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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you would like to receive a postal copy of Newslink  each month, free of charge, email the Editor 

July 2009

From the Ministry Team

Dear friends,

Politicians may not like democratic elections (unless they win, of course) but they do at least give people a chance to voice their opinions and have their say. Quite what people really were saying in the local and European elections remains to be seen! Even the Church of England does its work through Synods, PCCs and Church Representation Rules. Processes are important and involving and including people is a good rule to work by.

With this in mind we have just completed a process where every member of the church has had the opportunity to participate and have their say. Following on from our engagement with the Mission Shaped Introduction course (MSI) undertaken by many in Lent, two very successful and moving prayer evenings at Pentecost led us to make some decisions about the way forward. The group of almost 30 people who met on 8th June felt very strongly that we ought to make our work with families and young people one of our priorities; we nonetheless felt we want to include people of all ages in whatever way we can so that no one is left out!

Among the points discussed were (in no particular order):
* Having opportunities for the church to be ‘open’ more, in much the same way as we do on summer Saturday concert mornings. Refreshments could be served and the opportunity for people, particularly those who might be lonely, to come together and enjoy food and drink. Parts of the church might be set aside for prayer zones, for quiet and reflection. There might be the opportunity to pray with people if requested. We felt we wanted to see our church buildings as a resource which might help us to meet people’s spiritual needs in ways that don’t necessarily happen during formal liturgy.
* Continuing to find opportunities when we can share our faith together so that we might have more confidence in sharing our faith with others.
* The Church can often seem a very threatening and regimented place: we need to work hard to break down those barriers and dispel the myth.
* Seeking to involve local schools more is something we would like to see happening more. Better links can be made and many would like to explore this area further.
* Our current activities, such as Holiday Clubs and Craft Days for children might well form the basis for a fresh expression known as “Messy Church” (see the www!)
* What might be right for us in terms of a ‘fresh expression’ will be very different to how things might take shape in another church community. We have to be ourselves and take on board our own setting and resources.
* There was a very real sense that while there might be uncertainty and anxiety about how we move forward; there was nevertheless a feeling that moving forward was the right thing to do. Our faith and experience of God must not be a private treasure – it is something precious that we all agreed must be shared with more people around us.

Those who came to the meeting on 8th June had clearly spent much time thinking and praying about our future. We recognised that we are at a ‘crossroads’ and that is very exciting. People spoke passionately about how what they had learned during the MSI course had encouraged them and gave them enthusiasm to share their faith with others and connect more with the community around us.

All in all it was a very positive and encouraging evening and I, for one, am very excited about what the future will bring to us and our community.

The beginning and the end: prayer. It can never be stressed too much that the basis for all we do is prayer. That was so evident at the prayer evenings and subsequent meeting. To this end a small number of people are committing themselves to meeting weekly in S. Mary’s to pray informally for the mission of our United Benefice on a Thursday evening at 6.30pm. Details will appear on the website and weekly sheet.

Please, if and when you can, come along and pray so that together we can continue to open ourselves up to the working and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

With my love and prayers

Fr Neil

God of unchanging power
your Holy Spirit enables us
to proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give to our United Benefice fresh understanding and a clear vision
that together we may respond to the call to be your disciples
and so to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year of the Child 2009

Who do you know that has made a real difference?

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Year of the Child, the Diocese of Liverpool is searching for children’s & youth workers who have made a significant contribution to the life of your children’s and/or youth ministry. Maybe their commitment/inspiration/dedication has made a real impact in your parish.

Know someone who’s been involved in parish children’s or youth work for 10 years or more?

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Year of the Child, the Diocese of Liverpool would like to acknowledge the wonderful work of those who have served God as children/youth workers for 10 years or more. Please tell us who they are and allow us to celebrate their long service with a certificate. Please download a nomination from the diocesan website if you would like someone’s commitment to this work recognised here at St. Faith’s!

And, as part of our ongoing commitment to work with young people and families at St. Faith’s, the PCC is continuing to work towards applying to be considered for the Child Friendly Church Award.

Bootle Deanery Eucharist
Preacher: The Reverend Richard White (Dream Network)
Sunday 12th July at 11.00am

Following on from the highly successful deanery service held at St. Faith’s last year, all congregations in the Bootle Deanery are coming together for a shared service again. This year we will gather in St. Paul’s Hatton Hill for the Eucharist, which will be followed by a shared meal.

