WORDS FROM VOLUNTEERS

 
When Matthew asked us to focus on the Stewardship campaign in October 2019 we decided to ask many of the people in the parish who give of their time and talents in volunteering roles to give us feedback on their experiences. We have been met on every occasion with smiles. It has given us the opportunity to meet and talk to many cheerful givers and has been very rewarding and positive. Many groups have been created bringing together people with similar interests. There is always room for more volunteers who will give and therefore receive the benefits of a great community spirit whilst helping to keep St Giles as the wonderful church it is. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Matthew.

Andrew Chapman

Take for granted: to accept without question or objection. There are lots of things in life that we take for granted in relationships and not least when we consider our relationship with the church. We expect water in the font when we are baptized, a priest present to bless the ring when we are married, a bishop on hand for confirmation, ordination and coronation ceremonies (obviously not necessarily for us personally though for all of these) and ample bread and wine available at each Eucharist service. Genesis reveals that “… the Earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep …” we expect out church interiors to be light, clean and with available voids decorated in a creative artistic manner with suitable flowers or works of art. Through the psalms God instructs us to “… sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the Earth.” (Psalm 96v1). These days it is expected that this “song” will be accompanied by organ, choir or music group; trained and accomplished to perform varied repertoires that will be to the personal tastes of all in the congregation. Visitors and congregations should be warmly welcomed at the church and given all the necessary books and papers to follow the service and music in full and if necessary, provide additional reading during the sermon. Social activities are important and fund-raising events for charity and Church essential and whilst they do not have to be of American Presidential campaign proportions, it does help if they do significantly more than cover costs. How exciting to then read all about it in the Parish Magazine. The church building should be secure but open as frequently as possible, cool in summer, warm in winter and with a sound roof and clock tower – But don’t even go there – People can fall off roofs. This can involve wrangles over insurance, which of course is fully comprehensive and paid up: also not forgetting that intercessions would then be expected to hasten a speedy recovery. Or in more tragic cases, a requiem, funeral and a plot in the churchyard for final mortal remains. I have often told the story that my late father once cautioned me: “To only visit the vicarage if you are prepared to mow the lawn”. (I think it also applies to rectories). On reflection I think that the key word here must be “prepared”. It therefore raises one /two questions: Are you prepared to be taken for granted? And; If not why not? With thanks to all whose work is alluded to above and apologies to any who are taken for granted by me to such an extent that their work is not even alluded to above.


Irene Dancer

As a volunteer within the church I have taken on a number of jobs and roles over the years, all because I have been asked, by the current or previous Rectors, if I would be able to ……… make coffee, read the lesson, work with children, oversee safeguarding and so on. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to use and develop skills, learn new things, meet different people and make a difference. It gives me the opportunity to give back to others who, in turn, give of themselves. I believe that we are each given a variety of gifts that we can use for the good of others, not for ourselves, but in the service of God. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) As Christians we are taught to love one another and that service is an expression of our love for God. However, I do like to do a job properly and so one thing I’ve learned to do is say “no” when it’s something I really don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do the task well. Being realistic is good, but don’t let it stop you from taking on new challenges. Surprise yourself. The rewards are manifold and outweigh the risks by far.


Annie Parsons

Hi everyone, church means everything to me. It helps me to guide through the right path and I believe in God. I support the church. I help Matthew with serving at communion and I have helped with the flower arranging. Everyone welcomed me to church and they are very friendly and helpful. This gives me confidence and helps me respect others.

Martin Parsons

St. Giles is a very special place for Annie and me. From the very first time we visited we have been made to feel so welcome, and part of a happy and supportive Christian community. The feeling of simple acceptance has been very important to us, and our weekly visit on Sundays has become one of the highlights of our week. It has been my pleasure to serve on the PCC. br />
Heather Argent

I am a 'people-person'. In my professional life I enjoyed being with children; now in my voluntary role as a pastoral assistant I get pleasure in visiting parishioners in their own home or in a care home setting. Imagine how cut-off and isolated you might feel if increasing age or infirmity prevented you from attending church services. I hope that my visits can help make a person still feel part of the church family and help keep their faith alive and strong through the privilege of bringing them Holy Communion.

Richard Healey

I have been helping keep our lovely churchyard tidy now for over 40 years. I thoroughly enjoy my mornings, mostly strimming these days, and am sorry to miss days when away. Over the years it has become a friendly occasion; members even come for a coffee when they are not fit to work. We are a friendly group of 20 men and women who do: weeding, watering, removing dead flowers, leaf clearing, path edging, hedge cutting, strimming, blowing etc; We even dig the holes for the burial of ashes. There is always something that needs tending to, and we are only too happy to do it. We meet every Tuesday morning rain or shine.


