What has lockdown been like for everyone? Over the next few weeks we will be chatting to members of the community about how they have found these past months.Today we start with a teacher.
Teachers have had their whole way of working turned upside down by Covid-19. How, for instance, do you teach a practical subject? This has been one of the questions that Liz Larkin, a Design and Technology teacher at Farnborough Hill, has had to face. Farnborough Hill is an independent school for girls ages 11-18, so among her pupils are those preparing for GCSE and A-level exams next year, as well as those who should have taken these exams this summer.
“I had to completely rethink what I was going to teach,” says Liz. “Luckily we were at the beginning of new projects because of the way the timetable rotation works. The year nines were able to finish upcycling aprons out of old jeans at home, though some had to have needle and thread sent to them and then I taught them to knit via video. The year eights should have been learning to solder and do electronics. But I got pupils throughout the school to learn CAD and CAM packages (Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing), making models which we could print on the 3D printer. “
While the year 11 and 13 students have probably had the most frustrating time, not quite being able to finish their projects at school and having to have their final grades estimated for GCSE and A-levels, the year 10 and 12 students who take their exams in 2021 have had to start their coursework at a distance. “They have been able to start design and research for their projects but were not able to be in the workshop refining their skills.”
Year 10 and 12 pupils were able to return to the school in small groups. “We had year 10 in for week and did blended teaching between home and school, and year 12 in for a few lessons and to give them university application support. We also held a socially distanced retreat.”
But since lockdown began all pupils have been following their normal timetable of six lessons per day but doing so from home online and even taking school exams online. “The first week was the most challenging. We were teaching from home and trying to get our head round all the challenges but as we have all got better at it, it improved. We learned so much but it could be frustrating to spend some of the lesson making sure everyone was connected.”
More frustrating though was the lack of real contact: “I missed the girls most, that lovely interaction that we have.”
If you had told me a year ago that our world would be affected by a great pandemic and we would be confined to our homes except for the most essential work, and then asked me what I might struggle with most, I would have guessed a few things:
Fear for my children (I am secretly an insanely protective mother, but I try to hide it!);
The pain of not seeing my grandchild (who I absolutely adore);
Cabin fever and not being able to do the things that stop me feeling stressed;
Not being able to see those I love at church face to face;
Not being able to worship with others, pray together, share the peace, sing together;
Not having Communion, a very sacred and important act for me,
I would have been wrong. There is one thing, and one thing only that has cut me to the core in terms of pain, and that is conducting funerals under the current circumstances. In particular, seeing people sitting on chairs at the crematorium, two meters away from the next person, crying with no-one to put an arm around them and console them. My heart breaks. I am forbidden, like everyone else, from offering a hug, and that is a dreadful cruelty that had never occurred to me before. It is torture to see someone in pain and not be able to offer acts of comfort. Here is a poem written by Stella about the pain of such a funeral.
My understanding is that most bereaved people have opted for something called ‘direct cremation’, a term I hadn’t heard of before, where their loved one is cremated with no ceremony preceding it. The hope is that after the lockdown is over, we will be able to have memorial services and express all that we want to and need to. I don’t know how that feels; I suspect it is like being in limbo.
I look forward to the day when we can have these memorial services, where people can cry and be comforted with hugs and words spoken softly and squeezes of the hand, where friends and relatives can be present and comfort each other in their grief.
Note: Church of England churches are available to all people for memorial services – those who attend regular services and those who have never attended.
A poem about funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was no black and yellow tape So they searched the office drawers And found brown Which would seal parcels But not stick to carpet Scuffed, edged with dust, lines To keep us safe, far apart As we control our tears On chairs ranged coldly Ten of them For ten stiff soldiers Alert to the war Around us A war to save lives Tearing us apart in the face of grief and death
As you probably know, the government has announced that church services may resume from this weekend and we have been looking carefully at how this will be possible from the beginning of August which will give us enough time to prepare.
It is not, unfortunately, simply a case of throwing open the doors and welcoming everyone in, much as we would like to. There are all sorts of issues to deal with to ensure that we keep everyone safe.
This week further information has been released by the government, the national Church of England and the Diocese of Guildford to help us plan to reopen the churches for services.
Our plan – subject to PCC approval – is to have a service in each of the three churches on a Sunday and a mid-week service at St Mark’s from the beginning of August.
Because of the dangers of Covid-19 infection, the services will follow a simple format with no singing but with musicians playing instruments. We will not be able to share the Peace but we will be able to take Communion, though in one kind only. The Bread may be distributed in wafer form by the priest (who will have taken all the necessary hygiene precautions) but we cannot share the Wine. Everyone coming forward to receive Communion or a blessing will be guided on where to walk and stand in order to minimise the danger of passing anything on.
