant they had free tickets. Ethel and Audrey were the eldest and liked to appear in the latest fashions, including “shoes with square heels like Ginger Rogers.” Audrey had permed hair which was achieved by sitting for some considerable time under a massive contraption which brought out the deep waves she did not have ordinarily. When they visited us, we asked her if she would like something to eat. She said “A piece of kike.” We asked again and it took a little time for us to realise she meant a piece of cake. No doubt they had equal problems with our Gloucestershire accents.

Their younger sister was Kathleen who, much to my interest, went to a dance class and had proudly sent Grannie a photo of her lying on her stomach and then touching her head with the tips of her toes- such was show business way back in the thirties.

Our local girl cousins were Cecily and Mary whose father was our Uncle Will and was the first born son and therefore “spoilt”. He was unemployed during the thirties depression years and it was a great relief when he was appointed the keeper of Chepstow Castle. The family settled into the private apartments and he later showed Queen Mary around the Norman building and, even more impressive for me, was that in war time, when Bob Hope and his company came over to entertain the American troops, he joked the whole way round.

The daughters were teenagers and I wondered if when they went to a dance at the Chepstow Public Hall, a partner would volunteer to take them home and then give the castle as the address.

Uncle Wattie, always known as “the plumber”, was quite short by the side of Auntie Kate. She was tall and thin yet bore him four sons, with Stan the eldest. On a trip to London we were surprised when the driver of a big red double decker bus called out and it was our Stan.

John was next with a definite eye for the ladies. In the night we went to Chepstow Garden City after his wedding there was a violent thunder storm over the Rivers Wye and Severn, later to be the location of the much longed for Severn Bridge. Percy married and his daughter June is the sole survivor of the family. Reggie was the youngest son and stayed there all his life.

The remaining trio were myself and my two brothers. Les was fourteen when I was born, so he always felt more like a visiting uncle to me, with perhaps a postal order in the post or an Easter egg when he came to visit. When the war started, I asked my father “Will our Les have to go?”

“Of course not, he’s not a soldier,” was the reply. But he did go and served about six years in the army, including fighting through the jungle in Burma.

Next to go was my four years older brother Edgar who went into the RAF and became a wireless operator/air gunner in Sunderland aircrafts guarding the shipping across the Atlantic. He did about six years and then the surprise was that I had to join up. I was 18 on the Sunday and in the RAF on Monday. I served for four and a quarter years, with over two years in the Middle East- a trouble spot all those years ago.

Luckily we all returned home not much the worse for wear and slowly settled back. Les in Gloucester, Edd in the north of England and our move to Prestbury 56 years ago. It is all a long time ago but looking at the group photograph I can still feel the warmth of that family meeting and the dear old lady who watched over us.

Tudor Williams


Friends and Neighbours Opposite

I first met Joan when she knocked at the door in a whirl of chestnut hair and chatter, saying she was desperate for a neighbour. She was petite and vivacious, with a bell-like voice. With her husband Ernest and two children she had just moved into the house opposite.

We very soon realised we were on similar wavelengths, and shared a (northern?) sense of humour, being from Lancs and Lincs respectively. We certainly stood a little apart from other neighbours in our wind-blown corner of Norfolk - the houses seemed to crouch on the cliff tops.

With hindsight I wonder if subsidence was already on the march back then. Ernest happened to be Borough Engineer at the time, so when he turned for home one day and a large hole opened just in front of the bonnet he got a lot of ribbing, and not much sympathy from everyone else in the road.

We had a wonderful run of summers in the seventies and most afternoons Joan would pop across and we'd sit outside, supervising the sandpit, or maybe ironing with one eye on Wimbledon. I'm amazed now we hardly bothered with the beach, at least 4 minutes' walk away. The thought of the pushchair across sand along with towels and a pottie was too much effort. We were so lucky to be stay at home Mums.


