What's New in Suckley?
Suckley Church - an agreed way forward
The Members of Suckley PCC write:
One year after submitting our plans for the changes to Suckley Church the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, Dr Charles Mynors has given his 'judgement' as to what we can do. He points out that the church exists to serve the wider community, and churches like Suckley will have to adapt if they are to survive. He points out that in a small village such as Suckley it is not sensible to consider a separate school facility (for assembly, concerts, drama, PE, etc) when there is a suitable public building (the church) very close by that is unused during the week. He points out that the church will need to be properly heated for its expected needs and that underfloor heating is the most appropriate method.
He takes into consideration the views of those who have drawn up the plans, the Victorian Society, English Heritage and those who have voiced their objections to the scheme, and has sought a compromise in his judgement. So he proposes that there will be one toilet and catering facilities provided in the tower.
He would like us to consider the layout of the church to see how many pews need to be retained, how they can be adjusted to make them moveable, and how much open space should be created.
The PCC has met and unanimously agreed that, following the Chancellor's recommendations, we will begin to seek costings for the above. There will be further public consultation to discuss the details.
We now have the necessary go ahead to start raising the money needed to pay for all of this.
Your Churchyard needs YOU!
Anne Lewis and Liz Devenish write:
Your thoughts and time could be invaluable to the future of your churchyard.
The volunteers looking after Suckley Churchyard have become aware that several old graves, no longer attended, are falling in to unsightly disrepair and some are so unstable that they could injure someone. The PCC needs urgently to put this right. 'A Stitch in time saves ...'
Could you help us think about how to best look after the future care of the graves of those who are no longer with us, but are still precious in our memories? One delicately curved old gravestone has become part of a multistem tree that the birds planted. Volunteers tried to safely release the stone intact, but the Spring growth threatens to regain control!
Countries like Finland have locally financed national initiatives to keep their churchyards immaculate! What can we do here? The church has financial problems enough trying to cover basic expenses, so relies on volunteers.
Any ideas how we can widen our group of those interested in the graveyard would be welcome. If you can be part of the team of volunteers who help to put the problems right, all the better. (Those with chain saws and strimmers would be particularly welcome at the moment!) If you care enough to be concerned, and would like to help, please contact a church warden. THANK YOU!
Reverend Anne Potter
Anne Lewis writes:
Thank you to all who had anything to do with Suckley's Easter celebrations, which began early and finished late this year, and were pretty special! Palm Sunday began in the rain, but donkeys Fiona and Ferdinand set a cracking pace and warmed us all up as we set off through Longley Green to our packed church. A warm welcome awaited a slightly wet and windswept Anne Potter. What a perfect way to welcome our new vicar to her first service! What a joy to see youngsters riding a donkey one minute, running in to the front of church to pick up a violin to play for the service the next! The Community Choir and mini orchestra led the music. Thank you Madeline Brewin and Arthur Bancroft for making this happen, and all the musicians who contributed, including Anne Potter's daughter, Claire, whose voice and guitar added a beautifully pensive and helpful dimension to Anne's first sermon.
The donkeys, Palm crosses and Easter gardens were great visual aids to focus our thoughts on the first Easter, and remind us what Easter is all about. This year one of the major supermarkets declined stocking Traidcraft 'Real Easter Eggs' saying 'What has the church got to do with Easter, anyway?'
It is great that our Primary School encourages regular 'Open The Book' assemblies, enables Easter Garden workshops, facilitates the children's violin playing and has end of term assemblies in church. Thank you Sheila Marshall!
Thinking ahead, next year we will be welcoming Bishop Graham to Suckley on Palm Sunday. Let’s hope the sun shines and Fiona and Ferdinand behave well!!
Nelson Inn website
Jim, Hannah and Jamie Gunn invite you to view the Nelson Inn's new website at www.nelsoninnsuckley.com, and to join them for Curry Night (Tuesdays, 7-9pm). For £6 you can have a curry and a pint - choose from real ale, fosters or a soft drink. During the run-up to Christmas (1-24 December 2014) a Christmas menu will be available.