Ann Curtis

What a lovely way to meet people and get a bit of exercise too. Every Tuesday you will find us at St Giles Church. I joined the team in October 2016 after sadly my husband died in Sept 2014. It took me a while to get back on my feet, but joining the gardening team every Tuesday has given me the confidence to go out and meet people again. We are a volunteer group so you are not committed every week. If you are feeling lost or lonely or have time on your hands and like gardening, I can recommend this group. We get so many compliments saying how lovely the Church grounds are which makes it all worthwhile. What a great group of girls and guys we are too, of all ages. We start at 9am or even earlier for some, we have a break at 10am for a welcome cuppa and a natter, then it’s back to work again till 11am or even later if you still have the energy, so why not come along and join us, and help support the community?


Marion and Jim Mason

We help maintain the beautiful church grounds and really enjoy the social aspect of our Tuesday mornings as well. It's good to see the pleasure the surroundings give to passers-by.


Sue Howe

I've only been a member of the Tuesday Team for about a year, but have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the time I spend there- even in the pouring rain! We all work together so well and manage to find time for gossip and laughter. It's good exercise and the peacefulness of the churchyard remains with you long after you leave.


Pim Horler

We all have different reasons for giving our time on Tuesday mornings. We enjoy the company and spending time in such a beautifully maintained garden.


Fiona Milton

We are so fortunate at St. Giles to have many places where we can display flowers to decorate our beautiful church. Even more fortunately, we have a wealth of new and experienced volunteers who enjoy the artistic and social aspects of flower arranging. It is more than just having a laugh and a chat. Feeling needed as part of a team has a very supportive role for anyone in times of sadness or difficulty. It can be a great comfort to feel the strength of the church family. Not only do our flower arrangers benefit from giving up their time but the flowers bring pleasure to the congregation and fittingly enhance our church for our times of worship.


Eddie Roberts

Just after I retired Matthew was looking for a new editor for the Parish magazine. I have always loved crosswords and the use of words so I decided to give it a try. The rewards have been immense. I have met and become acquainted with many parishioners who I would never have otherwise met. I have been amazed by the number of groups in the community and vast number of people who contribute to the life of our Parish. My computer skills have developed and I look forward to my monthly meetings with Matthew and then Danny at T&C printers.


Linda Crisp

I have been part of the St Giles congregation for about eight years when I joined the ‘old’ Worship Group, run by Ian Skipper, and a house group. Overtime I found myself attending services more frequently and reconnecting with my faith more fully. When a vacancy arose for someone to send out Banns cards and 1st anniversary cards I volunteered to help. This was followed by joining the finance team and latterly the PCC. None of this is arduous and, depending upon the time of year, does not really take up a great deal of my time. What I do appreciate is the fact that I am actually able to give something back from the talents I have been gifted. As this month’s stewardship campaign gets underway it also my intention to set up a standing order to St Giles. It’s not hard to do and St Giles benefits from knowing what income is due allowing the church to better plan its mission and stewardship to everyone’s benefit.


John Reynolds

Making music, lesson reading and counting money are my voluntary contributions to the life of St Giles. Most importantly each of these activities involves being a member of a team. Membership of our very loyal choir is most rewarding, particularly from feeling that we make a positive contribution to worship at St Giles. The same may be said of reading a lesson on a regular basis. Then there is the behind-the-scenes fourth Sunday monthly turn at money steward when one counts, records and banks all cash coming to the church from collections, contributions and sales of publications in the preceding week. From each of these voluntary team activities one derives great fulfilment and pleasure in making a special contribution to the life of the parish.


Sally Attwood

St. Giles Church is very important to me. It has been, for generations, a place of worship and it is still a place of peace, stability and refuge in troubled and changing times. It is a place where one can grieve and a place where one can celebrate. It is more than just a beautiful building; it is a community of people trying to explore and live out their Christian faith in their lives and to reach out to others. St. Giles Church could not exist without its army of volunteers and there are numerous ways in which people can help. Even fulfilling a task as simple as being a sidesperson enables one to be part of something much bigger and to feel part of an active Christian community which, hopefully, will continue for many more generations.


June Honour

In 1987 Lewis Vincent then choir master and organist asked me to join the choir. I had sung in church choirs since the age of seven so I agreed. I can hardly believe that 32 years have passed and that some of the junior choir then have their own children now. Music is an important part of services and is chosen carefully to reflect the church calendar. Important too are the requested services such as weddings and funerals when the music is chosen by the couples and families. Church music can help to reflect and affect mood. It can soothe, uplift, give joy and be taken home with our thoughts.


