The last few weeks have been days of celebration at Saint Mary’s and it has been good to see the Churchyard beginning to be more widely used by the local community. This is being done in partnership with Fratton Big Local – and following the opening of the playspace at the Rec, it is now hoped to find some funds to provide some new facilities in the Churchyard.
One project was the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela – this was hosted by the African Women’s Forum. There was a great atmosphere with singing, dancing and drumming. One notable moment was what appeared to be a ‘drum off’ between Cllr Tom Coles and Father Bob …not sure who was the winner!
There will be further events in October with a music festival held by Journeys International (with an arts display in the Church) and then the Festival of Lights in December with some neon artwork being displayed on the Church.
The Church contributed its own musical celebration with the Strawberry Tea and music outside the Vestry Hall. Thank you to Victory Brass, the Choir and other entertainers and to those who provided the Tea. It was helped by the sunny and warm weather, which also ensured those who braved the Tower had excellent views of the city. We think over 400 people enjoyed the open space and music over the course of the weekend.
The following weekend marked the ‘end of term’, firstly with the Annual Skittles Night. Once again a hotly contested evening (not least because the air conditioning was not at its best!) and an enjoyable time – helped by the meal served at the Maritime Club. Past champions – Rosie and Vida – fell by the wayside as Mike Johnson blasted his way to victory, followed (not very closely) by Shirley Rudder. Father Marcus (on his first outing) was led astray by Father Darcy as they both tied in 3rd place, daring to beat the Vicar by one point! The training that curates are given is clearly not what it was – respect of the Vicar is clearly a long lost tradition! (Editor – guess who wrote this!)
The sporting mood continued on the Sunday – on the Young Families outing to QE Country Park. The morning service had ended with a celebration of the commitment and hard work of our junior choir members as they received their RSCM medals and ribbons – well done to all of them and to Brian and the Chaperones (Jo, Hester, Ali, Adrienne, Claire and Ruth) who support them. The coach (and various cars) then set off to Butser – on another baking hot day where shade was at a premium. After a picnic lunch, various activities took place (including walks to the Ice Cream stall!) but at the heart of them was a Rounders Match (that rivalled the croquet in Alice in Wonderland for its oddities!). It brought out the competitive side in a number of the adults (and Clergy and Councillor Tom) and no-one seemed to have any idea as to who was on which side or who had won!
All the sunshine and the hope to use the Churchyard meant that there was a lot of anticipation for the start of the Parish celebrations for the Patronal Festival. You could have predicted that this would be on the day the weather ‘broke’. Rain was forecast for the day and so all the plans for the Outdoor Mass and other activities changed to indoors. Thankfully Saint Mary’s is a versatile and adaptable space and so the chairs and altar were set as they would have been outdoors – and after the service picnic rugs appeared and lunch was enjoyed on the floor! Everyone has commented on the special atmosphere and how much they enjoyed the liturgy and the lunch …thank you to all who helped with the day – Mother Charlotte and the Young People’s leaders for the Altar Frontal, Brian and his Merry Musician Band, Pompey Pluckers and Top Banana Circus. The latter set up at the West End and attracted many to try a variety of circus skills – including tight rope walking and unicycle riding – mainly seemed to involve sitting and holding onto a pillar!

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