Christmas Letter from the Vicarage — (p4&5) Revd Neil Lambert
Ashes Good Neighbours —(p8) A rallying cry and an invitation for coffee
Poets Corner—(p9) Seasonal inspiration from BMS
Meet the Local—(p10) Graham Thomas, Treasurer of Shawfield SSA
Vote now to help The Chapel! – (p11) Alex Sanderson shares news about the local Co-op Community Fund to support local food projects
From my Nona with love —(p14)Delicious Christmas Panettone recipe
Jesus and his manger — (p15) A lovely reflection by Val Hoppichler
What’s on this Christmas — (p16& 17) Local Christmas Events
January Diary —(p19) diary dates for the New Year
Bible Study (Philippians 2:1-16) (p20 & 21) – Helen Lambert
A place of welcome— (p22) Christmas greetings from Fr Robin at Holy Angels
Ash Ranges Latest — (p23) An update from Tim at ‘Save our Spaces’
Low Waste Christmas – (p24 &25) Top tips from Twin Larder
Try something new this winter – (p26) – Seasonal fun
Christmas Trees are for Life in Uganda — (p27)
St Nicholas day Lantern Craft – (p28)
I want to live forever—(29) Scrivener
Help is at Hand! – (p30) Useful numbers
We welcome fun, informative and local interest items!The copy deadline for the Feb/March 2022 issue is 10th Jan 2022. Emails please to: email@example.com
Cover image by Dan Austin
The Christingle Journey
24th Dec at St Mary’s, arrival time slots 3-6pm
It’s like Christingle, but more interactive! Join us at St Mary’s to see the Shepherds, make a Christingle, sing carols, taste locally brewed beer at the Inn, and meet Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the stable.
Please text to book your arrival time 07730 609446 Donations in aid of The Children’s Society
What a challenging two years we have had with Covid! So much has changed since March 2020 – some for the better, some for the worse.
Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the closure of a very vibrant good neighbour scheme called The Ashes. The Ashes was a group of local volunteers who helped older residents get to their doctor or to the hospital. They also took people to the hairdresser and to the shops. The volunteers were very often the only person their client had seen or spoken to for several days. They provided a fantastic transport service and a friendly, listening ear.
Like many good neighbour schemes across the county, The Ashes initially closed temporarily to protect volunteers and their clients. But by the time Covid had ravaged through our communities, The Ashes committee felt they could not restart the scheme after such a long hiatus as they had too few drivers and people to co-ordinate transport bookings.
With the help of a local councillor, Carla Morson, Surrey Community Action is trying to set up a new good neighbour scheme for Ash. Surrey Community Action is a county-wide charity which supports voluntary and not-for-profit groups with advice and services to help them to operate more effectively. We also run a range of projects to give local communities a helping hand.
But we need the community’s support to help make a new scheme a success. We had a few responses to Carla’s first call for volunteers at the beginning of November, but we really need more local people with local knowledge to form a group to get the scheme off the ground. With our support, this group would meet to discuss how the scheme will work, how it will be funded (never a problem!), find and recruit volunteers, publicise the scheme and get it going again.
We feel it is really important, for so many people, to have this vital lifeline within their community. If you feel you can help with this, please call me for a “no-obligation” chat or email me and I can get back to you. Perhaps this would be a fantastic New Year’s Resolution? You can give as much time or as little time as you want. And it is really rewarding – so many good neighbour scheme volunteers tell us how much satisfaction they gain from helping someone else in the community.
There will be an opportunity at St Mary’s Parish Church, Vale Road, Ash Vale to talk about it on Friday 21 January 2022 at 10.30am. Please come for a cup of tea and hear more and ask questions. Again, there is NO OBLIGATION. My details are: Vicki Turton. Tel – 01483 447121 (please leave a message if I’m not available), E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
We love to receive your letters, riddles, poems and funnies. We love this poem sent in by one of our lovely readers. Could this be a perfect start to an eco Christmas, or perhaps even the inspiration for a New Year’s resolution?
I’m trying to declutter, but oh what a lot
Of things I’ve collected all these years, in this plot.
We down sized and got rid of a lot of our stuff
But from what I see now, it was nowhere enough.
I’ve drawings from when the children were small,
Oh why, oh why did I have to keep all
of them, when I love to see how they’ve changed
so much for the better. I’ve now rearranged
them into “must keep”, maybe “throw away”.
