2020 Review: Church and Community

I normally begin my December reviews by saying how quickly the year has flown by. In retrospect, however, January 2020 now seems a very long time ago with all that has happened since. With the onset of Covid 19 I wondered if the Big Voice would be appearing or not but happily it did and I was able to keep writing about the church and local community, hence the photo suggesting a link between both.

At the start of the year I wrote about Pauline Thurling and how she came to take over The New Cottage Loaf with all of its delicious fare. In February I visited Lee Infant and Nursery School and met the head Julie Roche and her deputy Margaret Rochon and learned about the amazing work they are doing with the children. I never guessed at the time that all would change in March. When the looming pandemic with its restrictions came along I thought it might disrupt all my plans for the future. Nevertheless the Big Voice continued to be published in print form throughout the year apart from May when it appeared online.

Taking care to follow social distancing and other conditions I was pleased to discover that people were still willing to meet me. There was Rita Morgan who had taken on the role of Church Warden in 1998 after a fascinating career in the Royal Navy and the moving story of a person who, without wanting to reveal her identity, wrote inviting me to visit her at home and hear about the plight of Grandparents estranged from their grandchildren and the help offered by Ken Ebbens who runs the Hampshire Support Group and can be contacted by emailing kenebbens@aol.com.

In the May online edition I featured the work of St. Faith’s newly formed group, Women4Women in Lee which was formed to support any in our locality who are affected by domestic abuse, social isolation or any adverse predicament. The group was started by Mary Kells, our church curate, and anyone interested in getting involved can contact her at 02392 556551.

With the Big Voice back in print from June onwards the articles continued including features on Lee Resident’s Association under the enthusiastic chairmanship of John White who can be contacted on 02392 343782 and all that St. Faiths church offers and still offers online itself and is accessible by visiting  http://stfaithslee.org or our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/stfaithslee. In September I met Steve Brown and his wife Sylvie at their home and learned about the numerous facilities and activities offered by the Lee Community Association all of which are listed on their website: www.losca.co.uk. During the autumn months there were articles on St Faith’s People and Planet group which promotes activities to nurture and protect our local environment and Tina Lucey’s Made By Me shop in Lee with its artistic activities.

All of the articles can be found on St Faith’s website under ‘News and Events. At the time of writing this piece, details of St. Faith’s services have yet to be settled but of you’d like to share in them on line or in person, please telephone the office 02392 556151 or search http://stfaithslee.org or www.facebook.com/stfaithslee nearer the time to find out what’s happening. In the meantime, whether you are spending Christmas alone or with others, we wish you all happiness and peace hoping that 2021 will see things returning, if not to normal, to the ‘the new normal’.

 

Made by Me!

When I first saw the shop sign, Made By Me, I was taken straight back to childhood in the 1950s and the joy of creating something and being able to say with pride, ‘that was made by me!’ I recall writing a poem at school and being asked by my teacher if she could borrow it. Some months later she handed me a national magazine, The Young Elizabethan, with a ten shilling note. Much as I enjoyed the prize money (50p – a fortune then) it was the sight of my poem in print that thrilled me most. I couldn’t stop staring at it and thinking every time I saw it, ‘Gosh! That was made by me!’

I wonder how many children (or adults) have thought the same after producing something at Tina Lucey’s shop, Made By Me, in Lee High Street. Tina, a local girl from Fareham was fascinated with pottery as a child but after leaving Bishopsfield school, working as an Accounts technician for several firms, having a daughter, Zoe (who now works for her as a Human Resources administrator), spending time abroad in Abu Dhabi with her husband (which she didn’t particularly enjoy), her passion for pottery was to take a back seat. It was only after she returned to Britain leaving her husband behind temporarily in Abu Dhabi to work out his contract that the chance to do what she’d always dreamed of doing materialised.

In 2014 the shop in the High Street came up for sale and, without hesitation, Tina put in an offer and opened Made By Me in the following year. The shop now provides employment for a large staff and has a following of more than 8,500 people on Facebook. Crammed full of beautifully painted ceramics and blanks waiting to be decorated, the shop offers opportunities for anyone wanting to try their hand at painting their own designs on plates, pots, teacups, jugs and countless other objects or colouring in pre-drawn patterns to suit their own colour tastes. When the work is completed the finished results are fired and can be kept or given away as gifts with the proud owners justifiably claiming to have produced the products themselves.

