Link to Hope Shoeboxes

Even with the difficulties caused by the Pandemic last year, we were delighted to be able to contribute 71 Shoeboxes to the Link to Hope Shoebox Appeal. In total, the small Christian charity which offers help to people of all backgrounds regardless of race, colour or creed with no qualifying criteria other than that they are poor and marginalised, was able to distribute 20.678 boxes to families and elderly people in Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine).

Of those 71 boxes, 10 were put together by individuals and the incredible generosity of monetary donations, handmade crafts and other gifts meant that Russell and I were able to put together the other 61 boxes.

We hope that people would like to get involved again this year. If you feel able to pack a box yourself, then that would be great – thank you. But, if you like to join in but would rather not/are unable to go to the shops and would be happy to give a donation, Russell and I are willing to do the shopping and packing for you! We will do some ‘bulk’ online ordering – using the ‘Link to Hope Shoebox Appeal 2020’ Wishlist on Amazon, local Charity Shops & other online suppliers similar to those we used last year.

A shoebox for a Family means that everyone receives a gift. A scarf for the mum, a tape measure for the dad, toys and games for the children as well as stationery and coloured pens. Also, toiletries, toothpaste, shampoo and soap to keep
everyone clean and free from the germs that make them ill. And, of course, sweets and chocolates for everyone.

Due to the number of elderly people that are now being left alone due to their families leaving to work away, Elderly shoeboxes are also vital. The boxes are similar to the Family Shoeboxes; however, the children’s games and education materials are replaced with a hot water bottle, sensory items, candle and holder etc.
We have the leaflets which give you all the information – let us know if you want 1 (or more); or you can download them from the Link to Hope website, where there is also a lot of extra information, including a video showing the gifts being distributed and the love that is shown to all:

The website also gives ideas for handmade items – for the crafty ones amongst you!
If you want to find out about Link to Hope’s story and visual information on what to put in the boxes, watch

An important date – All shoeboxes MUST be in Church/with Hilary & Russell by Sunday 31st October.
If you need any more information, please contact us. Thanking you, in anticipation! Hilary & Russell Collins.

The Rainbow

Quickly sprinting towards the rivulet, small brown puddles of mud from where the rain had gathered and soaked through the grass, were overflowing. Soft mint-green dew peppered the field between the rising wood and the hidden stream from last nights storm. Receding clouds moved swiftly away from each other to reveal a patch in the sky so diamond-bright it was blinding to look at. Gingerly, something magical happened. One quick harsh blow of wind slapped at the grass with the intensity of a gigantic hair dryer. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a rainbow that stretched for miles smiled at the field. It was bold and made everything seem so tranquil. Peaceful even. The sky was littered with audacious colours – blood-reds and pumpkin-oranges; sea-blues and amethyst-pinks. A myriad of colours bedazzled the sky.

Written by Caitlin aged 12 (Elizabeth’s granddaughter)

Returning to Church

After five months away from our church building and many Zoom sessions under our belts, I thought I would ask the house groups how they felt about returning to worship in person. Here are a few responses:

I am looking forward to being in church with other people. The podcasts have been good but, living alone, I miss the interaction with other worshippers.

I’m feeling quite dubious, especially as we are going to have to be careful about being too close to others. Also, I’m not sure about not being able to sing hymns, very much part of worship for us. On the positive side, it will be lovely to see others again, and it’s one step further on the road to normality! We have to remain positive, whatever happens.

I can understand people have different thoughts about it. I myself would need to know how it will be done and I know a lot of people will feel like this.  It will be a case of going into the unknown. I think people will feel safer with a structure.

I am still very cautious. I enjoy the links to all the services. So, I think when they do reopen, priority should be given to the seniors who cannot access the website. Also, I will miss gathering for tea and coffee afterwards. I quite often sat in church after the service for ten minutes as I enjoyed the musicians playing.

I am probably a bit anxious and excited to see others again, but pleased to see they have worked hard to set up so that, as far as possible, everyone is kept safe and keeps to COVID guidelines. It will be a shame that we can’t join in any singing yet, but of course we can while watching at home. I am also pleased that should we not be able to get to a service we can watch a podcast or live at home when the event happens.

