THE DOVE online Christmas 2020

Welcome to the Christmas edition of THE DOVE online. Please scroll through for all your favourite items and also the services for over the Christmas period.

Editorial: Being alone

The word ‘isolation’ has come to occur ever more frequently in our world today, especially, and often because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those experiencing symptoms or who are deemed to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus are instructed to “self-isolate” for up to 14 days, ideally remaining in one room with the door closed and avoiding mixing even with members of the same household. For those living on their own the restrictions on movement and social interaction can be even more difficult. No one chooses or enjoys being isolated. “No man is an island”, as the 17th century English metaphysical poet John Donne famously wrote: humans need the contact and support of others to thrive and live their lives in a positive and meaningful way. The coronavirus pandemic has, if anything, highlighted the problems of isolation already experienced by many elderly housebound individuals and led to an upsurge in community support. Long may it continue!

And yet, for many of us, there are times when we long to be alone, to escape the pressures of work or family or everyday life, to have a bit of time for ourselves. We need those moments of solitude to focus on our inner being, to feel relaxed and refreshed, to recharge our batteries. Jesus exemplified that need perfectly during his time on earth: time and again in the gospels, after a long day surrounded by crowds listening to his teaching and plying him with requests for healing, we hear how Jesus would withdraw from the crowd and retreat to a quiet place, often up a mountain, to pray and commune with his Father, God. This enabled him to carry on with his ministry despite the antagonism of the Jewish authorities which he knew would finally bring about his death. Solitude, as many have found, can be a powerful and positive spiritual discipline.

So, especially as the dark days of winter approach and the prospect of further restrictions becomes a reality, let us keep a watchful eye out for those who may find themselves alone through no fault or choice of their own, but at the same time let us not ignore the real benefits and blessings that moments of solitude can bring.

Alison: Editor Contact: 01827 892796

We continue to offer both in church and online services: Details can be found on the parish webpage: www.allsoulsnorthwarwickshire.co.uk


How often in recent months have you heard the phrase “These are unprecedented times?” It is true that hardly anyone alive today has experienced what we are going through now – even the dark days of WWII were not blighted further by restrictions on social contact with one’s loved ones and friends – but just over 100 years ago the world was in the grip of a pandemic as deadly as the one we are dealing with at the moment, perhaps even more so given the lack of scientific knowledge and medical facilities.

The so-called ‘Spanish ‘flu’ pandemic was first identified in March 1918 among American troops preparing to join the war in Europe and it is thought highly likely that the disease was brought to Europe by US soldiers who were deployed to the front. It spread rapidly once they arrived, with an estimated three quarters of the French military and as many as half of British troops being infected during April and May of that year. It even spread to neighbouring Spain, despite that country remaining neutral during WWI, and was given the name ‘Spanish ‘flu’ because Spanish journalists were some of the only ones able to report news of a widespread ‘flu outbreak sweeping through troops. The press in England, France and the United States was subject to censorship which prevented reporting of any news which could lower morale and hence harm the war effort.

Although highly contagious, this first wave of the virus did not appear to be particularly deadly and most recovered after 3 days of fever, headache and general feeling of malaise. There was a marked reduction in cases during the summer of 1918, reinforcing the notion of a seasonal ‘flu. Unfortunately a mutated strain of the Spanish ‘flu virus then emerged which was far more lethal than the first and became rampant during the autumn of 1918. Much of the spread in Britain is attributed to troops returning from Northern France at the end of the war in November 1918, as they dispersed to their homes in cities, towns and villages throughout the land. This second wave of the virus was even more devastating: not only did it spread like wildfire but it affected people in a much more serious way, causing pneumonia and

leading to an often fatal build-up of fluid in the lungs. The death rate rocketed, not only among the very young and the very old, as might be expected, but young healthy adults in their 20s and 30s suffered particularly badly. Onset of the disease could be frighteningly swift and death often occurred within 24 hours of the first symptoms appearing. Hospitals were overwhelmed, with doctors and nurses working to breaking point to treat the sick. And of course all this took place well before the National Health Service came into being. By December 1918 this second wave had subsided, but the pandemic was far from over. A third wave broke out in Australia in January 1919 and eventually worked its way back to Europe and the United States. It did not spread as widely as the earlier second wave but the mortality rate was just as high. It is calculated that during the two years of the pandemic, 1918 – 1919, over 50 million people died worldwide. The death toll in Britain alone was 228,000 and it is said that a quarter of the British population contracted the disease at some point.