There will be no services in St. Faith’s or St. Mary’s that day: if you require transport please speak to one of the Churchwardens and it can be arranged.


Two important fund-raising events coming shortly...
Saturday 11th July - Open Gardens Day

Treat yourself to a blooming wonderful afternoon at the return of our popular Open Gardens Day. Several parishioners (locations to be announced!) will be opening their gardens to the public for the afternoon so, if you are interested in gardens or just plain nosy, come along for what promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Refreshments are provided and donations are for St. Faith’s church funds.
Gardens are open from 2.00pm until 5.30pm.
concluding with…

Pimms, Punch and Jazz in the Vicarage Garden from 8pm – 10pm
Tickets available from church: £5

Back by popular demand...
(and demanding it is... ask the Vicar!)

24-hour Sponsored Organ Play
by Fr. Neil in aid of Church Funds

Sunday 23rd August 4pm until
Monday 24th August 4pm in S. Mary’s
(all proceeds to be split evenly between both parishes)

Following up Saint Faith

Chris Price

The trail of our patron saint has not gone cold. After quite an interval of time, there comes news of her life and legend - and of yet another (possible) dedication to her name.

The story begins with a generous recent donation from Mary Rae, the esteemed descendant of our equally esteemed founder, Douglas Horsfall. Mary visited us some years ago, and we have been in touch via the magazine and occasional correspondence. Accompanying her donation was an article headed ‘Historical Notes’, which Mary says ‘was printed in 1866, when HDH was ten years old’. It gives information about ‘our’ saint, with the usual basic story, but with some interesting little extras.

Faith, the daughter of Christian parents, was, according to this account, ‘of remarkable beauty, but insensible to the allurements of the world.’ Her steadfastness in the faith, her refusal to sacrifice to Diana and her painful martyrdom, are all faithfully recorded. She is ‘represented with a crown on her head, her body stripped to the waist (not in any of our pictures or statues! Ed.); a clasped book or a sword is in one hand, while the other rests  on a brazen bed  or holds  a bundle  of rods’  (she was ‘half-roasted’  on the former after having been beaten with the latter.) Our statue, as is the case of some of the other images of the girl, do indeed show a clasped book (contents unspecified) but she is usually holding a palm rather than a bundle of rods.

Following the trail of linked references via the ubiquitous Google internet search engine, further interesting details appear, some of which this writer had not come across before. I suppose I should have known that the Spanish for our saint is Santa Fe (hitherto more associated by this writer with an American railroad!) The story proclaimed of the appropriation (or theft) of her relics from Agen (where she was martyred) to Conques is well enough known. It is claimed online, however, that ‘during the ninth century, Faith’s cult was fused with that of Caprasius of Agen and Alberta of Agen. One legend apparently states that during Christian persecution, Caprasius fled to Mont-Saint-Vincent, near Agen, where he witnessed the execution of Faith from atop the hill. Caprasius was condemned to death along with Alberta, Faith's sister, and two brothers. All four, according to the story, were beheaded.’

Finally, this revealing site says that her legend portrays her as a patron who could turn against those who only gave small donations to her church at Conques! Miracles associated with Faith are referred to as joca - Latin for ‘tricks’, or ‘jokes’.

And so the story grows in detail, and the ‘legend’ is fleshed out with a family and a black sense of humour. Whether or not Faith existed, with or without siblings and index-linked miracles, her cult is world-wide and, as we know, there are quite a few churches and other places and things dedicated to her name. Mary Rae’s cutting speaks of ‘sixteen churches in England… named in her sole honour, and Little Wittenham, Berks, in the names of Saint Faith and All Saints’. As a matter of record, the current English tally stands at 38, without the Little Wittenham church. Searches now reveal the existence of a church there, but it is dedicated to St Peter. However, a footnote to one website seems to imply a historical dedication to St Faith and All Saints, so it’s now on the list. This can be found on the church website at sfchurcheslist.html … with links to other pages giving her story, and quite a few related features. Watch that space…

Thank You

Following the recent splendid Summer Saturday concert by the Liverpool Youth Ensemble Senior Brass Group, we were happy to receive this letter from a couple of ‘regulars’, which will surely echo the opinion of many.

Dear Editor

We want to express our appreciation of the Saturday morning concerts held in St Faith’s. It would be unfair to single out any of them for a special mention, but the young talented musicians we have heard deserve to be acknowledged for their efforts.

We hear, or read about, the bad behaviour of young people these days, and not enough praise is given to those who deserve it.

