The People’s Passion and Roughshod Deliver come to Maidenhead


COME along to St Luke’s in Maidenhead this Saturday evening for an energetic, entertaining show about faith, hope and everything in between. Read more

Children urged to learn about Global Neighbours


CHILDREN at Hazlemere CofE School in Buckinghamshire took part in the pilot of Global Neighbours, a new Christian Aid initiative.

The scheme, which is now being rolled out nationally, aims to help primary school children to tackle social injustice. The scheme has bronze, silver and gold levels to encourage youngsters to reflect on issues such as climate change and gender inequality.

Susan Brice, RE co-ordinator at Hazlemere, said: “The children chose to look at the situation with refugees. We investigated words like refugee, asylum seeker and migrant and put together a letter to our local MP Steven Baker about what Britain is doing about Syrian refugees.”

The children gave presentations in groups, looked at the idea of Jesus as a refugee when he was born and were delighted to receive a reply to their letter to Mr Baker.


Children give presentations as part of the Global Neighbours scheme.

Special service commemorates Newbury bombing


EXPLOSIONS ricocheted through Newbury leaving 15 dead, 43 injured and several buildings, including St John’s Church, flattened.

The time was 4.35pm on February 10 1943 and among those killed were children, a teacher and a caretaker left in the town’s school. A special service takes place on 11 February at 3pm to remember that day.

Two elderly women stand amid the ruins of the Almshouse that had been their home in Newbury following the bombing on February 10 1943. Photo: Shutterstock

The rubble of St John the Evangelist Church after the bombing. Photo: Newbury History Society

For survivors, the memories are still poignant. “For me it was a plume of smoke. I suppose it was a mixture of smoke and dust, which went right up into the sky. I was home from school then, and playing on Wash Common,” said one.

Another man recalls hearing the bombs drop; the huge explosion, as he was heading home from school on his bike. His first, reflex thought was: “Oh good, no school tomorrow,” followed, instantaneously, by the awful thought of what could have happened

Michael was in the Wellington pub, where he was born, and lived with his family. They were having their tea at the time. They thought the explosion, was a vehicle collision, until they realised the wall at the end of their house had been blown off. His father popped his head out and saw the rubble that was, a few minutes earlier, the church. “We were very lucky,” Michael says. A row of glasses on a pub shelf were in tact but the roof was blown off.

Doug Brindley, was 14 at the time and was at work, when the red warning light came on and went with his colleagues to the shelter. The walls shook violently as the bombs went off. Doug and his brothers were members of the choir at St John’s. His way home that afternoon took him past the ruins of his church and surrounding streets and homes. Several years later,  Doug and his wife Mary were to be one of the first couples to be  married in the newly rebuilt St John’s.

It is thought that St John’ is the only church in the Oxford Diocese to have been destroyed in WW2.

Everyone is welcome at the service at St John’s Church.

‘Outstanding’ inspection result for St Luke’s CE Primary School


ST LUKE’S CE Primary School in Maidenhead has been rated ‘Outstanding’ following a recent Ofsted inspection. The inspection team reported that the school “is a haven of tolerance and respect… a calm, caring, and friendly place where everyone feels valued” and praised the “exceptional” school leadership and governance.

The report praises pupils’ behaviour, engagement and progress, and recognises how their “spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding are particularly well developed by the rich range of learning opportunities that the curriculum provides.” It also highlights how disadvantaged pupils, pupils with special educational needs and pupils with English as an additional language, are supported very effectively and achieve well.

Inspectors described the headteacher Amanda Hough as “inspirational” and emphasised the strength and commitment of her leadership team. Amanda said:”I am absolutely thrilled with the Ofsted judgement and have always believed that we could and would be Outstanding. I am immensely proud of our pupils, both present and past, and feel privileged to be their headteacher. I am also blessed with an amazing team who go above and beyond for the pupils in our care. We are all passionately dedicated to enriching their life experiences, and this holistic, nurturing approach is what makes St. Luke’s such a wonderful place to be.”

The report also recognises the how the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) supports the school effectively, providing ‘significant knowledge and expertise’ and enhancing the governors’ strategic leadership.

Anne Davey, the Chief Executive, of ODST, said: “We are so delighted that St Luke’s has been rated Outstanding. St Luke’s is an exceptional school, where pupils thrive and parents can be confident that their child is safe, happy and making progress. The headteacher and staff are dedicated to ensuring the best possible environment and education for every child, and we are extremely proud that the inspection team have recognised that in this report.”

Christmas Market supports DEC appeal for Myanmar refugees


REFUGEES from Myanmar will benefit from the Christmas Market at St Peter’s Church, Caversham on Saturday, 9 December, in aid of the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal.

Teknaf, Bangladesh, APRIL 1, 2017 : Rohingya refugees from Myanmar waiting for food aid in Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Shutterstock.