We would plan the next bout of dressmaking for seemingly never-ending dinner dances, although there can't have been that many, each one needing a long "get up", slightly Margo Leadbetter if not Abigail's Party. Joan introduced me to Housewives Register, a great invention at the time. Locally organised by housewives needing outside interests, we met up for the pastime du jour, very often we would discuss that month's set novel ahead of reading club. I remember just one general rule: no talk of children or husbands' work! Social media was far in the future, and I can't believe we would have given time to it; I’m equally doubtful we would have seen the point. We were real time neighbours.

This could be useful if for instance one had wedged one’s Hillman Imp sideways between the gate posts. Ernest duly applied himself to some very subtle manoeuvring, not entirely straight faced, but I was too embarrassed to leave it for my other half's return. Passers-by looked astonished, confused, hysterical, and all stations en route. Psychologically I have never entirely dealt with this incident, and I imagine the passers-by might still remember.

Moral support was again forthcoming when I had my next baby. I clearly remember ambling across to Joan after breakfast, it was a perfect sunny Friday, Ernest’s day off. I had promised to let her know when things started happening, and was already in benign mood, so settled down for coffee and a chat. Ernest, once again caught in the undertow, went off to rearrange his golf clubs.

For the rest of the day I'd hear Joan's voice from the front lawn, wanting progress reports from the midwife. Suzy arrived at tea time and was immediately dubbed Pippin by the proud godmother - who else could we have asked?

A company move signalled change on many levels. We met up occasionally, years went by, life took over. I divorced, Ernest died, and unnoticed the closeness slipped away.

Last time I was in Norfolk we arranged to catch up over a meal. Joan casually mentioned using a wheelchair, so a big taxi was ordered. Just hours before the table was booked she rang to say she wasn't feeling well enough. We chatted for ages, both disappointed at having to cancel. I felt there was an agenda she didn't want to share and I couldn't find a way through. She had never been a letter writer, her hearing was failing, and she wasn't on line.

In panic Suzy tried and failed to find a way of staying in touch. Last October, on the website for the Year's Mind names of the church where Suzy was christened, she found Joan's name. She had died in October 2015. There was no grave, she and Ernest had been scattered at their favourite spot in The Lakes. Her children had been unable to decipher her address book to let us know.

I suspect it was all just how she wanted it, and I can only be grateful for the happy times we had. Oh, and it transpires she had always taken 10 years off her age ! That was very much her style, to catch us all out for a last laugh.

Anya Jary


Ian Richings Sleeps Out

at St Mary Magdalene Church, Uckington for Two Nights,
30 and 31 December 2016

The crib  scene is set up


A view of the whole stable
Visitors at 8.00pm on New Year’s Eve


Can you spot Ian behind the shepherd?
Full Illuminations on


Ian attends the 10.30am service at St Lawrence

 The Stable was built by Ian and Neil Jones with scaffolding generously supplied by
L & D Scaffolding and fence panels generously loaned by Cheltenham Fencing.

Monies raised go to Church Urban Fund and Christian Aid.

David Williams



Fr Nick writes:

Who is this new Team Rector chap then? He grew up in Bristol in the shadows of what is now IKEA and was then Bristol Rovers FC’s Eastville ground. My father took me to see a game when I was about aged 7 – they lost 2-3 to Peterborough United, so Dad said he’d take me to watch a ‘proper’ team next Saturday, namely Bristol City (who promptly lost 1 2 to Millwall) but I was converted! My first school was St Werburgh’s Nursery School in the inner city, followed by Glenfrome Primary, then Bristol Grammar, all of which were formative places for me, and where I learned the virtues of compassion and curiosity which have sustained me since. I managed somehow to get to St John’s College, Cambridge where I studied English (the only subject I was any good at) and was taught by some brilliant and some eccentric people including Hugh Sykes Davies who was best friends with Anthony Blunt who had just been exposed for his activities, so it was an interesting time. The actress Emma Thompson would be in lectures and was a couple of years ahead of me and I was good friends with Paul Dempsey who was anchor on Sky Sports for many years if you’re a football fan. I almost did a PhD but a friend was spending three years on a doctorate in Anglo-Saxon nursery rhymes so I quietly decided against....

