Bollington Festival [more here]
…was a really busy but enjoyable fortnight for St Oswald’s, starting off with our Camel Train in the Parade then hosting the mesmerising Model Railway Exhibition, both made possible by the creative talents of Bev and Steve. This was followed a few days later by a whole variety of our brilliant and dedicated Arts & Crafts Group’s train-themed handicrafts which were out on display for the remainder of the Festival, alongside some colourful contributions from Praise & Play and RiCH children, plus the beautiful winged creatures captured in our local embroiderers’ butterfly nets. Then there was a fabulous Print-making Day Workshop run by the lovely and very talented Debbie Tracey-Carney, a former member of our congregation now based in the Isle of Man. Later that first week, thanks to Lorraine and Dave and their willing kitchen staff, we hosted another hugely successful Big Brekkie fundraiser for Christian Aid Week, with bacon butties enjoyed by several groups of children from Bollington Cross School. We welcomed baby Elsa at her Christening on Saturday 18th before the William Byrd Singers presented an excellent acapella concert to round off our first week of Festival events.
In the second week we were pleased to host the Diocese of Chester’s roving exhibition “Journey into Light” which included many very moving canvases of original therapeutic artwork created by prisoners from HMP Styal and Thorn Cross. During this week, our RiCH Group children also met as usual on the Thursday afternoon and many of them were inspired to create their own personal art canvases depicting what belonging to this Group means to them. Our three exhibitions attracted a good cross-section of visitors over a broad age range from our local community (plus people travelling from further afield). The “Journey into Light” provided a stunning backdrop for a vibrant Gospel Train led by Maggie and our church choir and musicians, augmented by an enthusiastic choir of children from Bollington St John’s School and applauded by appreciative visitors from Mount Hall Nursing Home. It was fitting that on the Thursday we could offer space, even amidst the artwork on display in church, for the late Jean Ransley’s funeral, safe in the knowledge that she had over many years been a stalwart supporter of Bollington Festival and an encourager throughout her life of art and music appreciation. The next day there was an opportunity to share in a meditative Stations of the Cross based on the emotive canvases around us, and on Saturday we enjoyed an incredible variety of music performed by the amazing young composer and musician, Joe Riley. That second week ended with a calming evening of Taize worship, led by Elaine and Chris and members of our choir and Music Group (including Peter Spooner who kindly stepped in at the last minute for us). This closing service was in contrast to the rather louder Big Top Worship Service which had been held on the first Sunday of the Festival, but proved equally ecumenical!
Throughout the Festival fortnight, a stalwart and faithful few from our congregation maintained a cheerful and friendly presence within St Oswald’s, opening our doors and welcoming visitors from far and wide, supplying them with copious amounts of coffee and tea, delicious home-made cake and the occasional glass of Prosecco! Thanks to those people who were so generous with their time and skills (including especially our two dedicated Churchwardens and Julie our PCC Secretary), we were able to offer warm hospitality to all who ventured in, many for the first time even though perhaps they had lived in the village for years!
And finally, a huge thank you to our friend Audrey Downes, who not only skilfully created, but also daily maintained, the beautiful floral garland which greeted everyone who stepped into our entrance porch, providing a glorious reminder to one particular couple who were recalling their wedding service held here during the very first Bollington Festival!
It was hard work but a pleasure to take part in such a fantastic community event over those hectic two weeks in May! We must thank the Festival events Co-ordinator, Jose Spinks, for all her organisational skills, and her unbounded encouragement and enthusiasm! We look forward to the next Bollington Festival (in four or five years’ time perhaps?) when once again (thankfully bolstered by our growing group of “Friends”) St Oswald’s may offer a truly welcoming performance and worship space, opportunities to build friendships and share refreshments, the encouragement of local creative talent and the gift of time for deep reflection on the meaning of life – but also a chance to enjoy ourselves and have fun together here in our unique place at the heart of our parish community!