The Parish of Ponteland

2013 Events

On Sunday 6 January we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men came to Bethlehem. We gave thanks for all the charitable giving that had happened over Christmas, presenting our gifts at the crib - "Lord, accept your people's gifts, not gold, frankincense or myrrh, but hearts and voices raised in praise of Jesus Christ, our light and our salvation." We remembered Christ's baptism as we renewed our baptism vows and prayed for those who will be confirmed later this year. After we listened to the reading of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee, bread and wine were brought to the altar and we shared communion together. We had five hymns - three for the Epiphany and two for the start of a new year - and the choir sang a variety of music including "Christ has no body now but yours'" by David Ogden, "O taste and see how gracious the Lord is" Ralph Vaughan Williams, and a new year carol by Benjamin Britten.

Penguins celebrated a Christingle on Sunday 13 January. We made Christingles for everyone and than talked through the different symbols. We lit all the candles, turned the lights off, and sang "See him lying on a bed of straw". We also looked back over two years of Penguins, and gave thanks to God for all that we have done and learned over that time.

Candlemas was celebrated on Sunday 3 February. Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple to make the sacrifice required. Simeon and Anna recognised that this child was the Messiah - the story is in Luke 2.22-40. For centuries it has been celebrated as a festival of light - so we gave each member of the congregation a candle. As the choir sang "Gaudete" 'Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is born', the candles were lit - and no one had remembered a camera! At the end of the service, the choir returned to the font, to the place of our baptism, and our candles were extinguished. We turned from the light of Christmas to the darkness of Lent and Passiontide.

In the evening we went to Corbridge for a joint service at St Andrew's church. Our two choirs - directed by Warren Smith and Colin Williams - sang "Hail gladdening light" by Charles Wood, the "Nunc Dimittis" by Herbert Murrill and "Make me a light" by Philip Wilby. Peter, the Vicar of Ponteland, preached. The prayers were led by Julie Robson, Curate of St Andrew's, and the service was led by David Hewlett, Vicar of Corbridge. After the service the two choirs and other friends had an excellent supper at The Black Bull. A return match is planned for the summer.

Lent started with snow on Ash Wednesday, but we had three services in St Mary's - with the choir in the evening. On Sunday 17 February we said farewell to Jo Myers after the Morning Service. Jo, pictured at the centre here in purple, with other members of the Children's Society Committee with whom she has worked. We wish her well as she moves south to be nearer her family. Meanwhile, the snowdrops are flowering in the churchyard.

Despite the snow, on Saturday 23 February a good number of people gathered for a Traidcraft Coffee Morning. Thanks to Ian and Sue for organising it, to everyone else involved, and to the Brownies for all their help. £460 was raised. Thank you.

On Saturday 2 March a small team got together and gave the churchyard a cleanup. It was a beautiful day and we had a great bonfire.

On Mothering Sunday 10 March inside we had daffodils and a full church, outside we had snow.

St Mary's is included in this new guide "Spirit in Stone". Produced by Inspired North East - - with the support of the Church of England and English Heritage. 123 churches in Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland are listed, with a photo, a short description and details of location and access arrangements. Our Vicar Peter supplied ten photos from his Northern Vicar blog - The guide was launched at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle on Thursday 14 March, and copies are available in St Mary's and at churches and Tourist Information Centres across the North East. A website - - will be launched shortly.

Palm Sunday was such a cold day we told Jazz the donkey to stay in the warmth of his stable. We marked the day by reading the Passion Narrative, the story of Jesus' last few days on earth. In the evening we had service for Ponteland Churches Together based on the Lindisfarne Gospels. Every evening of Holy Week was marked with a service of Compline, the late night service of the monastery - some of the talks are on the sermon section. The service on Maundy Thursday evening commemorates the Last Supper - we had a choir of 24. On Good Friday morning a Choral Meditation was followed by the raising of the cross on Coates Green. An afternoon service of meditation took place at Milbourne. The flower arrangers were busy on Saturday morning, and both churches looked gorgeous on Easter Sunday. St Mary's was full for the 10 am service, and 70 people packed into Holy Saviour for 11.15 am.