As well as providing a place to work creatively within the shop, a wide range of other activities are also on offer. Parents can preserve prints of their children’s feet and hands on plates or impressed into clay tablets to be saved for posterity. Birthday parties can be celebrated with groups of children enjoying each other’s company while they paint. There are Team-Building events, Ladies’ Nights (bringing a bottle if they wish) with no partners or children present to distract them and Hen Parties with a chance to chat as they practise their artistic skills. The shop also provides gift vouchers and take-home rental kits complete with a wide range of paints, brushes and sponges so that they can work at home and return their completed objects for firing.

The shop normally opens 7 days a week with late night closing but having been shut down from late March till early July because of the Covid 19 pandemic, it currently opens from 10am – 4pm on Mondays to Saturdays only. Nevertheless Tina, a thoroughly likeable, enthusiastic and optimistic person who has managed to retain her staff so far through this difficult period, is hoping for better times to come with a complete return to business as usual. Perhaps, with Christmas knocking on the door, you could be tempted to visit the shop and produce some well-crafted articles. As well as making novel Christmas presents, imagine the pleasure you’d get from being able to say with pride ‘that was made by me’, just as I did on seeing my first poem in print.

 

Eco-Action Matters

The photo in this month’s article is a typical example of the litter I see almost everywhere which I either bin or recycle on my daily Wombling walks. But litter-dropping is only one small part of the harm we inflict on our environment which is why I met up with Elaine Johnson who, along with Mandy Hoang, co-chairs St Faith’s People and Planet group established by Becca Chamberlain, our vicar’s wife, in July 2019 for any church members who were interested in eco-matters.

It was proposed at that first meeting that the group might adopt the framework provided by the Portuguese Christian organisation ‘A Rocha’ which looked at various aspects of church life including worship and teaching,  management of church buildings and land, community/global engagement and lifestyle. At that point the meeting split into 5 groups to brainstorm how we as a church might act in these areas.

Needing to be clear on its aims, the group is currently drafting ideas which centre us on doing what we can to counter some of the damage we cause to the planet by recognising our responsibility as stewards of the Earth, becoming part of the international Eco-Church Network and working on activities to nurture and protect our local environment and contribute to the planet’s well-being.

Many members of our church and other groups in the community already play their part in caring for the planet by such activities as running Fair Trade Sales, looking after the grounds, clearing litter, growing their own fruit and veg for consumption or for sale, administering or donating to food banks and, at St. Faith’s, saving trees by having a single ‘Collective’ Christmas card rather than sending each other individual ones. In spite of what we currently do, however, we are more than aware of further steps we could and should be taking in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

As a first step in this venture, plans are currently being made for reducing energy waste from our buildings, providing covered shelter for bikes, mobility scooters, prams and buggies to encourage travelling to the church and the Community Centre without using cars and making our grounds more wildlife-friendly. As a result, three working platforms are now emerging for future action, namely:

  1. Buildings – applying for grants to build bike racks, the buggy and scooter shelter and adopting electricity-saving measures in liaison with the P.C.C.
  2. Grounds – producing a land management plan to be more sensitive to wild-life, providing resources for our Kids@11 weekly services.
  3. People – building on developments in worship to foster an appreciation of the natural environment, sharing ideas in our Fortnightly Notes (available on-line or in the church porch) on ways to reduce our carbon footprint, providing books in the church on ways to protect our eco system and linking and liaising with local pressure groups and other environmental organisations.

We are grateful for all the work Elaine, Mandy and everyone involved are doing to ensure the success of these projects and we’d welcome participation from the local community through reading our Fortnightly Notes or contributing in other ways. Please call or contact the church office (02392 5564450 if you’d like to be involved.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to play my own small part by picking up litter on my daily Wombling walks in the hope that, one day, there won’t be any litter for me to clear.

 

Lee Community Association

Wanting to write an article about the Lee-on-Solent Community Association I met up with Steve Brown (the Chairman) and his wife, Sylvie (pictured), for what turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable hour in their delightful company.

Steve, a local man born and schooled in Bridgemary, had followed an intriguing and varied career beginning with an apprenticeship at the Dockyard before branching out to set up a refrigeration and air conditioning business (Atlantic Refrigeration) in Southampton. After subsequent employment with another company in a similar line, he finally purchased a Burger Van with Sylvie supplying customers in an area north of Fareham. It was clear from their enthusiasm describing this work with the wide range people they encountered and the fascinating incidents involved that they clearly enjoyed this particular period in their lives before eventually retiring or perhaps I should say semi-retiring.