Everyone will have to observe strict social distancing measures – though you can sit in your household groups of course – and hygiene regulations, but we have installed hand sanitisers already and have been working hard to ensure that it will all be as safe as possible.
We are also going to continue worship online so anyone who can’t come to church on Sundays or feels unsafe doing so can still join in the worship.
We would love more people to take part in the services and here are some ways you can do so:
If you have only a telephone with no special features …
Alan can record any comments you would like to make over the phone. Please call the Rectory (01252 820537) and arrange a time to do this. It will involve calling Alan on his mobile – and a number will be provided to do this.
If you have a smartphone/computer with camera and microphone
If you would like to record a video or sound; make something and take a picture of it; write some prose; share something you found on the web – whatever you have found that has fed you spiritually; please send it to Alan to pull it together.
The National Health Service is 72 years old today (July 5) so we are holding an online service to celebrate and give thanks for this life-saving institution.
The service, is a mix of music, prayer, art, videos and stories of how the NHS has helped improve health and save lives. There are contributions from Farnham Heath End School and Post19, which supports young adults with learning difficulties, from a Frimley Park Hospital nurse describing working during the COVID-19 pandemic, from people whose lives have been saved by the NHS; and there is a history of healthcare before the NHS from Father John Evans who remembers its foundation when he was a teenager in 1948.
“The NHS is a wonderful institution which is available for all UK citizens whether they are rich or poor,” says Lesley C.rawley. “It has saved the lives of many of us and made life for all of us better.
“I think that everyone has come to appreciate how special the NHS is during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have seen doctors, nurses and other NHS workers putting their own lives at risk and working round the clock to save lives. We really wanted to give thanks for everyone in the NHS and pray for God’s continued blessing of them.”
Post19 is a leading Life Skills and Support Centre for young adults with learning difficulties. It is based in Farnham and supports young adults throughout Surrey and Hampshire. https://www.post19.com/
Penny Fleet is a professional mixed media and collage artist specialising in nature, seasonal and wildflowers, birds and wildlife. You can buy her work via her website: www.pennyfleet.co.uk/
Rich Shenton is an artist and writer whose work includes portrait, still life, the natural world – particularly seascapes – and cartoons of Boz the cat and his friends. www.facebook.com/RichardWShenton/
Susie Lidstone is a professional watercolour artist living and working in the parish of Badshot Lea and Hale. She specialises in flowers and buildings and has painted many scenes of Farnham. Her designs are available as cards, notebooks, zip pouches, pocket mirrors, tea towels, cushions, ties, scarves, face masks, calendars, even deck chairs, as well as limited edition prints and the paintings themselves. She also takes commissions. Prices range from £2-£700. http://susielidstone.com/
Thank you to local organisations who have shared their work with us.
Badshot Lea Bloomers
Making Badshot Lea beautiful with blooms (and hard work).
The Opportunities Community Project started in Hale with the aim of helping and supporting lone parents locally to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. The project is funded by the Hazelhurst Trust.
Following the success of the project in the Hale area it has been extended to Ash, Farnborough, Wrecclesham and Godalming.
The project offers free classes in IT training, either to learn or update skills to an employability level, then to support students in looking for work. There is free childcare. Opportunities also offers friendship, support and leads to a new future. www.opportunitiesproject.org
Formerly The Bungalow, Hale Community Centre is a community resource which provides a range of services, activities and meeting spaces for people of all ages. Its aim is to provide recreational, learning, business and social activities, which are accessible and affordable. www.halecommunitycentre.org.uk/
The Hale History Project
The Hale History Project is a voluntary project which has developed from the great interest and enthusiasm in the history of their locality emanating from the residents and ex-residents of Hale, Upper Hale, and other nearby hamlets and villages. Outside lockdown it holds monthly coffee mornings with exhibitions and archives. It also takes an interest in current events in the local area. www.halehistoryproject.co.uk
Family Voice Surrey
Family Voice Surrey champions the needs and rights of SEND families in Surrey: families with children or young adults up to the age of 25 who have special educational needs, chronic illnesses, including mental health conditions, or disabilities. www.familyvoicesurrey.org
Therapies Through Nature – Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice
Therapies Through Nature offers patients and carers at Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice simple gardening sessions. Table-top workshops enable participants to create flower baskets, planters and herb gardens, for example, which can then be taken home or given as a gift to a loved one.
