Flanders Field – a festival of remembrance.


FLANDERS field is a festival of remembrance set to take place in Tilehurst in Berkshire, next month.

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Keeping Christianity’s heritage alive

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by Jo Duckles

TWO major projects are set to keep our region’s rich Christian history and heritage alive for generations to come. Read more

Join in the Taplow Psalmathon


THE choir at St Nicholas in Taplow, Buckinghamshire is looking for people to join a Psalmathon – singing all 150 Psalms to an Anglican chant, this September. Read more

Visit the historical Easter eggstravaganza at Reading Minster


TWO Easter eggs thought to be the oldest in the world are on display at Reading Minster. The Piet Van Klinkenberg and the Sallie Maxwell Benett eggs are eggstra special as they are both dated. The Klinkenberg egg is engraved with the date 1912 and the Bennett egg has the inscription ‘Easter Greetings 1899’.

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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

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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.”