Already members of the Community Association having been persuaded to join by friends while Steve was still working in Refrigeration business, he was soon asked to join the committee. As people left so Steve found himself rising in the pecking order until he became the chairman, a position he’s held for the last ten years. Like many who find themselves in such positions, he swears every year that this will be his last as chairman but it never is! Nonetheless he clearly enjoys the job and is fortunate in having a manageress, Lisa Woodfine, whom he couldn’t praise highly enough.

Lisa’s father, Eddie Erving, as many long-term Lee residents might already know, was a driving force in the creation of the Community Association. After much fundraising which involved, among other things, Carnivals and sponsored walks up and down the High Street with planks of wood attached to the walkers’ feet, sufficient funds were eventually raised for the Association’s opening in 1982. For those interested in knowing more about its history, further information is available on the Association’s website: www.losca.co.uk.

Lee is fortunate in having a choice of venues for different activities (including St Faith’s Parish Centre!). The Community Association buildings have three hire rooms: the large Main Hall complete with bar for wedding receptions, parties and other big occasions; the Activities Room which caters for groups of up to thirty people and hosts activities such as sewing groups, art groups and children’s parties etc. and, finally, the Committee Room which provides a space for between 13 and 15 people for smaller meetings. The building also sublet’s a separate room with a bar for the Social Club whose profits support the upkeep and maintenance of the Association’s premises and facilities. There is adequate parking space for cars available both behind the main building and in the car park opposite which also provides a space for ‘Parties in the Park’ from time to time with stalls, a bouncy castle and all kinds of communal activities.

Under Steve’s chairmanship, with the support of his wife Sylvie and hard-working manageress, Lisa, the Association couldn’t be in better hands. There is much on offer and new members are always wanted and welcomed. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of its facilities and activities, check out the website and think about using it or becoming a member. Like Steve, you could even find yourself being invited to join the committee and possibly taking over Chair giving Steve a well-deserved rest whenever he’s ready to retire, if that day ever dawns!

 

 

Virtually Yours for the Taking!

I remember well how I was feeling at the last church service I attended in the week before the lockdown began. Apart from the fear of succumbing to Covid 19 myself and never seeing the inside of the church again, there was also the apprehension of wondering what it would be like with no more services or the chance to meet up with others for the foreseeable future. What I didn’t realise then was that, thanks to the technical skills of our vicar, Paul Chamberlain and his team, the services and much more besides would be continuing online throughout the rest of the lockdown.

Whether you are regular churchgoer or not, I encourage you to log into our website:  http://stfaithslee.org or our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/stfaithslee where you will find details of all that’s on offer either through the Facebook page or St Faith’s YouTube page. You can join in one or more of the three services that take place each Sunday: Our 8 o’clock service is based on the Book of Common Prayer and the 9.30 service includes hymns and organ music. Both of these services incorporate a celebration of Holy Communion. The final service, Sundays@11, is a lively, interactive service which might appeal to those looking for something less formal and traditional.  All three services provide a ‘comments’ facility on screen which can be used to greet others who are watching or, if you prefer, be hidden from view. Our Services are not limited to Sundays. Morning and Evening Prayers are also provided on Facebook from Monday to Saturday at 9 am and 5 pm.

For young children and their families there is the Kids@11 video available on Sundays from 11.30 am and, on Tuesdays at 11 am, Rainbow Toddlers Song and Story Time. The Kids@11 video contains illustrated stories, songs, puppets, ‘making time’ and things to do at home like painting pictures which can be sent in and displayed on subsequent videos. Rainbow Toddlers Song and Story Time does exactly what the name suggests. There are songs with actions, stories with pictures and a time to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to those whose birthdays fall during the week. As with Kids@11, toddlers can also send in pictures which they’ve made at home.

An addition to church services, Fortnightly Notes are also available online through the website page. Anyone wishing to contribute can mail submissions to our administrator Ruth Dewland at churchadmin@stfaithslee.org.uk. At the time of writing, the current edition includes details of forthcoming events, paintings, poems, photos, a quiz (e.g. what would you do with an Edzell ball?) and the church contact details.