Regarding vocation, I almost went forward at 21 but a wise man at Bristol Cathedral saw how dangerous I would be as a cleric at that age(!) and advised me to get some life experience first. So nothing happened until my late 30s when the call returned and before I knew it I was studying at WEMTC. This coincided with a demanding job as a management consultant and the birth of our youngest son, Louis, so I would often be finishing essays on train platforms an hour or so ahead of their due time! Louis is now studying in his first year of a Politics degree at Swansea University. Our middle child, Ellie, is in her second year studying Japanese at the University of Kent and should be going to Kyoto University for her third year in September. Our eldest Zach is studying for an MA in Religious Studies at Bristol University, having done his first degree here at Cheltenham.

That’s probably enough for now and I’ll update you with more and what life is like as a vicar in the Forest of Dean next time!

Fr Nick


‘The Rock’ Faith Nights

At the Prestbury PCC meeting on Wednesday 11th January 2017, Andy Macauly (The Rock Co-ordinator), had been invited to attend the meeting to talk about the work of The Rock, in particular the Faith Nights, which started in October 2016.

These grew out of a proposal discussed at a PCC meeting in November 2015 to consider setting up a Prestbury Faith and Chat group. For a variety of reasons this had to be put ‘on hold’ for a while. In the Autumn of last year, following further discussion, it was decided to set up a Faith Night for young people from Year 6 upwards, meeting once a month, using The Rock as the venue, because of the excellent facilities available there. Activities around sport, cooking, art, games, prayer, worship and chat are on offer – not necessarily all of these every month, but a good varied selection.

After Andy had completed his talk and answered some questions, he invited anyone who would like, to come along and see for themselves what goes on at The Rock. (Contact to arrange a visit). On Saturday 14th January I did just that, and had a very enjoyable and interesting evening at the Faith Night meeting. (6.30 – 8.30, although it was nearer 9.00 by the time we all left)

As the young people arrived there was an opportunity to take part in some sort of sporting activity or to chat informally with each other or one of the leaders. After about 20 minutes everyone came together in the upstairs meeting room to talk through the programme arranged for the evening. The options were – sport activities in the sports hall, board games in the upstairs room and doughnut making in the kitchen. (There is always one of the leaders with each activity and an opportunity to chat). The group then dispersed to their chosen activity – I decided to go with the doughnut making; great fun was had by all and a huge number of doughnuts were made and consumed – as each batch was completed they were taken around to those in the other activity groups to share. As well as the doughnut making in the kitchen hot drinks were made for the adults and squash/water made available for the young people.

At about 8.00pm everyone came together again in the upstairs meeting room (sometimes the church area is used for this), and Andy led a group prayer/worship session based on new starts, forgiveness and letting go of our burdens, which included a simple activity using stones with The Rock cross as a focus. After this there was just a short time to take part in the activities again. More doughnuts were made and shared (some with the parents when they came to collect the young people), another board game and some more sports activities.

These Faith Nights are open to anyone from Year 6 upwards – local young people from The Rock, young people with connections to NCT (the majority of participants) and young people connected with other churches.

There was a lovely atmosphere of sharing, caring and welcome, and I felt both humbled and privileged to be part of it on this Saturday evening. This is just one aspect of what goes on at The Rock – their work covers a very wide mix of support and care for local young people. (More information can be found at

At the previous Prestbury PCC meeting it had been agreed to commit to become church partners with The Rock for the next three years, supporting their work with our prayers and an annual donation of £250. In the letter of thanks acknowledging the donation and our commitment, it was said, “this will support our work sustainability over the long term”.

