A week after St Mary’s reopened is probably a good time to reflect on how this has all gone. On the first day of opening three people came in to sit and pray. On Sunday last 8 arrived. These numbers seem very low. One wonders why? Could it be a lack of awareness that the church is open, even if only on Wednesdays and Sundays at the moment? Could it be a fear of either being away from one’s home (a safe, secure place) or entering in to a building where perhaps the infection lurks?
Let’s put your minds at rest. The church was deep cleaned the day before it opened by Debbie Harries, a vastly experienced nurse, and her team. The cleaning probably wasn’t even needed because virtually no one has been in to St Mary’s for 3 months – and Covid 19 can only survive outside for 3 days. All the soft furnishings have been removed, so that’s another safety plus and all the pews are sanitised after each opening period. But perhaps the most reassuring feature is the presence of our greatly loved verger, June Robbins. June sits at the Welcome Desk every time the church is open and offers hand cleaner and masks if needed. She is well in to her 80s – categorised as high risk -and yet is pleased to be there to greet us all. Thank you June, you are a village treasure.
The closure of Thornbury’s High Street is causing a stir. Apparently there was very little consultation, only South Glos Council and the local chamber of commerce. Businesses were only given one week’s notice of the plan before the High Street closed. Take-away businesses have been badly hit by the move. There is a walk through to the High Street from the Library short stay car park, but that is now locked at 7pm so visitors to the High Street have quite a walk.
On Sunday 28th June, Ted Addis is celebrating his 90th birthday. Ted lives opposite the church and in the days when he felt more confident and mobile, he was a member of our congregation. His family has supported St Mary’s for some 200 years. His ancestors are buried in the churchyard, one was secretary to the PCC for many years, there are family war memorials inside the church and one of the dark Jacobean chairs behind the Sanctuary is actually a matching reproduction carved by Ted himself. These days Ted is something of a retiring, perhaps reclusive, man but on the event of a historic birthday, we remember him and the services he and his family have provided to us. Happy birthday Ted.
Another, somewhat different, event is the publishing of Audrey Shepherd’s guide to St Mary’s, with special, very detailed attention, paid to the stained glass windows. This 11 page, semi-glossy booklet, is definitely a first for the church. We have previously had David & Jennifer Bone’s book, “A Thousand Years of Witness” and Gordon Daldry’s pamphlet of the church’s history but Audrey’s guide treads new ground, with her coverage and explanation of many of the fascinating relics, furniture, monuments and especially the windows in the church. Copies will be available at the door once we fully reopen, at a nominal cost of £2.
“My goodness, they surely were prepared”