What our visitors said
As happened last year, there was a visitors' book in which those who came to the festival were invited to leave their
comments and impressions. The response was overwhelmingly favourable and appreciative, and we are so glad that so many
people were so impressed. Here are some of the things they wrote.
" What a wonderful idea..."
"Beautiful Christmassy smells...superb display, uplifting sight...."
"Lunch was excellent...nice cakes!... My little boy loved lighting a candle for his nana and grandad..."
"It was awesome, do it every year..."
"An event not to be missed, c.u. next year... Absolutely breathtaking... All so beautiful..."
"Adds a bit of sparkle to a very cold day!... Such beauty and imagination... Lovely music..."
"Clever, creative and beautiful - fantastic!!..."
"Thank you to the organisers... Very heart warming... very emotional... What a great atmosphere..."
"Wonderful service, thank you... Represents the TRUE spirit of Christmas... What a lovely idea – tremendous! ..."
"So thought-provoking, God bless all... What a wonderful way to raise money... Wonderful, so worth coming to see..."
"Wonderful, Christmas is about this...Music beautiful as were trees... Really, really good, amazing..."
"Lots of hard work!... Nice to be back, see you at Christingle...Very tasty refreshments!..."
"Really uplifting and moving experience... Lovely, you all work so hard..."
" Beautiful and peaceful, thank you so much."
The Trees in Retrospect
The second St Faith’s Christmas Tree Festival has come and gone. Months of long-term planning, followed by several days of intense activity, led up to a week of openings (adding up to nearly 48 hours when the doors were open to the public),and then the wind-down of tree un-decorating and removal, money counting and pine needle sweeping up.
Looking back there can be no doubting the success of the whole thing. You only have to read some of the visitors’ comments reproduced above, or to have listened to the endless stream of compliments as people came and went, to know that. There was no realistic way of counting attendances, and many people came more than once anyway, but a few figures give an idea.
Because of the generous sponsorship of two members of our congregation, there were significant amounts of money waiting for the three trees voted best in show. To this end we included voting slips with the programmes, and there were 744 of them returned. Many people didn’t fill in a slip, and the long crocodiles of school parties throughout the week didn’t vote either – and there were several; hundred of them and their patient teachers. So there were certainly over 1,000 visits, and probably quite a lot more – defionitely up on last year. For the record, the Top Tree was that of our Services Family Support Group/Support our Soldiers, whose tree, hung with the poignant photos of the recent war dead, was a constant focus of solemn attention. The Waterloo Partnership’s tree came second, and MTGS Stanfield’s Tree of the Ocean came third.
The various sales outlets did a steady trade. Food and drink (this year including the products of our hot soup maker) were always in demand, and the St Faith’s Jam Factory, which started the week with some 300 assorted jars of preserves to sell, ended up with just a handful unsold. A range of colourful and finely-crafted sales items, together with enticing raffles of goodies of various sorts, also did well throughout the week.
There were more Special Events this year. On the first evening, a moving Advent Celebration in words and music took centre stage. TV Actor Andrew Lancel recited, a string quartet played, and four Mirfield men chanted plainsong, in a shadowed church lit by the trees and a myriad candles. On the Wednesday evening the festival merged with the regular monthly gathering of our Services Family Support Group, and a group of Army bandsmen accompanied a very moving service of carol singing, readings and prayer in the presence of service personnel and cadets and led by an army padre. Here, as for the Advent service, the church was well-filled and the feedback was so very positive.
Each afternoon groups of children from local primary and prep schools sang to those present, and on the final morning Merchant Taylors’ senior school students performed a concert for us. Throughout the week the blend of voices, chat and background music made for the happiest of atmospheres in which to wander round, learn about the fifty charities represented, drop coins (and even some notes!) in their collecting buckets, or just to relax in a warm and welcoming church, glowing with colour and light.
My photographs on the four preceding pages give something of the feel of this splendid week. It showed, we hope, the Church at its best: reaching out to the community locally, nationally and worldwide through freely welcoming the people of our parish and by supporting so many good causes. The team whose long and dedicated efforts made it all possible before hand, and who manned the church and stalls day by day, have good reason to be happy with all that happened, and none more so than Margaret Houghton, whose own message fmay be read below. As Christmas itself draws near, we have celebrated Advent in many ways, and made ready for the coming of the Christ child in whose name we serve.
The 2010 Tree Festival was certainly something to behold. 2009 was quite magical, but 2010 out-sparkled it by far. The addition of another ten trees helped to create an all- round experience of shimmering light and superb colour, thanks to the imagination and enthusiasm of the sponsors. Apart from a couple of slow days when the ice was somewhat dangerous and the cold too much to face, the visitors just kept on coming. Our thanks to all those who visited the festival and the donations they made to the charities taking part.
The trees were once again supplied – a cost - by Tony Almond of Waterloo and proved to be of an even higher standard than last year, keeping their foliage throughout the week, so many thanks to the business for their continued support.
Already there is a waiting list for those wishing to take part in a future festival, as experience shows that fifty trees can be displayed at their best without overcrowding.
Our thanks are due especially to the team of willing helpers who gave of their time so generously throughout the week and made the second St Faith’s Christmas Tree Festival the happy and successful event it undoubtedly was. Here’s to the 2011 Festival (!!)
Postscript: on the Prayer Tree
As in 2009, we provided an undecorated Christmas Tree and cards, on which we invited vistors to write
a prayer and hang it on the tree. Here are a few of the over 100 cards hung on the Prayer Tree.