So – thank you for the pleasure you give, and as Oliver Twist would say… ‘Please can we have some more?’

Frank Sharples
Ada Slater

(Saint) Kevin’s Night
Leo Appleton

At the funeral of our dear friend Kevin Walsh last November, Father Neil revealed to us that Saint Kevin was in fact, and also very appropriately, the patron saint of parties, and that Saint Kevin’s day is June 3rd each year. It was at that point we decided that we should try to celebrate St Kevin’s Day in memory of our good friend, and to also use the opportunity for fellowship and fund raising. Therefore, Saturday 6th June saw a huge gathering in St Faith’s church hall, for what we hope will now be an annual celebration of St Kevin’s Day. To recognise Kevin’s Irish roots, we decided that we should have an Irish theme and have ourselves a sort of mid-year St Patrick’s Day celebration.
The evening was full of activity with entertainment provided by the Gallagher School of Irish Dance and a marvellous Ceilidh Band, as well as sponsored karaoke and an Irish sing along. The celebrations were a resounding success and huge thanks must go to everyone who contributed towards the evening, including all the kind people who helped with cooking and catering, and in particular to Judith who as ever excelled as ‘Events Manager’.
It was great to see so many members of the United Benefice present and also so many guests in the hall for this fabulous party. And as if the fellowship and celebration aspects of the night were not enough, we also managed to raise over £700 towards church funds as well.
Well done everyone, and let’s look forward to St Kevin’s Day 2010!
(See Brian Evison’s pictures of the evening on our centre spread)

Merian Derwent

Kath Zimak

John Logan, who lives near Wigan, runs Merian Derwent. This is part of an article he has written to accompany the products which will now be on sale at St Faith’s Fairtrade stall. Those who have produced these goods have already received a payment that gives them a livelihood. John gives 10% of his sales profits to churches and organisations that sell his goods. This is the policy he has decided upon in order to help both the producers and those voluntary organisations that help to sell the products. He has written this article which may give some background to our own decision to sell his wares.

“While I was working for Christian Aid, the UK relief and development agency, I visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2001. My initial contacts with a few groups and individuals were made on that first visit and I began to sell a limited range of Palestinian crafts when speaking about the situation to church groups and others on my return. The range of crafts available and the number of suppliers has grown over the years, and I now have a web site as a development of that:

Some items for sale on this site are from producers known to be acting by ‘Fairtrade’ guidelines (as Christian Aid partners for example), although none, to my knowledge, have been ratified by the UK’s Fairtrade Foundation. Merian Derwent’s attitude is that the situation is currently so dire, that anything we can do to support local Palestinians in the severe economic restrictions imposed upon them is well worth doing, even if it is not technically ‘Fairtrade’. The supplier of Gazan decorated glass has had 6,000 items waiting in a warehouse there for shipment for the last eighteen months, while Israel and the international community insist nothing goes in or out. The factory is closed and the staff are some of the 80% of Gazans who are unemployed.

The Palestinian Fair Trade Association, who supply Zaytoun ( with olive oil products and some foods, are guaranteed as Fairtrade producers through the Swiss equivalent of the UK’s Fairtrade Foundation .

As Merian Derwent tries in a small way to put some power back into the Palestinian economy by bringing samples of their crafts to sell to people in the UK, I hope that readers of this article will find this work of value and interest.

The name “Merian Derwent”
Some people ask about the name. Derwent was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name,  and my father’s  middle  ame.  Merian  was the name of the house in Sidmouth, Devon, where we had a fortnight’s holiday every summer as children – a place of very happy memories!  I include some personal items in the shop - publications of my grandfather’s and my poetry.”

John Logan

A Book for the Summer?
'Ancient Faith, Future Mission':
Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental traditions –
Steven CROFT & Ian MOSBY (eds.)
ISBN No: 9781853119736

‘Mission-shaped Church’, the groundbreaking report published in 2004, has sold over 20,000 copies and has changed the way mission is done. Fresh Expressions, which sprang into being in its wake, is now an established and growing presence in the church. 350 people are in training for Pioneer Ministry.
Fresh Expressions conjures up children’s clubs, cafe church and innovative youth work, yet this is not the whole story. Churches from the traditional wings of the church are being equally creative and imaginative, exploring alternative ways of worshipping and being Christian communities. Their focus may be more contemplative than action-packed, but the place of encounter with God needs space and silence.

