I’ve blogged from time to time about politics within the Church, but every so often, even at a local level, village politics and St James come into contact. In the past it’s been in relation to things like the villages memorial oaks being on church, rather than public land, and occasionally the Parish Council will use the church or our parish centre for services or events. The Parish Council also generously gives us an annual donation into church funds. However as part of our conservation appeal, alongside a number of other grant awarding bodies we applied to the Parish Council for a grant, and put in an application for what would be considered a significant amount – Â£15,000, backed up by Rev Richard personally attending the meeting to put his case for the benefits that the church building offered to the community and the village as a whole. In all honesty expected to be awarded a lot less than what we had asked for, therefore we were delighted to be awarded the full amount, but it caused a bit of a storm. The award was passed by majority of the councillors at the meeting, but one Parish Councillor who voted against the award was so upset that she has resigned her position in protest, stating that she believed the money would not be benefiting the whole community.
Whilst of course you can enjoy the shots on Flickr, what you don’t get is the final shot of the calendar which was taken from the top of the Church tower a few weeks ago and includes the whole congregation, including Beth and myself – to get that one you’ll have to come along to a Church function and buy one of the calendars – all proceeds going to the conservation project!
Today was the Finchampstead Village Fete. The responsibility for organising the fete alternates between the Church and the village, and although it is often a lot of the same people who help out, this year it fell to the Church.
Usually the proceeds from the fete go into general Church funds, but in view of the ongoing conservation appeal, this year we took the decision to redirect all the funds into the conservation appeal. Watching the weather forecast over the last week it has been different every day – luckily it settled on sunny spells so we were blessed with a dry afternoon, nicely warm, but not too hot. All the pre-publicity paid off too, with a record turnout – by about 4pm we’d run out of ice cream!
The fete was opened by a former Miss Finchampstead, who is now owner of Nirvana Spa in Sindelsham who also presented a generous donation of Â£10,000 to the appeal. It also included performances by the St Sebastians (Wokingham) Brass Band, the Shinfield Shambles Morris Dancers and the Maypole Dancers from our own village school. After previous years where there had been a definite theme, we were just going for a traditional village fete – certainly it didn’t seem any the less popular for not having a theme!
Beth and Becky had volunteered to run the Can Shy stall – basically a variation of a coconut shy where you have a line of five empty tin cans and people pay 30p to throw three balls at the cans. Any that manage to knock over three win a can of drink as a prize. Of course as the two people running the stall, Beth and Becky got quite a workout running around collecting balls and dislodged cans, and also deftly leaping out the way as cans went flying in all directions. It seemed a pretty popular stand too with a couple of the kids getting pretty competitive, including one older brother who returned (and failed to win) several times after his altogether more accurate younger brother won a can on his first go. There was also another young gentleman who came back several times in order to get one of each variety of soft drink they had as prizes.
The recently introduced smoking ban was much in evidence with the main marquee and a number of the gazebo’s displaying (quite correctly) a no smoking sign. Basically any of them that are ‘substantially enclosed’ is covered by the ban.
I had a few pictures entered into the photographic competition. Last Sunday there were only a couple of entries, so I put in five of mine. However it looks like I wasn’t the only last minute entry – by the closing date there were seventy-three pictures! Sadly I didn’t win, but I managed to get people talking about things in the church they hadn’t seen such as the stained glass window in the tower and the tomb by the 1590 door. Unfortunately I didn’t win a prize but the shots that did were well deserving of the prizes.
On the subject of pictures, today was also the launch of the Finchampstead Dawn to Dusk Calendar, which had been put together by Rolfe Markham who is the son of a couple who attend St James. The calendar is absolutely superb – with much better pictures than we could have collected from our own collections. I’ll blog separately about the calendar as he has posted a selection of the shots on Flickr – it is perhaps a testament to the quality of the shots quite how many of them have been marked as favourites and cross-posted to groups. Also a testament to the shots quite how quickly the calendars were disappearing as people bought them. Alongside this, we were also selling a DVD copy of a 1994 video made to mark the centenary of Finchampstead Parish Council. Although more than a decade old there are a number of familiar faces on the video, and some familiar shots. You get to see St James itself before the very first part of the conservation project – the external rendering of the walls – was completed. It’s also interesting to note the changes brought about by the onward march of housing development with a number of familiar spots looking somewhat different from now. Again the DVD is really nicely put together, and well worth a look.
All in all it was a great afternoon, and I’ll look forward to finding out what the grand total for the afternoon will be. Before I finish though, I’ll leave you with the interesting sign that greeted people driving into the memorial park… The parking was supposed to be to the right, which is the majority decision of the arrows, but at this point most people seem to have got confused and just gone straight ahead to park instead – although from the tracks you can see that people went around both sides of the sign. Jill did run around later on trying to persuade everybody to move their cars away from where they are parked in the picture, in order to try and get everybody better access to the fete, but didn’t get overly far!
Unlike the majority of the events, this one wasn’t organised by our social committee. With all the extra events being organised this one was headed by our Baptism Visitors, and consisted of a live band, a hot supper, plus some special appearances.
It has to be said that coming as it did on a Friday night at the end of the half-term, Beth especially wasn’t feeling at her best, especially considering that she’d been chaperoning the sixth-form boat party the night before! However, there was a good mix of people, including quite a few faces from the village community as opposed to the Church. The band though were excellent, with a pretty broad repertoire that included some Beatles numbers, some old rock and roll, some blues, and even some Country and Western numbers that gave Beth flashbacks to Canada. The food also was excellent, with a choice of Chicken Curry or Chilli-con-carne – both definitely on the spicy side.
As with anything like this, the live band needed a break part way through the evening, so then was an opportunity for some other people to provide entertainment. First up Cathie and Denise sang a song, then Cathie did a solo herself. Although Cathie is generally pretty modest about her singing, she certainly showed what a great singing voice she has with these two numbers.
After that we had the customary raffle, with a genuine movie star to draw prizes. It has to be said that a number of us didn’t actually recognise the genuine movie star, as he is somewhat older, and a lot taller than the movie most people will know him from… About a Boy, but anyway we had Nick Hoult drawing the prizes. Incidentally, somewhat unrelated, but the reason we remember About a Boy is that thanks to her daughter Nicky Kentish Barnes being a producer, Beth’s landlady at the time Julie turns up in a walk on part too…
Anyway, back to the Black and White evening – if you hadn’t have heard the two numbers earlier on, the next two probably would have left you rather doubtful over Cathie’s singing, as for a special, one night only event, we had the return of the self-titled â€œOld Spice’sâ€?… At Christmas, one of the memorable contributions alongside the Tuesday Working Party, has often been from the Baptism Visitors. However a couple of years ago, at Cathie and Steve’s Birthday party, they also did a Spice Girls ‘tribute’, which since it was at a private party, hasn’t had quite so wide a viewing. As a result, and since it got so many comments the first time around, they decided to repeat last night for the Conservation Appeal. I had a special request from people who couldn’t get tickets for last night to record it, so here for your viewing pleasure is ‘Old Spice – The Return’. They’re not doing this only for fun, so feel free to show your appreciation by donating to the conservation appeal. 🙂
Since by this point Beth was feeling decidedly tired, we didn’t stay for the second performance from the band and the dancing and headed for home. However I do have a few more pictures from the night, which you can find in our photo gallery.