Saturday 13th December saw St Mary’s decorated with flowers and willow figures, depicting the tableau of the Nativity. The flower group had worked hard all week, getting the church ready for this wonderful occasion, and what a fabulous scene they had created.
As you entered the porch, we were given the opportunity to write a prayer on one of the cards provided, and to add it to the prayer tree.
Once inside the church the warm welcome and atmosphere hit you. Candles glowed (and smelt of Christmas fragrance), all setting the scene of what was to come.
Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were there along with the three kings bearing there gifts and all watched over by the angel.
Throughout the day, visitors were treated to entertainment which was provided by members of the church and the Vicar. Culminating in a rendition of David Essex’s song ‘Only a Winterers Tale’ expertly sung by the warden and the Vicar (A new pop duo in the making!).
The Social committee served refreshments in the Mews all day, and everyone involved had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Canon Chris Humphries said ‘A big thank you to the social committee, the flower team, stewards, coffee makes, musicians and everyone who worked so hard to make our Advent gift day a success. Of course, the money raised was important and much needed, but the fellowship, fun and outreach to the community was of still greater significance’.
The gift day raised a total of £1380
The Christingle Service saw the church packed with families. Whitehgate school choir treated us to a performance of the Christingle song and Canon Chris Humphries accompanied us with the tambourine. A very successful evening, raising £362 for the work of the Children's Society to support vulnerable children in the UK.
Children's Work Award
Church Colleges Certificate in Children’s Ministry
On Saturday 15th November a lovely service at Manchester Cathedral was enjoyed by 130 people from across both Chester and Manchester Diocese, at which Teresa Finney was presented with her Church Colleges certificate in Children’s Ministry, following a year long course.
She also received a certificate from The Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster Bishop of Chester, the wording of which sums up the Children’s Ministry Course, ‘The Church of England’s strategy for ministry among children and young people, Going for Growth, calls on the church to provide professional support and development for all those working with children and young people in the name of the church, so that they might demonstrate the highest qualities in their practice and personal life.’
On Tuesday 2nd December 30 people sat down to enjoy an Advent Lunch of Roast Turkey and all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding and cream.
The tables were decorated beautifully and everyone received a small gift of chocolate.
Canon Chris gave the Grace and between the courses entertained everyone with a story and two Christmas songs.
Special thanks go to Colin Newton who gave his time to help prepare the meal on his day off. Thanks also to those who helped serve and tidy up after the meal.
It was good to see so many people enjoying the fellowship and friendship of parish life together.
Linda & Chris would like to thank everyone who have supported all the Pastoral lunches over the last year, the next will be the series of Lent Lunches.
On Sunday 9th November as we arrived at church we were greeted by poppies that had been ‘planted’ up the sides of the steps and the pathway into church. These poppies had been made by the children in school and really set the scene for what was to come.
As we entered church we were greeted with a spectacular scene that had been created by the Church Flower Group with the help of others. George Billington had made a large wooden cross that was decorated with barbed wire and poppies which had been made by Carole Sweet and the Crafty Coffee Ladies. The poppy trail led us to the font where the display was of white lilies and candles, hands of peace and ‘A Soldier’s Prayer’.
The windows were decorated with war time memorabilia kindly loaned by many members of St Mary’s.
All in all a very thought provoking scene followed by a moving service which culminated with the laying of wreaths at the war memorial with two minutes silence.
A short Act of Remembrance will take place at the war memorial on Tuesday 11th November at 11.45am. Please join us if you can and also take the opportunity to look in church at the splendid displays.
A New Harvest Tradition for Whitegate?
It’s a good year for apples and with his fruit crusher and press set up in the middle of Church Green, Clive Richardson was in much demand on the day before our Harvest Festival.
Bag after bucket of apples was fed, first into the jaws of the crusher,( “Mind your fingers”), and the resultant mix transferred to the press, (“Make sure the bucket’s in place”). With colours ranging from almost white, through yellow to a hint bronze, litre after litre of juice poured from the press and was decanted into clean bottles. All of us had under-estimated just how much juice we’d get from the fruit we’d brought down. Some, lucky enough to have several laden trees in the garden went home to get more supplies. That created a problem when it came to bottling. Thank goodness for empty communion wine bottles, especially appropriate when it came to pressing grapes from the Vicarage vineyard.
Right next to the production line was the canteen. Hot soup and rolls and yes, for dessert an apple, all served by the team who’d been up since dawn preparing for the event. How many other work-place dining rooms have flowers on the tables?
Back in the open air, music while you work was provided by Clive and Canon Chris on guitar, adding to the already convivial atmosphere. Without doubt, this was an event that we should repeat in future years. If global warming continues apace, we’ll be making our own communion wine, Côtes de Whitegate.