Practitioners from such churches tell their stories and reflect theologically on the initiatives they are exploring. Some of the very best names in the field have contributed to this book, which will make a unique and important contribution to the understanding and practice of mission today. This title includes many well-known contributors: Rowan Williams, Brian McLaren, Steven Croft, Stephen Cottrell, Richard Giles, Phyllis Tickle and priest missioners from traditional Anglican parishes and emergent churches in the US.

…is Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions.
…is Priest Missioner at St Matthew’s Westminster, Associate Missioner of Fresh Expressions and founder of MOOT, a worship community exploring fresh ways of being the church in the centre of London.

‘The Pelican in her Piety’

To most people pelicans are just big birds with big beaks. To Christians, especially the better-informed adherents of the Catholic persuasion, the pelican means much more. This writer became one of the aforementioned as an undergraduate at Oxford University, where the college which his school chose for him to try for sported a pelican in its coat of arms. The college was Corpus Christi, the Latin for the body of Christ. Curiosity, and a growing exploration of newly-found faith, led me to explore the concept, and the bird. Having found out what it all meant, and having celebrated the June feast of Corpus Christi at St Faith’s and elsewhere, I was naturally more than a little intrigued to find the bird of the title of this piece painted on a sign hanging over a pub in South Wales.

The hostelry in question is outside Ogmore, on the Glamorgan coast, and the colourful sign and the intriguing title of the inn were only glimpsed in passing through en route elsewhere, so we were unable to partake of the Pelican’s hospitality. We did visit two fine cathedrals (Llandaff in Cardiff, and Brecon), the ancient church in Llantwit Major claiming to be the oldest seat of Christian learning in Britain, and also the great church and monastic settlement at nearby Ewenny. But it took Google to satisfy my curiosity, and to make the connection between the inn and the Priory at Ewenny.

Henry VIII started it (bless him… if that is the phrase I’m seeking). At the infamous Dissolution of the Monasteries, Ewenny passed into the hands of the local Carne family. Sir Edward Carne, of Catholic sympathies, was nevertheless a trusted servant of the King and survived into Elizabeth’s reign, apparently deeply involved in attempts to reconcile Rome with the newly-established Church of England. He was effectively the abbot of Ewenny, and his family’s descendants, the Turbervills, live there to this day. The ancient Ogmore pub was named the Pelican – and the Carne family coat of arms features the bird. It was renamed ‘The Pelican-in-her-Piety’ as recently as 2000 to depict its true history.

So where does the religious connection come from? The pub website describes it as ‘an ancient Christian symbol, possibly originating in the Middle East.’ The bird is a female, on its nest, ‘with wings half spread and chicks waiting at her feet with open beaks. She is plucking her breast and allowing the drops of blood to fall into the mouths of the chicks, thus symbolising Christ feeding his flock with his blood.’ The full name of the title is in fact a term in heraldry.

This writer can add a few details. The self-sacrificing pelican features on the heraldic crest of Bishop Fox, who founded my Oxford college, which bears the name Corpus Christi and has a famous pelican sundial in its front quad, and whose magazine is called ‘The Pelican Record.’ The seemingly sacramental bird’s behaviour has a less mystical reality,  with several physiological explanations in existence.  One explanation is that female pelicans pluck the down from their breast to feather their nests for the comfort of their chicks. This can leave exposed red flesh on the breast, which would seem to have become confused with blood. The rest, as they say, is history. Shakespeare knew of the bird’s legendary qualities. Hamlet, seeking trustworthy friends, declares that when he finds such, he will, ‘like the kind, life-rendering pelican/Repast them with my blood.’

‘A wonderful bird is the pelican…’

Chris Price


Christian Aid Week 2009

Many thanks to the 28 collectors from S. Faith’s who took part in the street collections this year. Thanks to the increased numbers we managed to match last year’s total despite the current financial climate and the sum raised to date has again exceeded £1100.

Christian Aid Week has been described as Europe’s greatest act of Christian witness by 300,000 volunteers who undertake this particular mission on behalf of their local churches and our Lord.  At present it is probably the only time as a church we knock on every door in our parish, bear witness to our faith and extend a message of friendship to those who otherwise would never meet us. We found the response was in most cases positive... perhaps we should try it at other times during the year!!

Well done everybody and a big thank you to all who supported us with their prayers and donations.

Kath Zimak

Funny You Should Say That

 Sometimes I wake up grumpy — other times I let her sleep!
 (NB insult reversible according to gender)

You know there’s a problem with our education system when you realise that, of the three R’s, only one actually begins with an R.