Nelson Inn under new management
Longley Green's Nelson Inn re-opened under new management on Thursday 13 February 2014 to a packed house. The new owners have engaged an Italian chef, and there's a new menu of bar and restaurant food.
Memorial Concert for Ivor Bramich
Ivor's family organised an orchestral concert in Suckley Church in his memory. The concert, on the evening of Saturday 8 February 2014, featured Albanian pianist Mariela Cingo, Arthur Bancroft on the violin and a professional string orchestra led by Stephen McDade. The event raised over £1000 in donations to Suckley SPACE and the Suckley Bellringers' Fund (which covers repairs to bells, ropes etc), and there were more than 90 people in the audience in spite of the awful weather - high winds and heavy rain.
The PCC and Space Steering Group are very keen that as many folk as possible who know and love our church and village come to the open public meeting on Wednesday 7 November 2012, 7.30pm in Suckley Church. If people have a heart for Suckley, they need to have their voice heard, and should encourage all their neighbours and friends to come too.
At the meeting will be Roger Morris (Archdeacon of Worcester) and Andrew Mottram (Worcester Diocese Heritage Buildings and Community Development Officer), and the architect, David Duckham, will bring sketches of the proposed changes to help our imaginations to see what it could look like.
Wedding-themed Flower Festival
Jenny Taylor (nee Griffiths), June Mifflin and Jean Davies (nee Lloyd) are planning a Wedding-themed Flower Festival in Suckley Church, to take place on the weekend of 22 and 23 September 2012. The organisers would like help from extra volunteers, and are also looking for wedding dresses through the decades and wedding photos of people married at Suckley Church.
Visitors will be able to see the church as it has been decorated for weddings over the decades. Also planned are a walk on the Suckley Hills, followed by a cream tea, and a raffle and a tombola.
If you can help in some way, please contact Jenny Taylor on 884726.
News about the SPACE project
The SPACE (Suckley Parish Academy & Church Enterprise) project Steering Group has had many meetings in the last few weeks and all aspects of the way forward for Suckley Church continue to be thoroughly discussed.
After assimilating a few more ideas and thoughts collected in recent months we have now instructed the architect to go ahead with some sketches in order to gain outline approval of these by the DAC (diocesan planning) before our next Open Public meeting in the church on Wednesday 7 November 2012 at 7.30pm.
We would love to have been in this situation earlier, but felt the most important thing was to do our best to 'get it right' first time.
I think we all agree that we need to do something to make Suckley Church more 'fit for purpose' (that primary purpose being to stay as our village Church). After listening to many ideas and opinions as to what is the best way to achieve this, there is general agreement that the base of the Tower is the preferred place for kitchen and toilet facilities, hopefully enabling the kitchen to 'double up' as a meeting room too. Ideally the main South door will be draught proofed by creating another glazed entrance mid porch, which would leave the original door and the font as they are.
The intention is to move the organ to the E end of the S aisle (where our organist says it is best placed), then the Vestry can become a separate soundproof/ draughtproof room for Sunday School, mid week meetings etc. With its own entrance this will enable unlimited access to the Vestry and Chancel, whatever is going on elsewhere in the church. The plan is that the Chancel will be left unchanged with its oak pews and Jacobean pulpit.
The clear recommendation from those senior in the Diocese that are advising us, is that we need to make our church more available and more useful to the wider village, as long as we don't lose sight of its primary purpose for Christian worship. We await advice from the Diocesan heating advisor re how best to improve the way we heat the church. By replacing the pine pews with more comfortable stackable seating (whether this is oak stackable pews or stacking chairs or both) we will enable the Nave space to be multipurpose. This increased versatility will enable the Church to become useful to others when it would otherwise be empty of life, and facilitate an ongoing source of income to make more secure the financial future of our church.