PS At Marton Sands we are experimenting, trying to turn 10 litres of our apple juice into cider. Will it be drinkable or not? Watch this space.
On Tuesday 23rd September we had the Autumn Lunch in The Mews.
Canon Chris led us in singing two verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful. He then said Grace.
Twenty eight of us were served a delicious salad meal and an enormous piece of apple pie - and cream.
It was enjoyed by all and the fellowship and friendship was palpable.
Our thanks to Linda Dutton and Chris Newton whose idea this was. They look forward to seeing us on 2nd December at 12.30pm for the Advent Lunch.
Please put a note in your diary.
At a recent St Mary’s Pastoral Committee meeting it was noted that there is little regular opportunity for fellowship among the men of the parish and it was suggested that we instigate a Men’s Breakfast. As the situation is probably similar at St Peter’s , we would like to open the invitation to the men there too.
So, starting on Wednesday 15th October we plan for men to meet at 0830, probably at the Hollies, where we can start our day Iin good company with a good breakfast.
Thereafter the hope is, that with enough support, we can meet each third Wednesday of the month.
Lists will go up in each parish so that we can let the venue know numbers, so watch out for further information.
If you have questions just ask John Stopford.
St Mary's FloodlightingPublished: Wednesday 24 September 2014 09:14 AM
During the months of October to April the church is floodlit each day from dusk to 10.30pm.
If you would like to sponsor a week during this time for a special event please sign the list on the notice board in church or contact one of the wardens:
John Beck 01606 883992
Martin Allen 01606 594930
The guide amount for the sponsorship is £25.00 per week.
A Visit to Stamford Hospital
A Visit to Stamford Hospital
The location of a Great War Hospital at Dunham Massey
“I couldn’t see. It was the most terrifying experience. Was I going to be blind for life? Was I going to die? My job. My employment gone!”
These are the words of a wounded corporal, one of 282, who were treated and rehabilitated at Dunham Massey between 1917 and 1919.
A party from the church visited a reconstructed exhibition in the house, a rather plain brick-built 18th century pile, on a sunny day in early September. In 1917 a number of rooms had been transformed by the recently widowed Lady Stamford into one of the 3,244 make-shift nursing hospitals across Britain.
“No Smoking before 8am and after 9pm!”
The atmosphere in the wards was intense, but must have been comforting for those who had endured cold, mud, lice and trench-foot on the western front. Here Cameron Highlanders, Sherwood Foresters, French Canadians and Cheshiremen fought a new battle against shrapnel infection, multiple fractures and gas blisters. In 1914 80% who had suffered a bone fracture died, by 1918 this had been reduced to 7%.
Many also experienced neurastheria or shell shock, which at the front was regarded as cowardice, but at Stamford they received a sympathetic approach under the guidance of Her Lady.
We visitors were all of a generation, who could remember relatives who had fought in the war. We retained a link to this conflict which began 100 years ago. It seemed incongruous that we should bask in the sunshine enjoying our ice creams in a place where so much suffering had been endured.
Yet that was the point.
Many thanks to Carole for organizing the day. Well done.
Please bring your gifts of fresh fruit and vegetables to church on Saturday 11th October at 10am for decorating the church. These will then be distributed locally as soup boxes.
Your gifts of non-perishable goods can be brought to the 9.30am Harvest Festival Service on Sunday 12th October when they will be received during the service. These goods will then be taken to the Foodbank.
What a lovely pastoral event.
Twenty nine people sat down to a beautiful lunch prepared by Linda and Chris.
Linda led us in an appropriately worded Grace.
We were then served with quiche and salads followed by profiteroles, strawberries and cream, everyone going home very well fed.
It was lovely to see everyone enjoying the food and fellowship which is a fundamental part of our parish life.
Thanks to all who helped with serving, washing up and leaving the room tidy.
An autumn lunch is planned for the 23rd September so put this in your diaries and ensure that your name is on a list in church for catering purposes.
Open Gardens & Hog Roast
Open Garden Newcomers 2014.
A chance encounter at 6.30 am one Saturday morning between my husband and David Roston over the garden hedge was the catalyst to us getting involved in the open gardens this year. As very amateur gardeners who can't really give sufficient time to create what we really want, we were very reluctant to open our garden as we didn't necessarily think others would be interested. However David and Doris are very persuasive and by 11.00am that very same day we had said yes!
This followed a few weeks of 'what have we done'; but it gave us a focus and purpose to complete many of the jobs we had set ourselves to do this summer.