I used to be a safe driver, but I gave it up. Who wants to drive a safe?

‘I’m sorry there are no flowers in your room,’ said Dr Fred lackadaisically.

‘What happened to your skin?’ asked Dr Fred rashly.

‘I’m afraid we had to amputate,’ said Dr Fred disarmingly.
(Responsibility for all of the above lies with Another Church’s Magazine..... Ed.)

The Gardener's Hymn

To celebrate the impending Open Gardens day, we reprint a ‘hymn’ which should strike a chord with all who have rashly agree to take part….

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

But what we never mention
Though gardeners know it’s true
Is when he made the goodies
He made the baddies too.

All things spray and squattable
Disasters great and small
All things paraquatable,
The Lord God made them all.

The greenfly on the roses
The maggots in the peas
Manure that fills our noses,
He also gave us these.

The fungus on the goose-gogs
The clubroot on the greens
The slugs that eat the lettuce
And chew the aubergines.

The drought that kills the fuchsias
The frost that nips the buds
The rain that drowns the seedlings
The blight that hits the spuds.

The midges and mosquitoes
The nettles and the weeds
The pigeons in the green stuff
The sparrows on the seeds.

The fly that gets the carrots
The wasp that eats the plums
How black the gardener’s outlook
Though green may be his thumbs.

But still we gardeners labour
Midst vegetables and flowers
And pray what hits the neighbours
Will somehow bypass ours!


Rotas: Why change?

The text of a letter to the congregation explaining why, from this month, a new Ministries Rota has been launched, coordinating all who are on duty at our main services. The lists may be accessed via the church website.

A number of reasons have led to this. With all the rotas being compiled separately, we’ve noticed that, on some Sundays, the same person can be doing up to four different jobs! Both the PCC and the Ministry Team have spoken about this over the past months and discussed how we can involve and include a greater number of people in the Sunday Eucharist. Also, it means you will see if people are already busy on a Sunday when a swap is needed. Sometimes a swap will be unavoidable but hopefully this will help us to share the tasks more fairly and ease the burden for everyone.

The flower rota and cleaning rota have not been overlooked!  It’s just that these tasks are not normally undertaken at 11am on Sunday, though of course an essential part of the preparation for our worship!

Please tell the relevant Team Leader if you need to swap or arrange a substitute so that the main copy at the back of church can be altered.  This helps the Duty Warden to know who to expect for duty!  In some cases people will receive further notes from various people (notes about readings from Joan, notes about serving from Fr. Neil, Angie re Sunday School, Maureen re sides-people, and so on).

This also demonstrates clearly how very fortunate we are to have such a large band of people committed to many and varied ministries; long may it continue and even develop! It will take a while to synchronise the planning of all this, so please bear with us!

Lastly, I am very grateful for all the hard work and commitment by so many.  None of what is done is taken for granted.  But I am also increasingly aware that ultimately the Vicar and Wardens are responsible for the ordering of all aspects of worship (and in that regard we are accountable to the Bishop of Liverpool). I hope that with the Ministry Team giving more of a lead with this strategic approach to a more ‘inclusive’ ministry, those of us licensed by Bishop James to this task may be able to exercise the ministry entrusted to us more effectively.

Fr. Neil, Kari Dodson and Maureen Madden

Website Witterings

Our church website was launched in April 1997. Early last month, we registered our 100,000th visitor. This is no great shakes by the standards of many sites, which count their ‘hits’ in millions, but the editor and website manager feels it is worth a mention.

Thanks to the vigilant web-surfing of our esteemed Treasurer, David Jones, we have been nominated in the Website of the Year competition, sponsored by Surefish (great name!), an offshoot of Christian Aid, and in association with the Church Times. Visitors to our site (does that mean you…?) may read about it from the front page link, and see whether we have been shortlisted, and maybe vote for us (up to July 8th). There are many fine sites to see – many of them professionally funded and run, I guess.

Those Were the Days

While researching her family links with Crosby, in the Isle of Man, Ruth Winder came across this extract from the 1611 diary of William Blundell of Little Crosby. As she said to me, it shows just how bigoted Christians were then. The Squire records the making of  a burial ground on his land for his Roman Catholic tenants, since they were refused Anglican burial at  Sefton Church. Thank God we live in such tolerant times today….(!) 

