What an amazing peal of bells! It was a delight to arrive to the most wonderful peal of bells by our bell ringers at St Mary’s Avington. The church was fairly packed out despite the continuous rainfall which was a good effort from everyone.
The evensong service started. The first hymn was announced. Then a voice from the organ loft – that the organ was not working! So John Purver was asked to come downstairs to form an impromptu choir with Tony Gaster and we carried on as if nothing had happened. We sang the hymns. The singing of the Deus Misereatur the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimitis was monastic – sounded even better perhaps than when supported by the organ even when in the hands of the excellent John Purver. Astonishingly the boom boom boom of Boomtown did not disturb the tranquility of the service.
After the service, Sarah Shirley gave her swan song thank you speech to all those who have helped the church during the course of the year as follows:
I always like to start by thanking our ministry team, Alex and Gerry for taking our services here in St. Mary’s.
But without the help of a large number of people, right across the village to help care for the church, we would not be able to hold services here.
We have a DCC, gardening teams, cleaning teams, flower roots and all sorts of little jobs that keep the place in good order. I would like to thank Penny for taking over the preparation of the services and for representing Avington on the PCC. And all the sidesmen who help with the smooth running of the services. Thank you Liz our trusty secretary of many years’ service, who makes sure we do things correctly, and is a great source of parish history.
Then we come to the building itself. Last October we had our quinquennial inspection.
Organising the necessary list of repairs has been a hugely time consuming task and her I would like to that particularly Gill and Jacqui who have devoted so many hours through the course of the year in planning, organising and supervising. And there is more to do yet.
This year we experimented with a Car Boot sale to raise funds for the Parish. This again has involved almost the entire village. We owe Sarah and Charlie huge thanks for allowing us to use their field. It is always such a bonus and an added attraction to have such a lovely venue. I would like to include in my thanks Vicki who together with Sarah ran with the idea leading the committee and making it such a success raising as much as £2600.
As a matter of interest I recently found the transcript of a broadcast on the Home Service by James Robertson Justice in the Week’s Good Cause (see below) in 1958 which was to raise money for St Mary’s Avington, then a parish of its own.
Finally this really will be the last time that I have the privilege of thanking you all. You have been so lovely to work with and I hope its been fun too. I will miss you. I wish you every blessing for the future and pray that each one of you will know the love that God has for you.
Revd Alex Pease thanked Sarah for everything that she has done for St Marys and for the Parish and thanked everyone who had been passing on the baton of keeping the church in this community alive in this generation.