The Parish of Ponteland

2016 Events

2016 started with a peal of bells and the annual wheelbarrow race. On the first Sunday of the New Year we had three baptisms at St Mary's, and an afternoon Christingle. Everyone made their Christingles - with a slight delay as David was sent to Sainsbury’s to buy more oranges - and we worshipped together. Our Christingles were lit in a dark church - this photo does not bring out the magic of the moment (the bright light is the beam of the overhead projector!).

We celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday 6 January with a morning and an evening service. The Wise Men came to the crib, the choir sang - and we went back to the Vicarage for a Twelfth Night Party.

At All Age Worship on Sunday 17 January we tweeted for Jesus. In the evening we sung Choral Evensong. Old and new in one day.

We worked with the other churches in Ponteland for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Lunchtime services with soup were popular, and the evening service at St Matthew's included a traditional Lithuanian salt loaf, baked by Davidson of Darras Hall.

Candlemas was a very special day. Lots of candles and music at 10 am, and 25 people went to Shepherd's Dene, the Diocesan Retreat Centre, in the afternoon. The Reverend Peter Dodd led two sessions looking at Mary in art, we worshipped in the Chapel, and had supper together. This painting is of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple by Fra Angelico.

On Friday 5 February the Vicarage was full for our annual Coffee Morning for the British Heart Foundation. As we are invited to wear red, Peter was provided with a red dog collar. When added to the money raised at Peter's Railway Films the previous Saturday, we were able to send £670 off to the charity.

During January several families came to Ponteland for funeral services and on Sunday 7 February St Mary's church was full to overflowing for the Memorial Service for Sally Allan. Our church is often the focus of community celebration, on this occasion we balanced grief at the loss of a lady well known in our village with a celebration of her life. The snowdrops in the churchyard show us that spring will follow winter.

St Mary's bellringers went to St Oswin's, Wylam, in early February to take part in the D & N's 6-bell striking competition (The D & N is the Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers; a striking competition is where teams from different towers compete to see whose ringing is the most precise).  We came 2nd in the Northern District round, which means that we will be in the final at St Mary's, Easington, next month, competing against teams from the Central and Southern districts. A photo of the team is attached - from left to right:- Jane Lewis, Julie Bell, Bill Davidson, Mike Procter, Stephen Bell and John Hind.

We then moved into Lent. Ash Wednesday had four services; half of Coates School came at 9 am (the other half came on Friday), and there were Communion Services at 10 am, 2 pm and 7 pm. The congregation at the evening service included friends from the other Ponteland churches. On the first Sunday of Lent we said farewell to Neil and Liz Brockbank, members of St Mary's for many years, who have moved to Oxfordshire. A good number enjoyed lunch together.

On Saturday 13 February Sylvia Hickey was commissioned as Vice President (Northumberland Archdeaconry) of the Mothers' Union in a service at St Nicholas Cathedral. She joins Sheila Walker (the other VP) and Barbara Packer as President. The Cathedral was full, Bishop Christine led the service and commissioned everyone, and preached an excellent sermon talking about the start of the MU and the links it had with the wife of the first Bishop of Newcastle. This photo of the Ponteland contingent after the service includes Sylvia (in the white coat at the front). Peter was at the service but he managed to avoid the photo.

February's "Exploring Spirituality" session explored the works of the Bronte sisters and their live in the Parsonage at Haworth. It is two hundred years since the birth of Charlotte, and Julie Barham led our two sessions, both of which were very well attended.

On Saturday 27 February we hosted a Big Brew Coffee Morning as part of Fairtrade fortnight. The Brownies were extremely helpful (our thanks for permission to post this photo), our Church Fairtrade team, led by Ann Armstrong and Ann Kelway, were out in force, and £774 was raised. With other moneys from our regular stalls we were able to send £870 to Traidcraft.

Mothering Sunday was a day of celebration. Olivia was in charge of the daffodils. (The photo is posted with her father's permission - Peter was also supporting the basket).

