The Parish of Ponteland

2012 Events

The church was invited to serve refreshments during the annual New Years day Wheelbarrow race. Here are some of the volunteers serving bacon butties, hotdogs, drinks and of course penguins!

Confirmation Candidates with Bishop Frank, Jan 2012.

Christingle Service with the Penguins, Jan 2012.

Candlemass Service with the Penguins, Jan 2012.

Burns Supper Ceilidh

On Saturday 25 February we had a Churchyard Tidy morning. Thanks to everyone who helped. The spring bulbs look beautiful. Photos by Aidan Finden.

Saturday 25 February - Fairtrade Fortnight started with a Concert by the Caedmon Choir. As part of the celebrations for Ponteland becoming a Fairtrade Town, the Mayor was presented with a certificate by Steve Holm.


Heather and Rachel from Waitrose came to Penguins to talk about Fairtrade - and passed round chocolate and bananas.



Traidcraft Coffee Morning

Opening of the new play area at the Great North Children's Hospital. Proceeds from the 2011 Summer Festival helped pay for the equipment.

On Palm Sunday 2012 some of the congregation walked with Jazz the donkey, celebrating Jesus' entry to Jerusalem. Others listened to the reading of the Passion Narrative.


On Good Friday a service in St Mary's was followed by the Raising of the Cross on Coates'

Green. Photo: Keith Robertson



Penguins met on Good Friday to do arts and crafts.


Penguins celebrated St. George's Day by making a dragon collage.



On Sunday 29 April 120 people gathered in St Mary's for a Songs of Praise to celebrate the cleaning and overhaul of the organ. The work, which cost £10,000, was paid for by an appeal and all the money needed was raised within six months. In February 2012 John Lightbown and Sons took the instrument apart, then cleaned and replaced each of the 700 pipes. During the service the Vicar thanked them for their very efficient work, and thanked everyone who had contributed. A donation book (listing many of the donors) was received. This book is available in the Office if you wish to see it - at some point in the future it will be placed with the church archives at Woodhorn, the Northumberland Record Office. The service itself started with "Fanfare" by Martin Shaw, sung by the choir, and they also sung a setting of Psalm 150 and several other pieces. Five hymns were well sung by the congregation. Readings, many read by our musicians, came from the bible and other sources - including Thomas Hardy's story from "Under the Greenwood Tree" of how the church band disgraced themselves. Shaun Turnbull, our Director of Music, played Noel Rawsthorne's "Hornpipe Humoresque", Paul Ritchie played Jacques Nicolas Lemmens "Prelude in E flat minor", and the service ended with the two organists playing John Rutter's "Variation on an Easter theme for two organs". It was a marvellous evening of celebration - and the wine flowed after the service.


On Sunday 6th May we learnt how to grow vines during the family service.


On Sunday 20 May a group spent the afternoon at St James Church in Benwell. We had a guided tour of the church and churchyard, said Evening Prayer together, and had a marvellous tea. There is a fuller report on the Vicar's blog -



On Saturday 26 May the Garden Centre in the Church Hall raised money for Newcastle Society for Blind People. The bluebells outside the Hall look lovely too.



Peter and Sheila Cowey, Caroline and David Pryer, with Peter the Vicar at Choral Evensong on Sunday 5 February at Holy Saviour, Milbourne, to commemorate the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. Despite the ice and snow, a choir of 15 led the service - which included music written by Thomas Morley for the first Queen Elizabeth - and the congregation numbered 50. Peter is Mayor of Ponteland, Caroline is Deputy Lieutenant. Members of the Town Council also attended. 2012 is also the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer.

On the morning of Monday 6 February, St Mary's ringers rang to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty's Accession to the Throne. One was on her way to school, one to University, one to work, and three (all retired) got out of bed early. Photo of the ringers is by Muriel Sobo.



The Vicar's third railway film show in 2012 had a Royal theme as we prepared to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. On Saturday 19 May the programme "Royalty and Railways" included some early film of the building of the 'Coronation' class of steam locomotives, two British Transport films "England of Elizabeth" (1957) and "Elizabethan Express" (1954), and a Post Office film about designing a stamp for the Jubilee in 1935

The annual Civic Service took place on Sunday 27 May and had a Jubilee theme. 200 people were present in church, many having marched down from the Memorial Hall behind the Morpeth Pipe Band. The service was led by the Vicar, with clergy from the other Ponteland churches also taking part. The church choir was augmented for a performance of "Zadok the priest". The full Order of Service is available here.

Photographs courtesy of Trevor Walker.

At the tea which followed the service, Peter the Vicar asked John from Ponteland Local History Society whether there were any reports of the celebrations that presumably marked Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Within a couple of hours these documents had been received - the report in the Church Magazine for July 1897, see below.


