St Mary’s Church, Slough, transformed the outdoor space in time for Platinum Jubilee celebrations with the help of the community following months of issues with antisocial behaviour in the churchyard.
The local community payback team, Thames Valley Police, Slough Borough Council, and the neighbouring Premier Inn worked to tidy up the churchyard ready for the Jubilee picnic. Six rough sleepers who were using the churchyard have been helped into stable accommodation through the support of local charities and the council, and anti-social behaviour has improved.
Joining with nearby St Peter and St Lawrence churches, St Mary’s hosted a community picnic celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on Sunday 5 June. Over 200 local people from communities and cultures in Slough joined the event in the newly restored churchyard.
The Revd Scott Lamb, Rector of St Mary’s Church, talks about the churchyard community space:
“The churchyard was overgrown and unsafe which resulted in us cancelling events at the church. With a great community team effort, the churchyard is looking better than it has done for a very long time. It’s wonderful to see the space restored to a welcoming green space for people to use and enjoy at the centre of community life again.
“St Mary’s Church serves the many surrounding residents living in blocks of flats without any garden space, so the churchyard provides an important outdoor space for these residents. We have already begun to build more links with our neighbours as a result of the clean-up.”
The event brought together the local MP Tan Dhesi, the town Mayor, representatives from local faith groups, the NHS and community vaccination centre, Thames Valley Police and Slough Bid. The celebrations included an art exhibition by the local LOVE Slough group, decorations made by pupils at St Mary’s School, a Vintage cinema bus showing the coronation, music performances by local choirs and musicians, and an interfaith friendship walk to the picnic beginning in Upton Court Park.
Supported by National Lottery funding, the Dionysus Ensemble, Slough-based musicians, commissioned a new piece of music by a female composer which celebrates women breaking glass ceilings, this was recorded in St Mary’s Church and was premiered at the Picnic. Music was inspired by the range of cultures in Slough.