The DEC Appeal has been set up to support half a million people – mostly Rohingya women and children – who have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. They are seeking refuge in Bangladesh, where they urgently need food, water, shelter and medical care. The DEC works with 13 of the UK’s leading aid charities to provide and deliver aid to ensure the success of appeals.

“Many of us have been deeply distressed by the events in Myanmar and the Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh,” says the Revd Mike Smith, Rector of St Peter’s in Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham Parish. “The DEC appeal is one way in which we can offer support and assistance. Please do try to support St Peter’s Christmas Market as we seek to help others less fortunate than ourselves.”

St Peter’s Christmas Market is always well attended, with supporters enjoying plenty of stalls, sideshows, refreshments, raffles and tombolas. Teams are already busy on homemade cakes, puddings and biscuits and handmade crafts, including table decorations for the Christmas season.

The Market runs from 10.00am to 12.30pm on Saturday, 9 December, at St Peter’s, between Caversham Court and The Warren.

Chat mats arrive in Caversham


SOMETIMES a quiet coffee is just the thing while at other times the chance to chat can make all the difference. Chat Mats at the 3Cs Café in St John’s Church, Caversham, Berkshire, ensure both are available every Tuesday morning.

Chat Mats

Chat Mats were the brainchild of Caroline Billington and spread throughout Newbury. Now, as part of the Coffee Companions project, they are available from Caversham to Cornwall.

Customers can order their drink and ask for a Chat Mat. They put it on their table, red side up and the message ‘Not today, maybe another time’ ensures they are uninterrupted. Leave the green side showing: ‘Say hello and have a chat’ and a Coffee Companion joins them. The idea is to help those who may be lonely but find it hard to go and break into a new gathering. People of all ages at the 3Cs Café are using the mats.

The Revd Penny Cuthbert said: “The Chat Mats are a brilliant idea. It’s not always easy to tell who would like a chat and who would rather be left alone, but the chat mats make that clear. The 3Cs Café is a great place for people to meet and make new friendships, and we hope the Chat Mats will help that to happen.”

The Café, which opens on Tuesdays from 9.30am to 2pm, has a weekly Companions Hour when customers know there will be someone to talk to, from 10.30am to 11.30am.
Working together, Caversham churches and Reading Voluntary Action Champions to End Loneliness plan to see if Chat Mats can be rolled out across all the cafés in Caversham.

Medical missions bring vital relief


TWO nurses from Berkshire have returned from missions bringing healthcare to people abroad.

Carol at work in Koh Kong.

Carol Moloney joined a medical mission to Cambodia with Mission Direct, while Sabita Clarke headed to a hospital in Uganda. Cambodia was ravaged under Pol Pot’s brutal 1970s regime and in four years about three million people – a quarter of the country’s population – died. Pol Pot was eventually overthrown but his legacy is apparent as nearly 40 per cent live in poverty. Carol, a community nurse working in Earley, travelled to Phnom Penh to run teaching courses on child health, pregnancy care, immunisation, breast feeding, and dealing with child abuse.

Mission Direct also ran a drop-in clinic in a remote village and saw 82 patients with diverse conditions including back pain, mumps, and cataracts. Medicines, toothbrushes, toothpaste and spectacles were dispensed. Carol said: “A US missionary doctor joined us and we set up camp in the shade of bamboo and palm trees on an island in the province of Koh Kong, with pigs rummaging a few feet away.”

Sabita, of Caversham, visited Kamuli hospital in central Uganda, which is run by nuns and serves a population of about 300,000. The hospital is more than 100 years old. Kamuli has about 100 beds, an operating theatre, an old x-ray machine, inadequate ultrasound equipment, and virtually no laboratory facilities.

In the past decade, volunteers have helped rebuild the maternity ward, a gynaecological ward, part of the staff accommodation, and a guest house for visiting doctors and volunteers.

Kamuli Friends was set up four years ago to encourage donations to the hospital and is now fundraising for projects to provide the hospital with solar power, rebuild paediatric and medical wards, and help the hospital raise its own funds for the long term. Rebuilding the medical and paediatric wards are a major priority and the fundraising target is £250,000. Sabita said: “We would like to try to open an art centre at the hospital to encourage visitors and visiting artists. This could become a profit-making venture to provide funds for the hospital.”

Dazzle festival enriches Reading


by Gary Collins

EAST Reading has been dazzled by an innovative 10-day Festival of community, imagination and ideas run by St John & St Stephen’s Church (StJ&StS) in Newtown.

Kate Raworth speaks on Doughnut Economics. Photo: Chris Jupp

Dazzle Festival was a collaboration with Reading’s Festival of the Dark. Through art, theatre, concerts, talks, film and meditations the community explored the complex yet affirming role of darkness when thinking about faith, environment, community, education and humanity. Kate Raworth inspired a large audience when she spoke on Doughnut Economics; a radical way to think about money, worth and the environment in a broken system.