The report mentions the hymn written by the Bishop of Wakefield for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and a google found the words to "O King of Kings". The original tune, "Bishopsgarth", was written by Sir Arthur Sullivan (as in Gilbert and Sullivan). This tune does not appear in any of our current hymnbooks, but the words fit to "Golden Sheaves" ('To thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise'). We ended the service at 11.15 am on Sunday 3 June at Holy Saviour, Milbourne, with this hymn. The words are here.

On Saturday the 2nd of June the ringers began the Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a full peal on St Mary's bells. At St. Mary's, which has quite a light ring of bells, a full peal lasts about two and a half hours and so on Saturday after 5040 changes and 2hours and 33mins of continuous ringing the peal came round. The ringers taking part came from Ponteland, Newcastle Cathedral, Hexham and St Andrew's Church Roker (Sunderland). It was a busy weekend for ringers everywhere. Some members of the  band that rang at St. Mary's went on to ring a further three peals  finishing with a peal at St. Nicholas' Cathedral on the Tuesday afternoon.



On Sunday 3 June the 10 am Family Service at St Mary's contained film of Her Majesty's coronation (from the DVD 'Queen Elizabeth in the 1950s', produced by Cherry Red Records - our thanks to them). There had been a great debate as to whether a church service should be televised - one senior cleric is reputed to have said "But men might watch it without removing their hats". The one part that was not televised was the anointing of Her Majesty - and we made the link with anointing at Baptism and Confirmation. We had asked the congregation to bring a photo of themselves with Her Majesty or another royal moment - and had a wide selection of material to talk about.

The service was followed by a Big Lunch in the Church Hall, and about 70 people sat down together. Ella was the youngest (with her mum Katie), and John the oldest. The food was marvellous - a huge thank you to everyone who helped organised a great lunch.

In the evening Churches Together organised a Jubilee Service at the Methodist church. It was led by the Reverend Ian Suttie, and we had a good sing.

On Monday 4 June the Diamond Inn and the Town Council organised various stalls on Coates Green, and Tony Hodson climbed the tower to get some photographs. The Green was busy all day, and many people came into church as well.

The day ended with a spectacular firework display organised by the Town Council, and a Jubilee Beacon was lit on top of the tower of St Mary's. Peter the Vicar enjoyed the view from the top of the tower, and about 2,000 people were gathered down below.


Photos by Trevor Walker, and many more on his flickr site

During Jubilee weekend there was an exhibition in the Memorial Hall, organised by the Town Council. Every village organisation has been asked to contribute. Here is the church display - our Royal Links, please click on the image below to open.

Penguins made their own Jubilee display in the Lady Chapel, and they planted red, white and blue flowers in the pots by the church door.




On Saturday 9 June we had a Quiet Day at Shepherds Dene, the Diocesan Retreat Centre near Riding Mill. Led by Tim Ferguson, our former curate, it was marvellous to have a free day with time to read, think, pray, be creative, walk in the garden ... . Shepherds Dene can be found at - you do not have to go on an organised church visit.

Party in the Park happened on Sunday 17th June. The weather wasn't too bad and there was a great turn out from the local community. Everyone enjoyed the day and had lots of fun!

Children's Society Coffee Morning on Saturday 23rd June

A barbeque was held in the church hall after the Family Service on Sunday 1st July.

On Sunday 15 July 60 people gathered in St Mary's for Choral Evensong from the Book of Common Prayer. The choir sang Thomas Morley's setting of the service, and the anthem "Come Holy Ghost" by Thomas Attwood. The service was an opportunity to say "Farewell and thank you" to Shaun Turnbull, who has been our Organist for a year. He is leaving us to be Assistant Director of Music at Blackburn Cathedral - we are very proud of him! Also in the choir was Shaun's replacement - the PCC has appointed Warren Smith to be our Director of Music. Warren is currently organist at St Andrew's Corbridge and comes highly recommended. He will start in September. The first choir practice is on Tuesday 4 September, 7.30 pm, in St Mary's church. New members are always welcome. On the photo Warren (left) is being welcomed by Shaun on the right - everyone looks happy! To read the Morpeth Herald's article about Shaun's leaving service please click on the link

At the Family Service on Sunday 5 August a new Table was dedicated in memory of John Myers, our former churchwarden. His wife Jo, daughter Anna with husband Dave, their twin boys Reuben and Josiah, and two other family members were present. The table is used for the signing of wedding registers, and two couples - Guy and Jen, Kane and Andrea - who will be married in the next few weeks, were also welcomed to the front. We give thanks to God for John's life and faith. The table was made by Robinson Gay at Kirkharle.

Peter the Vicar was 50 on 3 August. Eleanor and Peter celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on 4 August. On 5 August 41 members of the congregation joined them for an afternoon out. We drove through storms to the South Tynedale Railway - - and had a train ride from Alston to Lintley and back. Then we joined the congregation at Kirkhaugh church for their service of Evensong - the River South Tyne was in flood. A drive across the hills brought us to Carts Bog Inn - - for an excellent supper. Birthday cake by Tina .


