Category Archives: Climate

Out of the comfort zone and across the Channel

Jonathan Jones is a familiar sight around town – often in green frock coat, wearing a tricorn hat and ringing a bell as befits his position as town crier. From time to time we have seen him dressed in Victorian garb presenting a Dickens and/or Christmas readings evening at St Mark’s Church – he has long been associated with the parish. But just swimming trunks, hat and goggles? This is what he donned in August to take part in a sponsored swim across the English Channel to raise money for Aspire, a charity which supports people with spinal injuries.

The swim was relay-style from Dover to Cap Griz Nez in France, and involved a team of six swimmers, with an observer on board to ensure that everything is done correctly. “Each swimmer takes it in turn to swim for an hour,” said Jonathan. “Once the first rotation is completed, that same order must then be maintained for the rest of the crossing. If, for any reason, a swimmer is not able to take their turn, in the correct order, the team is ‘disqualified’ and the swim abandoned.”

Jonathan was the fifth swimmer. “So just after 8am I got myself ready, which included applying Vaseline to those parts that might chafe owing to the salt water, i.e. under the arms and, for men with beards, around the neck.

“As the swimmer before me, Annie, touched the board, I had to jump over her, into the water behind, before then turning and resuming the swim.

“The sea temperature was just below 18℃ (a public swimming pool is normally 29-31℃) and it was, to say the least, a bit of a shock to the system as I entered. I quickly composed myself, and got into a good rhythm (54 strokes per minute), with the intention of covering at least three kilometres in the next hour.”

As well as a choppy sea, the swimmers had to contend with jelly fish and floating debris, including a lot of plastic which Jonathan was told is increasing each year.

He added “Also, as a consequence of global warming, the sea is now getting a lot warmer, a lot sooner. Our ‘cold water’ qualification, where we have to swim for two hours in Dover Harbour when the sea temperature is 16℃ or less, now has to be done in June, whereas, several years ago, it would be done in July, but by then the sea temperature is too high.”

In between Jonathan’s swimming sessions he rested on the boat. “Once out of the water, the important thing is to get some warm clothing on, particularly on the head and feet, and then to get your wet costume off. You have only five minutes to accomplish this. After that, you start to shiver as blood returns to your extremities, and your hands shake so much that you are incapable of doing up zippers or buttons. Hence a ‘buddy’ system, whereby one of the other swimmers is nominated to help you prepare for your swim but, more importantly, assist once out of the water and with getting dressed, before then providing you with a hot drink. All the other swimmers were perfectly alright after a further five to 10 minutes, but it took me about half-an-hour to fully recover.” At 68, Jonathan was one of the older swimmers to take part.

Resting on the boat gave Jonathan a new perspective. “There is a certain beauty to behold out there, in the middle of this vast expanse of water,” she said. “It was a beautiful clear sunny day, and as we watched the sun rise just after 6am, and the gloom lift, the coast of France became clearly visible in the distance, though somewhat still far off. Apart from the steady beat of the boat’s engine, there was a peaceful sense of tranquility in all that vastness, which left an indelible memory that I will forever savour and cherish.”

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They had to swim with the tides, which did not all turn as expected, and the final swimmer landed at Wimereux, 14 kilometres south of where the team was heading. However, they reached the other side in the correct order in 14 hours and 29 minutes. The return took two-and-a-half hours.

Jonathan said he decided to take part in the swim “primarily because of the challenge it posed, and the opportunity of taking ourselves out of our comfort zones. But secondly, to raise monies for the Aspire charity, which provides much-needed support to people with spinal injuries, and which, since 2009, has been organising these Channel relays. Between the six of us, we will have raised over £20,000 for Aspire.”

He has further watery ambitions: “My personal goal is now to complete the six-hour qualifying swim in Dover Harbour sometime next summer. After that? Well, the oldest person to successfully complete the crossing was a 73-year-old South African heart surgeon. So, in 2023/24, God willing, I may attempt to enter the record books. Watch this space!”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jonathanfjones

Incredible Edible Tubs

You may have seen a strange tub or two appearing in Upper Hale. There are actually three – one at the Bungalow, one near the War Memorial and on in the grounds of St Mark’s. They have been filled with compost so that anyone, you perhaps, can plant them with herbs, fruit, vegetables… anything edible!