Easter 2013 saw a trip to Bede’s World to link into our summer festival theme of the Lindisfarne Gospels. It was a lovely spring day and we had fun walking round the exhibits, interspersed with joining various arts and crafts sessions. We then went outside and saw the woolly pigs, goats, cows and new lambs. Finally, we had the obligatory tea and scones in the café and then a few of our more energetic members went on the playground!

We celebrated St George's Day with an Evening with John Grundy. A full church enjoyed an amusing evening with lots of tales of Northumberland and its marvellous buildings. Over £1100 was raised for Christian Aid.

On Saturday 27 April the Bailiffgate Singers from Alnwick gave a Concert in St Mary's. In the first half they performed the whole of Faure's Requiem and a wider variety of music in second half. Sadly the audience was very small, but those who came enjoyed a good evening.

We welcomed Eric and Sandra Reed on Sunday 28 April. They are our link missionaries, currently working in the Philippines. Their children, Peter and Atiyah, had grown since their last visit, and it was good to see them all again. Eric spoke at the 10 am, and then 50 people sat down for lunch together.

Bishop Stephen Pedley, the Assistant Bishop, came on Ascension Day, Thursday 9 May, to confirm four candidates at a Choral Eucharist. Georgina, Gordon and Daisy are members of St Mary's, and Julia is a student at Northumberland Church of England Academy. It was good to welcome Sally Milner, their Chaplain, as well as many family and friends. It was a very special service, and we had a cake.

The Friends of Red Kites group held an exhibition in the Chancel during 13-23 May. Some wonderful photos were displayed along with a very impressive glass scultpure of a red kite.

Our Coffee Club had a trip to Simonburn on Wednesday 15 May. Lunch at Battlesteads Hotel in Wark, then a guided tour of St Mungo's church at Simonburn with Prof. Richard Bailey. The weather was not good, but there are more photos on the Vicar's blog at


Saturday 25 May - a good number of people enjoyed a Coffee Morning and Plant Stall in aid of the Church Army.

Our celebration of the Lindisfarne Gospels continued on Sunday 26 May when Prof. Richard Bailey, a member of our congregation, gave us a lecture on "The Lindisfarne Gospels: why all the fuss?" Evening Prayer celebrated the Feast of St Bede - this window is at Bede's World in Jarrow.

The Milbourne congregation had a coffee morning at Eachwick Hall on Thursday 30 May. Lots of coffee, conversation and some money raised too.

Although we had major Jubilee Celebrations last year, we almost forgot the 60th Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation on Sunday 2 June. At short notice the choir sang a marvellous Choral Evensong, and members of the Town Council attended too.

Northumberland Music Partnership Youth Concert Band gave a most enjoyable concert in St Mary's on Friday 7 June. A variety of music, ranging from Skyfall to Les Mis, with flute, clarinet, brass and saxophone groups as well as the main band. A group of talented young people.

The Village celebrated in the sun at Party in the Park on Sunday 9 June - a celebration organised by Churches Together. The children of Darras Hall First School sang for the Service, which was much appreciated.

Thanks to Muriel Sobo for the Party in the Park photographs.

On Sunday 16 June Pippa Bell from the Magic Lantern charity came and talked about "Saints and Saxons" as part of our Lindisfarne Gospels services. This window, from Berwick upon Tweed, shows Columba and Aidan. A full explanation of the symbolism is at

A Coffee Morning on Saturday 22 June raised £547.30 for the Children's Society, and was much enjoyed.


On Saturday 13 July a group of over 20 people attended the Holy Island of Lindisfarne Pilgrimage. We stopped at the start of the causeway so that some of the group could walk the Pilgrim's way across the sand. Those of us who stayed on the bus found that everything was well organised. We had time for coffee, a wander round, more coffee, music in St Cuthbert’s Centre, admired the gardens, coffee and scones with Pat and Janet, a walk towards the castle, a picnic lunch - and all in Mediterranean sunshine. Once the walkers arrived we made our way to the grounds of the Priory for the Service of Celebration. Many of us were at the back - it didn’t matter! It was marvellous to worship together. We walked back past St Mary’s, rejoined our bus, and on the way home most of us were asleep.


St Mary’s Church Ponteland held its biennial festival in July 2013. Unlike previous festivals of 8 days duration this one was for 4 days, from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 July.  Since the Lindisfarne Gospels are on display in Durham,, it was felt appropriate that St Mary’s should also celebrate this event.