If we are to encourage our younger generation to learn about and experience Jesus’ unconditional love, to ‘come and see’, to develop their own faith and become ‘disciples’, what is happening at The Rock is absolutely essential and needs our wholehearted support and goodwill.

Mary Turner


Drawing on Abbeyfield’s Art and Soul

Watercolours, drawing and ceramics – Abbeyfield Prestbury’s weekly art group covers a lot of creative ground. As well as learning new skills, the sessions are great for socialising and stimulating memory. One of the keen artists, Brenda (on right in picture), and tutor Katharine Pugh tell us more.

“I’ve not painted since school - it’s very nice to be doing it again,” says Brenda, one of Abbeyfield Prestbury’s four art class members. “I’ve found that I’m pretty good at drawing birds, though the painting is not so easy with my eyesight.”

You may have already seen some of the group’s handiwork if you received any Abbeyfield Christmas cards last year – the designs used paintings from their two-hour weekly sessions.

Brenda was pleased to have her snowballing scene featured in the card packs, which were sold in aid of Abbeyfield Gloucestershire, the local organisation that’s linked to the national Abbeyfield Society, a registered charity with HRH Prince Charles its patron.

“There were four paintings from us, and one from a resident at Cirencester’s Abbeyfield,” says Brenda.

Watercolours and birds are class favourites, but tutor Katharine Pugh makes sure her programme offers a range of materials, themes and activities.

“It’s important they feel comfortable and enjoy it,” says Katharine, who helped stage the group’s winter art show in December at the Prestbury Road house.

“They’ve done some very good pieces.”

This year’s course includes more ceramics and a Me, Myself, I project with cameo drawings based on photos.

“The classes are social and they stimulate memory, too, as they can see what they’ve produced week to week, and we also talk about their lives and experiences when we discuss a theme,” says Katharine.

“We’re now looking at opening the group to some of our volunteers too.”

For Abbeyfield Gloucestershire information, call 07710 818721, email or visit


Friends and Neighbours

So you think you are in for a few inner secrets about stories concerning former friends and neighbours; well, I suppose we all could but, be very careful, you never know who picks up this magazine to read !!

When I read the theme chosen for this month, it reminded me of two different memories. The first is the song which if I remember correctly went.... ‘When you have friends and neighbours, all the world is a happier place, friends and neighbours, just share all your troubles.... etc.’ I can’t remember any more words.

The second memory concerns a certain TV show which probably went out on a Saturday evening when the BBC used to put on ‘proper’ variety entertainment programmes. I hope you remember. There was a character called Norman Evans, I am sure that was his name. He used to put on a dress and take his false teeth out and wear a wig with curlers in the hair. The next thing you saw was him chatting over the wall with his neighbour. You can imagine classic neighbourly chit chat or, more precisely, gossip. ‘Here.. ‘ave you seen Mrs Smith, she goes off dancing with ‘im from the Co-op.. it’s not right yer know.....etc...etc’. It used to appeal to my sense of humour.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where frequently we hardly know what our neighbours look like, never mind speak to them. Times are more hectic and stressful, mothers go out to work and fathers probably likewise and opportunities to idle time away talking over the fence are very rare. It’s all Facebook stuff.

In my lifetime I have had numerous neighbours and friends but not very many characters to recall. I had one neighbour who used to take in lodgers. One of her lodgers was an RAF serviceman who used to work on aircraft. He used to ride his bike to the airfield nearby, about 5-6 miles away. He was from away because he spoke with a different accent from that I was used to hearing. One day when I was on school hols he asked my mother if I would like to go with him to the airfield, provided I did what I was told. My mother must have agreed. I climbed on to the cross bar and sat on a little saddle, ouch !! Off we sped, down the hill and up another and arrived at the airfield where there were spread out some very large aeroplanes. This was a very new experience for me and there were many men and women in brown overalls up on gantries working away. I cannot recall further details to bore you with but if I didn’t have this nice kind neighbour, who knows, maybe I would never have developed an interest in things mechanical.