And what of the reaction of the public? Deep fear and dread of the disease must have been widespread and the medical profession of the day had neither the tools nor the knowledge to identify the cause of the disease or to treat it. There were no antibiotics to combat the pneumonia and it wasn’t until the 1930s with the invention of the electron microscope that scientists were able to identify and name the virus responsible as H1N1. This lack of understanding is perfectly captured in a children’s playground rhyme of 1918, disarming in its own naïve way:

“I had a little bird, Its name was Enza. I opened the window and in-flu-enza."

The government of the day was preoccupied with the war effort and the need to keep the munitions factories running at full capacity and was therefore reluctant to impose a strict civilian lockdown or quarantine regulations. Lack of such measures undoubtedly contributed to the rapid spread of the disease and the high death toll.

These times are perhaps not so unprecedented after all …..

Alison Meredith

Celebrating with a Difference:

The celebrations which normally brighten the dark days of autumn and winter will be comparatively subdued this year but, hopefully just as meaningful.


The customary ceremonies on Remembrance Sunday with large gatherings paying respects to the war dead will not be taking place this year. In All Souls our church services (10.30 am at Warton and 6.00 pm at Newton Regis) will have a remembrance theme but attendance will have to be limited in accordance with the current social distancing regulations. One suggestion made is that residents come out and stand in front of their houses to observe the 2 minutes silence at 11 am on Sunday 8 November, in much the same way as people came out on a Thursday evening to clap the NHS. A simple way of observing Remembrance Sunday wherever you happen to be.

This year, the 75th anniversary of VE and VJ Day, the Royal British Legion is remembering particularly the men and women of the Second World War generation, along with those of today’s, who served and sacrificed to defend our nation. Visit their website www.britishlegion.org.uk for ideas on how to make remembrance meaningful this year.

For those who prefer to stay indoors, Birmingham Diocese’s online prayer chapel will be open from 11 am to 11 pm on November 11th with an act of remembrance every hour under the heading ‘Remembering Together’. You can join on Zoom at any point during the day using the Meeting ID 988 3173 7761 and Passcode 489269.

Poppies will still be on sale to support the vital work of the Royal British Legion but door to door sales will not be happening. Poppies will however be available to purchase at the Top Shop, the Club and The Office pub in Warton, the Brid in Hand and the shop in Austrey as well as the Newton Regis Garden Centre and Café.

Bereavement Service: Our annual Bereavement Service, when we invite the families of all those for whom funerals have been conducted in the parish during the previous 12 months, will also have to have a different approach. It is not possible to accommodate all who might wish to attend and comply with social distancing rules. We are hoping to hold a ‘token’ service in Austrey church at a specific time and date and all concerned will be invited to ‘join’ from the comfort of their own homes, following a simple order of service which will be sent to them. We are also hoping to produce a recording of the occasion and upload this on to the parish website for all to view (technology providing). Final details will be communicated via letter and the website in early November.


Christmas too, will be very different, the celebrations with the ban on congregational singing meaning that we cannot hold our traditional Carol Services. There will, however, be a strong Christmas flavour to our worship as we welcome our Saviour into the world once more and we are planning at least one service of Christmas Communion.

The Children’s Team will still be hosting a Christingle Service at 5 pm on Christmas Eve and have decided that the most effective way of doing this will be online. Children (and adults!) will have the opportunity to assemble their own Christingles and donations will be invited for the valuable and much-needed work of the Children’s Society. If you would like to take part, please check the church website in advance for details of how to join and a list of items that will be needed.

In these uncertain times all these arrangements must be considered provisional but we trust and pray that everyone will remain safe and well in our area and we can find new and imaginative ways of worshipping and remembering together.

Please view the parish website for a full list of all the services: these are updated on a monthly basis.

PCC Report to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting: October 2020 (delayed)

At the first meeting of the new PCC in May 2019 Alison Meredith was re-appointed PCC Secretary and Trish Richardson as PCC Treasurer. Anne Bufton-Mc Coy has continued to act as Lay Vice-Chair and we have held regular meetings, generally once a month, of either Churchwardens or the whole PCC.