Suckley School is very keen to use the improved church space on a regular basis (Mon to Thurs) and the PCC expects this arrangement to benefit both school and church, as well as the new user friendly nave being available at other times for other 'bookings' (Concerts? Drama? Badminton?) Funerals, weddings, other services and baptisms etc will, of course, continue to have priority.
We, the PCC with the Steering Group drawn from the wider community, will continue to move these ideas forward because that is what we believe is best for the future of our Church and our community as a whole. Please come to the Open meeting ... it is our Church we are talking about. Were you christened there? Married there? Are your ancestors in the registers there? We want to keep Suckley Church as our village church, and hope that bringing new life within the church walls will enhance its role in village life whilst leaving behind the financial problems that have closed so many churches near and far.
Anne Lewis (churchwarden) and Liz Devenish (Chair, SPACE Steering Group)
Suckley Church News
It has been great to see Suckley Church buzzing with life over the Christmas season. The celebrations began with the Christmas Fair. (A big thank you to the many who brought that event together, and helped raise funds for the Church, the PreSchool, the School and the Village Hall. The Raffle alone raised £720!) Father Christmas had lots of little visitors, while others bought home made goodies (cakes, cards, and calendars etc), tried their luck at the tombolas, or enjoyed a cup of tea and a cake listening to the carols.
As well as the Christingle and Nine Lessons and Carols, this year many Suckley folk were involved in the Barnyard Nativity at Colles Place, Lulsley. Two calves, Percy the cat, and a friendly welsh collie welcomed Sooty, the miniature pony from Alfrick Pound, who brought in a weary Mary and Joseph. There were lots of Suckley shepherds with their 'sheep' (children), and the wise men followed the star on their 'camels' (bicycles)! It was so good, it must happen again next year ... don't miss it!
The plans to reorder the inside of Suckley Church to make it more useful to the wider community are moving forwards, slowly but surely. The PCC has been looking at the work of many architects, and expects to have another public meeting soon. It is important to make the right choice that will be best for Suckley's future.
Anne Lewis (church warden)
Parish Council website
Suckley Parish Council has begun to maintain an area on Worcester County Council's 'My Parish' pages, and this provides a valuable extra resource of information about the parish and it's local council. Newly elected parish councillor Peter Whatley has been asked to act as webmaster for this new mini-site.
Suckley's free community newsletter is now a year old, and six issues have been delivered to all residents. It seems that Hilary Pitt and Tilda Swabey have been working very hard, because the format has expanded somewhat - from 8 to 28 pages, and the newsletter also now contains local advertising. If you live in Suckley you should receive a copy of each issue through your letterbox. If not, or if you've missed it, you can download a copy (and browse all previous issues) via the link below.
Suckley Church Proposed Reordering
If Suckley Church is to remain viable at the heart of the lovely village, then it has to adapt to the needs of today's community. An open meeting about a proposed reordering scheme for the church was held on 8 June 2011. Please read the information below and make comments.
Fitness, Flexibility and Fun
Mature ladies and gentlement wanted for a new local keep fit class at Suckley Village Hall, every Tuesday, 11am-12noon. Information from Margaret (884301) or Julian (07770 822033).
Replacement of Postboxes
The missing postboxes (stolen some time ago from Damson Way and Blackhouse Lane) have now been replaced. (Suckley Parish Council reported at its meeting on 13 September 2010 that Royal Mail had promised to reinstate the boxes within eight weeks.)
Allotments for Rent
Jill and John Hammonds are providing allotments to rent in Suckley from 2011. The allotments are on the roadside with good access and room to park, and they come ready rotivated for planting in early spring. Free well-rotted manure is available on site, and there's no charge for water. An example price would be £2 per week for 60ft x 20ft. Could make an unusual Chistmas present! Details from 884221 or visit Pewcroft, Suckley Road, Knightwick, WR6 5QQ.
New Suckley Newsletter
The first free Suckley newsletter since 2003 was delivered this month to all residents. The idea comes from the Suckley Community Plan earlier this year, and it aims to support the local community by publicising local parish activities and community run projects.