Finally St Faith’s has recently started running a “Life Explored” course using Zoom for people with questions about life and God. Each week there is a video to watch followed by a discussion on the contents and a time to study a section from the Bible.

For more information visit www.stfaithslee.org/life-explored/

In retrospect, looking back at the last service I attended and wondering what life would be like without the church and contact with others, I needn’t have worried.

Thanks to modern technology and the work of all St.Faith’s helpers who have made the online services available, there’s been more than enough to keep me involved.

If you haven’t been involved until and would like to be, you’ll be more than welcomed. Everything on offer is virtually yours!

 

 

Caring for the Community

Having spent a lifetime working in Devon John White (pictured) was looking forward to retiring with his wife, Jane, and spending time on his hobbies, stamp collecting, gardening and cricket. After meeting a Lee resident on a cruise and being invited to visit her at her home, they fell in love with Lee and decided to move here. Eager to know more about the town, John joined the Lee Residents’ Association and, to cut a long story short, ended up as their new Chairman. So much for a quiet retirement!

John, born in Egham, Surrey, moved at the age of 4 with his parents and younger sister to Exmouth, Devon where, on completing his education, he decided to apply to the Devon School of Agriculture. Applicants were required to spend a year on a farm first which John did at a farm on the upper slopes of Exmoor in North Devon. Having done so was accepted on a twelve month course and gained his National Certificate in Agriculture and National Diploma in Horticulture. During that year at a dance he met his wife to be, Jane, who was training to be a teacher at Rolle College, Exmouth. It was clearly a perfect match as they’ve been together now for 52 years.

John’s career after completing the course was wide-ranging and varied. In 1968 he joined the Richard Silcocks animal feed industry as the County’s youngest rep. He then acquired a small holding at Dunkerswell rearing pigs and turkeys for five years before rejoining the animal feed industry and becoming a branch manager. In 1985 he opened a Greengrocers shop in Tiverton which flourished enabling him to sell up and finally work independently in landscape gardening and maintenance. Such was the demand for his services that he knew he would probably have to retire elsewhere if he were to enjoy his hobbies in retirement and, thanks to the cruise, chose Lee.

With previous experience of voluntary charitable work, John was ideally suited to become the Chairman of Lee Residents’ Association which was founded in 1972 with the aim of ‘making Lee a better place to live and work’. The committee has three principle groups: The Planning team which considers all local planning applications, the Health and Wellbeing team which keeps abreast of Health Centre developments and arranges regular local walks and, finally the Events team which organises meetings for residents to engage with representatives of the health services, councillors and others and have their say in what they would like for Lee. Committee members are also available to hear people’s concerns and to give advice. The four-monthly Newsletter is currently being redesigned along with the website in the hope of attracting more members of all age groups from every part of Lee.

John is passionate to see the membership grow. Subscriptions, which entitle members to free delivery of the Newsletter and invitations to various events, are only £3 per person or £5 for two people living at the same address. Payments can be made by cash or by cheque made payable to the Lee Residents’ Association and paid in at the red post box in Tesco Express, Pier Street or the Book shop in the High Street. You can also join on-line at www.leeresidents.org.uk where you can discover more about the association on the same website. John and the committee members give freely of their time and work hard to make Lee a better place to live and work. If you need to know more about the association, John would be happy for you to ring him on his home number: 02392 343782. Success of the enterprise depends on the active involvement of people in the community so if you aren’t already a member, please consider joining. Your contribution could make all the difference to the future of Lee.

 

Women4Women in Lee

“A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret (and) that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret…”  I often recall this quotation from Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities whenever I look at a large urban conurbation (as in the accompanying photograph of central London looking eastwards) and wonder what might be happening behind closed doors.

Mary Kells, St Faith’s Assistant Curate, recently formed a women’s group in the church for those interested in doing something to help women in the community who might be victims of domestic abuse, feel isolated or be in any kind of need. Wanting a clear focus on what the group might do, Mary contacted people within the locality already engaged in helping others for ideas. Among them she visited Mandy Bright, Community Engagement Officer at the Gosport Voluntary Action group and Spa 61 run by the Harbour church, Portsmouth (with 61 referring to Isaiah 61.I if you’d like to look it up) which aims to help vulnerable women in the city including the many refugees.

