Category Archives: Fundraising

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

Parish Fete

The sun shone for us on 9th June — indeed it was almost too hot at times in the morning—and many willing hands helped to get the church grounds looking festive and inviting by 12 noon, when the Fete was officially opened. For the next 3 hours trading was brisk at the various stalls, and there were plenty of games and activities to keep the young, and not so young, amused. Entertainment was provided by the Maypole dancers from Badshot Lea School, and the band from TS Swiftsure. The Mayor of Farnham, our local councillor, David Attfield, spent some time with us, and drew the tickets for the Grand Raffle. By the end of the afternoon there were a lot of extremely weary people.

The refreshment team, under the expert organisation of Gillian Hyman, were rushed off their feet, as were the barbecue trio, with head chef Martin Reed. Maxine Everitt had once again, with her usual calm efficiency, planned and prepared the event, very ably assisted by her support team. After the first count it seems that approx. £2,600 had been raised, a good increase on last year’s figure. Many thanks to all those who worked so hard for the event, whether unseen in the kitchen or vestry, on the stalls, or helping to set up and clear away.

Margaret Dyer

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A Christmas Treasury

Jonathan Jones is returning to St Mark’s, Alma Lane, Upper Hale to help raise money for Emily the Organ. He will be presenting a Christmas Treasury on Saturday December 9th at 7:00pm. Please come along for an evening with a Christmas feel, relaxed candle lit atmosphere. There will be a donations bar, raffle and some lovely music from Emily. There will be retiring collection in aid of the saving Emily the organ. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

Christmas Treasury poster

 

 

Carol Singing for Christian Aid

Come Carol Singing outside Farnham URC on 9 Dec from 14:00 for Christian Aid. Singers and collectors needed; can you let me know if you can manage some time sandcdakers@ntlworld.com. Also I`m afraid that cannot really continue as the co-ordinator of the annual door to door collection, as it requires someone either living in Hale or with a motor. I`ll be very happy to brief the next volunteer; it`s all straightforward, though a silver tongue is an advantage !! Thanks.

Parish Fete

It was very exciting bringing the fete to Badshot Lea this year – everything needed planning from scratch.    We started planning, a small team, people from all four of our congregations.   We set a date, 10th June, making sure we did not clash with the schools or Farnham Carnival – the raffle tickets went to the printers and the applications for the necessary licences were made and our entertainers were invited -but then panic set in as we realised that St. George’s hall had been booked for that date!   (Note to self, the hall is booked a lot now!)   We were truly blessed – everything was able to be changed, with no extra cost, and our new date was set for 3rd June.   I’m sure the Lord as with us, because we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Friday evening, thunder storms were forecast, but it was fine and warm.  Tombola prizes were ticketed, tables collected from the school,  brave people climbed up the ladder and strung bunting from the flag pole and with a lot of help, the grounds became festive.    No one could have missed that there was something going on at the Church.

Saturday started early, the sun shone, it was warm but not too hot.  Perfect fete weather.  The bouncy castle arrived and the beer was delivered.    Mentioning beer, a huge ‘Thank You’ to the Shepherd and Flock, who donated a barrel of beer and 30 single bottles of Prosecco, an incredible gift.  We must also thank all those businesses who donated prizes for the raffle and the auction – and those trusty people who sent out letters and visited with smiles and pleas for ‘just a little something for the Parish Fete’.

By 9.45 it was really busy, tables were set up, goods brought out and our DJ got us in the mood.  The hall was turned into the ‘cool café, the maypole took centre stage. The BBQ started to smell enticing and we gave a cry of ‘Help, who knows how to tap a barrel?’.  Cups of tea and coffee kept everyone  going – the kitchen was busy and then suddenly it was 12.00.

A group of children opened the fete and the fun began.    Fingersmith and the Rocking Thumbs, an amazingly good band of young rock stars began our entertainment and performed later in the day before rushing off to a gig in Farnham.    The children from Badshot Lea School were delightful as they wound the Maypole.    Some of the grown ups wanted a go…. Not quite as successfully!   Children’s faces were painted and they loved the games and activities.    Prizes were being won and stalls sold lots of delectable items.   The afternoon progressed and became a real village affair.  Passers-by popped in and stayed.   The beer tent was busy and there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere with people having teas, eating burgers and enjoying the sun.    The Carillon Singers came along to entertain, performing in the Church and were, as always, excellent.  Olivia Jasper sang and played beautifully entertaining those in the café and sitting by the bar.