Its something I’ll look at some time, someday.
I’ve toys, games and puzzles galore in the attic.
I don’t go there often, so don’t have to attack it.
The Parishioner interviewed Graham Thomas, Treasurer of the Shawfield School Association
Great to meet you Graham, tell us about yourself and how you feel about the local area. How would you describe Ash Vale?
A well connected, friendly village. It has that lovely village feel, yet at the same time, it’s very easy to get to the nearby towns, and even jump on the train to London. I also love the fact you don’t have far to get before you’re either in the middle of various army lands, or in the countryside.
What do you do for your ‘9 to 5’? I’m a Technologist for a computer manufacturer. It means I spend a lot of time explaining what a Technologist is 🙂 I get to work with all manner of customers to shape future products, from F1 teams to Universities, and I also get my hands on the latest laptops, phones and tablets before they are even launched. My kids think I just get to ‘mess around with gadgets’.
When you’re not working what do you do like to do to relax? When I’m not chasing around my two sons, I play bass in a band and love watching live music. I also moved house last year and I’m still working through the long list of little tweaks and improvements. I recently bought a 3D printer to satisfy my inner inventor and that’s proving to be another time consuming pastime, I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing though!
A little bird told us you’re quite active as a volunteer for the Shawfield School Association (SSA). What do you get up to and what are you fundraising for this year? Yes, I’ve been helping out the SSA (the school PTA) since my eldest son started at the school 5 years ago, more recently I became treasurer. This year we are trying to raise £10,000 to support the school plans to enhance the learning environment and resources. With everything that’s happened in the last 20+ months, school budgets have been stretched more than ever, and it’s important that the SSA focus on helping the school add to what they already use to deliver excellent teaching to the children.
That’s amazing! How can the people of Ash Vale support the SSA this Christmas? Well, there is great way to support the SSA, not just for Christmas, but all year round, and that’s the Guildford Community Lottery. 60% of all monies raised goes to good causes, with 50% going to the chosen cause: https://www.guildfordlottery.org/support/shawfield-school-association People can either use the above address, or go to the main community lottery page and then search for Shawfield. It’s only £1 per ticket and the prize fund is very good, with a £25,000 jackpot. They also run extra competitions, and the run up to Christmas is a competition to win a £1,000 Decathlon voucher. It’s a great community lottery where players know that the funds raised are used to support local organisations. We are also signed up to Amazon Smile, where Amazon donates to charitable organisations, at no cost to the customer. So make sure Shawfield School Association is selected when shopping, it’s free and it would be nice to get even the smallest chunk of Jeff Bezo’s money!
As most locals will already know, the Chapel Project on Wharf Rd is all about sharing Christ’s love through creativity, hospitality and worship. We welcome everyone, of all faiths and none. The Chapel is a joint initiative between the Hants Surrey Border Methodist Circuit, and St Marys Church in Ash Vale (more on our website here: www.ashvalechapel.com and Facebook @ashvalechapel). Now you can help us do more in 2022, through the Co-op ‘Local Causes’ scheme!https://www.coop.co.uk/local-causes
Eat well, feel well: At The Chapel we are passionate about helping local people enjoy good, healthy food, so we run a programme of food projects tackling food poverty, food waste, growing food and teaching healthy cooking. In 2021 this included Picnic & Play in the holidays, providing the local Food Parcels team with a base to work from, cooking for Chapel Lunch Club, some super cookery zooms with Revd Neil, and teaching #ChapelKids to grow their own food this summer. (Did you spot their pumpkins at the Light Party? Amazing!)
We are bringing people together to learn how to grow food, minimise waste, cook healthily and enjoy delicious meals. Food has a huge impact on health and wellbeing, and by going on this journey together at The Chapel, we are creating community and tackling isolation. Because we don’t put financial barriers in the way, everyone can join in, and we especially encourage those in need to use our services. All our community events are free / by donation.
Please help us to do more in 2022! The more people vote for us on the community fund website, the more funds we will receive for food projects in 2022. Please help us to grow, cook and enjoy more food together. You’re all invited! It only costs £1 to become a member and you receive points for yourself as well as helping us every time you shop and swipe the card.