Vicky Hopley has returned to the Mandritsara Hospital in Madagascar where she works in the eye clinic. For more information see Community - Madagascar Eye Hospital. On Sunday 23 September she paid her final visit to Penguins, and is photographed here (she is on the right, holding a paper cup and a celebratory bun!). On Monday 24 September 29 members of the congregation met for a Farewell Meal at the Highlander - The weather outside was appalling, the company was pleasant, the food excellent - and a good time was had by all. We hold Vicky in our prayers.


The windows in St Mary's have recently been cleaned and new polycarbonate sheeting has been installed to protect them. The work has been done by Iona Art Glass of Warkworth, and we thank them for their skill.


On Friday 28 September we hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning in St Mary's church. It had been planned for the Church Hall, but a diary clash led to it being in church. It was a lot of extra work to move tables and china across, but it was worth it. Many people came through the doors, lots saying they had never been in church before. Over £500 was raised to help Macmillan in their work.

Canon Alder Gofton and his wife Gwenda retired to Ponteland 16 years ago, after a ministry in different parishes across Northumberland. On Saturday 29 September Alder marked the 50th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood with a special service. We expected a hundred or so people, and 252 people came to church for Choral Communion. The preacher was the Right Reverend David Smith, former Bishop of Bradford. Refreshments were served afterwards including two cakes!

Harvest festivals have been celebrated in both our churches - and the flower displays were stunning in both. Milbourne had a Thursday evening celebration followed by a harvest supper at South East Farm, St Mary's celebrated on a Sunday. Harvest produce was brought to church and taken to the West End Refugee Service in Newcastle.

In September Penguins worked through the story of Ruth. We thought about refugees from famine, harvest, gleaning, kinship and our own family trees. We have now moved on to Ruth's great grandson, David. We drew round Megan, one of our little ones, and Craig, one of our big dads, and made this collage of David and Goliath.


Advent Sunday was a busy day. Communion services at 8 am and 11.15 am. The 10 am Family Service was well attended - a congregation of over 100. James Proctor, who will be baptised in January, and his family lit the first candle on our Advent Crown. The Brownies and other children (and some of the adults) had bought toys for Cornerstone, a charity in Benwell. (We have had a thank you letter from Cornerstone - they are very grateful). Some of our young people played in the Band, and we had a good sing. We thought about the gift that came at Christmas - and wondered what sort of gift the people of Jesus's time were waiting for. The Advent Procession at 6.30 pm was a beautiful service. 64 in the congregation and 20 in the choir. We started with the church in darkness and the choir processed in singing "O come, O come Emmanuel" in Latin. Then we sang through the carol and read the scripture which explains each verse. The service ended with the Mattins Responsary "I looked from afar, and lo, I see the power of God coming ..."


The St Mary's Singers gave their final concert on Saturday 15 December. The choir was started in the early 1990s by June Reed and has performed several times a year for the last twenty. Many people have enjoyed singing, and listening, and a lot of money has been raised for charity. The final concert features choruses from Handel's Messiah and a variety of Christmas music.


Christmas was busy. On Sunday 16 December the Brownies did a Nativity Play for us (picture below) and in the evening we had a Carol Service with Coates School and our choir. Later that week Ponteland Private Nursery came in for their service (pictures above, with permission of Deborah Jackson). The little ones (and the oldest is 5) acted out a nativity. They placed the crib with Jesus in at the front of the church, so Mary, Joseph and the donkey stepped over him very carefully. On Friday 21 December Ponteland First School packed the church - the girl with the star (large and wooden on broomstick) manage to clout an angel (accidentally).

Carols on the Green usually means that 60 people from the four churches gather on the Green and sing a few carols. This year the Airport community came and joined us, and we had 148. The weather was lousy so we stayed in St Mary's, some of the airport VIPs did the readings and we were also able to thank them publicly for their support for Party in the Park - which Churches Together organise in the summer and the Airport helps fund.

The Children's Services at 4 and 5 pm on Christmas Eve packed St Mary's. We had a full church again for the traditional Carol Service at 7 pm - our choir sang "Torches" by John Joubert, "Gaudete", "Sans Day Carol", "This is the truth sent from above" setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and a Normandy tune to "Away in a Manger". The readers were people who had volunteered at Carols on the Green - including several of the teenagers who were there. They did very well. A congregation of 125 for Midnight Mass, and 140 on Christmas morning. The Vicar's Christmas sermons can be read here; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - very few people were at both, so did not notice the repetition! Pictures of Bremenium Roman Fort and the tomb of Rufinius can be seen at at

We asked for volunteers to take the extra chairs back to the Church Hall at the end of the service - and every chair disappeared. Thank you everyone - and to those who decorated the church, staffed the services, prepared the music, rang the bells, provided coffee and mince pies ...





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