We began the year 2019 knowing that Stephen would be leaving us in the summer to take up a new post as Team Rector of the Binsey Mission Community in Cumbria. His final services in the parish were held on Sunday 7th July and the following Saturday a goodly number of parishioners joined in a farewell celebration, when thanks were offered for Stephen’s 19 years of service. He was presented with a new white stole, a plaque depicting the 5 All Souls churches and a cheque, along with numerous good wishes for his future ministry and Sally’s new teaching post.

Once Stephen and Sally had moved, the main task of the PCC was to take responsibility for organising services following the pattern instituted by Stephen i.e. 3 services each Sunday. Most of these were lay led and thanks must go to all who worked hard and contributed in any way to maintaining Sunday worship in the parish. We are deeply grateful for the assistance of Fr Philip Wells and Revd Michael MacLachlan of Polesworth in taking Communion Services.

Much time and effort also went in to the drawing up of a Parish Profile to be used by the Diocese as a basis for an advert for the post of Vicar of All Souls. It was disappointing that an advert did not appear until January of this year, which did not result in any applications for the post. A second advert has had to be put on hold because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

We again met our 2019 Common Fund asking of £35,877 in full, making monthly payments by direct debit. However, despite our ending the year with a fairly healthy surplus, there is cause for concern, as many costs continue to increase, fewer people are attending Sunday worship and a number of regular givers have moved away.

Church growth and attracting new members, particularly young families, continues therefore to be a priority. Unfortunately the lockdown imposed on churches early in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on social mobility and interaction means that we need to find new ways of reaching out to those in our schools and communities. Safeguarding continues to be an important focus for the Diocese and the Church at large and we aim to be fully compliant with the requirements by ensuring that policies are adopted and publicised as well as attending training and carrying out safeguarding checks.

As the interregnum continues into its second year, albeit with the help and guidance of Louise Shaw, recently appointed Area Dean of the newly-merged Coleshill & Polesworth Deanery, it is up to all of us to support the churchwardens and PCC in taking the Church forward until a new leader is found. It is my sincere hope that we will all make that extra effort to meet and worship together in fellowship whenever and wherever we can, whether at live services or on Zoom, so that All Souls continues to flourish.

Alison Meredith (PCC Secretary)

The above were duly elected to the offices of the church:

If you would like to know more about the work of the PCC do please contact any of the Churchwardens - Anne Bufton-McCoy, Heather Cooke, Shirley Faulkner, Dawn Cole, Richard Meredith – or any PCC member.

Why Advent?

For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas. Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. Advent begins on Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year)

Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29th and ends on Thursday, December 24th

Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during

Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.

The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.

Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red colour points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. Families begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday.

Anne Bufton-McCoy

Community Police News

Personnel: Warwickshire Police said goodbye to PC Jay BRADBURN who had been with Atherstone SNT for 12 months. However, we have welcomed PC Michael REDMAN 2129 to the team. He will be covering the North Warwickshire area with PCSO FRETTER 6262 and PCSO HODSON 6098. It is hoped to get team contacts and a poster to all northern villages. General contact details are as follows:

101 Non-emergency - 999 Emergency - 01827 719297 SNT voicemail

Courier Fraud: We have experienced volumes of courier fraud.

What is it? A fraudster contacts victims by telephone purporting to be a police officer or bank official. The caller may also offer a telephone number for the victim to dial or ask the victim to call the number on the back of their bank card to check that they are genuine.

Protect yourself: 1) Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hand up if you get a call like this. 2) If you need to call your bank to check, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank. 3) Your debit or credit card is yours – don’t let a stranger take it from you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled, you should destroy it yourself.

Spot the signs 1) Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity but is asking you for personal information or even your PIN to verify who you are. 2) They’re offering you to call back so you can be sure they’re genuine, but when you try to return the call, there’s no dialling tone. 3)They try to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.


If you’ve given your bank details over the phone or handed your card to a courier, call your bank straight away to cancel the card.

PCSO Sarah Fretter: Warwickshire Police. Email: sarah.fretter@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk

Jesus and Prayer

Did you know there’s a right and a wrong way to pray? When Jesus’ disciples asked to teach them how to pray, Jesus felt it was important to first teach them how not to pray. ‘ Do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in public places to be seen by men.’ ‘Do not babble like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.’ So how should you pray? Do it in your secret place, where there are no distractions. Many words are not required, as our Father knows what we need before we ask. Prayer is basically having a private conversation with God: our Father wants a personal and intimate relationship with you.