Pam Stacey

I started attending St Giles around 1963 at 8 years of age - no Sunday school then - when we moved to the area from Bramhall in Cheshire (before that Salisbury Rhodesia and Johannesburg South Africa). I was confirmed and married here and our children Oliver and Victoria were baptised here. Oliver sang in the Junior choir. Living outside the parish in Chislehurst I did not get involved with volunteering until my 16 years of school PTA work - Red Hill Primary, St. Nicholas C of E Primary, Dartford Grammar and Bullers Wood came to an end with the children going on to University and I stopped child minding full time. My volunteer roles have been varied and have occurred as and when they fitted into my work/life schedule. I think my first role was as planned giving secretary when Edna Walker ‘retired’ from the role after 20 years and I thought ‘that is something that I can do from home without taking me out of the house’ and so I took over around 2013. My Mum, Audrey Evans passed away suddenly in 2012. She had helped with flowers for many years so I thought that I could ‘step into her shoes’ and help out with the clearing up and tea making but after some workshops and guidance from many experienced arrangers I became one of the arrangers too - achieving full flower arranger status I felt when I did my first pedestal in my Mother-in law’s memory in August. And then somewhere along the way I was asked by Matthew or Irene - I don’t remember who - to join the new team that was being formed to take on the Sunday school with the ‘retirement’ of the old team under Jackie Brown - maybe in 2014? So, from my various roles I have got to know a wider cross section of the congregation who attend different services - with so many services it is entirely possible not to know our fellow family members - a bit like neighbours who you know are there but you never see them as your life’s/paths do not cross. So, as I leave behind my children’s early years Sunday school keeps me in touch with the new young generation and flower arranging with ladies (no men yet?) from other services both at St Giles and St Nicholas who I would not otherwise get to know. Planned giving - a clue to where people live and sometimes enables me to put names to faces. So, in summary, volunteering is an enriching experience for me.


Roger Allard

For a number of years I was a member of Farnborough (Kent) Round Table and we were actively involved in fund raising and community service so perhaps it is not surprising that I have continued to be active in the community and believed in giving something back once my time in Round Table was over. While a member I had served two years as Deputy Churchwarden and then two years as Churchwarden at St Nicholas in the late 70’s and early 80’s when John Druce was Rector. I don’t recall any significant role at St Nicholas after that until I volunteered to be the first St Nicholas Treasurer when it was agreed to separate the St Giles and St Nicholas finances when Eric Heselwood was in charge at St Nicholas. I spent all my working life in finance, most of it as a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, so I thought I had something to offer when someone was needed to fill the role. I undertook this for 10 years until the pressure of work in a senior position meant that I no longer had the time to do the job. I retired in 2003 and after Alison Newman arrived at St Nicholas, St Nicholas was again looking for a Treasurer and in 2009 I was reappointed to my former position and am still in post – 20 years in total to date and perhaps quite a few more still to come. It is an important role and one I enjoy – with finance being one of the key areas in any organisation I am always involved in what is going on. Catherine in the St Nicholas office does the detailed work and inputs the income and expenditure details into the computer and reconciles the cash book to the bank account, but it is my role to prepare the annual budget for PCC approval, present statements of income and expenditure against budget to the PCC during the year and prepare the annual accounts, plus anything else with a financial flavour, stewardship campaigns, fund raising events, hall rents, wage rates for employees, gas, electricity and telephone contracts, just to mention a few. Just in case one job of Treasurer is not enough I am also the Treasurer of the Friends of St Giles the Abbot but I am not looking for a third position of Treasurer!!


Nick Wilkins

I’m in my 50th year as a bell ringer having started at St Martin’s, Chelsfield and further developed my interest and skill when at University in the 1970s by ringing at Portsmouth Cathedral. For me, it’s an opportunity to combine physical and mental exercise and produce, hopefully, a pleasing sound that travels up and out of the church tower to the village of Farnborough, reminding people of the presence of the church. Until 2012 the St Giles bell tower housed just the clock bell and Service bell but now additionally boasts a lovely light peal (called a ‘ring’ in bell ringing circles) of six bells. The tenor, or heaviest, of the ringing peal of six is a little under 3 hundredweight which is light in bell terms. Prior to the installation of the new bells, recruits were trained at Chelsfield and so we were able to hit the ground running with a full band of ringers when the bells arrived. Currently the St Giles ringers range in age from 9 to 88 with an even younger recruit starting to learn and because the bells are relatively light, they are easy for all ages to ring. Bell ringing is a cross generational activity and is sociable, relying on cooperation and teamwork. It’s also a ‘little bit’ different. I don’t claim to be musical but with bell ringing it’s a case of coordination and timing and is another rewarding aspect to church life. Since retiring in 2015 I’ve been able to spend more time ringing and teaching ringing. Although recently restricted by the organ works, St Giles bells are often rung on Tuesday’s, late morning for quarter peals, and Wednesday afternoons for teaching. Of course, that’s in addition to Sunday ringing and for weddings and other special occasions. As Tower Captain, I try to encourage all our ringers to enjoy their ringing and we go on ringing outings to other churches and meet other ringers. Likewise, a visiting group of ringers from Essex came to St Giles on August Bank Holiday Monday. There was a coach load of 50 ringers and they thoroughly enjoyed our bells - and also the church and it’s setting in general, too. Ringing has given me a lifetime of pleasure and which I hope to pass on to the future generations and perhaps today’s young St Giles ringers will eventually travel and ring, as have I, at churches and cathedrals as far away as America, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