Dear Parishioner readers: This new column will bring you different recipes from all the Grandmothers, La Nona, Die Oma, La Abuela, La Grand-mère, in the world. In this first edition I share my Nona’s Panettone recipe. A beautiful Italian woman who emigrated to Argentina when she was young. I had the pleasure to enjoy every Sunday at her home, cooking or eating all kind of fresh pasta, sauces and sweets Italians pastries… all day long. In every Italian family you reunite every Sunday at lunch time and chat and eat until dinner with no less than 14 family members or closer friends. I grew up with this feeling of “belonging” that a family/friends gives you, where you are always welcome. And as all the Italian families sing in Argentina: Lo primero es la familia! Family comes first!
Here is the recipe for my Nona’s Christmas Panettone:
1kg Flour (You can get 5 Panettones of 400g each)
100g Margarine, softened
1 tsp Agua de Azahar (Orange Flower/blossom Water)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp Lemon grated zest
1 tsp Naranja grated zest
100g of fresh yeast -ideally- or use dried instead.
Raisins, sultanas, chocolate, pecan or any other nuts you like (lots! ) As much as you like.
Cognac or rum to hydrate the fruit
Step 1: Grease a panettone tin or use a panettone case/s.
Step 2: Soak the fruit in Cognac. (The fruit, nuts and chocolate will be added at the end.)
Step 3: Prepare the Yeast: Mix the Yeast with 1 tsp of sugar, 200g Flour and 100ml warm Milk, mix all until you feel a smooth and soft dough. Cover and leave to prove.
Step 4: Liquids: In a pot add the rest of 200ml of Milk, 1cup Sugar, 1 tsp of Blossom Water, vanilla extract, lemon and orange zest, the softened butter and at the end the eggs.
Step 5: Place the rest of the flour -800g- in a large bowl in a crown shape and add the liquids and the yeast n the middle. Knead until it all starts to come together and you get a smooth dough. Cover it and let it rise for 30 minutes. Knead it again for 10 min and let it rise again for 30-45min.
Step 6: Place the dough on your kitchen table, stretch it and add the fruits and nuts/chocolate. Knead it all for a couple of minutes; you can add a sprinkling of flour to stop the mixture sticking but not too much. Leave it to rest for 45 minutes. Split it in 4 parts or make one big Panettone, as you prefer; place in the case(s) and leave for 10 minutes.
Step 7: Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Place in the oven and bake for 40 – 50 mins OR until golden and risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let it cool and you can decorate the Panettone with chocolate or icing sugar. Buon Natale!
It is the most beautiful time of the year, or at least this is how I feel. I remember when we were young my mom put up the Christmas tree and decorations on 8th December for the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and this was when the road to Christmas and New Year’s Eve started.
How far away those days look now. Today the world is on a high speed road where the shops sell Christmas decor from October and we set it up from November. I have to confess that, each year, I enjoy the two months road to Christmas more. I enjoy the darker nights lightened up by the multi-coloured Christmas lights, opening the decoration boxes and planning the new tree and table centrepieces, Advent, the Church’s Carols and Christingle, visiting shops just to see their colourful displays and hear seasonal music, the good spirit, good actions and cooperation from children and adults. I enjoy meeting with friends that you might not have seen the previous 11 months and cooking new Christmas recipes for my loved ones. But that is not all.
Going back to my early years in Argentina I remember a meaningful event. For us the most important family time was and still is Christmas Eve. Saint Nicholas comes at 12am on the 25th or as we say, the night of the 24th. However, it is never more important than the arrival of Jesus. My mom’s beautiful nativity set had something I cherished every Christmas. Jesus was not attached to his crib, so we placed him inside the dining room display cabinets during the time leading up to Christmas. How difficult is today, to find a nativity set where Jesus is not attached to the manger.
I have fond memories as if it were yesterday, that after dinner and the midnight toast with champagne or Prosecco and before opening the presents we had the most important duty to do. This duty was actually a “Joy and Honor”, plenty of love and respect. I would run to the display cabinet, take Jesus and, admiring the nativity set, place Jesus in this crib. The little Lord Jesus was waiting for us, the little Lord Jesus was calling us, Jesus is born. It is Christmas!
