By Martin Gibson

Our last grand appeal was for the Sow & Grow project. £5,000 of the money raised by St Mary’s church and her friends went towards the creation of a “reflective space” in the grounds of Olveston Primary School.

Over the past 3 weeks works have been going on and the project is expected to be completed by the end of this week. A large part of the scheme has been the planting of a small hedge, so, with the weather and winter being what it is, the full beauty of the scheme will not be apparent until the Spring. The landscape gardener, Paul Watkins from Oldbury, says he is very pleased with the results and feels it will genuinely benefit children who have a need for a quiet place in which to spend a few minutes.

The Rev Steve Oram has chosen the first film for Lent. It will be shown on our Revs Rural site next Wednesday 3rd March starting at 7:30pm. It is “CHOCOLAT”, a film from 2000 about the war between Christianity and Paganism. Our heroine is sure to win as she has “chocolate” on her side – but Lent (when many people abstain from chocolate) delays her victory.

The film was nominated for many awards and is very appropriate for Lent. The 2nd film which will be shown on 17th March is still to be chosen.

The Tower Appeal is reaching new heights! Following the invitation to donate made to parishioners recently, the total pledged has exceeded £220,000. This is a quite staggering achievement especially at a time when Covid 19 restrictions deny so many opportunities for fund raising.

Following Boris’ roadmap announcements last Monday, there has been debate about when it might be safe to reopen St Mary’s. Although most of her congregation has been vaccinated (and the latest research shows an incredible resistance to infection), safety of everyone is still a priority. In particular social distancing still needs to take centre stage. Unfortunately, we have 2 services coming up soon (Mothering Sunday & Easter) which would normally attract large numbers of participants, including the uniform groups. There just isn’t the space in St Mary’s to safely invite all those who would generally attend. The PCC will make a final decision next Wednesday but it is quite likely that the church will not reopen until late March.

We recently noted that Paul Boulton of Old Down Hill had passed away. Sadly, his wife Anne, also died just a few hours after Paul’s funeral.

An Olveston Parish Council project which is gathering pace is for the renewal of the play equipment in the Old Down play area. An application for a grant will be made next month. The cost of replacing the equipment is likely to be in the region of £35,000.

The Parish Council is preparing to expand its bio diversity efforts with more tree planting planned. In addition, it has been very concerned about the announcement by South Gloucestershire Council that hedgehogs are likely to become extinct in our area within 5 years. This is a real tragedy and the bio diversity group are examining ways of improving the habitat of hedgehogs. A few months ago, St Mary’s placed a hedgehog house in the graveyard.

 To make you smile:

Sam goes to the doctor for his yearly checkup. “Everything is fine”, said the doctor, “You’re doing OK for your age.” “For my age?” questioned Sam, “I’m only 75, do you think I’ll make it to 80? “Well” said the doctor, “do you drink or smoke?” “No” Sam replied. “Do you eat fatty meat or sweets?” “No” said Sam “I am very careful about what I eat.” “How about your activities? Do you engage in thrilling behaviors like speeding or skiing? “No” said Sam taken aback, “I would never engage in dangerous activities.” “Well,” said the doctor, “then why on earth would you want to live to be 80?