The Marriage Course at St John’s Itchen Abbas by Julia and James Wright

In all the drama surrounding the Coronavirus crisis, I failed to publish this report about the recently completed Marriage Course at St John’s Itchen Abbas – many apologies to all those who are mentioned but who have not yet been thanked! Alex Pease

The Marriage Course

This term James and I have been running The Marriage Course at St.John’s, Itchen Abbas. The Marriage Course is a seven week course put together by Nicky and Sila Lee from HTB in London. We’ve had 11 couples on the course (including us), from within the Valley and the surrounding area, spanning in age from 20s to 50s.

The church is transformed into a restaurant for the evening, with small tables for two, laid up with tablecloths, flowers, candles etc. Lamps and background music set an informal, welcoming and hopefully romantic atmosphere. As couples arrive, they are given a drink and sit down with their spouse. After a brief welcome, the food is served and we begin watching the DVD on the big screen. There are breaks during the DVD for discussions between each couple, and we try to play the background music loud enough to ensure enough privacy. The two-course meal is served and cleared away, with amazing discretion, by two helpers. At the time of writing we still have the final evening to go, but the feedback so far is very positive, with couples saying they are recommending it to their friends and family.

The evenings have only been made possible by an incredible workforce of volunteers. The meals have been delicious (as good if not better than any restaurant), so huge thanks to all the cooks: Clare Davis, Jude Mezger, Beccy Clarke and Verity Coleman. The team of helpers have been equally crucial to making the evenings run so well – in helping set up the church, serve and clear the food, and wash up afterwards. A huge thank you to this team: Alex and Lucy Pease, James and Natalie Paterson, John and Joanna Lang, Robin and Gilly Greenwood, Nick and Lavinia Owen and Amanda Seymour. And of course, huge thanks to Beccy Clarke for managing all the administration with her wonderful grace and competence, and to Vernon Tottle for setting out and clearing away the tables and chairs each week.

We think the course has been a success and we hope it’s had a significant, positive impact on all the marriages represented there.

Julia Wright

Thank you all so much for so much hard work in putting this course on – and a particular thank you to James and Julia Wright who managed to do this at the same time as managing a leading ice cream company and bringing up four children and moving house.  Thank you so much on behalf of everyone who attended and on behalf of the parish

Alex Pease


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