In response to the disciples’ question, Jesus gave them the familiar “Lord’s Prayer”, which is a series of pointers as to how we should pray rather than what we should actually say. The prayer begins and ends with praising God: “…hallowed be thy name”, “…thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory”.

In between come the petitions, firstly “Give us this day our daily bread”, a reminder to the Jews of the old covenant of the manna that came from heaven during the forty year exodus, but to those of the new covenant it recalls Jesus’ words “I am the bread of life”. If Jesus is living in you, then you have your daily bread. Then comes “Forgive us our sins..” : for us Jesus went to the cross and took all our sins away, thus making it easier for us to forgive others. “Lead us not into temptation..” recalls how Adam and Eve were tempted and deceived by Satan, the evil one, which in turn made the lives of every generation since so difficult and complicated. Jesus himself was tempted by Satan in the desert but resisted his suggestions and thwarted the devil. He finally defeated him at Calvary so that we didn’t have to.

Useful pointers, but God would rather you use your own words, spoken from the fullness of your heart. But what if your prayers do not appear to be answered? It may be because of wrong motives or because what we are asking is not God’s will. Most importantly, we should pray in Jesus’ name. As Jesus himself said, “Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) This is the basis of every New Testament believer’s prayers: we have to pray for all things and ask in JESUS’ name. The power resides in the person you are praying to, not in the prayer itself. As St Paul writes:

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”(I Timothy 2:5).

That is why it is imperative to pray in Jesus’ name, the name above all other names.

Written by Joe Galletly

Living Faith

Dawn Cole shares two prayers of confession from her “Faith to Faith” book which she uses daily to remind herself that she is a beloved child of God. She writes: “In these uncertain times I feel we need to put our trust in God, believe Jesus is our risen Saviour and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with peace. May we never forget to keep our eyes looking upwards to our Father: He will not leave us or forsake us.”

“Father, I confess anew Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour today. Lord, you are the head of my life. I completely yield myself to you. My will is now your will. My plans are now your plans. As a new creation in Christ Jesus, I accept the gift of righteousness and all that gift includes: health, prosperity, peace, joy and life abundant. I put aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets me. I now look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. According to your word, I can now reign in this life as a king. The power of sin and death in my life has been overcome. No longer am I ruled by the forces of evil but by the God above all gods. I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. I determine today to walk conscious of my right standing with you, Lord, and with every step to draw closer and closer to you. Thank you for the gift of righteousness. Because of that gift I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Amen

“Heavenly Father, I thank you that through faith in Jesus Christ, You have shared Your nature and Your Spirit with me. I am grateful for the measure of faith imparted to me as a believer. I make the decision today to walk in that faith – to put it to work on the situations around me. I commit myself to operate in mountain moving faith, for I know that it is impossible to please you without it. As I plant this faith and water it with your word, I expect it to grow and overcome the mountains in my life and in the lives of those for whom I intercede. Thank you, Father, that as I do this, nothing shall be impossible to me!” Amen

Mission News

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the work of all our Mission Partners, who are now trying to adapt to the changes and restrictions imposed because of the virus.

Birmingham City Mission (BCM)

Many of its activities have been curtailed in recent months but BCM soldiers on. Their City Missionaries are using a note card to keep in touch with their local contacts, while the Elderllink Team are contacting the vulnerable and isolated elderly in the city by telephone, unsure as to when they will be able to re-start lunch clubs or home visiting. The Children & Youth Teams are currently preparing videos to be accessed by schools for use in assemblies.

The Care Centre is managing to ‘open’ Monday through to Thursday from noon to 4 pm (rather than in the evening), serving through the shutter doors to the homeless and those in need in the city. Each day they are seeing between 40 and 60 folk with varying needs, providing them with a warm meal, endless cups of tea, coffee and hot chocolate and advice where appropriate. But first and foremost they always talk about the good news of the Bible and have been encouraged by the level of engagement shown by many of their guests. It fills a need for somewhere to go during the day and changing to daytime hours as opposed to evenings has the advantage that it is easier to source accommodation and to make contact with agencies that can help with benefits or referrals for addiction or mental health issues.