The church garden committee were very supportive and helpful and made us feel most welcome. The pre-meeting and seeing the other gardens the week before showed us the diversity and range of gardens on show. All were of interest in their own right, some beautifully immaculate and reflected the time spent by those who were more expert than ourselves; others more rustic and natural.
As relative newcomers to the village (2 years), what the open gardens have given us is a sense of community involvement. It provided us with the opportunity to meet new people - near neighbours, some of whom we had never met. It also showed us what we could achieve in our garden after 30 plus years of dedication.
On the day it rained..... and rained...... and rained - the one wet day in over two weeks of beautiful weather. Did this deter the hardy - no. The visitors came in true British spirit, ready to face any element. It was a pleasure to show the garden; people were so friendly and complimentary and genuinely appreciated the opportunity to look round. The hospitality shown as part of the event with a hog roast and drinks was a fitting end to a very good day.
You don't have to have the perfect garden or be a professional gardener to get involved; and the people visiting are genuinely interested in the wide range of garden design and styles on show.
Were we apprehensive? - yes. Would we do it again? - probably yes!; as the support and camaraderie of the other participants made us feel so welcome.
Messing About on the River
Mothers’ Union members from Whitegate and Little Budworth chose St Swithun’s Day for an outing to Chester and a cruise on the River Dee – and no, it didn’t rain, so we can safely assume that the weather is set fair for the next 40 days!
The boat, the Jackie, is operated by Chester Boats and leaves The Groves each day at midday for a two-hour trip up river, to the Iron Bridge on the Duke of Westminster’s estate. The clear commentary gives interesting bits and pieces about local history, the River Dee itself and the prominent buildings along the route. Did you know, for example that the circular red-brick tower that stands near the canal at Boughton is the Chester Shot Tower, a remnant of the lead industry in the city, the oldest of only three remaining in the country? It was used to make lead shot for muskets in the Napoleonic Wars and was last used as recently as 2001.
As you leave the city, the views are of the beautiful houses with gardens sweeping down to the river bank and opposite them, the flat landscape of the Chester Meadows. From there, it’s out to open country and views of ducks, geese, swans, herons and fishermen. The boat turns back for home at the Iron Bridge, an elegant blue and white arch which crosses the Dee between Aldford and Eaton in a single 50 metre span. Designed by Thomas Telford for the 1st Marquis of Westminster, it’s a copy of Telford’s famous structure at Ironbridge itself.
As we travelled and admired the countryside, we tucked into our picnic lunches and chatted, laughed and shared an idyllic couple of hours, entertained from time to time by Lily’s singing.
Perhaps I should say that Lily wasn’t the cabaret artist, she was the youngest member of our group, Diana’s grand-daughter, who at just three, shows real musical promise!
Baptism at St Mary's
We had our daughter baptised at St Mary’s one Sunday in March 2014. The service was great and we were so grateful that the Revd Rowland Crook was able to perform the baptism as St Mary’s was in vacancy during this period. We felt that he was informative about the meaning of baptism whilst having a comical element now and again which kept it quite light hearted. Our guests also commented on this. We had a lovely day and felt truly welcomed by St Mary’s and we will be going to the family services which are held on the fourth Sunday of every month.
On Sunday 29th June Jane Millinchip was ordained Deacon by Bishop Peter in Chester Cathedral.
Jane has now left St Mary's and is serving as curate at St Helen's Witton.
However, before she left Revd Millinchip led her first service as Deacon at St Mary's at 6.30pm that evening. When St Mary's choir were joined by St Mary's singers for a superb choral evensong.
The service was followed by a 'Bring & Share' supper when Jane was presented with a cheque from her friends at St Mary's.
On Saturday 14th June 2014 around 50 parishioners gathered to welcome Chris & Barbara to St Mary’s.
The social committee had organised a ‘Bring & Share’ traditional ploughman’s lunch, which was enjoyed by all.
Not only did the sun come out for the event, but we were also given a surprise visit by ‘The Bishop’ (John Bishop that is) and a film crew. Whilst everyone sat in the sunshine enjoying good company and wine, we had to pretend not to notice that a drone with camera attached was flying over us whilst John Bishop rode his cycle up and down the road for several ‘takes’. John had cycled across Australia some 22 years ago and had recently retraced the journey for a travelogue ‘John Bishop’s Australia’ which is to be televised by the BBC over three one hour episodes later in the summer. The part filmed in Whitegate was supposedly John on his way home cycling through a quintessential English village.
Thanks to the social committee for an excellent day and to everyone for turning up.
Installation Service of Canon Chris Humphries
Thursday 22nd May was a great occasion for St Mary’s Whitegate when Canon Chris Humphries was inducted as the next vicar of Whitegate and Little Budworth.