After meeting these people, St Faith’s women’s group decided that it should focus on ‘Women in Lee’ reaching out to vulnerable local women by getting alongside those who might be suffering from domestic abuse, social isolation or any adverse predicament as well as building bridges between different sectors of our community (church, military, civilian, business, being just some examples). It is hoped that by arranging future fund-raising events and activities over refreshments, the group might attract women who are interested in actively helping other women in difficult situations. One of the avenues the group is exploring is that of encouraging links with Lee businesses by inviting shop owners to run events and demonstrations such as bread-making, wine tasting or flower arranging etc.

Members of the group held their first event to celebrate International Women’s Day in the Bulson Hall on 14 March. This was a great success with around 50 people attending and raising £220 for a local women’s refuge. At the meeting women enjoyed home baked cakes and tea and coffee. They were delighted to be addressed by the Worshipful the Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Kathleen Jones, Kerry Snuggs who talked about her inspiring initiative Acts of Kindness and Julie Caldwell from Hampshire Library Service, who informed people what they could find at their local library. Opinions were sought on the next moves giving plenty to think about for the future. Finally people were asked to vote for which out of the four name options the group might select. The winning option was Women4Women in Lee.

Although the current coronavirus pandemic has stopped the group from meeting, it has given them an opportunity to work on tackling social isolation caused by the pandemic itself. They are also looking forward to holding their formal launch event later in the year, if conditions permit, details of which will be posted on the St Faith’s Facebook page. If, after reading this, any women or local businesses would like to become involved with the group, they should contact Mary Kells on 02392 556151, the church office on 02392 556445 or email women4womeninlee@gmail.com. The success of the group depends on your support and I know Mary would be more than pleased to hear from you.

NB Hard copies of the magazine will not be published during the lockdown but an online copy of this article is available on https://issuu.com/bigvoicedirectories/docs/0520_lee_final.

 

Broken Bonds

I was naturally intrigued when I received a telephone call from St Faith’s Parish office with the news that a letter had been handed in for me to collect. With my curiosity aroused I collected it and discovered it was from a Lee resident who was helping to run a support group for grandparents estranged from their grandchildren. Explaining that the group offered support to such people and campaigned for a law to be enacted ensuring grandchildren’s rights to extended family relations so long as it was safe to do so, the writer hoped I might be able to promote the group’s existence.

The author of the letter, whom I subsequently met, wished to remain anonymous but having experience of being estranged, was concerned that there might be grandparents living within the parish of Lee who, for various reasons, are prevented from having contact with their own grandchildren. Such estrangements have many causes including breakdowns in family relationships, arguments and hurts which remain unhealed or divorce and separation. Those grandparents affected can suffer for years from depression, guilt (deserved or not), shame and feelings of being judged or for being at fault themselves whether they are or not. For such people meeting with others in similar positions provides an opportunity to share experiences, discuss feelings and/or receive advice. The Hampshire support group meets once a month at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth and offers practical and emotional support either at their meetings or over the phone,
Anyone wishing to take advantage of this support should contact Ken Ebbens who runs the Hampshire group and knows how it feels to lose contact after being prevented from seeing three of his four grandchildren. Ken’s email address is kenebbens@aol.com and he’d be more than pleased to hear from any estranged grandparents since the group, which currently has only a small number of attendees, is keen to be more widely known so that others can benefit from its monthly meetings. The wider movement campaigning for a change in the law is supported by Esther Rantzen, who attends their annual meetings in Westminster. MP Penny Mordaunt is also one of many other MPs who are keen to fight for grandparent’s rights as well as the grandchildren’s rights in the hope that Parliament, being made aware of their plight, might act.

Those of us, like me, who have regular contact with their grandchildren, take the relationship for granted and know how precious it can be both for them and for us. Being involved in their lives, watching them grow and develop and sharing time with them is one of the greatest pleasures in life. We can only imagine how distressing it would be if we were to be separated from them and prevented for whatever reason from having any further contact with them. Those who are in that position often feel totally isolated, lonely, depressed or even suicidal without knowing what they can do about it. Attempts to take legal action can be prohibitively expensive and offer no guarantee of success. But no one in this position need feel alone. There is help and support, and if anyone reading this needs it or knows of anyone who might, contacting Ken and the Hampshire support group could be a first step. I’m pleased to have received the letter drawing my attention to the plight of such people, and I hope this article does something to increase awareness of the help that is available in our own locality.