Nick Reynolds

What do I do for St Giles?: Website development and updates (weekly, monthly and event-driven). Liaise with service providers as needed concerning website billing, outages or other issues. Maintain Parish records for burials and burials of ashes. Maintain the plans for the Garden of Remembrance, and dig new holes for ashes as needed. Maintain graveyard map. Member of the Team maintaining the churchyard in good order. Respond to the Parish Office and members of the public following burial queries. Technical support for the Parish Office and Parish Magazine Editor. One of the approved photographers at church events for photos for use in magazine and website. Maintain parish events log. Maintain Terrier and Inventory as required by Diocesan regulations, on behalf of the Church Warden. Parish archives, including liaison with the Diocese and Bromley Central library. Write articles for the magazine from time to time. If I would be asked to say why I do it, I would I suppose say putting what skills I have to some purpose to help St. Giles in Farnborough survive and run effectively, and have something to pass on to those that follow.


Chris Hallett

I suppose I have been volunteering at St Giles for the last 25 years but I haven’t really thought about it in that sense! When I first started to attend services I was at a very low point in my life, I was struggling with a number of difficulties but I received a welcome and acceptance that supported me through some very tough times. The friendships and fellowships I made at that time continue to this day and I am truly thankful. I believe it was the work of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit which guided the hhelp and support I received. Gradually I started to get involved in reading lessons, helping with church watch, preparing and leading intercessions and taking on sides-persons duties. I felt as if I was contributing in a small way to the life of the church and repaying the support it had given me. Eventually I was confirmed, completed a Developing Ministry course and Reader Training course followed a few years later by Funeral Ministry Training, so that I now lead and preach at non-Eucharist services and prepare for and conduct funerals both at church and in Crematoriums. I also take a small service for the interment of cremated remains in the churchyard. None of this actually feels like volunteering as it gives me so much joy and a peace which is hard to put into words, to be able to serve others needs in any way that God leads me to do.


Lindsay Barnes

I feel the volunteering roles we take on in the church, large or small, all have merit. One of my favourite roles is being part of the brass cleaning team. A band of lovely ladies each take our turn for about an hour once every couple of months to do this very satisfying job. It can be a time of quiet and reflection in the church and it is very rewarding to see the brass gleaming! It really is a privilege to help keep our church looking so beautiful and a lovely way of honouring God.


Paul Barnes

Over the years I have been given the opportunity by Matthew to be involved in many aspects of our church life. I am now involved with the Communion Serving and Chalice Bearing Team which I find both challenging and spiritual. Being of service to the church and community in this way is an unqualified honour. Thank you to Matthew for his encouragement.


Susan Midha

Apparently the Biblical meaning of stewardship can be summed up as “using and managing all the resources God provides for His glory and for the betterment of His Creation”. Phew! What a challenge? I am sure I don’t get anywhere near to that, but I know that whenever we step out of our comfort zone in faith, even in “baby steps”, our loving Father is there, supporting us and delighted with our efforts.


Margaret Thurgood

I used to attend Matins with my husband irregularly, but when he died I started singing in the choir. I get pleasure from learning new music and using my voice and I enjoy the company and the feeling of being part of a community. I miss him, of course, but it is getting easier."


Helen Roberts

St Giles Church means a lot to my family. We have had times of joy and times of sadness here. Hatching – we have had two Christenings. Matching – we have had two lovely weddings. Dispatching – we have had three interments of ashes in the Garden of Remembrance. I hope that this beautiful church will continue to be a place of importance in people's lives for many years to come. Having received so much pleasure in happy times and so much comfort in times of grief, I am grateful to be able to contribute to the ongoing life of the church by occasionally singing in the choir and helping Eddie with the magazine.

October 2019