All Souls has sent non-perishable food items and toiletries for the food bank as their harvest offering but if you weren’t able to contribute in the usual way you can still make a donation at give.net/bcm_harvest. BCM is also hoping to be able to deliver toys as Christmas presents to children who would otherwise not receive any. You can take gifts (new toys only please) to The Clock Tower, 2 Langdon Street, Birmingham B9 4BP or else choose a gift from an online store and have it delivered to that address. Alternatively, you can make a donation at give.net/toylink.

Details of all the above activities can be found on the website birminghamcitymission.org.uk . Above all we are asked to hold BCM and all their future plans in our prayers.

2020 is the year when MAF is celebrating 75 years of serving people in some of the world’s remotest places. Sadly it also marks the death of one of its co-founders, Stuart King, who passed away on 29 August aged 98. Stuart was one of a group of former RAF pilots who as WWII ended had a vision of using aircraft to bring help, hope and healing to those in the remotest parts of the developing world. He retained a keen interest in its work all his life.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected virtually every country in the world, MAF has continued to operate wherever and whenever they have received government permission to fly. In Arnhem Land they have transported women and children from abusive situations (a particular problem among the indigenous Australian population) to a place of safety. In the Democratic Republic of Congo they have delivered coronavirus supplies (washbasins, thermometers, paper towels, soap) vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella and ministered to more than 15,000 internally displaced people in refugee camps. In Liberia, although MAF’s plans to expand its services into West Africa have been delayed by COVID, preparations are going ahead with the construction of a new aircraft hangar and offices in the capital Monrovia. In Timor-Leste MAF even stepped in to fly a number of VIPs, including the President of Oecusse, to a meeting in Parliament.

Prayer very much underpins all of their work and they will be holding their annual Global Week of Prayer as usual from 1 – 8 November. All supporters are invited to join in from the comfort of their homes. You can register to receive a special edition of their prayer diary by visiting their website www.maf-uk.org and following the link for the Global Week of Prayer.

It has been encouraging to have continued contact with our Crosslinks Study Partners past and present in recent weeks. Patrick Cyprian, our current partner, is managing to keep up with his studies online and nearing completion of his course. He prays that God will grant him clarity of thought as he prepares to write his thesis on “Family Discipleship”. In a recent report he was rejoicing in being able to meet up again with his siblings as well as the resumption of worship together in Gracepoint Church on the outskirts of Nairobi, where he and others minister to the people of the Kikuyu township. And he has also shared with us the exciting news that he and three brothers from the Gracepoint Church, Peter, James and Lawrence, are planning a new church plant. Please pray for the success of this initiative. At the time he was writing cases of coronavirus appeared to be on the decline but more recent reports show the start of a rise in cases, as is happening in many countries worldwide. Nevertheless the Kenyan government is planning to re-open schools, though for final year students only in both the primary and secondary sectors, so that they can resume preparation for their final exams which have been put back from the end of this year to March/April 2021.

Irene Apio recently sent a long email in which she gave a detailed picture of how the pandemic has affected life in Uganda. They too went into lockdown at the end of March but restrictions were much tighter, with only essential workers being allowed to move and all public and private transport banned. As a result she faced a 3-hour walk on the 2 days she was allowed to work organising live broadcasting of children’s lessons via Facebook. Churches too resorted to various forms of online worship, depending on what they could afford. Measures have since eased somewhat: public transport is back in service but passengers have to pay much higher fares because social distancing means that far fewer people can be accommodated on each journey. Many workers are on half salary and large numbers are being laid off when their contracts end. Irene’s own future is uncertain. Both schools and churches are starting to re-open during the month of October but the number of worshippers permitted (a maximum of 70) is proving a challenge for churches such as the one Irene attends, where they would look to welcome 2,000 – and that would be considered a ‘poor Sunday’! In Uganda too the number of cases and deaths resulting from the coronavirus is also starting to increase. Sadly, there too there is considerable mistrust of the government and as a consequence many of the recommended precautions are being ignored.

We need to keep both of these individuals in our prayers, along with the lands in which they live.