Some people live in more remote desolate locations and therefore don’t have neighbours. They may have friends but not neighbours to take in parcels etc. when they are away from the house.

Many moons ago we found ourselves in a country area in Australia near a township named Tallong. Our friends lived in a house and the number of the house was actually No. 593. It was a number you more usually connect with a tower block in the centre of Sheffield or similar. We drove along this road for what seemed like about 5 country miles, they actually do metric in Oz, and still no houses, definitely no neighbours here to fall out with. Eventually after driving a bit further we came upon a gateway at the end of a farm track and guess what; there was a number 593 on the post. We turned in and bumped our way along a track and then just beyond a little hill was a ranch-style bungalow, we had arrived. It was explained that 593 was the distance from a certain datum point, Oh I see, thanks very much. Their nearest neighbour was about 10 miles distance but the kangaroos loved it.

To conclude, moving to friends. I had a friend who had a snake. It is so long ago I cannot recall what type it was. He used to let it out on hot days and it normally behaved itself. However on one occasion it went awol and caused much worry for its owner. It was reasoned it would not stray far from its normal habitat. With assistance from more friends we walked the area and asked around to no avail. We decided it might have gone away and been killed or stolen. About three days went by and a police car came to our road and the policeman had a box under his arm. The lost snake had been found in the back of a lorry and was relieved to get rescued. I have no idea what this has to do with friends but I suppose there is a connection somewhere !

Back to the song. ‘The world is a happier place’ it certainly was when my friend was reunited with his snake... with the help of his friends !

Nigel Woodcock


St Nicolas Patronal Pudding Evening

We decided to celebrate our Patronal festival the weekend after the proper St Nicolas Day. Many generous people had made a huge variety of puddings, both hot and cold, so it was difficult to make a choice, necessitating coming back for seconds, and in some cases third helpings! *

Entertainment was again provided by Bags of Brass, with interesting information between each piece of music. Despite the heavy rain, we had a full hall, with everyone enjoying good company as well as good food.

Well done to all the organisers and cooks!

Janet Ford

Bags of Brass entertain

Picture by John White

* and fourths and fifths! - Ed


Further Adventures of a Race Horse Owner

In the March 2014 edition* of this magazine I recounted my initial experiences of horse ownership. Starting as a member of a syndicate set up by trainer Michael Scudamore and rugby player James Simpson-Daniel in May 2009, we had two winners from 12 outings.

Fifteen months later I progressed to leasing a half share in ‘Bounds and Leaps’, bred by Michael’s mother, Maz. The previous contribution ended with ‘Bounds’ having tendon problems in early 2014 and she was retired to become a brood mare. However, she had been great fun and from 15 starts she had won three and been placed four times.

Encouraged by the success of my initial experiences, I decided to go to the next stage of ownership by purchasing a half share of a horse. Michael Scu agreed to take the other half and January 2015 found us at Brightwell’s Sales at Cheltenham. We decided to go for a mare and agreed a short list of three which we inspected closely and watched videos of their point-to-point performances. Our top pick was ‘28 Guns’ who luckily was first under the hammer. Our hearts sank when our agreed maximum price was exceeded but Michael was confident that our bidding competitor, the Twiston-Davies stable, had reached their limit. He was correct and they dropped out after our next bid. Later that evening, she was loaded up to set out for her new home at Ecceleswall Court in Bromsash.

Her career under rules started with a bumper at Chepstow and a very creditable third place. She ran a disappointing sixth in her second bumper at Market Rasen. During the summer break she filled out and we went to Hexham for the start of her 2015-16 novice hurdling season on October 10 with high hopes.

It was a disastrous day. Michael had four runners and all the owners had made the long trip north. The horses ran very badly with two pulled up and 28 Guns coming ninth, 48 lengths behind the winner. Subsequent investigations showed they all had had a respiratory infection leading to the poor performances.

