Fairtrade chocolate production comes to the Diocese


THE Fairtrade chocolate used in the 2016 Real Easter Egg is being produced in Banbury this year as a result of increasing demand.

Photographs of the Real Easter Eggs with Bishop Collin at Barry Callebaut factory in Banbury

Bishop Colin tests his chocolate making skills with Keiran Shaw, a technical advisor at the Barry Callebaut factory in Banbury. Photo: John Cairns

More than a million Real Easter Eggs have been sold in the last five years and in a recent public poll The Real Easter Egg was voted the UK’s favourite Fairtrade Easter Egg. This popularity means that such a large volume of chocolate is now needed that production has moved to the Barry Callebaut factory in Oxfordshire. The Real Easter Egg was launched in 2010 following a trial involving churches in the Oxford Diocese. It was UK’s first Fairtrade egg to include a copy of the Easter story in the box and is still the only charity egg. The 2016 Easter story booklet, which opens out into a cross shape, has been produced in partnership with the Oxfordshire based Lion Hudson publishers.

By Easter 2016 The Meaningful Chocolate Company, which makes the egg, expects to have given away more than £200,000 to charitable causes from its sales.It has seen sales of Fairtrade chocolate increase which means a bigger Fairtrade Premium is paid to farmers who grow the sugar and Cacao. (Cocoa and chocolate are made from Cacao beans.)The cash from the Fairtrade premium can be used to invest in their communities, buying everything from schoolbooks to solar panels and providing fresh water supplies.

David Marshall, CEO of The Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “The move to Banbury means the Real Easter Egg is now a fully UK manufactured product. We have also taken the opportunity to improve our blend of chocolate so it is better than ever. Our customers include ethical retailer Traidcraft and hundreds of independent retailers. We sell direct to thousands of customers, churches and schools and our eggs are also stocked at Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose.”
The Acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, said: “The Real Easter Egg began its public life in 2009 encouraged by individuals, churches and schools in the Oxford Diocese. So it is fitting that sales are now sufficient to warrant Fairtrade chocolate being moved to Banbury, which is in this Diocese. I pray for all those involved, the workforce, the creative team behind the idea and those who will read the Easter story for the first time this Easter and discover the Good News of hope and new life.”

Order your Real Easter Eggs  here or call 0845 122 2882.

Pray for those affected by fires


The Acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher has praying for those affected by the fires that destroyed a thatched cottage, a funeral parlour and the South Oxfordshire District Council headquarters this morning.

He will be visiting St Mary Magdalene Church in Crowmarsh Gifford at 3.30pm today for prayers. The Revd Jeremy Goulston, Vicar, said St Mary Magdalene Church in Crowmarsh Gifford would be open throughout Friday (Jan 16) for any villagers or SODC employees/councillors who wanted to drop in to pray and/or light a candle. It will also be open throughout Saturday (Jan 17).

The fires, at a cottage in Roke Marsh and the Chadwicks Funeral Directors  along with the council offices in Crowmarsh Gifford, were reported to the emergency services in the early hours of Thursday morning (15 January). The Acting Bishop of Oxfordshire, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, (pictured) said: “My sympathies go out to all of the officers and other staff who work for the council. I greatly value my own relationships with them and know the magnificent job they do around the district and in conjunction with the Vale of White Horse District Council. This will be a terrible shock to all of them and I will be praying for them at this difficult time.”


No one was injured in the fires. Police confirmed that all three fires are being treated as suspicious.

The CofE’s first female bishop

THE acting Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, has welcomed the appointment of the first female bishop in the Church of England.

Bishop Colin says: “The announcement that Libby Lane has been appointed as the next Bishop of Stockport will, I know, bring much joy to many people both in this Diocese and throughout the Church of England. As one of the eight women who has been regularly attending the House of Bishops’ Meetings over recent months I have come to value her contributions very much indeed and I look forward to working with her in the coming years. I am delighted too that the five principles worked out by the House of Bishops will also ensure that those, such as the recently appointed Bishop of Burnley, who disagree with the development of having women bishops,  will also retain their honoured place within the Church of England.”

Listen to an interview with the Revd Libby Lane here:

The Revd Libby Lane who is to become the Bishop of Stockport. Photo by Kippa Matthews.

The Revd Libby Lane who is to become the Bishop of Stockport. Photo by Kippa Matthews.

Mother and Child

Reflection by Colin Fletcher

This wonderful sculpture can be seen at Beckley Parish Church and is one my favourite pieces by the artist and sculptor Nicholas Mynheer.

Although the Dedication of the Church is to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the sculpture is on a plinth in the Lady Chapel, the statue itself is deliberately entitled ‘Mother and Child’ and was given by the sculptor ‘on behalf of all of the families who have lost children’.

For me that is particularly poignant because it always reminds me of my niece, Helen, who died in a horse-riding accident some twenty years ago. It was one of those events that was a genuine accident. She was not riding carelessly; no one else was to blame. The horse she was riding simply slipped on a bridge and fell on top of her.

But whether a death like that happens because of a genuine accident — or if someone, somewhere is to blame — the pain and that awful sense of loss are very much the same. Particularly in our culture, where infant and child mortality is so much less than in many parts of the world, we expect our children to outlive us, which makes it all the harder when one of them dies.

Yet death does come to the young. For some it may come through an illness or a genetically inherited problem. For others, thankfully very rarely, it may come through neglect or suicide. For yet others it may come through what are sometimes called ‘accidents’ but where there is very often someone who is to blame.

Each year for the past few years the Thames Valley Police have organised a ‘Road Death Memorial Service’ at St Mary’s Thame. This year it is at 3pm on 17 November and it is always immensely moving to be there with dozens of families whose lives have been turned upside down by the death, very often of a child, or young adult, on our roads.

It is a service that is full of grief – but also of thankfulness and a gentle ray of hope. The people who come are from all faiths and none and from every age and social background and there is something very powerful about simply being there together.

That same sense of ‘togetherness’ will, I am sure, be present in the many other services at this time of the year at which we remember the loved ones we have lost. Interestingly too a number of support groups are springing up all over Oxfordshire that are run by Age UK Oxfordshire specifically for those who have been bereaved and my hope is that we will work together in developing these.

But whatever such groups offer – all of which is very good – there is always a strongly personal element in grief. For me Nicholas Mynheer has captured that beautifully in this statue. The tenderness and the warmth are suffused too with a sense of pain. It is indeed a statue to bring comfort to all those who have known the pain of the loss of a child.

The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher is the Bishop of Dorchester.