Bethesda (Leprosy) Hospital: The most recent report received from the hospital was upbeat in tone, as they gave thanks for having the necessary funds to pay both staff salaries and medical bills during the month of August. They are also thankful that the hospital now has the services of two doctors, Dr John Roy and Dr Martin and both are doing well.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to provide challenges and prayers are requested for the recovery of two staff members who tested positive for the disease. It has created difficulties for outpatients attending the hospital but most are still managing to come for treatment. The hospital was also looking forward to the re-opening of schools so that the children who had been sent home to their villages at the outbreak of the pandemic might return to resume their education.

The hospital’s services are much in demand in the community also. In August the Home Based Care Project provided 100 HIV/AIDS patients with their monthly supply of rations, which is a big help to them all. In addition there are another 20 needy AIDS patients whose requests for assistance are currently being assessed by the executive board, to determine which of them are ‘deserving’. Along with all of the practical help offered comes a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of those they treat in the name and love of Jesus.

The Holly and the Ivy: Both holly and ivy are plants of great antiquity and were associated with end of year festivities long before Christianity was introduced. For the peoples of Northern Europe and Western Asia in particular these evergreen plants were revered as symbols of an assurance that life and growth would return again in the spring.

In pre-Christian times both plants were thought to possess magical qualities, able to ward off evil or mischievous spirits. A holly tree or bush might also be planted close to a dwelling as a protection against lightning. I have even read that modern science has shown that the distinctively-shaped holly leaves can in fact act as miniature lightning conductors, so there may be more to this custom that mere superstition. Ivy had strong associations with the Roman god Bacchus and was therefore seen as a portender of happiness and frivolity, generally as a result of imbibing wine. Growing the plant on the outside walls of a house was believed to be a strong deterrent against misfortune, but if the plant were to die, then it was a sign that financial difficulties might lie ahead. Both holly and ivy were commonly used to decorate homes as part of the winter celebrations.

"The Holly and The Ivy"

The holly, being perhaps a ‘showier’ and more robust plant (ivy needs something to cling to) has often been more highly prized, as is inferred in the traditional English carol “The Holly and the Ivy”, as it proclaims “Of all the trees that are in the wood the holly bears the crown.” Pagan customs were often adopted by early Christians, perhaps to make their rituals more ‘acceptable’, and so holly would often be associated with nativity celebrations to give the impression that the Roman festival of Saturnalia was being observed rather than the nativity of Christ. In time, many legends sprang up linking the plant with Christ’s crucifixion, as the traditional carol also reflects. One tale claims that holly sprang up under Jesus’ feet as he walked to Calvary, the red berries representing his blood. Another popular idea was that the crown of thorns he wore was made of holly and the berries, which were originally white, were stained red with blood when the plant’s prickles broke Christ’s skin. There are even claims, it would appear, that holly wood was used to make the cross itself.

In pre-Victorian times, before Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to England, it would be a bough of holly that families would bring into their homes to decorate – but not before Christmas Eve, or bad luck would ensue! It was also considered unlucky to fell a complete holly tree but the cutting of boughs and branches was permitted

But holly also has more practical uses: its hard, white, close-grained wood makes it ideal for marquetry and it was widely used in the production of Tunbridge ware, as well as chess pieces and tool handles. Most whips for ploughmen and drivers of horse-drawn coaches were also fashioned from the stems of coppiced holly. In times past holly leaves were a nutritious source of winter fodder, often ground up to make the pricklier leaves more palatable. The berries are enjoyed by wild birds, especially in a hard winter, but if consumed by humans cause nausea and vomiting. Holly does, however, have medicinal uses and in the past has been used as a herbal remedy for asthma, rheumatism, gout and dropsy, often being administered as a herbal tea.

Ivy has a ‘softer’ image than the holly: in many cultures it is a symbol of love and fidelity, perhaps because of its habit of clinging to and intertwining with other plants and structures. The leaves of both holly and ivy were used in various rituals whereby young men and women would seek to discover the identity of their future spouse. In the natural world ivy is attractive to both insects and birds. The flowers, which are late to appear in October and November are an abundant source of nectar for flies, beetles and wasps – stop and have a look at a patch of flowering ivy on a sunny autumn day – while the black berries which follow provide food for birds at a time when there is little else available.

Ivy also has medicinal uses: thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties an extract from the leaves is used in the treatment of respiratory ailments and in cough medicines. Another interesting snippet tells of a custom in Shropshire where it was believed that drinking from a cup made of ivy wood would cure a child of whooping cough – perhaps not as far-fetched as it might first appear.