Incredible Edible is a community project that increases our awareness of food and where it comes from and makes a step towards a more sustainable world where all of us can be fed without a negative impact on our world. It started in 2008 in Todmorden and is spreading across the country and indeed the world, bring communities together and having a great deal of fun doing it! You can read more here – http://incredibleediblenetwork.org.uk/

Anyway – back to the tubs – please plant in them – you don’t need permission! But find a way of labelling what you have planted and indicating to people how to tell when it will be ready to eat. Happy planting!

Lesley Crawley

Climate Change meeting with Jeremy Hunt

“You have chosen a week when I am about the most toxic man in the country.” So said Jeremy Hunt at the beginning of a meeting with a dozen of his constituents to discuss climate change.

The meeting, at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, on April 29, was a postponement of one in March which Mr Hunt withdrew from, citing “unforeseen circumstances”. This time, despite stating that he was “toxic” and that he assumed that “none of the group had voted for me”, he and the constituents sought to find common ground.

Mr Hunt started by stating that the Conservative commitment to climate change policies is genuine, and that the future of the environment is something that Conservatives must think about, but that “economic growth holds the key”.

Local architect Chris Holmes introduced the main topics that the group was interested in talking to Mr Hunt about – flood prevention, particularly by planting trees on the Farnham floodplain; energy-efficient buildings; and alternative transport. Mr Hunt was particularly keen on the idea of cycling and said he wanted to press for more cycle lanes in Farnham.

He was, however, frustrated by the fact that different councils had responsibility for different aspects of planning, including transport planning. This is something he had come up against when he mooted the idea of pedestrianisation. “Our local democracy is totally flawed,” he said. “We should have a Farnham council with an elected mayor so we know where the buck stops. When I proposed the pedestrianisation of Farnham it was a complete nightmare as, for example, traffic comes under Surrey County Council, the East Street development under Waverley Borough Council, other things come under Farnham Town Council. In the end I called a referendum on pedestrianisation so that Surrey County Council could not ignore it if there were a ‘yes’ vote.”

This structure has an effect on planning too. The group was keen to look at ways that new homes planning could be co-ordinated taking in to account the need for more active travel and lower carbon emissions. The question was raised why new houses had to have gas fuelled heating and cooking rather than renewables or electric which could be converted to renewables later. Why, Mr Hunt was asked, are developers not forced to install solar panels on new houses?

Jo Musker-Sherwood, from the group Hope for the Future, asked why the government policy for zero-carbon new homes had been cancelled. She asked whether, in the light of this, the government was really committed to tackling climate change. This was something that Mr Hunt agreed he could raise with Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

On the subject of transport Mr Hunt said that agreed with Mark Potter of Protean Electric that “We need a paradigm shift so that we can look at other ways of providing transport.”

“I agree we need a paradigm shift,” he said and added: “I pay tribute to Ken Livingstone – and it is not a fashionable day to do that – because he brought in the congestion charge in London and put the money he made into improving bus travel. In London there are more frequent buses, more bus lanes, and in London there has been a paradigm shift.” He said that he wanted to encourage people to cycle because “every one person we can get to cycle is one out of a car or (in London) off the tube”.

He also listened with interest to an idea put forward by Clive Davidson from Haslemere who said that in Haslemere a group had been looking at how it would be possible to use the Hoppa buses to take people to and from the station. The Hoppa buses are on the road after the early-morning time when most cars are used and before the evening commuter period. They wanted to investigate whether the Hoppa could be used to pick up commuters from villages in the morning and take them back in the evening.

Asked what else he would do to address the concerns of the constituents there, Mr Hunt seemed to feel that flood risk had been dealt with as in Godalming a £3.4million scheme to put in flood defences had just been signed off. He also stalled on making any commitments in terms of active travel/alternatives to cars powered by fossil fuels as he said he believed that first Farnham needs to be pedestrianised and then the town could rethink its public transport. He said he believed in “small steps”, though some in the group begged to differ that this was a small step.