Three more runs in November and December on heavy ground and in very poor weather led to three second places and our fortunes had changed for the better. We then made the bad decision in February 2016 to move her distance up from two and a half to three miles and she was beaten at Plumpton by 46 lengths. The experiment has not repeated.

The 2015-16 season finished with three more races in which she came second twice and fourth. Omitting her run when ill and the Plumpton mistake, she had come second in five of six starts. It was a terrific performance, if a little frustrating at lacking a win.

Michael Scu had always considered she would come into her own over the big fences because she jumps so well and we started the 2016-17 season in October at Hexham. Bad luck struck here for a second time as in her first novice chase a horse fell right in front of her and she was severely impaired but still came a creditable fourth. Injuries to the fallen jockey, Henry Brooke, delayed racing for two hours but he has since recovered fully.

As in the previous year, November and December were brilliant months and three trips to Wales showed her at her best. Two handicap chases in November at Ffos Las produced that elusive first win and a second place, beaten by a short head as Tom Scudamore was pipped on the line by Noel Fehily. Just before Christmas we went to Bangor-on Dee where she won again, beating a competitive field by five lengths and looking every inch the mature chaser in only her fourth race over the big jumps.

What a year 2016 has been- two wins, three seconds and three fourth places. Roll on 2017.

Alastair Mason

* You can read this at


Thursday Morning Service

Every week we meet for half an hour, away from the rush of everyday life to give thanks to God for all his blessings. We follow the service with a cup of coffee or tea and biscuits provided by Joan Rushworth. Thank you for this, Joan. We introduced the refreshments in 1999. The year 2016 we have again raised £400, £200 of which has gone to the United Reformed Church for their hospitality during our renovations and the rest to our own Church to help with the heating.

Please come and join us, you are sure of a very warm welcome.

Doreen Morris


Christmas Round-up

As always, Prestbury URC was full for our annual Carol Service. It was lovely to see so many friends and families of our congregation. It was also a pleasure to welcome the Prestbury Handbell Ringers, led by David & Diana Lyle and including our own Rose West.

As a result of the generosity of the congregation we were able donate £257 to the Open Door project. The Donkey Auction was great fun and raised £122 for Riding for the Disabled. Our thanks go to all the local places that hosted the donkeys for the Donkey Trail and to the schools for handing out entry forms.

Thank you also to all who made donations to the Salvation Army on Gift Day.

Fiona Hall


Book Review

The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

published by Gallic Books £8.99 paperback.

A book to make you happy.

Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, Daniel Mercier is astonished when President Mitterrand and his party sit down at an adjacent table. After the meal, the President leaves his black Homburg hat behind. Daniel takes it as a souvenir, puts it on his head and is delighted with the perfect fit. A new feeling of calm and authority comes over him and his life changes for the better.

Daniel leaves the hat on a train where it is picked up by Fanny Marquant. Could the initials FM in the hat mean that she was meant to have it? Her love affair has turned sour and she needs the courage to end it. Once again, the hat works its magic empowering Fanny with the confidence and courage to deal with her problems.

Mitterand’s hat moves on to the next person needing help to overcome life's difficulties. We meet the sad Pierre Aslan consigned to a life of depression and fear. Once the brilliant creator or ‘nose’ of seven world-famous perfumes, Pierre has lost his style and elegance and hasn’t created a scent for eight years. However, after he picks up the hat up from a park bench, his creative instinct returns and his life is redeemed.

The last person to feel the hat’s power of destiny in this charming story is Bernard Lavallière. Trapped in the stifling conventions of rich conservative Parisians, he discovers this is no ordinary hat and undergoes a metamorphosis.

On one level The President’s Hat is a simple, uncomplicated story. We are led to believe that a hat, albeit a presidential one, can act like a talisman to change the course of events. And yet perhaps there is something deeper. As the hat acts as a catalyst for fulfilment, the story illustrates the delicate balance by which we live our lives and there is a sense that we are all connected.