Palm Sunday was busy. Holy Communion at 8 am and All Age Worship at 10. The Passion Narrative was read by a group of people at Milbourne - Aidan was a very forceful Jesus who went to the cross with a purpose. In the afternoon several members of our choir went to Corbridge to sing The Crucifixion by John Stainer with the choir of St Andrew's church, and Ponteland Community Wind Band held a concert in St Mary's. In Ponteland audience numbers were disappointing, but the performance was not. With a programme ranging from Dambusters to Cats, the church resounded to wonderful music. (Photo by Peter Hastie, posted with permission of Alistair Lord, the band's conductor).

Every evening in Holy Week a group of people have met to pray the monastic office of Compline and to listen to the Passion Narrative from Luke's gospel, the story of Jesus' last few days on earth. This year we have also used The Book of Witnesses by David Kossoff. He imagines the stories of various people who would have been there.


On Maundy Thursday evening our worship included Lord for thy tender mercy’s sake” words: Lidley’s Prayers 1566, music: John Hilton andThe eyes of all wait upon thee” words: Psalm 145, music: William H. Harris. After we had shared the Eucharist together the service ended in silence and we went out into the dark.

Good Friday was a beautiful day. Our service at 10.30 included music, silence, the Passion Narrative, and a letter to a man on death row from the father of the man he killed - attached here. We then went out onto Coates Green to join with members of the other Ponteland churches in the middle of our noisy town.

Christ is risen", and we celebrated Easter at four wonderful services. Elina and Zara wore their Easter bonnets (photo posted with the permission of their parents).Elina is the daughter of Helen and Philip who were married here in 2010 and Zara the daughter of Stephen and Emma, married here in 2011. Both girls have been baptised at St Mary's.

Steve Ramshaw from the Church Army came and led All Age Worship on Sunday 17 April. On this Sunday Peter and Julie announced their departure - Peter is going to be Vicar of Allestree and Darley Abbey in the Diocese of Derby.

On Thursday 21 April Her Majesty The Queen celebrated her 90th Birthday. The village was in party mood. A beacon was lit on the top of St Mary's and there was a firework display. Photographs courtesy of Trevor Walton.

We had a mini Shakespeare Festival as we commemorated the 400th anniversary of his death. Julie Barham led an Exploring Spirituality session and thirty people looked at his life and his work. Peter had a showing of Railway Films, and 74 people enjoyed a variety of films with a Shakespearean theme. On Sunday 24 April there was a full church at Milbourne for Evening Prayer with words and music from Shakespeare's time. A Latin anthem by Jesuit composer Tomas Luis de Victoria followed by a Martin Luther hymn, summed up the forces of the Reformation. On Saturday 30 April, an "Evening with William" in the Church Hall included speeches, sonnets, music, the Two Ronnies and Dr Who. 50 people had an excellent evening, and £443 was raised for the charity Changing Faces. Even the raffle had a Shakespearean theme.

We celebrated Ascension Day with a well-attended Choral Communion at Holy Saviour. In his sermon Peter reflected on the fact that you can see buildings in the background of the Ascension picture in the East Window. Our faith is not just shared by a holy huddle, but is a faith for the world. Here is a close up of the window - you can see the whole thing at History of Holy Saviour

The Children's Society had a fund-raising event in the Church Hall on Saturday 14 May. The speaker was Sean Murray, winner of the 2015 BBC/RHS "Great Chelsea Garden Challenge". He was an excellent speaker.

On Pentecost we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit - All Age Worship included balloons. In the evening the Ponteland churches came together at the start of Christian Aid Week.

On Sunday 22 May we hosted an afternoon Civic Service to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. With 166 in church including people born in every decade of the Queen’s reign, this was a real community celebration for all ages. The Town Council had invited every village organisation, and members of the other churches in Ponteland came too. We had Rainbows, Boys' Brigade, Air and Army cadets. The Deputy Lieutenant and the Mayor read the lessons and five young people from Richard Coates CE School led the prayers (the picture is posted with permission of their parents). It was a wonderful service as we gave thanks to God for Her Majesty and her many years of service. Afterwards there was plenty of cake in the Church Hall.