The newsletter features local activities, events and issues, useful information and points of contact, as well as offering opportunities for local businesses to advertise. The first issue outlines the activities started by the community plan and gives Suckley residents an additional way to find out what's going on locally and to get involved in community run projects and activities.
The second issue will be sent out in December 2010. If you have a community project or event you would like publicising, or if you are a local business wanting to advertise, please contact Matilda Swabey (884842) or Hilary Pitt (884355).
Suckley and Alfrick Pre-School
A new Suckley and Alfrick Pre-School, set in the 'Hop Kilns' in Suckley, is to open on on 7 September 2010. The school welcomes children from two years (9am-3.45pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, term-time only), is set in a ground floor wing of the impressive Hop Kilns private home, and has been designed to provide a home-from-home environment.
For more information on this new venture, please call Linda Negrin-Torres on 07905 716182 or visit www.thepreschool.org.uk
Suckley School welcomes a new head teacher - Matthew Meckin, who takes over from Sarah James, who has retired. The school has about fifty or so pupils, and the outgoing head (and her predecessor Jill Shepherd) both raised the standard of the school and its facilities during their time in office.
Suckley Christmas Fair, held in the village hall on 28 November 2009, was very successful, raising more than a thousand pounds from the raffle alone, funds which were distributed equally amongst the four organisations which combined their efforts to run the events - Suckley Church, Suckley School, Suckley Mothers and Toddlers and The Hill Trust.
The recent death of Harold Cooper leaves a gap which the village will find hard to fill. Harold spent a lot of time keeping the village playing fields looking smart, and more than 400 pounds has already been raised by the supporters of the playing fields to install a memorial bench for Harold. Martin Brookes has agreed to mow the field for the rest of the year.
Richard and Rosemary Harward will be leaving Suckley in July, and so Suckley Parish Council needs to find a replacement Footpaths Warden ... another hard act to follow, since Richard has worked very hard over the years and achieved much success in improving the quality of the parish paths.
After nine years of operation, Suckley Local History Society is disbanding, the committee having decided that it was time to hand over to younger people with new ideas. Unfortunately, volunteers were thin on the ground, and none of the 48 members thought that they could take on the job. Sue Anderson and the other committee members hope that their supporters will continue to use Suckley Village Hall and join other events organised there.
Change too at The Hill Trust / Suckley Village Hall Committee, where chairman Tom Talbot is reporting the resignation and or retirement of four of its long term hard-working committee members - Arthur Bancroft, Marnie Caine, Margaret Davies and John Hammonds.
So ... if you've recently moved to Suckley or nearby, or if you're an existing resident needing a new dimension to your life, there's never been a better time to get involved with the local community.
Sphere Taxi Service
The future of the taxi bus service is now looking uncertain, because the taxi committee has been unable to raise further funding for the scheme. All very sad, because usage has been increasing, and the scheme has now been operating for several years.
Suckley's BT Payphone
BT is proposing to 'realign' - their jargon for 'remove' - payphones in the local area, presumably due to lower levels of usage caused by the increased use of mobile phones. Whilst some call boxes in the area have made the news for being underused - one at nearby Storridge was apparently not used at all for a whole year - the payphone next to Suckley Village Hall and the car park is a local amenity, in one of the most densely populated areas of the village. In June 2008, the Parish Council lodged an objection to its removal.
Suckley Parish Council has now agreed to 'adopt' this telephone kiosk, subject to enquiries about future liabilities.
Suckley's footpath officer, Richard Harward, reported to the Parish Council that the two bridges damaged in the 2007 floods - at Nightingales' Bower and near Grove Hill - have now been repaired and remounted. Regular users have been helping to trim back the growth from around the paths.
Five visitors from London and two local singers sang carols in the village on the evening of Saturday 20 December 2008, raising 130 pounds to help school children in Tanzania. A big thank you to everyone who took part, and especially to Jim and Michelle at The Cross Keys and to Rod and Belinda at The Nelson for their hospitality.