The Lindisfarne Gospels was the theme for the flowers displayed in the church. Although the displays were on a smaller scale than in previous years, they were just as beautiful.

There was an Art Exhibition in the Church Hall. Twelve artists from the Network of Northumberland Artists had been working for the last year, drawing ideas from what has been written about the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Cult which surrounded them, and the landscape of Lindisfarne and the Farne Islands. Because of the special theme of the Festival and the amount of work involved in organising previous large exhibitions, it was not possible to invite all the artists who have exhibited in past festivals. We are very grateful to those who have exhibited in past years, and hope they came and enjoyed this exhibition.

There was also a History Exhibition on the theme, linking in with Durham, Lindisfarne and the Northumbrian Saints. Spirit in Stone, Ponteland Local History Society, Photographic Society, Embroiderers Guild, and Richard Coates School were just some of those involved.

On the Friday we held some events for children. A calligrapher held drop in sessions for adults and children and in the afternoon there was a “Meet the Anglo Saxons”. Both events were enjoyed by those who participated as seen by the photos below!

On Friday evening our St Mary’s choir gave a concert, which was attended by 48 people. On Saturday the Silver Wind Band performed on Richard Coates Green and the Jubilee Big Band performed on the Green during the evening playing to the whole community, entertaining over a 100 people. On Sunday Ponteland Ladies' Choir gave a concert in St Mary’s.

Refreshments were served throughout the Festival in the marquee in the church hall garden.

On Sunday we had a special Festal Eucharist service at 10 am, where Revd. Dr. Barbara Chandler returned for a visit and to preach. The Festival closed with Festival Songs of Praise at 6.30 pm with Ponteland Churches Together and Newcastle West Deanery.

We raised money with the festival and sent £1900 to the RNLI, £1900 to the West End Refugee Service and used £1900 to refurbish the Church Hall.

If you have any other photos that you would like to share with us please email them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Please click here for the Festival programme.


On 24 August, Shaun Turnbull our previous Director of Music, now Assistant Director of Music at Blackburn Cathedral, gave a recital at Hexham Abbey on the Phelps Organ. His page turner was his former teacher, Paul Ritchie, who often plays at St Mary's when Warren our current DoM is unavailable. Several members of the St Mary's choir went to Hexham for the recital, and then we all had supper together at The Wellington in Riding Mill.

We held a Quiet Day at Shepherd's Dene on Saturday 21 September. It wasn’t very quiet – a Quietish Day. Tim Ferguson, our previous Curate who led the day, encouraged us to take time to relax and really savour the world around us. He gave us all a little orange and invited us to eat it slowly. To look at it, to smell it, to peel it, to take a segment at a time, to taste it, to run the juice round inside our mouths. We had time to wander the beautiful gardens and the lovely grounds, time to sit and read, think, pray. We had time to have conversation, to enjoy each other’s company. We all came home refreshed and happier than when we went. On the same day some of our choir members were at an RSCM (Royal School of Church Music) Choir Day with the composer Will Todd.

The following day 28 of us went to Choral Evensong in Hexham Abbey, part of their 2013 Festival. The preacher was Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons - she was wonderful. You can read more about her ministry at 23 of us had supper at The Wellington in Riding Mill on the way home. It was a good - if long - evening.


Harvest was celebrated at Holy Saviour, Milbourne with a Choral Evensong on Thursday 26 September. Peter noted it was the 5th anniversary of him becoming Vicar - and assured everyone that Evensong would be shorter than a Licensing Service. After the service nearly all of the congregation went back to South East Farm for supper.

Members of the church worked with the local Macmillan committee to run a Coffee Morning on Saturday 28 September. £652 was raised, and a good time was had by all.

St Mary's celebrated their Harvest on Sunday 28 September. Many people worked hard on the Saturday morning to decorate the church - it looked beautiful. The 10 am service was a Family Communion with a congregation of 184, and in the evening the choir led a traditional Choral Communion from the Book of Common Prayer. Peter's Harvest sermon can be read here. After singing for two services in one day the choir needed pizza (and wine) - so everyone went back to the Vicarage. Supper was much enjoyed - and everyone went home before "Downton Abbey". In the days around harvest we also welcomed Ponteland Children's Centre and the young people of Richard Coates School to celebrate God's creation and His love.

