The Parish of Ponteland

2015 Events

Ponteland is not one of those parishes which moves Epiphany to the first Sunday of the new year. On Sunday 4 January we started the new year with two Eucharistic services and a Morning Prayer when we looked back at Christmas and gave thanks for so much. On Tuesday 6 January a Choral Communion service - with a congregation of 46 (not bad for a cold January evening) - celebrated the arrival of the Three Wise Men at Bethlehem, then most of them went back to the Vicarage for a celebratory drink. Our normal Wednesday morning service often has over 30 people. This year we marked Epiphany a day late, with 45 people. This Epiphany frieze is from the church of Waltham Abbey in Essex.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity saw members of all the churches in Ponteland came together to mark the international WPCU held from 18th - 25th January. This year our theme was "The well is deep" based on the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, meetings for prayer were held at the Methodist, C of E and URC churches, followed by fellowship over delicious homemade soup.  The week concluded with evening worship on Sunday 25th January at St Matthews RC Church, a time for prayers and reflection using materials from the churches in Brazil.  St Matthews hosted refreshments afterwards.

Our first All Age Worship of the New Year on 18th January took "Share the Good News" as its theme.  We looked back on good and bad news from 2014, celebrated the Really Good News of Jesus, thought about how diverse the church has become since its early beginnings and committed ourselves to playing our part in sharing the Good News with those around us. And it also involved a giant newspaper and lots of chopping up with scissors!

Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, was celebrated on Sunday 1 February. In the morning the 10 am congregation had candles and we had a procession through the church. The service ended as we said the Nunc Dimittis together, the words of the old priest Simeon, recorded in Luke chapter 2 - "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace". We blew our candles out, and turned from Christmas towards Lent. In the evening the choir went to the Church of the Holy Spirit in Denton to lead a service of Choral Evensong, again with candles and a procession. Others from St Mary's and people from other churches in our Deanery came too, and we ended with excellent refreshments.

On Friday 6 February Peter and Julie hosted a coffee morning at the Vicarage for the British Heart Foundation. There was so much cake we were still eating it after the Sunday service. £450 was raised, and lots of conversations enjoyed.


Our All Age Worship on 15th February looked at Love for Everyone! We thought of all the things in our lives that we love and looked at how we can share and join together in a loving relationship with God. Members of the congregation used coloured ribbons to reflect on the different aspects of prayer and we enjoyed music from the church band.

Our February Exploring Spirituality talk was given by The Reverend Charles Hope, Vicar of Prudhoe. Charles is also an army chaplain and served in Iraq. His insights helped us bring up to date the talk we had last year about Woodbine Willie, the First World War Chaplain.

Ash Wednesday was marked with two special services, and we moved into Lent, with four house groups studying "Waymarkers", a book by John Saxbee, former Bishop of Lincoln.

The first Saturday in Lent saw a wonderful Fairtrade Coffee Morning in the Church Hall, part of Fairtrade Fortnight in Ponteland. The Vicar's Railway Films later in the day also put the donation pot out for Fairtrade, and we were able to send £770 to the Traidcraft Fair Necessities Appeal. The Government is match-funding everything raised, which makes it even better.

A Quiz Night on Saturday 28 February raised £800 for the Children's Society. Julie was Quiz Master and Elaine kept score. Susan helped set the questions, and the food was excellent. Stay Benders, a team of our ringers pictured at the top, were the winners. A stay is a piece of wood that keeps a bell in an upright position between ringing - and we have some bent stays.

This year the Women's World Day of Prayer service was held at St Mary's. 98 people - men and women - attended, many were involved in the leading of the service, and there was an excellent tea afterwards. It was good to be praying for the Bahamas on a grey, wet day in North East England.

We continue to welcome people for Baptism on the first Sunday of each month. In March we had a second baptism of the month at the Choral Communion on 8 March when Emilia King was welcomed into the family of the church. Here she is, behaving beautifully, with parents David and Katie.

We had a lovely Mothering Sunday service on 15 March which coincided with the All Age Worship service. The Beavers took part in a 'Great British bake off' competition and the Brownies and Rainbows handed out daffodil bunches to all the ladies in the congregation.

We ran a Stewardship Campaign through Lent, and Sunday 22 March was Stewardship Sunday. All the material is on the 2015 Stewardship Campaign page.

On Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, the Mothers' Union met for a service and meeting. Ros was welcomed into membership, Beryl became Treasurer and Heather Secretary. Peter talked about images of women in Sheffield Cathedral, and the Sheffield Steel Nativity by Brian Fell - where Joseph holds the baby. There are more photos at


In March Classic Masonry renewed the pointing on various walls at both St Mary's and Holy Saviour. Our old churches need a lot of work and maintenance - the next few months will see roof work and a new boiler at St Mary's. This is the work done on the north east wall of Holy Saviour.

Holy Week started with the reading of the Passion Narrative at both our churches on Palm Sunday. We ended each day with the service of Compline at St Mary's. On Maundy Thursday evening we celebrated the Last Supper together, and left the church in silence. Good Friday was a wet day. There was a full church for a morning meditation, then we went out onto Coates Green to "raise the cross". Both churches were well-filled on Easter Sunday morning as we celebrated "Christ is Risen!" This is the Easter Garden at Holy Saviour.

On Sunday 26 April we had a full church for Choral Communion, followed by our Annual Parish Meeting. John Doherty and Elaine Nylander were re-elected as Church Wardens. The reports and other documents issued are here. Peter's sermon at the service is here. We are very grateful to everyone who puts so much time and effort into the life of our church, and the work that God has called us to do.

In the afternoon 30 people met for Evening Prayer at Milbourne. We remembered Edmund and William Brian Mortimer, two men from our parish who gave their lives near Ypres in 1915. The Order of Service is here, and Peter's sermon is here. It is possible that both men were in Milbourne church at Easter 1915, and dead within a few weeks (Edmund was at the front for only six days before his death). We hope and pray their Easter faith sustained them through the horror of the trenches.

On the evening of Friday 24th April the URC church was full for a general election hustings session hosted by Ponteland Churches Together.  All 5 candidates for the Hexham Constituency took part. They were each invited to address the meeting, taking as their starting point a theme from St Benedict

"in resilient and healthy local communities the strong have something to aim for, and the vulnerable have nothing to fear. How, in 21st century Britain, do you as candidate for your political party identify ‘the strong’ and ‘the vulnerable’ and what is the involvement of  Government in building healthy and resilient local communities?"

This was followed by a lively hour responding to questions from those attending, before each candidate was asked to sum up in a sentence why they wanted people to vote for them and their party. Those attending felt this had been a useful and informative evening.

April's Exploring Spirituality session looked at Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, who stood against Hitler and the rise of the Nazi dictatorship. At the outbreak of War he could have abandoned his people and escaped from Germany, but he chose to remain. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and executed in 1945 - two weeks before VE day and the end of the War. Two well-attended talks were led by the Reverend John Gordon Clark.

On Friday 8 May about 200 people gathered in Ponteland for an afternoon service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. 70 years ago the children of Richard Coates School had planted an oak tree on the green, so it was appropriate that 120 members of year 8 (the 13 year olds) were involved in the service. With the help of their teachers they had prepared a display of Victory posters, written some poems, and the year 8 orchestra played - the Toreador's song to get us in the move, and Amazing Grace as a piece of meditation. We enjoyed an audio visual of images of War and Celebration and various older people in the congregation shared their memories of VE Day (several remembered all the lights being on after six dark years of War). Then two young people led our act of commemoration - the names of the 24 men from Ponteland who died were read, along with a sentence or two about each person. Everybody then stood in silence and prayer. Peter the Vicar then lightened the tone by reminding people of the seven decades since, ending with prayers for those elected at the General Election, and God's blessing on our country as we continue to move forward. We sang the National Anthem, then went out of church to "Land of Hope and Glory" played by Marc the organist. On the Green, two floral tributes were placed by the commemorative plaque and the oak - one from the school, the other from Ponteland Town Council. It was a very moving service, and good to see young and old commemorating together. Later that evening, in the pouring rain, a beacon was lit on top of St Mary's tower. Pictures by Trevor Walton.

On Saturday the bell ringers rang a peal in celebration of peace and freedom. 5,040 changes, one extent of Kent Treble Bob and two extents each of Cambridge Surprise, St. Clements College Bob and Plain Bob Minor were rung in 2 hours 30 minutes by Karen Dickinson, Julie Bell, Barbara Davies, Howard E J Smith, Peter K D Dawson and Stephen B Bell (Captain)

We marked Ascension Day with Choral Communion at Milbourne. It was good to be joined by friends from St Wilfrid's church, Newbiggin Hall.