The story is set in the 1980s in a world without mobile phones. The recent past seems like another age, perhaps one where ‘magic’ has its place. Descriptions of meals are mouth-watering from the delights of eating simple home suppers such as pot au feu and cabbage with bacon to the gourmet seafood platter royale accompanied by fine wines.

The President’s Hat is a short book, easy to read in one sitting. Treat yourself to M. Laurain’s modern fable and perhaps you too will feel a new lease of life!

Sally Annesley


Troubled Teens

The Children’s Society works with children living in poverty and teenagers at risk. As you can imagine, this covers a broad range of work. Each month we are bringing you a story from one of the areas of our work. Last month we talked about the idea of Breathing Space for families struggling with debt. This month focuses on our ground-breaking research on understanding adolescent neglect.

What, exactly, is teenage neglect?

Teenagers are often viewed as being more resilient than younger children but, as our new report shows, they still need dedicated care to meet their physical and emotional needs and to support their education and to keep them safe.

While our research shows that the majority of teenagers are supported by their families, a lack of attention to any, or all, types of care can be neglectful and link to poor well-being and to risky behaviour that can jeopardise a teenager’s health or future prospects.

Child neglect has become topical in recent years and there is now a widespread acceptance that poor parental care in early childhood can limit life chances and is bad for society in the long term. But neglect of adolescents has remained low on the agenda and we are calling for a step change in the way that the parenting of teenagers is viewed.

Our research shows that thousands of teenagers could be failing to get the crucial support they need at home, with one in seven 14 and 15 year olds experiencing a form of neglectful parenting.

For years our research has shown that emotional support is critical for a good childhood. Our troubled Teens report found that emotional support was the type of parental care most strongly linked to higher well-being for 14 and 15 year olds, but also most commonly lacking.

For those experiencing emotional neglect, many of these young people were taking risks with their health and their future prospects – for example truanting from school.

Of the types of parenting we explored, some young people had experienced more than one form of neglect at the same time. We found that experiencing multiple forms of neglect linked to significantly lower scores for well-being than having experiences one form of neglect or no neglect at all.

At The Children’s Society, many of our projects focus on the 10-18 year old age group.

Your donations, actions, prayers and time enable our work with teenagers who are experiencing neglect. If you would like to read the full report please head to .

Thank you.

Roseann Thompson


Reaching Out to Isolated Friends and Neighbours at Prestbury Library

At Prestbury Library, we have a few important customers that we never get to meet. They never come to the library. They never browse the shelves. We do know, however, that a regular supply of library books delivered by trusted volunteers means the world to them.

With our Housebound Customer Scheme we have the privilege of selecting titles for several housebound ladies (gentlemen very welcome too!) every month. We get to know their likes and dislikes and can even track down their favourites from other libraries.

This scheme only works with the time and effort put in by our valued volunteers who visit our housebound customers every month with the chosen books. And they always return with feedback! “Maybe no more murder mysteries for a few months!” “She really enjoyed this one – anything else by the same author?” We know getting it right is important; finding six titles to be someone’s companions for the next three weeks.

One lady receiving the books recently moved into a care home. Our volunteer now takes her books to the care home instead. A customer and former neighbour came into the library to let us know how delighted her elderly friend is with the housebound service. It really helped her to settle in to her new accommodation.

We would love to offer more customers this service, so please do get in touch on 234540 if you know a friend or neighbour who would benefit. Or, if you could spare a couple of hours a month as a volunteer, we could extend this simple but effective scheme to so many more of our friends and neighbours.

With many best wishes for 2017!