Babies at St Mary’s Support Group 10am—11.30am : A support group for 0-12mth olds and their parents and carers. Tea, coffee, chat, and we have song time at the end. All welcome. Text or call for details 07730 609446 (St Mary’s, Vale Rd) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/996685097487498
Choir Practise: 8pm on Tuesday evenings, all welcome, come and make a joyful noise! (St Mary’s, Vale Rd)
Chapel Kids 11:30am—1.30pm Come and join our Baby & Toddler group with craft, story and songs at The Chapel. All welcome 0-4yrs and their parents and carers. We eat lunch together too. Bring a picnic or enjoy something from the community fridge! (The Chapel, Wharf Rd) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/996685097487498
Chapel Craft 8pm-10pm Bring along your latest craft project and craft with like minded locals. We enjoy a sociable cuppa and chat as we work. (The Chapel, Wharf Rd)
Baby Plus (Tongham) 10.30am Baby group for non-walkers at The Old School, Poyle Rd, Tongham. (St Paul’s, Poyle Rd)
Community Café 10-11:30am Please pop in for a cuppa and a chat at the St Mary’s community café. All are welcome, all faiths and none, all ages and stages. It’s free / by donation (St Mary’s, Vale Rd)
Sunday Services 10:30am at St Mary’s. All are welcome, whether life long Christians or just exploring. We serve refreshments after the service, join us for cuppa & chat.
If you have a local community event to advertise for Feb or March, the next Parishioner deadline is 10th January 2022 email please to: email@example.com
Your local Churches Together & community events at a glance
Events during Advent:
Sat 27 Nov: Christmas Cards drop-in Workshop, 1-4pm Visit Ash Fantasia and then pop over to the Chapel on Wharf Rd to make a Christmas card. No need to book, just pop in. (The Chapel)
Sat 27th Nov: Ash Christmas Fantasia. Contact to book a stall: firstname.lastname@example.org. Market opens 12:00, carols at 16:30 and lights switch on by 5pm. (The Ash Centre, Ash Hill Rd)
Sun 28 Nov: ‘Advent Sunday’ Special Service & Sunday School, 10:30am (St Mary’s)
Sat 4th Dec 10am-4pm & Sun 5th Dec 12-4pm St Peter’s Christmas Tree Exhibition. Come and see our Carol themed trees, beautifully decorated by local groups. Nativity display and refreshments too! (St Peter’s)
Sat 4th Dec 11am-1pm St Peter’s Christmas Fayre. All welcome at our annual Christmas Fayre with Tombola, Raffle, Books, and stalls (St Peter’s)
Mon 6th Dec: St Nicholas Lantern Walk, start times available from 4-6pm Celebrate Advent with a lovely lantern walk from The Chapel on Wharf Rd to St Mary’s church garden on Vale Rd, where you can meet St Nicholas and enjoy Rev Neil’s famous home-made pizza! Please text to book: 07730 609446 (Chapel & St Mary’s)
Thurs 9th Dec: Animal Nativity 1pm and again at 2pm (St Paul’s)
Sunday 12th Dec: Christmas Market, 4pm Come and enjoy the Christmassy atmosphere of an outdoor Christmas Market, with mulled wine, food and raffle, shop local for unique and beautiful Christmas gifts. (St Mary’s)
Sun 12th Dec: Carols by Candlelight (outdoors) 6pm After the lovey atmospheric Christmas Market, join us for an open air carol service outside. All welcome, no need to book (St Mary’s)
Sun 19th Dec: (St Mary’s)
Family Service & Sunday school, 10:30am. Last date for bringing Christmas hamper donations to church for local families in need —thank you for your support!