The afternoon was rounded off with the auction and the Grand Raffle.  The crowds went home, happy and slightly sun burned.  Lots of people lent a hand and before long everything was cleared away and we were putting the Church back together.  We were all exhausted but very happy.

The final total is about £2,500 – which is about £500 more than last year.   An incredible effort by everyone concerned.  There are too many people to thank individually and you know who you are.    It was a real team effort and a great bit of outreach, fun and fellowship.

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Maxine Everitt

 

 

Lest we Forget

“Lest we Forget” was one of the most moving and interesting events that I have ever been to. Jonathan Jones read poetry from the Great War, first from the perspective of the soldiers, and after the interval from the perspective of the women – wives, mothers and lovers left at home.

In between the poems Jonathan explained the context and I learned so much about such things as the origins of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the tradition of wearing poppies and the tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

We really must never forget the horror of the Great War and I am so grateful to Jonathan for introducing me to poems and history that I was completely unaware of. My favourite poem was “The Road to La Bassée” – so very human and down to earth. I was also struck by the poem “Christ in Flanders” by Lucy Whitmell.

Kathy Robertson did us proud with her team providing authentic WWI refreshments and then Margaret Emberson lead us in singing some WWI songs. Oh and £200 was raised for the “Emily the Organ” appeal.

Lesley Crawley

Parish Fete

What a great day!

It dawned beautifully sunny and the forecast suggested that no rain was due until about 4.  Friday night had been really good, with lots of help putting up gazebos, moving tables, hanging bunting and generally getting things ready – a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped out.

So at 9 O’clock  the bouncy castle arrived and bit by bit throughout the morning people and goods appeared and the Rectory Garden came to life.      We had more gazebos than ever before – they were all squashed together.     We had put a bucket for voluntary entry donations and is soon started to fill up.  Time passed swiftly – there was a drizzly rain for about an hour but it dried up and more people came.    The children joined in with the games, there was a bit of dancing and jigging around.   As always the refreshments and the BBQ were great.    At 3, there was a last minute flurry of raffle ticket buying  – the prizes were very inviting – before the winners were drawn and the tidying up began.  We managed, just about, to get everything packed up and away before the heavens opened and the last few intrepid souls unloaded tables , banners and bunting back at St. George’s getting  totally soaked. (What fun!)

We raised a tiny fraction over £2000 – pleasing in this economic climate – but more to the point, we had a time of fellowship, made new friends and worked together to achieve something good.

Thank you to everyone who came along  and especially to those who worked  so hard beforehand and on the day.

Maxine Everitt

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Lest we forget

On the 10th November 1920, one hundred cadets from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, the military boarding school I attended in Dover, together with a contingent from the 2nd Connaught Rangers, formed a guard of honour as the coffin of the Unknown Warrior was received at the Marine Railway Station, Dover, for its onward journey to Victoria Station, in readiness for the funeral service to take place in Westminster Abbey the following day.

It was Rev. David Railton, a military Chaplain, and the then vicar of St. John the Baptist Church, Margate, who first suggested to the Dean of Westminster the idea of arranging for the body of an unknown serviceman to be returned from the battlefields of Northern France, to be given a national burial service in Westminster Abbey, as a focus of grief for all those whose loved ones had no known grave.

On the 7th November 1920 an instruction went out to the burial parties in France that one unidentified body be exhumed from each of the four main early battlefields of the war; the Aisne, Arras, the Somme and Ypres. The bodies were delivered to a small chapel in St Pol., where one body was selected at random and placed in a sealed coffin.

On the 10th November 1920, the coffin was piped aboard H.M.S. Verdun for the journey across the channel to Dover. As it entered Dover Harbour, a 19-gun salute was fired from Dover Castle, a salute normally reserved for the return of a Field Marshall.

On the 11th November 1920, after the unveiling of the new Cenotaph in Whitehall by King George V, and the two-minute silence, the Unknown Warrior was taken to Westminster Abbey, and interred in the far western end of the nave, using soil also brought back from the battlefields of Northern France.

The inscription on the black Belgian marble stone that caps the grave includes the following:-

THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD HIS HOUSE

There is also a stone in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, dedicated to the memory of all the poets of the Great War, twelve of whom are listed by name, and six of whom were to die during that conflict. It is through their poetry that we can better understand the horror and futility of war, and the need to ensure that such conflicts never again occur.

On the 12th November, at St Mark’s, I will be recounting in greater detail the origins of the Unknown Warrior, together with the origins of other aspects of remembrance that we now observe, and interspersed with readings of the poets such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.