Members of both St Mary’s and St Peter’s were joined by Canon Chris’ family and many friends from Chester Cathedral and also previous parishes that he had ministered in.
The service was led by Bishop Keith, Archdeacon Mike and Rural Dean Simon Drew, with Archdeacon Mike giving an excellent sermon asking everyone to look in, look out and up towards God. We were asked to embrace change and to work with Chris.
Canon Chris was welcomed to the parish by representatives from Cheshire West & Chester Council, Whitegate & Marton Parish Council, Little Budworth Parish Council, Whitegate C of E Primary School, Whitegate Youth Group and young members of both parishes along with lay readers and the laity of Middlewich Deanery.
The evening concluded with a Bring & Share supper in the garden of the Red Lion Pub.
Pastoral Visit to St Michael's Church, Middlewich
Some of Whitegate congregation and friends visited St Michael’s and All Angels Church, Middlewich on 22nd March. It was a very cold but dry day. We were welcomed at no 28 (their church centre) with coffee and toasted tea cakes - they certainly hit the spot on a winter’s day. Reverend Liz Wood introduced our guide Ann Latham and we set off across the road to see the church.
Ann was an excellent guide and, although she professed to be a trainee, she explained that a pre-Norman structure may have existed but it was impossible to be sure without investigations below the floor of the church. It is thought that the church dates from c.1070 to c. 1250.
The windows in Saint Michael’s are beautiful. I think my favourite was the Lady Chapel Window, there are three windows in the Perpendicular style, two of which are plain glass. The centre window is in pale colours with the sun shining through it, it was stunning. This is where we shared the Lord’s Supper with Reverand Liz Woods as the celebrant.
There are two Heraldic Screens in the church one dated 1632 the other 1633. They show the coats of arms of the Venables, Breton and Cholmondeley families kept in low light to preserve them.
We were told although it is an historic building it is a thriving church. We saw where “Smilers”, children’s group, meets on a Monday afternoon and heard of many types of services offered at Saint Michael’s every week.
We thanked Reverend Liz Woods and Ann for such an interesting visit and a number of our party went to the Plough at Whitegate for lunch, which was enjoyed by all.
The Lydian Singers Concert – conducted by John Naylor.
This concert was held in church on Tuesday 18th March. The sacred music was beautifully sung and the instrumentalists helped to make a very enjoyable evening. We concluded the evening with a glass of sherry and shortbread biscuits and raised £328 for church funds.
Our thanks go to Pam Venables for bringing her choir to Whitegate, to all who came and enjoyed the concert and for the support of the helpers, because without them we would not have such successful events.
An enthusiastic Audience of 80 from the area came to the Great Hall at the Abbey for a concert of Old and New presented by the Vale Royal String Orchestra on Sunday 9th March. The concert started with a Mozart Divertimento that was written when he was a teenager followed by Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. This music paints an audio picture of the Herefordshire where Elgar lived.
The highlight of the evening was a performance of Gordon Jacob’s Little Concerto for Double Bass. There are very few concertos written for Double Bass so it was a great occasion for the instrument to take centre stage and for Diana Milner to show us all what it could do. Diana Milner is a World Class exponent of the double bass and led the double bass section of the Hallé orchestra for many years.
After the interval the orchestra performed a Chaconne by Purcell but arranged for string orchestra by Britten. This is a very ‘meaty’ arrangement compared to playing it in an early music style and allows the orchestra to let rip.
The evening finished with a new work by local composer (and member of the first violins) Adrienne Spilsbury’s third suite for String Orchestra. Although being new it is very much in the style of twentieth century British music similar to Elgar, Britten and Walton.
St Mary’s Church and the Orchestra are very grateful to Vale Royal Abbey Golf Club for their support and the use of the Great Hall for what has become an annual event over the last twelve years.
Last year St Mary’s started to support Adoption Matters Northwest, through our Missionary and Charitable Giving scheme. Now, members of the committee are pleased to announce that the Chief Executive, Mr Norman Goodwin, is coming to speak at our Morning Service, on Sunday 9th March.
Do make a point of being there to find out more about the huge range of work carried out by this charity, from interviewing and selecting potential adoptive parents to placing children and supporting all parties thereafter. During coffee and cake in the Mews after the service, there’ll be a chance to chat to Mr Goodwin too. (N.B. Committee members, please don’t forget that you promised to bring the cake!)
Inviting Guest Speakers from the charities we support is all part of our on-going plan to build partnerships with our chosen organisations and to give members of the congregation an opportunity to learn more about how our donations are spent. We’ll be inviting another speaker later in the year.
Burns' Night Supper
What a night!