On Wednesday 20 May a large group from the Coffee Club and their friends had lunch at the Redesdale Arms and a guided tour of Elsdon Church with Prof Richard Bailey. This photo was taken by Peter Barham in February 2013

At our services on the Feast of Pentecost, Sunday 24 May, we remembered William Thomas Glass, George Railton, Maurice Cridland Hill, and Ridley Robinson. The first three died on 24 May 1915 in the trenches of Ypres, the fourth on 4 June at Gallipoli. Peter used a quote from the guidebook of the church St Cuthbert at Great Salkeld in Cumbria “The village church has been the very core and symbol of the deepest life of the English nation – continuous still – dead knit to living, man knit to God”. You can read Peter's sermon here.

A Plant Sale in the Church Hall on Saturday 30 May raised £400 for the Church Army

Party in the Park on Sunday 7 June was the most successful so far. Over 2,400 people paid to get in, so probably over 3,000 people attended. The BBQ sold out in spite of increased number of burgers. The Tea tent was as popular as ever and they ran out of cups! The event was opened by Pastor Bert, an American pastor currently in the area working with Ponteland Methodist Church. The school choir from Darras Hall First School accompanied the service of celebration. Churches Together organised the event, and in the CT tent you could write your message about the environment on bunting which Christian Aid will use later this month to encircle the House of Parliament.


June's railway films celebrated the 70th anniversary of the publication of "Thomas the Tank Engine". We had some film of the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway (where Toby the tram engine came from), and the railway around the Vicarage Garden at Cadeby in Leicestershire (where Teddy Boston was Vicar - he is the Fat Clergyman who saves Trevor the Traction Engine from the scrapyard).

Our June Exploring Spirituality sessions had the best attendance ever. Julie Barham talked about the spirituality of the author Dorothy L. Sayers.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Eric and Sandra, Peter and Atiyah to the June All Age Worship. They are our link missionaries in the Philippines, and it was good to see them again.

On Sunday 5 July, Peter celebrated the 20th anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood, and Christine her 10th. Peter celebrated at 8 am, and the 10 am service was led by Christine. The sermon, which you can read here, was preached by Julie Barham. There was cake in the Church Hall afterwards. In the afternoon, 42 people (ranging in age from 2 to 96) had a train ride at the Tanfield Railway and an excellent supper at The Stables, Beamish Hall Hotel.

A new sculpture has been commissioned by June Atkinson, as part of two-year collaboration with the Town Council and Friends of Ponteland Park, to celebrate the return of otters to the River Pont. The sculpture was created by Tommy Craggs, a Chainsaw artist from Consett, and is in memory of June’s husband, Leonard John Atkinson, who died in 2013.  Leonard was a member of St. Mary's congregation and moved to Milbourne upon accepting the position of organist.  For more than twenty years, he also directed the ecumenical choir, The Milbourne Singers, formed from both Holy Saviour and the Methodist Chapel.

On Tuesday 21 July the choir celebrated their final choir practice with supper at Fratelli's.

A group started meeting on Saturday 1 August preparing for Confirmation.

The 70th anniversary of VJ Day was marked at Evening Prayer on Sunday 16 August - "When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today." The Kohima Memorial

The Confirmation Group played a major part in the Eucharist on Sunday 30 August. We looked at the moon and wondered who created it, and listened to the astronauts of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968. Click here for the video of the 1968 Apollo 8 crew reading Genesis on Christmas.

The first weekend of September was extremely busy. We had three weddings and three baptisms, plus our normal services - the choir sang for two of the weddings and then for the Sunday evening service. The altar flowers were stunning. It is a pleasure to welcome so many people to St Mary's for their special days.


On Wednesday 9 September Her Majesty the Queen became Britain's longest serving monarch. We marked the event, and prayed for her, at both our Eucharists that day. Our ringers rang a peal in celebration. The technical details are "in 2 hours 31 minutes (6–3–4 in B) 5040 Minor. In 3 methods being one extent of St Clement's College Bob and three extents each of Cambridge Surprise and Plain Bob." This photo was taken at its conclusion, and shows Barbara Davies, Bill Davidson, Julie Bell, Howard Smith, Rev. Peter Barham, Stephen Bell (Conductor), Mike Procter.

Maureen and Aidan were confirmed at St Peter's, Bywell on Saturday 19 September, along with others from the Corbridge Deanery. Bishop Stephen Pedley, Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese, did the honours - and said that the church should be as exciting as Alton Towers. It was lovely that baby Imogen (Maureen's granddaughter) joined us too.