Julian Lloyd Webber
On 4 October 2008, Suckley had a famous visitor from the classical music world ... the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, who gave a concert with pianist Pam Chowhan in Suckley Church, in aid of church funds and the tower appeal.
Suckley Church was full for the recital, despite the bad weather, and there was a reception after the concert at Holloways.
The music played was very interesting - some well-known works and also some lesser known pieces.
As a result of Julian's generosity, the tower appeal has now raised all the remaining money needed.
Winding the Church Clock
John Hammonds, writing in The Sphere, reports that a team of people - Peter Monineux, Chris Humphrey, Edward Holloway and Fran Doidge - have agreed to help him wind the church clock. Their plan is to do a calendar month each in rotation, and since the mechanisms need winding every 2-3 days, this is quite a commitment. 'We are in awe of Ivor Bramich', writes John, 'who did it for many, many years.' Previous long-term winders of the parish church clock include the late Jim Ranford.
Andy Merrick cycled to John O'Groats
Andy Merrick, one of Suckley's postmen, cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise money for Worcestershire's Air Ambulance and for Sport Relief.
The 1,000 mile ride by Andy and two friends - Julian and Mike - began at the start of the Easter weekend on Friday 21 March 2008 at Land's End. On day 3 they called in at The Royal Oak at Leigh Sinton. They completed the ride and raised 6,354.50 pounds. You can read (and see) further details here.
Church tower repair work
The Suckley Church tower appeal launched in 2006 has raised its 65,000 pounds. Costs unfortunately went up, and the total cost of the project increased to 70,000 pounds. So another 5,000 pounds is being raised in various ways. If you can help with fund raising, please use the link above for contact details.
The work has now been mostly completed. It was undertaken by two Worcester-based firms, architects S T Walker and Duckham, and A E Probert Building Contractors. The church clock face was repainted and gilded by Suckley resident Ivor Bramich.
Footpath bridge damage
Most of the extensive damage caused by the unusually high July 2007 floods has now been repaired. Suckley Parish Council received a report at its 13 November 2007 meeting from Richard Harward, however, stating that footpath bridges are still down at Nightingales' Bower, Grove Hill and below Cedar Lawn. He has repaired and resigned various footpaths and has mended or replaced various footpath 'furniture' including pedestrian gates, stiles and finger posts. Richard Harward has also attended a one-day course on the identification, mapping and management of ancient trees. If you have or know of ancient trees in the parish, please get in touch with Richard.
Worst floods ever?
20 July 2007 saw what might turn out to be Suckley's worst floods ever, and it's still raining (and looks set to continue into the night, with the flood waters still rising)!
Pictured above, Roger Blackburn (in orange) from Suckley Post Office, after an attempt to rescue residents from a cottage near Batchelors' Bridge, on the edge of a Longley Green cut off to all but high wheel-arch traffic.
If you have any photos of Suckley or the floods which you want to share, our new forum, just launched, allows uploading of photos.
Suckley Post Office
Suckley Parish Council has written to Malvern Hills District Council stating its concern about the possible closure of Suckley Post Office and rural post offices generally. A reply has been received stating that MHDC will await government announcements (now postponed from June until September) and then determine what action should be taken. County Councillor Clive Smith and the new District Councillors are also voicing concerns at a higher level and will be backing campaigns to stop the closures.
New Parish Councillors
Following Suckley Parish Council elections in May, Michael Jackson has been elected as a new Parish Councillor and David Hughes and Anthony Warburton have been elected as new District Councillors.
'Aspects of Suckley'
Suckley Local History Society launched its new book, Aspects of Suckley, available at £7.50 (£6.50 to members), at the season's first open meeting on Thursday 19 October 2006. Due to unexpectedly high interest, the book sold out, but more copies have been printed and these are now available from Suckley and Alfrick Post Offices, or direct from the Society's Chairman, Richard Harward (884611).