“I William Blundell of Litle Crosbie, within the Countie of Lancaster, Esquire, a weeke or a fowertnighte before Christenmas laste paste, havinge hearde that Catholicke Recusants were prohibited to bee buried at theire Parishe Church, bethought mee (myself through God’s grace beinge also a Catholique) where were best to make readie in this my village of Litle Crosbie a place fitt to burie suche Catholiques either of myne owne howse or of the Neighbourhoode as should departe this lyfe duringe the tyme of these trobles.

And so I caused a litle peece of grownde to bee enclosed wthin myne owne demaine land in a place called of ould tyme (as it is nowe also) the Harkirke. The workmen whoe dytched and enclosed it on twoe sydes (for ye other twoe sydes were fenced before) were John Ryse and Thomas Marrall, the elder, bothe of this towne of Little Crosbie and my tennants. They finished ye dytch a litle before Christenmas laste, leavinge abowte the middest of the northweste syde of it a gappe or waye into it undytched of some twoe yards wyde. And thus it remayned without anie use of buriall (the gappe also still lyinge open) untill the deathe of an ould man and Tenante of myne whoe, dyinge a Catholicke, was not p’mitted by the Parson of Sephton to bee buried at the Parish Churche of Sephton, though some of the olde man’s neighbours solicited the same, yea, and brought the corse neare to the Churche to bee buried uppon Sonday in the afore noone, beinge the seventhe of Aprill of this prsent yeare of our Lorde one thousand sixe hundred and eleven (1611).

The Neighbours, therfore, whoe caried and attended or accompanied the corse, came to the foresaid place in my grownd, wch they or some of the cheeffeste of them had hearde was by mee enclosed from the reste of my grownde there for suche a purpose: And there buried the Corpes about twelve a Clocke when I was at dinner. This ould man’s name was Wm Mathewson.”

Desert Trek Diary
A further extract from Mari Griffiths’ account of her epic Saharan walk.

‘Monday morning arrived far too quickly. No lie-in for us, we were woken at 6 am very cold as before. I had slept so well that night and a quick wash in my sleeping bag(!) with baby wipes did little to refresh me but c’est la vie. Ahmed’s porridge did much to restore everyone’s spirits.

I had a very surreal experience that morning. I found myself talking to Brahaim, a Berber who speaks Arabic and English, in French. Larcen the guide joined and the conversation continued in German culminating in me trying to teach them a few words of Greek (perhaps I should explain at this point that my grasp of all these languages is limited to say the least)! Breakfast was followed by the usual blister clinic. It became quite normal to see people displaying their feet in strange places even around the breakfast tent!

Plastered and bandaged (this was the first day of poor Susie’s suffering - all will become clear later), we set off. Plan B for me, today I kept up with the leaders and walked carrying an empty water bottle in my hand. The previous day my hands and fingers were so  in swollen with the heat I could hardly move them so I thought by keeping them up it might relieve the problem; but I did look very silly.

It was a good morning walking through a fossil field: most were too large and heavy to carry though. I spent some time talking to John Brunning, the Classic FM DJ who came with us. What an interesting and knowledgeable man with a fabulous sense of humour. He was once in a group called ‘Mungo Jerry’ and is now a classsical composer in his own right.

A hot lunch was followed by the most difficult terrain so far. Dunes, dunes and more dunes. Even hotter than the previous day, sun reflecting off the sand. I could feel my heart racing and the only way I could keep at all cool was by using my precious water on the scarf on the back of my neck. It was even too hot to talk to anyone.

Again on arrival at camp there was a reception committee waiting for us with hot mint tea and cakes. Some of our valiant trekkers were quite emotional and exhausted. I tore off my boots, hoping never to have to put them on again and was just examining my blister when Rolf the trek leader came in and invited us to climb the dunes to see the sunset. Oh heck, I thought, why not? So I donned my flip-flops although I was assured it was quite safe to go bare-footed and set off. It was amazing, the atmosphere was wonderful and we spent our time taking in the changing colours of the dunes as the sun moved towards the horizon and watching Pete (a middle-aged long-haired gentleman), doing cartwheels. The sun set very quickly and we headed back to the camp for another delicious meal.
On 19th July this year I shall be visiting Mulago Hospital in Uganda on a work exchange from the Women’s Hospital. I shall be going with a consultant obstetrician with a view to seeing if we can change the number of women who die in childbirth. At the moment on leaving theatre after major surgery, women are wheeled into the corridor and left there with no regular checks made so people die.

So in addition to continuing the Saharan saga I’ll let you know how I get on.


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