 

Fine Job!

Introduced in the 1300s, churchwardens could be regarded as rather formidable characters. Charged among other things with maintaining peace and order in the church and its precincts, they have the power to impose fines of £200 for riotous, violent or indecent behaviour and for molesting, disturbing or troubling the clergy. They also have the power to apprehend such miscreants and take them before the magistrates which today would involve making a citizen’s arrest and waiting for the police to arrive. Perhaps all this explains why Churchwarden posts are hard to fill!

Fortunately the churchwardens at St Faiths have never had to exercise these powers and when, in April 2016, Rita Morgan was invited to join Cliff Rook and become a churchwarden, seeing the offer as a privilege rather than a burden, she accepted.

Although Rita’s father was an Irish Catholic, as Rita grew up she joined the Guides and began attending the Church of England. She enjoyed her time at school until Year 9 when the family moved to Newcastle under Lyme. Having difficulty settling at her new school she decided to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). Here, as part of the dental branch, she did well, grew in confidence, worked for twelve years in various places including Malta, Haslar hospital, HMS Daedalus and, as importantly, met her husband to be, Andrew, at the Royal Sailors’ Rest (RSR) in Rowner, They were married at Holy Rood in 1982 while Andrew was still completing his 30 years service, settled in Lee and now have four sons and three granddaughters.

Having spent a number of years as a full-time mother, Rita returned to paid employment 1995 working for Hampshire County Council as a Special Needs Officer (overseeing the statutory assessment process, school placement and additional funding for children with special educational needs). On retiring at the end of 2014, Rita and her husband have taken to cruising and have spent nearly a year at sea since then!

The Christian faith was always important to Rita but it wasn’t until her later years in the RN that she became fully committed after an experience that changed her life. From being involved at Holy Rood church, Stubbington, from 1995, she and Andrew moved to their ‘local’ church, St. Faiths in 2014 and, nearly two years later, she became a churchwarden.

Although churchwardens have the same powers as they had in the thirteenth century, Rita sees her role as one of care and support in a number of ways such as ensuring that church services run smoothly, keeping a pastoral eye on the congregation, providing a link between them and the clergy, doing whatever needs doing when no one else will and, most importantly, supporting and, if needs be, gently challenging the vicar. Being responsible for the buildings and its artefacts, she is also a member of the fabric committee, an ex-officio member of the PCC and part of the leadership group. The leadership group is currently engaged with seven other churches on a two year ‘Lead Academy’ learning journey which provides unique insights and tools to release churches to their full potential.

So what does Rita do with all her spare time?! If you pop down to the prom on Saturday mornings you’ll see her cheering on the ‘Park Run’ runners including her husband. ‘You should write about them in a future article,’ she suggests. Well there’s a thought. I think I’d rather write than run! Meanwhile I take my hat off to Rita. She’s hardworking, caring, lively and enthusiastic and we’re lucky to have her.

 

 

Leaping to Success.

Having arrived at Lee Infant and Nursery school drenched in a downpour to meet the headteacher, Julie Roche, the immediate offer of a cup of coffee from the kindly administrative staff was more than welcome. Moments later I was sitting with
Julie and her deputy head, Margaret Rochon, hearing, among other things, that the school prided itself on welcoming everyone, something I’d already discovered!

Eager to tell me all about the school, I quickly realised how committed Julie was, how much she valued every member of staff, how much they cared for the children, all they’d achieved as a team during her two years as head and what they aimed to achieve in the future. The school had recently received an excellent Ofsted report and are among the nation’s top 20% in Reading, Writing and Maths. Not satisfied with that, her aim in the next Ofsted inspection or as soon as possible thereafter is to become an outstanding school. Such was the enthusiasm of everyone I met, I’ve no doubt the aim will be realised. To me it already seemed outstanding.

The school values based on LEAP (LEAP to success at Lee!,) are linked to the United Nations Rights of the Child (UNICEF) which aims to see that children are enabled to become enthusiastic learners, excellent communicators, active and healthy and part of the community. Before they progress to the next stage of education, the entire staff aims to help each child to be independent and resilient, collaborative in relationships, self-aware and equipped with learning skills for the 21st century bearing in mind that no one knows what changes will occur in the future.