All age worship on Sunday 20 September celebrated the Rugby World Cup.

In the evening at Choral Evensong we marked the death of Charles Richardson, who lived in the village and died on 25 September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. We included Youtube videos, and the story of the Piper of Loos - who features on Peter's blog about St. Cuthbert, Norham. Youtube videos - The Battle of Loos by Bob Chambers, Daniel Laidlaw VC, Piper of Loos, 'My Boy Jack' by Rudyard Kipling, "When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead" by Charles Hamilton Sorley


On Wednesday 23rd September the Coffee Club had a splendid evening listening to Brian Burnie who started up an amazing charity, Daft as a Brush. He brought his new ambulance, which even has a child's and a baby's seat. Read more about the charity at

The last weekend of September was St Mary's harvest - and a busy weekend. On Saturday morning the Ponteland Macmillan group held their Coffee Morning in St Mary's Hall. In the evening we had a Quiz Night and Harvest Supper - and a good time was had by all. The money raised went to the West End Foodbank in Newcastle. The church was beautifully decorated for the Sunday - our thanks to everyone for their hard work - and the produce went to the West End Refugee Service. In the evening a Harvest Songs of Praise remembered the land girls of the First and Second World Wars, linking the harvest message through to the current political situation and the calls from the World Food Programme for a ceasefire in the Syrian Conflict so all can be "safely gathered in".


Harvest was celebrated with Choral Evensong at Holy Saviour on Tuesday 6 October. Ken Peet took the service, St Mary's choir sang, and we all had supper at South East Farm.


October's All Age Worship thanked God for Music. On the previous day we had had a well-attended music workshop, Led by Jane, Cathryn, Jan and Warren, music group, choir and bell ringers came together to celebrate God's gift of music.

On the Eve of All Souls', Sunday 1 November, we had our Service of Remembrance. We read out the names of all those we have done funerals for this year, and any others that people want us to remember, and we invite people to light candles in memory. It is a very special service. In his sermon Peter reflected on the brilliant autumn colours, colours of dying leaves.

On Remembrance Sunday our 10 am service starts early, and then we join the village for a Service at the War Memorial. Every year the crowd gets bigger. This photo is by Keith Robertson. There is also an Act of Remembrance at the service at Milbourne. In the evening Maureen told the story of Jack Cornwall, the youngest VC of World War 1.


Advent Sunday evening started with the church in darkness, except for a tower of candles in the font. The choir started our Christmas preparation as a soloist sings “I look from afar, and lo, I see the power of God coming”. On the following Sunday we welcomed Tynedale Hospice at Home for their Light up a Life Carol Service. The Christmas tree looked beautiful in the dark church.

We continue to welcome people for baptism. On Advent Sunday Philip and Carlyn brought Olivia to Milbourne. Olivia is a regular worshipper with us, and the congregation enjoyed a wonderful Christening Cake. The following week Stacy and Adrian brought Anna, and Nicholas and Katie brought Amelia to St Mary’s. Amelia is the sixth generation of her family to be baptised in St Mary’s. Her dad Nicholas was baptised in 1991, her granddad David in 1960, her great grandma Patricia in 1928, her great great grandma Mary Anne in 1907 and her great great great granddad James in 1874. The photo shows Amelia with her dad and granddad. The following week Tara and Mark brought George and over 100 friends and family for their celebration.

On Saturday 12 December several of our congregation were in St Nicholas Cathedral for the Inauguration of Bishop Christine as Bishop of Newcastle. The following day Ben and Becky were confirmed at the Cathedral. At the end of Saturday’s service +Christine went out through the West Door and blessed the City in the pouring rain. At the end of Sunday’s service +Frank and those confirmed went out through the West Door into the dark of a December evening – we are the light God sends to the world.

At the beginning of December we had the louvres of the tower replaced as the wood was rotten. These photos were taken with a zoom lens from the Vicarage garden. 2015 has seen repointing and roof work at St Mary's, a new boiler, and now this work on the tower. Old buildings need a lot of tender, loving care.

Christmas was busy. The young people of Coates School came for a Carol Service (this photo is posted with permission of the school), and the whole of Ponteland First School came for a Nativity. Peter led a Christingle service in Darras Hall First School. We had an All Age Worship "Christmas starts with Christ", two Crib Services, a Carol Service (standing room only), Midnight Mass, and Christmas Day. And so another year draws to a close.



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