The Revd Vincent Gardner, vicar of StJ&StS said: “This week has demonstrated that ‘mission’ is a misnomer; the Church must simply engage with the community by being human and at this time we urgently need to be “realistic” otherwise where’s the fun in it all?’’

On the final Saturday Dazzle Thinking invited an eclectic group of thinkers and activists. Highlights included Kester Brewin speaking on mutiny, risk and education, Alison Webster, the Diocese of Oxford’s social responsibility adviser, on transgression and shadows, Colin Heber-Percy on the philosophy of Dazzling Darkness Under the Skin, community gardener Dave Richards on the Digger’s Revolt and Prof Helen Bilton on Taking Education Outdoors.

New friendships and new conversations were started and will hopefully nurture energy to invigorate and inspire our local streets, schools and parks. A final Dan Flavin-inspired fluorescent meditation provided space to reflect on themes of darkness, light and disorientation.

Dazzle has begun to imagine something novel and realistic; both impolite and exciting. Through art, imagination, disorientating ideas, risk, hospitality and activism it has provided clues and signposts for a sustainable future and enriched community in East Reading.

The Revd Gary Collins, is the curate at StJ&StS.

Remembering the Hungerford ‘tragedy’ 30 years later


A SPECIAL church service marked the 30th anniversary of the horrific Hungerford shootings. The Revd David Salt, who was the vicar of St Lawrence’s Church in 1987, when the events known locally as the “tragedy” happened, returned to the town to preach.

As he preached, David stated how watching television we are constantly reminded of tragedies. “This week I was reminded of the division of Pakistan and India and how millions of people were displaced and hundreds brutally killed.” David also mentioned last week’s terrorist attacks in Finland and Spain.

But he preached a message of hope. “When the tragedy struck, I was overwhelmed by the help the congregation offered. Believe it or not we suddenly became alive as a church. Our purpose was made quite clear, we didn’t need decisions and resolutions from the PCC.” David said the St Lawrence’s joined forces with the other churches and organisations in the town. “We had a common vision, to help as best we could. We have seen this community spirit replicated in the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.”

At the end of the service, the Revd Mike Saunders, the current vicar, echoed David’s message. “God has brought good out of a great tragedy. It is like Good Friday. What happened was evil but a community spirit has come out of the tragedy.”

After the service civic leaders, police and those whose loved ones were killed or injured in the shootings gathered at the town’s memorial to lay wreathes.

Helping farmers care for the planet @1CorTen31


My faith influences my attitude to work. It has influenced my choice of sector. I enjoy the work I do and feel I’m doing something worthwhile.

Bishop Steven answers pupils Reinspired Big Questions


BISHOP Steven was given a place in the Mastermind chair at a recent REinspired session for primary school children at Lower Early Baptist Church in Reading.

“We have been working with the Year 6 children of Hawkedon Primary School since they were in Foundation,” says Julia Jones, Project Director of REinspired.  “All of our sessions meet the needs of the RE syllabus. But this session is different as it is the children who set the questions and we then design the session and activities accordingly.”

Some of the pupil’s asked questions about when we die. Leaders introduced the topic using the story of Water bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney which led to deeper discussions in their small groups.  The pupils were given an opportunity to respond by using art and craft.

Pupils gathered together as one group and Bishop Steven settled himself down into the big ‘Mastermind’ chair.  With two minutes on the clock, how many questions did the bishop answer?  He managed to answer 11 fully and successfully before the bell went.  Some of the questions included:

“What do you do when you wake up?”

With a smile he answered, “I get out of bed, have a coffee and I pray.”

“Will Jesus always be with you?”

The Bishop firmly said, “Yes, including in death and beyond death.”

“If God is real why is He not helping people in need?”

Thoughtfully, the Bishop answered, “I think God is helping people in need a lot.  God calls us to help these people and has given all we need to do so.”

The pupils then had the opportunity of questioning the Bishop directly.  They eagerly put their hands up.  One of the questions was:

“If you could change anything in the world what would it be?”

Bishop Steven answered, “It would be war and conflict.  It’s terrible when it happens to people but when its caused by other people I think it’s the worst.”

As always, our teachers are invited to feedback their comments on every session.  Today the Hawkedon teachers reflected, “REinspired have organised this session well with a good pace.  We were happy with the delivery, setup and safety of the session.  It covered useful aspects of PSMSC (Personal, Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural). The children were engaged and thoroughly enjoyed questioning the Bishop.”

REinspired based at St Nicolas Church, Earley, is an ecumenical group of Christians in Earley and East Reading delivering RE sessions to schools. We started 15 years ago when one of our primary schools asked a local minister for help with their RE.  The Churches Together in Earley and East Reading team embraced the opportunity and REinspired was born.  Our aim is to meet the need of the locally agreed RE syllabus and bring RE to life. Having started with one class in one school, REinspired now supports every class in all 11 primary schools as well as two secondary schools.  When we started we had dreams of meeting and working with ‘every child, every year, every school’.  15 years later that dream is a reality.