We had great food, poems that I couldn't understand, but the adults thought they were funny, several speeches and a great piper.
The evening started with the mysterious haggis being piped into The Mews by David Fallows. In such a small room it was loud!! Ewan Armitage, in Highland dress was MC and gave a traditional Burns' speech after the haggis had been piped in.
Calum Miller recited an 'alternative' Burns' poem which was difficult to understand because of all the Scottish words.
I have never had haggis before so didn't know what to expect. It was an unusual taste!! The pudding was delicious.
After we had eaten, Martin Allen gave a toast to the 'Lassies' and Eileen Lees replied on their behalf.
This enjoyable evening was organised by the Social & Fundraising Committee lead by Carole Sweet.
Forward, with banner high!
It was with enormous pride that the members of St Mary’s Mothers’ Union witnessed the dedication of their new banner, at Morning Service on Sunday 11th August. Designed by Carole Sweet, this brightly coloured standard symbolises the revival of the Mothers’ Union in Whitegate after a break of more than 20 years.
The very special service was tailor-made by the Vicar, to include not only the MU prayer, but also the MU hymn and a sermon focusing on the upbringing and life of Mary Sumner, founder of the Mothers’ Union, who died on 11th August 1921. We’d love to say that we chose the date of our service specially, but no, it was a pure and happy coincidence, and the two new members, Ulrike Allen and Sue Whitehead, admitted to the Mothers’ Union at that service will have reason to remember the date of their MU anniversary.
Whitegate members were very pleased to welcome the Diocesan President, Angela Klabou, and Diana Bancroft, Middlewich Deanery Leader who was the driving force behind the launch of our new group. Members from other branches in the Deanery also came to support us.
During the photo session at the end of the service, another curious coincidence came to light. It seems that the Middlewich Deanery banner, which was also paraded at our service, was worked by Audrey Bishop, who lived at the time in the very house owned now by Carole and Graham Sweet!
For more information about the Mothers' Union, please click here.
Hub-in-the-Pub with Revd. Canon Howell-Jones, Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral
On the evening of Monday 13th January 2014 around 50 parishioners, family and friends from St Mary’s and St Peter’s met at The Plough in Whitegate to hear our guest speaker Revd. Canon Howell-Jones, Vice-Dean of Chester Cathedral.
As you would expect of Cathedral Clergy, he came dressed in black, crisp white clerical collar in place. But the way he regaled us of his life, faith and ministry was far more colourful.
Peter explained that his first love was music, initially performance, later teaching and then commercially as an impresario, all of which proved invaluable experience and insights to be applied when he felt the call to ordained ministry.
Born in Liverpool, his work and training took him to North America and Africa as well as Yorkshire, The Wirral and Birmingham before arriving in Chester. To relate some of his stories of aspects of his ministry, or job interviews, would be likely to cause embarrassment to him and possibly get our magazine closed down so suffice to say his talk was open, informative, extremely entertaining, and at times challenging.
Peter demonstrated his incredible enthusiasm and commitment to his role at our Cathedral in not only working to retain its grandeur but also to ensure it has a continued place at the heart of our community. In the latter part of his talk Peter explained his work in Africa while in Birmingham Diocese which he has been able to continue by working with Medic Malawi.
In addition to our thanks to Peter, our thanks go to David Hughes who not only allowed the use of the Plough for the meeting but provided an excellent buffet, at no charge, which allowed a collection of £283 to be given to Peter for the work of Medic Malawi. Sincere thanks are also due to Alan Newton for again arranging the evening and acting as chairman to keep us all in order.
The only remaining question is who next year?
New Gate to Whitehead Fields Installed
On the front cover of this month's magazine is a picture of the recently constructed and installed entrance gates to the new burial ground leading from St Mary's churchyard to 'Whitehead Fields'.
Construction is now complete and plans are underway for its consecration in readiness to accept burials. The gates have been manufactured and installed with great care and craftsmanship by Tom Starkey who has in the past completed other valued work for St Mary's.
The whole project has been made possible due to the kind donation of land by Irving and Mary Whitehead and local contractors and craftsmen have been employed throughout the construction process.
John Stopford has joined the Chaplaincy teamPublished: Thursday 02 January 2014 05:26 PM
As of the 2nd January 2014 John Stopford has joined the Chaplaincy team at Leighton Hospital on a voluntary basis, this also includes Northwich Victoria Infirmary. He will be available there on Tuesdays and part of Wednesdays and Thursdays each week (on holiday 19th-27th January).
If you know of anyone who would appreciate a visit or prayers, patients, relatives or friends, John can be contacted by phone on 01606558802 or 07710 228336. Messages can be left on either, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.