The congregation of Holy Saviour in Milbourne are a friendly lot, and organised a meal together at "The Highlander" on the main road between Ponteland and Belsay on Monday 21 October. 34 people sat down together to a two course meal - a warm atmosphere and good food as the rain poured down outside. The one thing that is lacking at Milbourne is a toilet, and work is underway to remedy this. Plans have been drawn up, costings are being gathered (we should be able to install it for less than £10,000), grant applications being made, and a proper appeal for donations will be launched next month. In the meantime we gave half of the money raised this evening to Oxfam so they can build two toilets. On the Oxfam website they quote a lady called Ntombizodwa Marufu who lives in central Zimbabwe. She is very proud of her latrine. "Because of Oxfam, I’ve got a toilet at home. We also had training in how to use it. It helps prevent disease spreading to my children and the community. The toilet is a real inheritance, something to pass to the children. It’s very beautiful. It has a tap for washing hands and a tank to catch rainwater. I keep it clean and cherish it very much." We will cherish our Milbourne toilet - in the meantime, it is good to know that others will benefit from our pub supper.

21 couples have booked St Mary's Ponteland or Holy Saviour Milbourne for their wedding next year - and we've still got 5 more couples to marry this year, having said that there is always space for more! Click here for information about weddings in our churches. On Sunday 20 October 16 of them came to St Mary's for a Wedding Workshop with the Vicar (Peter Barham), Assistant Priest (Christine Brown) and Administrator (Maureen Hodson). They were welcomed with tea and a cupcake, each given a folder with lots of useful information, taken through the service, had an opportunity to talk flowers, and to meet the organist (Warren Smith) who played a selection of traditional (and not so traditional) music and hymns. It was also good for couples to meet each other and we had a photo session. The afternoon ended with some time to think about the big step they are making, and to ask God's blessing.

On Sunday 3 November we welcomed 110 people to our All Souls' service. The names are read of those whose funerals we have conducted in the previous year, and any names of those people want remembered. There is space to light a candle, to give thanks for lives lived, and to trust that they now rest with God.

The weekend of Remembrance Sunday was busy. Railway films on Saturday 9 November attracted good numbers, and raised £160 for the Children's Society. Our Sunday morning services included time to remember, and a large number of people gathered at the War Memorial for the Act of Remembrance led by the Vicar and Father Seamus from St Matthew's. In the evening Peter told the story of "The Shetland Bus", the links to wartime Norway and the resistance movement. This is the monument at Scalloway on Shetland.

On Saturday 16 November the Children's Society coffee morning raised £707.20, the Society was also given £160 from the proceeds of Peter's Railway Films. Thank you to all who supported the events.

Advent Sunday started with a quiet communion service, then the Family and Toy service. Toys were bought to church and given to the Cornerstone project in Benwell. Milbourne had a congregation of 35 for their Communion Service. In the evening 87 people came for the Advent Procession. The service starts in darkness, with the words "I look from afar, and lo, I see the power of God coming, and a cloud covering the whole earth" (the Matins Responsary for Advent, sent to music by Giovanni Palestrina). Then we worked through the hymn "O come, O come Emmanuel". It is a hymn containing a great deal of symbolism, so after singing each verse we listened to the appropriate bible reading. The final reading is the story of Jesus' birth from Matthew's Gospel - by which time we were in the light. We enjoyed more music - "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" by Elizabeth Poston and "This is the truth sent from above" by Ralph Vaughan Williams - a meditation by the Suffolk writer Ronald Blythe, and a glass of wine afterwards.

On Monday 9 December Peter led a tour for members and friends of Ponteland Local History Society.


Christmas was as busy as usual. Peter our Vicar was off for much of December due to family illness and bereavement so Geoff Miller, our Archdeacon, took many of our services - our thanks to him. We welcomed Ponteland Private Nursery, Ponteland First and Richard Coates schools, sang "Carols on the Green" in Church with the Airport Community (too wet to sing outside), enjoyed a Nativity Play presented by the Brownies, sang Carols at The Blackbird, told the Christmas story in words and music, and celebrated "Emmanuel, God with us".

The year ended with the New Year's Eve wedding of Neil and Kathryn. Regular worshippers at Milbourne, they were married at St Mary's. We wish them (and all our couples) God's richest blessing on their marriage. That evening fireworks lit up the sky, and our ringers rang in the New Year.




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