So let us deck our halls and homes with boughs of holly and ivy this Christmas in time-honoured fashion!

Alison Meredith

Keeping in Touch

How can you find out what is happening in our Parish?

1. Check out the Website www.allsoulsnorthwarwickshire.co.uk 2. Read the regular monthly Newsletter (available at live services and on the website). 3. Check out the Church Noticeboards for the latest service information 4. Read The Dove magazine! 5. If you have given us your email address then you may receive occasional emails from the Parish secretary. PLEASE check your emails regularly. 6. Word of mouth…

• Churchwardens • PCC members • Prayer Circle • Bible Club • Soul Café Team & FB Soul Cafe Hub • School Assembly Teams • Friends and family.

DO REMEMBER that communication is a two way street - we are doing our best to keep in touch with you so do tell us if you aren’t able to access the information you need.

Library News

Polesworth Library is currently open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10 am and 4 pm and Saturdays between 10 am and 1 pm for customers to collect books which they have requested online or by phone to the library or which have been selected for them by the library staff. Anyone wishing to make use of this service can ring the staff on 01827 899820 and we will be delighted to help. The entire service is now free of charge – no overdue fines or charges to obtain a book from another Warwickshire Library, so please make use of it!

We have passed our inspection regarding being COVID-safe to fully re-open and are waiting for the installation of a protective screen before we can open our doors again for browsing. We have installed hand sanitisers and all returning items are quarantined for 72 hours before being available for the next customer.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Julie Talbot - Senior Librarian


From the Seckington Pantry

There is nothing like home-made mincemeat - it's dead easy to make and I can guarantee that you will never have tasted such brilliant mince pies in your life!

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and cover. Leave to stand for one week, stirring several times each day. Spoon in to sterilised jars, adding a tablespoon of brandy to each one. Cover and keep cool

Use and enjoy at Christmas!

Fundraising:Annabel Arnold and family sold plums and damsons over the late summer to raise funds for the Air Ambulance, raising well over three hundred pounds for this valuable work.

'Christmas Carousel' - Upcycled Christmas Crafts:  As some of you know, I am a very keen maker of upcycled Christmas crafts, which I then sell at various events to raise funds for All Saints’ Church, Seckington. This has been a year where, sadly, many events have had to be cancelled and, because I was busy during lockdown generating more stock, I needed to find another way of reaching potential customers. Enter the “Pop-up Shop” in the summerhouse in my garden!

This is an open invitation to you all to visit, if you would like to take a look and maybe get started on your Christmas shopping and, at the same time, generate precious funds for our beautiful village church. To ensure social distancing, visits will be at a time to suit you, so please email me at candgwright@btinternet.com or phone me on 01827 839160 to make arrangements. Track and Trace will also be in operation and entrance to the garden will be via the side gate. Christmas is fast approaching, so get your visit booked now or contact me if you would like any further information.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Carolyn Wright, Spring Cottage, Church Lane, Seckington

Kids space.....

Click HERE for instructions on how to make your very own Advent Wreath
Have a go at this Christmas Crossword - Good Luck!

School News

Warton Nethersole's C of E School

The last academic year brought unprecedented challenges for the whole school community as we were told to close our doors to all children other than those of key workers on 23rd March. The next few days were fraught with difficulties as we juggled with fluctuating numbers of children, rotas, risk registers and government guidance that was often confusing and given at very short notice - usually through the media rather than directly to us! Staff rose to the challenge however, and we soon settled to a routine that allowed the school to stay open through the crisis and provide childcare to those parents working on the front line. We kept in touch with the children at home through our online learning platform and regular telephone calls and prayed that everyone would stay safe.

We were delighted therefore to be able to re-open school in September to all children – many of whom had spent the previous 6 months at home under ‘lockdown’. They were happy and excited to see their friends and teachers and get back into the routine of learning, and we looked forward to returning to some sort of normality. In truth, things are very different to what we are used to with constant hand-washing, staggered start and finish times, children kept in separate bubbles, no indoor PE and no singing! In spite of all the above however, staff morale in school is high and the children do not seem to have suffered any serious setbacks to their mental and emotional well-being. It was sad not to be able to welcome the village community to our Harvest worship as we usually do at this time of year, and it also seems unlikely that we will be able to have visitors to our Nativity in December. Nevertheless, I take comfort in the fact that some things cannot be halted even when we currently feel restricted and stopped from doing some of the things we enjoy. Paul wrote from prison to Timothy saying that ‘God’s word is not chained’ (2 Timothy 2: 9), and many of us will have noticed through our obligatory daily walks during the pandemic that nobody told the birds to stop singing or the trees not to blossom – clearly what is really important can still shine through!

