The ancient St John’s calling bell was tolled for five minutes this morning at 10.55am before the one-minute UK and Europe-wide silence to remember those who died in Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.
Robin, our Rector, confirmed the bell rang to signify St John’s solidarity with the French nation and those that lost their lives and were injured. To date, 132 people have died following the six attacks across the French capital.
St John’s has made a ‘wonderful’ response to this year’s Blythswood Care shoe box appeal.
The boxes were delivered into church ready for collection at Tesco on Cuckoo Bridge where drivers from Blythswood, Gerry and Stephen, collected 43 of them, kindly donated by members of our congregation and their friends.
Another six boxes and donations totalling £15 arrived after the deadline, and at the time of posting this story were very kindly due to be taken for collection at Castle Douglas by Alison Bain from St Ninians.
The boxes have been filled with all sorts of Christmas goodies for young and old alike, as well as everyday practical items such as soaps and toiletries that were on a checklist which Blythswood provided.
The shoe boxes will be distributed across Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Pakistan, Romania,
Serbia and Ukraine.
The charity will also add a Bible storybook to the children’s shoe boxes, a book for teenagers and a calendar with Bible verses for the adults.
Said Carol: ‘These gifts are a sign of the generosity and Christian love of our congregation and their friends in that they want to help put a smile on the faces of people they do not know, hundreds and even thousands of miles away, and who would have very little otherwise at Christmas.’
Carol said that a fun quiz in the church hall plus individual and online donations had raised £433 – cash that will be used by Blythswood to help meet the transportation costs in delivering all the shoe boxes in the run up to Christmas.
She added: ‘We are over the moon and very grateful to all those that gave in whatever way. We sent six more boxes than last year as well as increasing our financial support.
‘We now pray that the lorries reach their destinations safely as the drivers pass through the many border controls with their precious cargo.’
Last winter Blythswood’s appeal resulted in 106,000 shoe boxes being delivered to people in eight east European countries and in Pakistan. The charity has distributed almost 2 million shoe boxes in the 22 years of the appeal.
Blythswood’s chief executive, James Campbell, said he has been personally involved in delivering the boxes to people who are homeless and in some cases in desperate poverty.
He said: ‘To realise that someone cares for them, people whom they’ve never met can bring indescribable happiness to people in need.
‘It is the unexpected act of kindness that brings joy to everyone who receives a box filled with such care and generosity and by the many others who support this important project.
Pictures taken by Robin Paisley
Youngsters, some as young as just three, rekindled wartime memories for Veterans at Wednesday’s Remembrance Day service and special ‘poppy tea’ afterwards in the St John’s church hall.
Children and staff from four nurseries around town joined the Veterans, civic dignitaries, local service organisations and members of public to remember the fallen of war.
A lone piper played, prayers were said and silence kept for two minutes at the War Memorial outside St John’s, thankfully free of Sunday’s downpours.
Wreaths were laid, including one from St Andrews nursery on Brooke Street whose children for the last fortnight or so have been studying the Remembrance commemorations as part of their early years curriculum work.
After the short service was over outside, many Veterans stayed on to be entertained and were served refreshments by the staff and children from the nursery in the crowded church hall.
The Veterans were delighted to see all the children’s hard work displayed in drawings and paintings of poppy fields, as well as small models of the Anderson war-time air-raid shelters.
The kids had also designed some mock service medals made out of flour which impressed everyone, as did all their hard work in the kitchen.
The children had been busy home baking included making poppy biscuits and egg-less sponge, only from ingredients that were rationed during war, and that were listed in a ration book laid out on each table. A special favourite were the Spam sandwiches which brought pleasant memories flooding back with each tasty bite for many of the older members in the hall!
As they enjoyed lunch, the Veterans were also entertained on stage by the children performing dances and singing war-time songs like: ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ which was first sung during World War One.
‘The British Legion were very pleased so many people turned up for the service and silence,’ said Robin Paisley, our Rector.
He added: ‘All the children from the nurseries engaged with the service very well. They were extraordinarily well behaved.’
Robin was delighted so many stayed on for refreshments in the church hall and said everybody came away so impressed by the efforts of the St Andrew’s staff and particularly the children for making the occasion extra memorable.
Pictures by Helen and Robin Paisley
They are too young thankfully to remember the horrors of war but standing side by side with Veterans commemorating Armistice Day on Wednesday will be some of Dumfries’ youngest children.
For among those paying their respects at the War Memorial outside St John’s at 11 o’clock will be the boys and girls from St Andrews School nursery on Brooke Street.
The wee lads and lassies have been working hard for the last fortnight preparing for Remembrance Day when they will join Veterans and others to remember the fallen of conflict.
The children will lay a wreath of poppies they have made in nursery before they head off into the St John’s church hall afterwards for a ‘poppy tea’.
Everyone is welcome to join the kids and their mums and dads, enjoy a cup of tea and coffee and take a look at what the youngsters have been up to in nursery as part of their curriculum of excellence in social studies and how people lived in the past.
‘The children have been working really hard – and they have enjoyed it. It’s important they engage in festivals, celebrations and commemorations, ‘ said Nursery manager Fiona Douglas.
Fiona said by taking part in events like the two-minutes silence, the children even at their very tender age gain an understanding of the sacrifices that were in made wartime by so many brave people.
The pre-school kids, aged from three to five, have made their own poppies and drawn pictures of poppy fields; they have also been making their own war medals and building small Anderson air-raid shelters – and all these will be on display.
The children have also been busy baking wartime recipes like egg-free sponge which they will be taking along for their lunch and they will also be dancing and performing wartime marching songs like ‘pack up your troubles in your old kit bag.’
The nursery held the poppy tea last year but many of the veterans were not able to get along to Brooke Street so Robin, our Rector offered the use of our church hall instead, so many more can enjoy the kids’ work.
‘Robin said: ‘It is very encouraging that Brooke Street and other nurseries in town have come in previous years to the two-minutes silence on Remembrance Day. It is a welcome sign that these events are being passed on to future generations.’
Pictures courtesy of ‘http://www.freeimages.co.uk’.