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From the Vicar, July 2022

From Reverend Teresa Stewart-Sykes

Phew! What a scorcher! I am writing from the cool refuge of my office, my black cocker spaniel and my little black cat are slumped on the cold tiles of the Vicarage kitchen floor, and we are expecting temperatures to rise even further, perhaps to thirty degrees! I am reminded of summers spent in New York City and the wall of heat that hits as you step out from the air-conditioned buildings onto the scorching sidewalks! Perhaps you have similar memories of living abroad or from foreign holidays?

How lucky we are in Britain not to experience these extreme temperatures and the danger of drought more frequently. Of course there are many who cannot escape the debilitation and danger of extreme weather, the risk not only to their health but their homes and their livelihoods.  My colleague Caroline has been reflecting on this and on the ‘Marmalade sandwich incident’ at the Jubilee. She writes:

For me, a real highlight of the national celebrations was the moment the Queen had tea with Paddington Bear and we learned what she keeps in her handbag - a marmalade sandwich! It was just the most wonderfully innocent joy filled moment, giving us all a glimpse of the Queen’s sense of humour, but it was also a moment  of great profundity. 

Children’s literature often expresses great truths in an accessible and non-threatening way.  Paddington Bear is no different.  Through the books and the lovely animated films Paddington has much to say to us about the importance of welcome to those who need to hear that they are welcome, loved and a part of our communities.

‘Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the countryside where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.’  Aunt Lucy in Paddington Bear. 

Paddington Bear was an illegal immigrant, who made his home amidst a pretty traditional strait-laced family and as a result enrichened their lives in a transformative and wonderful way.  Aunt Lucy makes this point beautifully. The quote says something important about our compassion and tolerance as a nation; I’m sure it still rings true today. 

I know that our communities are offering a warm welcome to those settling here, indeed many have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. The Platinum Jubilee has highlighted that modern Britain is a dynamic and diverse place.  My hope and prayer is that our communities continue to come together and offer friendship and welcome to all. 


Rev Teresa