It is with much sadness that I say goodbye to the school and the local community after working here for 25 years, 10 in the position of Head Teacher. I have many wonderful memories to think back on. I have seen many changes to the school and to the wider educational landscape. I have started to see children coming into school whose parents I taught, which reminds of how close knit a community Warton is. With the extent of building work being carried out in the local area it seems likely that the school will need to extend to accommodate more children, but I’m sure that it will remain at heart a ‘village school’ with the same caring Christian ethos that has allowed children to thrive here over the years.

I commend my staff to you, they have supported me through these last difficult months and I know they will continue to work hard to keep the school the safe, happy and welcoming place that it has always been, within the current restrictions and beyond. I also send a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful parents who have been extremely appreciative of our efforts and sent many messages of support that brightened up some dark moments for me. I am really looking forward to my retirement, to spend more time with my family, and to do some travelling when circumstances allow but I will really miss the children! It is my firm belief that teaching is not a job it’s a vocation (staff hear me say this all the time!). For me, the Headship of the school has been even more than that - it has been a way of life. I know that the school and the village community will continue to flourish. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you.

Susan Bostock

A Warm Welcome to our new Head Teacher: Susan Friend

My name is Susan Friend and I am delighted to introduce myself as the new Head Teacher of Warton Nethersole CE Primary School. I am so proud of this opportunity to work with the staff, pupils and parents of the Warton community and having visited the school a few times , I am sure that we can continue to build on the fantastic work of Mrs Bostock and the team both in school, with the church and the wider community.

My career to date has been very varied and I think that this stands me in good stead for the new experiences and challenges that await me at Warton Nethersole. I began my teacher training in York after completing a degree in English Literature at the same university. From York I began my first teaching job in Camden, London where I also became the ICT lead teacher. Teaching in London was a wonderful experience – the diversity of children and their needs was significantly wider than in York and so it was here that I developed my passion and focus that all children and families have equity in their opportunities within my school. From London, I moved to be the specialist IT teacher at a private international school in Prague, Czech Republic. Here I learnt how to ski (not very well!) and took multiple classes on skiing residential trips to the mountains, learnt a little basic Czech (which is now even worse than my skiing!) and learnt more about ways to support children for whom English is a second language.

As the national curriculum in England changed, I moved back to the UK and settled in Bristol where I bought my first home. I worked in two schools in Bristol, firstly as a senior leader in a school with high levels of deprivation and behavioral needs and secondly as a deputy head at a large junior school school just over the border in South Gloucestershire. My 4 years of Deputy Headship have been a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the leadership of a school and how to support staff in what can be a really hard job-especially in the current climate.

Aside from my teaching experiences. I travel as much as possible (pre-Covid!) and have enjoyed some exciting far flung adventures including seeing a Blue Whale in the Indian Ocean, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and dancing to the live jazz in New Orleans.

I was born and bred in Burton on Trent and am moving closer to home after many years away to be with my mum, my sister and her family. My sister has two young children aged 4 and 2 and I don’t get to be the aunty or sister I want to be when I live so far away. When I saw this job advertised I knew it was the one for me and I am so hopeful for the future and its possibilities at Warton Nethersole. I hope that this new role will both enhance my working life - which I always prioritise highly - as well as my family life too. I aim to be a supportive and ambitious Head Teacher for the whole community and can’t wait to be a more present ‘Aunty Suey’ for my family too!

From the Registers

These are not included on the online version for reasons of privacy.

Although there have been no baptisms of marriages in this past quarter, we continue to pray for those that have married or been baptised within our parish this year.

Please accepted our sincere condolences if you are mourning the loss of a loved one at this time. You are in the prayers of the parish. You may also wish to note the Bereavement service mentioned earlier.


Created with images by Veronica Ivanov - "Red poppy field" • Eyasu Etsub - "THE light"