Research has shown that gardening, or even simply spending time surrounded by nature, can help patients feel less stressed and improve their wellbeing. The sessions also give patients the opportunity to join in with an activity which they used to enjoy before they became ill. No experience of gardening is necessary to join this group, and patients can take part at any stage of their illness. These sessions are often referred to as Social and Therapeutic Horticulture. www.pth.org.uk/
The idea was to create bright summer colours, and with the current situation of the Covid-19 virus, keyworkers and lockdown, the residents and staff used the rainbow as inspiration. Each heart was hand made by residents at Farnham Mill using tissue paper flowers; the sunflowers (which is a symbol used a lot at Farnham Mill) were made using yellow paper with sunflower seeds for the centres. www.farnhammillnursinghome.co.uk/
K & S Memorials
These pictures are of a rockery and St John the Evangelist memorial stone (aka the ‘Bonkers Stone’ in the garden of Wendy and Steve Edwards in Hale. For the story behind the pictures, see here. www.kempandstevens.co.uk/
Based in the parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, Karen Geraghty of Mind Your Bonce specialises in handmade cloche hats, retro and modern cocktail hats, pillbox hats, and mini cocktail hats. This unique headwear is carefully handmade in England using traditional methods and high quality materials, frequently using outstanding vintage tweeds. www.instagram.com/mind_your_bonce_millinery
A message from Nibbs Gin, based in Farnham: “The Nibbs team are delighted to be part of the Flower Festival. We have been busy out picking elderflower locally ready for this year. At the end of last year we launched our second gin, Surrey Hops, using traditional hops from Farnham. Through July and August we will be offering free delivery on everything through our on-line shop and a special offer on our 20cl bottles when you buy one of each. Please refer to our website www.nibbsspirits.co.uk“
Squire’s Garden Centres is a family-run business set up in 1935 and still run by the same family. The centre in Badshot Lea is one of 16 and there is another at Frensham. squiresgardencentres.co.uk
This church relies on donations to provide care and support to everyone in this community. Now more than ever, please consider giving generously to support our mission and ministry. Thank you for your support:
K&S Memorials (www.kandsmemorials.co.uk) was set up by Mr R.W.A Thorne of Kemp & Stevens Funeral Directors, Alton, in the 1980s. However, Kemp and Stevens had produced memorials before that time going back to the founding of the business over 100 years ago.
Kemp and Stevens are one of very few funeral directors that have their own in-house memorial masons. Michael Thorne heads up the memorial division of Kemp & Stevens which still trades as K&S Memorials. Sam Taylor works alongside Michael creating the memorials.
A memorial simply is a marker to show where someone is buried but a memorial is not simple. It is a personal statement, a place for reflection and something that will remain long after the family themselves have passed away. It is a lasting tribute to the deceased.
It is the last thing anyone will do for the person who has died. Some people are not ready for a memorial and they have said this because once the memorial is placed on the grave it all becomes final.
A memorial is not just a static stone; it has meaning, and whether the memorial is four feet tall or one foot tall, the stone has the same meaning for the family.
There are many factors in selecting the right memorial and it is all based on individual taste. Michael Thorne will offer advice and wants the client to have the memorial they want and, in some cases, need.
The initial design phase is the first and most important step. Michael endeavours to show clients exactly what the memorial will look like by the way of CAD (Computer Aided Design) layouts.
Once the layouts are approved then work can begin.
Michael Thorne designed, and Sam Taylor is the memorial stonemason who created, the St. John the Evangelist mini memorial stone in Wendy Edwards’s Oast House Crescent Rockery entry for the 2020 online Flower Festival.
Sam is clearly getting less destructive and more creative as he ages! He started out in the demolition business then moved into landscape gardening. In both earlier jobs, he worked with different types of stone, as well as other materials. His experience in kerb shaping has helped him accurately shape larger areas of memorial stones, for example fancier edgings on the stone.
He realises how important his work is to bereaved people and does his level best to do a good job of work and to please the customer, as does Michael Thorne, his boss, who takes instructions for the memorial stone.
Sam left several masonry tools with Wendy to help her and her husband, Steve, start to understand his work. Computers are used in the design part of a gravestone inscription but still most of the work is done by labour-intensive physical chiselling.
The tools are: –
A dummy hammer – these can be different weights- for hitting the chisels with.
A claw chisel – for ‘roughing out’ a design on a stone.
An Italian chisel – slimmer than many chisels, for finer work.
A compass- not the North/ South directions sort you take when you go out walking but a metal instrument, sometimes called dividers, with two sharp pointed ends with which you can score a circle or curved shapes on a stone.
