Reflections on the Fifth Festival

Pictures from the day after, comments from the Visitors' Book,
some of the prayers on the Prayer Tree - and afterthoughts on the wonderful success of the whole week

After we closed on Saturday, a gallant band of helpers brought in the big St Faith's Christmas tree,
erected it in its traditional place and decorated it.


Sunday 8th September

The big tree, as well as all the Festival trees, were lit ready to welcome the congregation to the 11.00 am
Sung Eucharist. There was spectacular incense highlighted by a welcome spell of sunshine to welcome
the baptism of Sophie Iris,  as well as a first sermon by Revd Denise McDougall,
making  a welcome return to our midst after her study leave - and Kirsty lit the second Advent candle.
After a swift lunch it was time to return the church to a semblance of normality,
with sponsors stripping their trees of decorations - and sometimes just walking away with them intact!
There were lights to untangle and pack away, church furnishings to restore
and more than a little sweeping up at the end of amazing weeks.


Festival Reflections

The January 2014 edition of our magazine Newslink will carry these four contributions
reflecting in their different ways on the events of the Christmas Tree Festival week.

Margaret Houghton, the inspiration behind all five festivals, starts us off

    Since the Tree Festivals began five years ago, I think 2013 must be hailed as the best yet. From the first sponsor arriving to decorate the trees on Friday 29th November until the last tree was dismantled, the furnishings replaced and the floors swept to a needle less perfection it has been fun. We worked a lot, panic, only slight, sold a lot and laughed a lot.
    I think the punters enjoyed it too, having read many of their compliments in the visitors' book. Choirs almost by the score, all in excellent voice, carol singing and the finale on Saturday morning when the Liverpool Saturday Music School gave a roof raising sound to a filled church, standing room only being solved by a row of chairs in the rear stalls. What a splendid occasion and one to be remembered with 'good cheer'. Will there be another Tree Festival, who knows!

Eunice Little, founder and organiser of our Services Family Support Group, who arranged the  military band carol service, writes next
    It hardly seems possible that a year has passed since I was last writing about our carol service, but it has, and on Wednesday December 4th we were doing it again. And wow! – was it a great evening!
    Once again we had the excellent military band as in the previous years, who started the proceedings with an overture of Christmas melodies, before accompanying the singing of six carols between the readings of the Christmas story and the lighting of our candle. Padre George Perera gave a gentle, reflective address, bringing together the D-Day landings, our monthly group meetings and the needs of those presently serving in Afghanistan. These latter were also included in the prayers, led by Padre Nathan King of the Royal Welsh, who included those who will be so far from their homes and loved ones this Christmas.
    The service concluded with a wonderful compilation of carols and music by the band, which kept everyone in their seats to give the players thunderous applause to end the concert. It was once again a wonderful, uplifting evening, enjoyed by all and demonstrated  by the very generous donations given to the retiring collection, roughly estimated at well over £300, to be shared equally between U.K. Forces Support, Combat Stress and BLESMA.
    So not only do our thanks go to W.O.1 D.L. Mitchell and the Lancashire Artillery Band, but to all who supported the evening and throughout the year.
    Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday February 5th, 2014, when our guest speaker at 7.30 pm in church will be Padre Nathan King, who will speak to us of his experiences in Afghanistan, so please join us of you can.
    Happy Christmas to you all.

Rick Walker, who entertained us valiantly with his newfangled music machine, explains how his ingenious construction came about
Sir Stig and Crosby Castle (or how to get out of washing up for 18 months)
    Just after Easter 2012, Rosie and I were attending a steam rally at Banks in Southport, watching traction engines, saw-mills and assorted loud and noisy machines of a bygone age, each beast more oily and steamy than the last.
    Then, as we left we heard the sweet sound of music coming from the corner of the field. We investigated and found the source.
    There was a small wooden musical box producing music equal to that of the mythological sirens who enticed boats on to rocks. It was love at first sound!
    Just turning the handle of his wonderful contraption for a few minutes fired my imagination and made me determined to build one. The only problem was where did I start?
    Luckily Google came to my rescue and within a few days I had a collection of drawings and instructions that gave me the courage to have a go. I should now explain that common sense was rapidly deserting me through the window and what was originally going to be a copy of a 32 note mechanical flute, was now destined to be a 64 key Busker’s organ, with100 pipes plus glockenspiel and percussion.
    The next 18 months saw DIY on a grand scale. No time for telly, reading, or any other relaxing hobby such as washing up, but time needed to understand folding bellows, MIDI interfaces, spring making, electronic switching, bourdons and stops, and the difference between vibrato, celeste and tremolo.
    Those who saw the result during the Christmas Tree Festival will have their own thoughts (as do my neighbours) but I am secretly rather proud of my efforts, and if I am allowed a few more week’s holiday from washing up I shall be introducing some more subtle tones and controls into the organ. Rosie and I have now joined B O G A which as I am sure you all know is the British Organ Grinders Association, and we look forward to many, many hours handle turning as Sir Stig takes his castle around charity events.
    So the next time you see a lonely guy churning away at his musical organ, spare a thought for his poor wife who has spent more than her fair share of time doing the chores!

Chris Price, website manager, magazine editor and taker of all the photos, adds his impressions
    Looking back on a long week of activity, it is absolutely clear that in terms of enjoyment, team spirit, attendance, income and sheer delight the fifth annual Christmas Tree Festival at St Faith’s was the best ever.    
    It was so good to welcome so many folk into a warm, friendly and colourful church. So many of our visitors commented on the liveliness and warmth of the welcome, the beauty of the displays, the quality of the food and other things on sale, and above all the wonderful community effort and the supporting of so many excellent causes. When  churches so often seem to ask people in only to make money out or them, the fact that entry and entertainment were free surprised and delighted many visitors, some of whom were seemingly strangers to this or indeed any church. In these difficult times, it is heartening beyond words to have shared in this enterprise. As one visitor put it: ‘A wonderful idea, so well prepared by so many people, and just what a church should be doing for the community and those in need’ . Couldn’t have put it better myself....
    There were as ever, at least for this doorman, entertainments en route. ‘Is this a Roman Catholic Church?’ asked one puzzled visitor. On being told it wasn’t, he wanted to know what exactly we were, so I told him and invited him in. ‘So you’re not a Roman Catholic Church, then?’ Sadly, not, I said again. ‘Well, do you have a toilet then?’ I showed him the way to our ecumenical facilities, and saw him no more. On a more touching note, a small boy with one of the many class parties from Waterloo Primary stopped me by the Prayer Tree and asked quietly: ‘Please sir, is it all right if I pray here?’ On being gently reassured, he thought for a moment and said: ‘Sir, where can I pray, then?’
    That prayer tree, on which visitors young and old hung their written petitions, was soon overflowing with heartfelt prayer for families, the sick, the departed, pets and more.         But my favourite is the one which simply read: ‘Dear God, please help me to find money on the floor’.
    And one more thing. A visiting lady, recently moved to Waterloo, asked me if there was any memorial to our founder and benefactor Douglas Horsfall in St Faith’s. I showed her various inscriptions and carvings, and discovered, to my amazement and delight, that she was a direct descendant of Mr Horsfall! I pointed her in the direction of the substantial Horsfall archive on the church website and she left, delighted, promising to be in touch.

Click on the links below for the rest of the story...

The festival schedule
The festival pictorial record
The Visitors' Book and the Prayer Tree

The Trees index page (links to all five years)