Jo, Karen, Laura, Becky and Tessa at Prestbury Library


For mine eyes have seen thy salvation

THROUGHOUT THIS GREAT SEASON of the church from Advent to the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, which brings to a close the preparation and celebration of Christmas, we have been immersed in familiar passages of scripture heralding and telling the story of the birth of Jesus:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings . . .(Isaiah 52:7); Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God (Isaiah 40:1). In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth . . . (Luke 1:26); . . .in those days there went out a decree . . . that all the world should be taxed . . . and she brought forth her first born son . . . and laid him in a manger. . . And there were in that same country shepherds abiding in the field . . . (Luke 2: 1,7,8), and finally Simeon’s Song, the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ (Now you dismiss):

‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word:

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou has prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.’ (Luke 2: 29-32)

In Prayer, in worship, in humble and faithful expectation Simeon was waiting for the day when God would comfort his people. Through the Holy Spirit God had promised that life would not end for him before he had seen God’s anointed King. He recognised that King in the baby Jesus and his heart sang. These words, as a canticle in evening prayer, have become part of the life of constant prayer of many and are spoken every day in churches and private prayer. They are as familiar to many as the Lord’s Prayer.

As with the earlier quotes, the words of the Nunc Dimittis have been set to music and the beauty of the words and music echo around churches and cathedrals and rise like incense as a prayer to God. I am reminded of a most ethereal setting composed by Geoffrey Burgon and used as the end music for the TV drama Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I’ve long ago forgotten the plot of that story but the words and music fill my soul every time I think of them (check it out on YouTube * ).

We may sometimes feel that we are so familiar with the words of the liturgy or passages of the Bible that they have lost their meaning. I would suggest that it is at this point that they can become part of our very being. We no longer need to think about their meaning and they become a vehicle to transform us. Let the glory of the Lord, and the power of the words of Simeon’s Song, raise you from the ordinary into the presence of God.

Quotations from the King James version (Authorised Version)



Gill Cartwright


Forthcoming Events

Coffee Mornings at Prestbury URC

The February Coffee morning is on Saturday 4th February at 10.30am – teas, coffees, books, raffle and the legendary teacakes !


Prestbury Friday Circle

The weekly Friday Circle at the URC starts at 10 am. If you are at a loose end on a Friday morning why not drop in for a cup of tea or coffee? If you want more than just a chat, there are board and card games to play, quiz, bingo and beetle sessions and if you fancy a spot of pampering there are visits from ‘The Nail Lady’ (Revd Dee) who will send you out well manicured.


St Valentine’s Dance - Saturday 11 February 7pm for 7.30


at the Village Hall, Uckington GL51 9SR. The hosts for the evening are Connell Dancing – Instructors in Ballroom Dancing. There will be a raffle and a bar. Tickets are £5. Contact David Williams on 01242 680277 or email for further details.


Welcome on Wednesday - 15 February 2.30pm

Come along to St Nicolas for a cuppa, cake and a chat.


Friends of St Mary, Prestbury AGM - Thursday 16 February 6.30pm

In St Mary’s Church, the AGM will be followed by a talk by Jim Mackie entitled Confessions of a Home Perm Salesman.  

Now Chairman of the Friends of St Mary, Jim Mackie began his career working for Toni Cosmetics, a part of Gillette. Here he reminisces about his life and times.

Drinks and refreshments will accompany the AGM and Jim Mackie’s talk. We hope as many friends as possible will be able to come.


March Bric-a-Brac at Prestbury URC

There will be a Bric-a-Brac and Books sale at Prestbury URC on Saturday 4 March from 10am to noon. Good quality donations are always welcome – please contact Sylvia Turfrey for information on 01242 233970.


Mothering Sunday at St Mary – 26 March 2017

Our congregation has always given so much to help us celebrate Mothering Sunday at St Mary. Once more, we would like to ask for your continued valued support by donating posies for our mums for our Sunday services.

All posies can be delivered to St Mary on the morning of Saturday, March 25th, where you can place them in water buckets by the font.

For those who have never been involved before but would like to take part, and for further information, please contact Becky Evans.

Thank you to all our friends and neighbours for helping to share the joys of Mothering Sunday.

Becky Evans



Prestbury Parish Magazine - February 2017

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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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