Since the Society was formed over five years ago, many members have attended courses at the Record Office in Worcester or in the village hall to research various aspects of Suckley's past. A few members also formed an oral group to try to obtain tape recordings from local residents who remember the area in years gone by. The result of this work is a book of fourteen chapters - over 112 pages - with many illustrations. The subject of the chapters varies from 'Suckley School' to 'Tippling in Suckley' and also includes transcripts of several of the tape recordings.
The taxi bus service is being used, but not nearly enough to warrant further funding to keep it going after March 2007. Suckley Parish Council is hoping that a way will be found to keep the service running, but in the meantime, please use it as much as possible, so that the service can continue to run. Further details.
Thank You from the Carol Singers
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to making the carol singing in Suckley (on Saturday 16 December 2006) a welcome success. Thanks to the generosity of Rev Andrew Bullock and his son, to visiting singers from London, to Suckley parishioners and to customers at The Nelson and The Cross Keys, we raised 120 pounds for the Suckley Church Tower Appeal. A special thank you to Jim and Michelle and to Rod and Belinda for welcoming refreshments!
Marnie Caine resigned from Suckley Parish Council at the meeting on 9 May 2006, and the Chairman and Councillors agreed that her resignation was a great loss to the council and that she would be greatly missed.
Three applications were received for the vacancy, and after a paper vote, Mrs Rosemary Harward was selected by an absolute majority. More elections take place in April 2007, and the council hopes that the unsuccessful applicants will be reapply then.
Richard Lewis from Suckley cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats in May 2006 to raise funds for the new St Richard's Hospice, which is currently being built and is due to open for patients in Autumn 2006. The building will include all the current free services, plus fifteen specialist hospice beds, desperately needed, but not currently available in this area. 2.8 million pounds is needed, annually, to provide specialist care and support for patients and their families.
Richard has been cycling to work at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and back for a couple of years, and his regular weekly commute of about 125 miles by bicycle helped to ensure he was in shape for the ride.
He has been a governor of St Richard's for the same length of time, and Vice Chairman for the past seven years. During this time he has seen the hospice grow from very humble beginnings to the current exciting stage of opening a new 5.25 million pound bedded unit in the autumn. Although there has been huge growth in the work of the hospice, the philosophy behind the care has remained the same. This is a total dedicated commitment to the patients and their families.
The trip was dedicated to Desi Green MBE, the much-loved district nurse working in Knightwick and Great Witley, a family friend and former hospice patient, who died in September 2005. She touched the hearts of so many people she came into contact with. Desi's husband John was road manager for the cycle trip.
Richard would like to thank everyone who has helped him exceed his target of 10,000 pounds. Money is still flowing in - over 14,000 pounds collected already, and if you can add more to his sponsorship of the Hospice, his address is Crews Court, Suckley, Worcestershire, WR6 5DW.
Church Tower appeal
An appeal to raise 65,000 pounds for a full restoration of Suckley Church tower was launched at the Easter Day service on 16 April 2006. Read full details here.
Post Office website
Barbara and Roger Blackburn have launched a new website for their business, Suckley Post Office and Stores. The new site is at www.suckleypo.co.uk
The site is part of a campaign to increase awareness of the services provided by the Blackburns' business, and includes a community noticeboard with classified ads and a complete list of films available for hire on DVD.
Check out the news section for alarming details of the gradual withdrawal of government support for rural post offices, the latest blow being that over-the-counter payment of benefits might cease.
Please support Suckley's Post Office and Stores by using as many of the services available as you can. Most household bills can be paid at the Post Office by cash, cheque or debit card. Commission is free on all foreign currency and buying back is free of charge. Travel insurance, personal loans and car insurance are available at excellent rates. Personal banking is available for customers of Alliance and Leicester, Lloyds TSB, Co-op, Barclays and Cahoot, including cashing of cheques and making deposits.