By Martin Gibson

Church Services

The virtual (Zoom) Holy Communion services on Wednesdays and Sundays continue to be very well attended. Interestingly, once the Sunday service, in particular, has finished, many members stay online for 5 minutes or so to exchange local news. Such communication was not possible when we met in person in church.

The “phone-around” instigated by Sue Farr is proving very successful. Not only does it keep the congregation together, but it’s also had the excellent result of bringing more people into the Zoom Holy Communion services.

St Mary’s PCC supports this local charity: One 25.

How good is your memory of 25 years ago? Val Jeal, the founder member of One 25, was working in the café at the Salvation Army when she noticed that nobody in those days was looking after the Street Sex-Workers, or Prostitutes as they were known, amongst other things. In 2020, thanks to her concern and the creation of One 25, thirty-seven women broke free from street sex work and started a new life in that year, a number that has grown steadily in those 25 years. Women never chose to be there; they fled from abusive families or children’s homes, they missed out on an education, they got in with the ‘wrong ‘crowd of ‘friends ’and became drug addicts; they were trapped in a circle of poverty, trying to take care of a partner and children. Twenty five years ago, certain streets in central Bristol were crowded with these women but now only the most chaotic and vulnerable remain; the majority of sex workers now solicit online or by text messaging, and they truly are ‘unseen’ and are even more vulnerable to domestic violence and random crime. One 25 engages with all aspects of their lives, starting with their hunger, safety, and homelessness. Please give to this local charity during Lent and find out more on Sue Farr

Latest on the Church Tower:

It is likely that the vicar will sign the building contract in the next 4 weeks and that work will start in early April. Construction will probably last 6 months and in that time the church bells will not be able to be rung. However, with Covid restrictions as they are, bell ringers are not allowed to gather together in a belfry anyway. Hopefully when all is done and finished there will be a grand peal of bells ringing out over the countryside.

The face of the clock has to come off to be repaired and repainted. It has been suggested that at the same time, the clock specialists, Smiths of Derby, might convert the manually wound mechanism to a fully automated electrically operated system. It’s not yet clear if the chiming mechanism can be similarly converted. Currently, Rod Williams climbs the tower twice a week to keep the clock and chimer functioning. And at his age…………..

Olveston Parish Council News

Late in 2020 the parish council hand-delivered flyers to every household in the parish asking people to apply to become a councillor. This exercise was very successful and four well qualified residents applied. As only 2 were required, there was an interview process following which Miles Grocott (Tockington) and Martyn Suker (Olveston) were duly elected.

Miles has many years experience of media and the internet, whilst Martyn has been involved withtelevision and nature programmes. It might be worth saying that meetings of Olveston Parish Council do not in any way replicate those of Handforth. Members do have differences of opinion from time to time, but business is always conducted in a civil and polite manner.

Next month a CENSUS form will land on your door mat, it happens every 10 years (since 1911). This year there are some changes to the questions asked. Obviously, the passage of time changes our culture, so hopefully you will be ready to supply information concerning your gender identity (3 options) and sexual orientation and whether or not you have served in the armed services.

And finally:

I called the RSPCA today to report that I had just found a suitcase in the woods containing a fox and four cubs.

“That’s terrible,” said the lady at the RSPCA “Are they moving?”

“To be honest” I replied “I’m not sure, but it would explain the suitcase.”