Sun 19th Dec: (St Peter’s)
· Traditional Holy Communion 8am
· Parish Communion 10am
· Carol Service 3pm
Sun 19th Dec: Carols at St Paul’s Tongham 4pm (St Paul’s)
Sun 19th Dec: Ash Museum Open Day, 2-4:30pm (Cemetary Chapel GU12 6LX)
Fri 24th Dec: The Christingle Journey, 3-6pm It’s a bit like Christingle, but more interactive! Join us at St Mary’s to see the Shepherds, make a Christingle, sing carols, taste a locally brewed beer at the Inn, and meet Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the stable. (Do dress for the weather!) Please text to book your arrival time 07730 609446 Donations going to The Children’s Society (St Mary’s)
Friday 24th Dec: (St Mary’s)
· 11.30pm Midnight Mass Church Service to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fri 24th Dec: (St Peter’s)
· 11am Family Crib Service
· 5pm Family Crib Service
· 11.30pm Midnight Mass
Fri 24th Dec: (St Paul’s)
· 4pm Carols
· 11.30pm Christmas Communion
Fri 24th Dec: (Holy Angels)
· 7pm Christmas Family Mass Catholic Service
· 10:30pm Carols
· 11pm Midnight Mass, Catholic Service
Sat 25th Dec: (St Mary’s) Christmas Day Service 10:30am Main Christmas Day Morning Service on Zoom and in Church. for Zoom details contact email@example.com
Sat 25th Dec: (St Peter’s): Traditional Holy Communion 8am / Christmas Day Communion 10am
Sat 25th Dec: (St Paul’s): 8am Christmas day service / 10am Christmas day service
Sat 25th Dec: (Holy Angels)Christmas Day Mass, 11am Catholic Service
All events are subject to change due to covid restrictions, please keep an eye on the websites, social media
Where’s that Church?
St Mary’s, Vale Rd, GU12 5JE www.ash-vale.org.uk
The Chapel, Wharf Rd GU12 5AY www.ashvalechapel.com
As we draw near to Christmas, and so much vies for our limited attention, energy and resources, this letter penned by the apostle Paul whilst in prison provides a timely reminder of how we might approach this season whilst remaining mindful of the “reason”…
The central theme is captured in verses 6-11, which takes the form of a poem or hymn, and expands on what we might think of as our core Christmas message – that God himself was born as a baby and shared our human life with us.
What did it really mean for Jesus, the Son of God, to come and walk this earth, according to verses 7 and 8? Where had he come from, what did he relinquish, and what enabled him to do this?
In our present times, we are very much aware of our rights and our entitlements. This is not necessarily wrong – especially when it drives us to defend the rights of those whose voices are least heard. However, the model Jesus presents us with is quite different. Although he was God (v6), and “God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him” (Colossians 1:19), he forfeited all rights, “benefits” and glory that were due to him and “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing…being made in human likeness…” (v6-7). If our attitude is to be “the same as that of Christ Jesus” (v5), what can we learn from this model as we reflect on our own expectations of life?
So, “being made in human likeness”, Jesus the Saviour of the World, God himself, was born to a poor teenage girl in a remote and insignificant stable in Bethlehem. Not only did he share in our human experience, but he became a servant (v7). Who, or what, does a servant live for? How did Jesus demonstrate this in his life? (v8) Not only did he live for others – but he died for others too, in order for each one of us to be put right with God so that we could live the lives he intended for us. This is the true “reason for the season”: because Jesus was prepared to humble himself and put our needs before any of his own “rights” or glory, we can be reconciled to God, free of guilt and condemnation, and free to be reconciled to one another. Peace on earth indeed!
Again, if our attitude is to be “the same as that of Christ Jesus” (v5), what does this mean for how we live our lives? We could do worse than start with v3-4. In what specific ways does this challenge us in the run up to Christmas? Can we explore our motivation for what we do, the way we think of others, our attitudes towards the people we struggle with, or those we tend to ignore or forget about? What needs to change within us if we are to genuinely “in humility consider others better than ourselves”? Who do you find it most difficult to do this with? Of course, this is not just for Christmas, but for life!
As we look to the interests of others, rather than our own, a number of remarkable things happen! First of all, we are brought closer to God as we become more aware of his grace at work in our lives – for we can only live like this if his Holy Spirit works in us (v13). Secondly, the body of Christ, the church, is built up as we love, respect and serve even those with whom we disagree, or who make challenging demands of us. Finally, as the world looks on, and looks in to the message that we have to offer this Christmas, Jesus tells us that “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). The pattern Jesus gives us is diametrically opposed to the pattern that we see in the world – and if we live according to it, it will be a sign to others of his presence amongst us.
Just as a star revealed Christ’s presence to those who were looking for him on the very first Christmas, so we are called to “shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life” (v15,16), the Word made flesh, dwelling amongst us and transforming our lives.
As we remember the baby born in poverty in a stable, the angels singing “Peace” and the guiding star of Bethlehem let us not forget why he came:“ …that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!” (v10-11).
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Bible Gateway: https://www.biblegateway.com