However, this is the beginning of a dialogue and, having agreed to let the group know what Amber Rudd said about zero-carbon emissions on new buildings, he said he would be happy to have further discussions after the summer break, perhaps in September.

Stella Wiseman

Incredible Edible in Farnham?

Incredible Edible is a food growing movement that started in Todmorden in west Yorkshire in 2007. People started growing food that was free for all to take and it transformed their community. There are now more than 120 Incredible Edible groups in the UK, more than 500 in France and others across the world. Could Farnham be one of them? An open meeting is planned to meet to discuss this idea at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane GU9 0LT on 9th March at 4pm. All are welcome.

The Reverend Lesley Crawley, priest in the Parish said, “Food is something we are all interested in – where does it come from? What chemicals are being used? How does that affect the environment? Sometimes we can feel so powerless but together we can affect things and change them for the better. Please come to the meeting, it is not a meeting just for church people or people of faith, this is about all of us and our community, both local and global.”

You can find out more on the Incredible Edible website: http://incredibleediblenetwork.org.uk/

Cathedral to host top eco-experts to inspire action on climate change

Guildford Cathedral is set to host a number of top experts on environmental issues in a public forum on climate change on 9 February (7.45 pm). Entitled Stories of Hope, it will be a chance for people of all faiths and none to meaningfully contribute to discussions on tackling climate change.

The evening is being held following the global agreement to keep the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which was decided at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of last year.

Ben Niblett of Tearfund, Jo Musker-Sherwood of Hope for the Future, and Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK will speak, and there will be a Q&A with Diocesan Environmental Adviser Revd Lesley Crawley.

The Bishop of Guildford, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, who will open the event said: “February 2016 is an excellent time to take stock following the Paris Summit on climate change. With a fabulous line-up of speakers I’d really encourage people to come along to this evening conference, so that we might become better stewards of the rich environment in which God has placed us.”

A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director, Ruth Valerio will also help to launch ‘Eco-church’ – a programme of action and awareness-raising to help parishes make the spaces they worship more eco-friendly.

Diocesan Environmental Adviser and Farnham vicar, the Revd Lesley Crawley said: “Eco-church will offer simple and measurable ways to make a difference to the environment. I am really excited about the opportunities for environmental action in our local communities and the nation as a whole, and feel that the tide is changing for the better.”

All are welcome to attend the event, which will be an opportunity to think about how best for everyone to respond to the outcome of the recent climate talks in Paris.

Praying with our feet and voices for the UN climate talks in Paris

At the end of November, world leaders will meet at the UN climate talks in Paris. It’s a crucial moment, as negotiators from more than 190 nations will gather to discuss a new global agreement on climate change aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 when current commitments run out.

The Church of England, Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund have come together to organise a Pilgrimage2Paris ahead of the UN talks. The pilgrimage will start in London on 13th November and arrive in Paris on November 27. Inspired by their faith, pilgrims from across the UK will come together to call on world leaders to agree a fair, ambitious and binding climate change deal in Paris.

Revd Lesley Crawley, who is helping to organise the Diocese’s response to the climate talks said, “We have two great opportunities to pray for all involved in these crucial climate talks. On the evening of the 13th November, the pilgrims will be in our diocese, sleeping in the churches in Banstead before heading off for Crawley the following morning. Everyone is welcome to join them. You can simply cheer the pilgrims on, or walk with them some of the way – there will be stopping off points for coffee, lunch and tea. In addition, we are having a prayer vigil on November 28 at Guildford Cathedral from 4-5pm. This will be led by Bishop Andrew and will involve prayer stations throughout the cathedral. We will be joining our prayers with the prayers of thousands of others, of many faiths and across many nations.”

Anyone wishing to join the pilgrimage (for the Banstead–Crawley leg or more) can do so by signing up on the website http://www.pilgrimage2paris.org.uk. Please sign up even if you are walking only part of the route. To find out more know and to liaise about timings contact Lesley Crawley on 01252 820537 or revdlesley@gmail.com