A beautiful, adjustable wood and brass marking gauge with tiny inset brass pins for scoring lines on stone.
Most stone now comes from India and can take 16 weeks to arrive by sea but some stone does still come from England e.g. Portland Stone. Stones vary in softness and hardness so different tools and different techniques are used.
Wendy learned a new word from Sam. The word was kerning. That is the distance between two letters on an inscription and it is critical to how a memorial stone inscription will look. A kerning measurement which is too big (letters too widely spaced) will not create a visually pleasing result. Steve used to be a draughtsman and had heard of this term, kerning, but it was new to Wendy.
There are many types of font which a memorial stonemason must be able to create and there can be challenges in identifying an inscription font chiselled onto a memorial stone by a different stonemason at an earlier date, in order to match that up with a later inscription.
Mistakes in the words of an inscription on a stone are obviously not that easy to correct but Sam does have ways and means to sort things out. Not that Sam makes many mistakes at all but occasionally the customer approves a design which they later realise contained a mistake.
Sam is usually a patient man but can get a little agitated when he is delicately placing gold leaf in the lettering on a memorial stone and someone opens the workshop door and lets the breeze in!
Many thanks to Sam and Michael and K & S Memorials for the St. John the Evangelist mini memorial stone.
Their help fulfilled Wendy’s plan for her entry for the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale’s online Flower Festival in 2020 to celebrate the essential contribution of memorial stonemasons to the easing of the heavy load of grief, following a loved one’s death.
The inscription on a memorial stone is often the last written communication between us and our loved one. A big responsibility for Sam Taylor of K & S Memorials but one he always discharges with great attention to detail and professionalism. Thank you, Sam, for all your expert chiselling.
(otherwise known as The Oast House Crescent Rockery with St. John the Evangelist mini memorial stone)
In January 2020, when only snowdrops adorned St. John’s churchyard, Wendy Edwards had a pleasant chat there with Sam Taylor, a stonemason with K & S Memorials in Alton and his young assistant, Danny.
They were giving after-care to a memorial stone they had made and spoke enthusiastically to Wendy about their work. Wendy told them of the Flower Festival planned later in the year and Sam kindly agreed to make a mini-memorial stone which originally Wendy planned to have inside church with a flower arrangement nearby to showcase the important work of memorial stonemasons in our grief journey.
When we decided to have an online Flower Festival, Sam confirmed he was still OK to make the stone but where could Wendy put it now, with St. John’s closed? She wanted to put it in her and her husband Steve’s own back garden in Oast House Crescent which has a large rockery. The rocks are lovely, weathered and covered in slow-growing moss and lichen and very characterful.
Steve does not attend church but is very understanding and patient with Wendy and her church work. Wendy knew she needed to ask Steve whether it was acceptable to him to have a mini memorial stone in their back garden, as it is a little unusual! She told him over a cup of tea in their garden that she had had a ‘bonkers’ idea and explained it all to him, rather nervous that he might say ‘No’. To her surprise, he agreed to the plan and to helping Wendy position the stone, but he has ever after called the stone The Bonkers Stone!
Sam Taylor worked hard on the memorial stone over at K & S Memorials in Alton. He delivered the stone one day to Wendy and Steve’s garden. It is only 17 inches high, made with some spare stone, with a colourful design featuring an eagle for St. John the Evangelist and a snake emerging from a chalice, a reference to the legend that St. John the Evangelist was offered poisoned wine and instructed the poison to come out and it did, in the form of a snake. Sam also loaned them some of his tools and explained all about his interesting work. The eagle-eyed among you will spot the tools in some of the photos among the summer flowers.
This online flower festival entry is by many people who all kindly donated flowers, foliage, or containers or, in the case of Wendy’s husband, Steve, in the first week of his retirement, whittled two rosewood pegs to position the upright stone temporarily. Wendy did most of the 10 flower arrangements, but Sue Crawshaw donated a beautiful one with white campanula (hare bells).
Wendy’s thanks go to Steve Edwards, K & S Memorials, especially Sam Taylor and Michael Thorne; Steve’s parents, Hazel and Brian Edwards; members of a parish bereavement support group Corner Chat- Vicky Kidney, Margaret Foster, Jackie Hyne, Dario Alexander, and Jenny Golding; neighbours of Wendy and Steve’s in Oast House Crescent – Sue Crawshaw, Andy and Lindsay Dunne, Valerie Handl, Charlotte Strugnell, Margaret Hockey and Pat Manton.