Wanting above all for the children to enjoy learning, without sacrificing high standards in basic skills they are encouraged to learn through play and group activities. The school welcomes all children including those with particular needs who are cared for by specialist teachers and support assistants. In addition to the normal curriculum, there are numerous clubs including Karate, Dance, Cooking, Gardening, and Yoga. Taking over what was once the Sure Start centre, existing staff also run the Club in the Hub which provides breakfast and after-school care. The service has been extended to offer a school holiday club. More information on this and all the school offers can be found on its website: https://www.los-infants.co.uk/

Although it is a County and not a Church school, like the adjoining Juniors, Lee Infant and Nursery has close links with St Faiths where, as well as holding their harvest service in the church, they welcome visits from our ‘Open the Book’ team, assembly talks from our vicar Paul Chamberlain and visits to the church building when learning about the town’s places of worship. Similarly the church watches over the school with the vicar and two congregation members on its Governing body.

From the moment I met her, Julie stressed that she wanted me to write about the school and not about her although, after some gentle persuasion, I did mange to learn that she is married with three grown-up children, grew up in Thanet, Kent, with her sister, attended grammar school and trained at Sussex University. I also discovered that she prefers coffee to tea, counts Rudyard Kipling as one of her favourite writers and, although she rarely has time for television, enjoys watching Strictly Come Dancing while she’s doing the ironing. Wanting to know how she came to settle at Lee, she told me it was partly her love of being close to the sea that brought her along the coast to Lee. I’m glad it did. Rarely have I met such a committed, enthusiastic and caring head teacher and staff and I look forward to a future visits.

 

An Enjoyable Diet for the New Year

January articles often focus on the latest diet for shedding those extra pounds gained over Christmas. As a change I thought I would write about a shop which sells bread rolls, cakes, cream buns and all those treats that many of us enjoy throughout the year.

The New Cottage Loaf in the High Street is managed by Pauline Thurling who not only caters for the people of Lee but also donates to various good causes including St, Faith’s church. Pauline is the fifth of seven siblings, 3 boys and 4 girls. Her father was a civil engineer but worked as a teenager for Green’s Bakery, Gosport so perhaps baking was in the genes! Pauline, who has always lived in the Gosport area, was educated at Bay House Comprehensive and subsequently spent 17 years working for the Wing family at the Stoke Road Gallery which specialises in picture framing, artwork and art materials. She still remains friends with the family and caters for the annual children’s Christmas parties which the family provides at Community House, Old Road, Gosport, a local charity.

Now married to Ian with 2 children, her career was to take various routes before she finally settled for the catering business. Ian and his brother Roy had both studied at Highbury College gaining their City and Guilds diplomas, Ian in Restaurant Management and Roy as a Chef. Eager to use their skills they started in business together, at first working from home providing sandwiches for various clients and later, acquiring an empty shop in Brockhurst Road and creating the ‘Varieties’ sandwich bar where Pauline joined them. Approached by Vector Aerospace (now Standard Aero) to cater for their workforce, the business grew eventually supplying factories, shops, vending machines and other outlets.

After 8 years and wanting a change, Pauline trained as a phlebotomist and worked for the NHS in local clinics, hospitals and surgeries for the next 3 years. I couldn’t help wondering how many armfuls of my blood she might have taken during that time! Her career however was to take another turn when Ian spotted an advert for The Cottage Loaf and acquired it. Needing by now to care for her aging parents (her father refers to her as a proper Florence Nightingale) and her unwell brother, Pauline required more flexible hours and so left the NHS and returned to the catering world by joining Ian and Roy in their latest project. Between them they now run two shops, one in Gosport where Roy manages the catering side and helps out as chef and The New Cottage Loaf in Lee where Ian runs the business side while Pauline manages the shop.

Pauline was keen for me to express her gratitude for the way that the residents of Lee have continued to support the shop after the change of ownership, and to the existing staff for their ongoing support. As a token of her gratitude to the senior citizens of Lee, she also offers a 10% discount for purchases made on Thursdays.

How she manages to balance family and work requirements and still look so young amazes me. It was a pleasure to meet her. Before I left I asked if she took orders for individual items and, of course, she does. So I ordered a fruit cake (my secret passion) which few shops seem to sell these days. So, delighting in a delicious fruit cake, here’s wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year, and even if you did eat too much over Christmas, a little of what you fancy does you good and I’m sure The New Cottage Loaf will be able to provide it.