The first weekend of June was busy. Steven and Amy and Ray and Sophie were married on Saturday. Evie, Spencer, Chester and Lucia were all baptised on Sunday. Here is a photo of Chester's Christening. After welcoming 500 people through the doors for these five happy services, it was good to have a slightly quieter Choral Communion in the evening. 35 people worshipped with the traditional words from the Book of Common Prayer and the music of John Merbecke. Peter told the story of St Boniface, whose Feast Day it was. Exciting Holiness says that "Boniface (675-754 AD) has been judged as having a deeper influence on European history than any other Englishman", so we spent some time in prayer for the current European debate. These evening services are good opportunities for thought and prayer away from the busy-ness of serving our community, and it was lovely that Jason and Claire, who get married in August, came and joined the worship.

Peter's final Railway Films played to two packed houses on Saturday 18 June. We delivered the post, travelled to Scotland, walked the Cromford and High Peak line, and enjoyed "Any Man's Kingdom" a 1953 travelogue of Northumberland. On Wednesday 22 June Peter gave his talk on John Wilson Carmichael, the NE nautical artist who also painted railways (and Durham Cathedral). After the two events £250 was sent to the British Heart Foundation.

Peter and Julie's final service at Milbourne was on Sunday 19 June. On Monday 20 June the congregation, along with some members of St Mary's and Milbourne Methodist Church, had supper together at The Highlander. A good time was had by all, and £173 was raised for the British Heart Foundation.

Peter had farewell events with both Ponteland First and Richard Coates Middle School. The staff at Coates bought him a hot air balloon trip as a leaving present - with only a few comments about Vicars and Hot Air. Every child at Pont First had signed a card, and there were chocolates and a book.

120 children from year 5 at Richard Coates School came to St Mary's on Friday 24 June to receive their Archbishop's Youth Trust Young Leaders' Awards. It was a very special afternoon as Bishop Christine came and celebrated with us. This photo is posted with permission of the school.

On Saturday 25 June a Children's Society Coffee Morning raised £556. Carl and Lindsey were married with a full church. The ringers rang for their wedding, and then rang a quarter peal as a farewell to Peter and Julie. Details are at Ringing World BellBoard


We just had one service on Sunday 26 June, and said farewell to Julie and Peter. 165 people were in church, and 80 came to the Hall for brunch afterwards. Peter was rendered speechless when he was presented with an original of John Wilson Carmichael's 1832 book of etchings of the Newcastle and Carlisle line. They also received a cheque, theatre tokens, flowers, and a signed picture (signed by most of the church). Elaine and David, our churchwardens, made the presentation and thanked Peter, Julie and the family for all their work over the last eight years, and everyone wished them well in Derby. You can follow Peter in his new churches at

Ponteland First School has a Snow Puppy! The school is taking part in the St. Oswald's Great North Snowdogs Project which is set to take the region by storm. About fifty schools have been accepted and given a Snow Puppy which they will name and decorate. Ponteland First School will begin their major task in the week beginning 11th July. The puppies are then collected and, along with sixty large Snowdogs, will be positioned on the Metro System to create a Snowdog Trail. When the project ends at the end of the year, the large Snowdogs, all decorated by professional artists, will be auctioned and money raised will go to the Children's Hospice at St. Oswalds. Sponsors include Nexus, Barbour, Gateshead Council, the Biscuit Factory, Sage Gateshead and many more prestigious firms.

Photo with thanks to June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.


On the 18th September the baptism of baby Heidi Faith was led by Reverend Christine Brown at Holy Saviour, Milbourne. It was a very happy occasion for parents Kathryn and Neil Rutter on a bright, sunny morning.

Photo with thanks to June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.

On 2nd October Bishop Christine attended and presided over our Harvest Festival,

In October, the Coffee Club met for a very interesting presentation “Working with Chalk Paint - Autentico” held by Sylvia from Penny Pieces. For various reasons, our number was lower than usual, but several members put on their pinnies and had a go painting the items brought along by Sylvia. It was extremely heartening to hear how old and failing furniture can be brought back to a colourful life.

On 17th December, Churches Together in Ponteland sang Christmas carols at Broadway in Darras Hall and managed to raise £126 for Christina Aid.

The Williamson family have decorated St Mary's Church Christmas Tree this year and very beautiful it looks too. Jess and Matt were married here at St Mary's in 2013 and they brought their gorgeous little daughter who was born in 2015 with them to help. I think we can all agree that it looks very special!

Dedicated Cloud Hosting for your business with Joomla ready to go. Launch your online home with