Pink Streak

During Lockdown, feeling a bit low one day I dyed a Pink Streak in my hair (for a bit of fun) and I must admit I was surprised at the reaction, a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!! I sent a photo to my daughter who came back with “I do hope that is a Photoshop Mother and your grand children are not impressed” As I don’t know how to do a Photoshop I informed her that it wasn’t, my eldest sister thought I was “brave”, my great niece thought it was “fantastic” and my friend thought it was very Zandra Rhodes. My granddaughter Ellie saw it as an act of rebellion (which I suppose in away it was) and asked if I was a rebel when I was young (back in the dark ages to Her!!!)

I wouldn’t say that I was a rebel, I didn’t wear a Ban the Bomb badge and I have never been on a demonstration but I was never afraid to speak up.  One day at school a girl ( Janet) in our class was given a detention for talking, to which I piped up saying “that’s not fair miss, Janet wasn’t the only one talking” so Miss put the whole class in detention, as you can imagine I was not very popular that day.  I believe I found my voice after being Baptised at the age of 14 and becoming a member of my Baptist Church where I was encouraged to attend and take part in church business meetings (I don’t think I was allowed to vote at that age).  I have often written to my local councillor and MP of issues and concerns which have resulted in positive outcomes.

Coming into Methodism during the 1980s and becoming a Circuit Steward, attending District Synods and even having the privilege to attend Conference in London,  I have experienced that we all have “a voice” within the Methodist Church.  Our Church stewards are there to listen (they are not there just to put the hymn numbers on the board and show you to your seat on a Sunday) along with the Church Council representatives to any concerns you have and to take them to the Church Council which is the governing body of our church and as there are going to be many changes when we eventually get back together as a Church Family and within the Circuit your voice is valued as “The Body of Christ” as we go forward in love to Worship and serve our Lord in whatever we can.

I think maybe I’ll try a Blue Streak next time !!!!  Kathy

My Day of Blessings

The ‘novelty’ of lockdown was wearing off. The hot weather gave me the excuse not to go out unless I really needed to, and I was spending too much time sitting slumped in a chair reading a book or fabric painting. Not a good idea for someone with back and neck problems that need regular exercise and to be free from tension. Crafts that I normally enjoy were becoming ‘jobs’ to be done rather than a relaxation and pleasure. I was suffering from a lack of motivation and beginning to feel sorry for myself and not counting my blessings.

Friday had not begun well, I didn’t feel refreshed when I woke up, my back and neck were stiff, and I had a headache. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to have a shower and hair wash or just a shower. Friday is the day I check bank statements etc. It’s easier to pick up mistakes in my ledger weekly rather than monthly, so I decided to postpone shower decisions until that job was done. All went well until one building society would no longer accept my details. They had performed an ‘update’ and would no longer accept hyphens in usernames but had omitted to tell anyone! The phone rang; it was an unexpected call from one of my daughters who had thought I had sounded rather lacking in spirits the previous day. I had a moan about the intermittent problems I was having with my phone line and that I wanted to talk to someone about a minor query I had about my prescription. I didn’t want to be a nuisance and bother the surgery or Pharmacist as they were under pressure. She listened patiently and I felt better for offloading and decided to try to do something about the land line. That’s Blessing number one: – A daughter who cared and listened to me moaning about trivial things.

I could only speak to a machine which couldn’t cope with an intermittent problem, so I tried a ‘Live Chat’. I ‘talked’ to a very helpful gentleman with an unpronounceable name, who much to my surprise, has arranged for an engineer to call on Tuesday morning. He ended the call by telling me to ‘keep safe’ and ‘Blessings’.  That was Blessing number two.

It was now lunch time so I had some food and a sleep to try to clear the headache. I was contacted by the Pharmacy to say that my repeat prescription was ready for collection, so I made the effort to go out and get it. I was handed the packet and a slip asking me to contact the surgery for a medication review. Expecting to have to wait at least a week, I phoned the surgery for the review and was asked if Monday morning would be convenient. That’s Blessing number three

I then received a text message from a friend saying that my name had popped into her mind so she thought she would enquire how I was. That’s Blessing number four

During the morning I had heard a bang on my kitchen window and realised that a bird had flown into it. I didn’t investigate and forgot all about it until evening when I was watering pots on my patio and saw a dead baby sparrow; its underside was still fluffy. I felt rather sad about it and was reminded that God cares about every sparrow that falls. I couldn’t remember where the verse was so went online to look it up and a passage from a commentary came up. In Biblical times sparrows were looked on as pests, a nuisance and worthless. So that verse shows how much God cares about us and all of His creation. God cares about me and my small concerns just as He cares about the death of the baby sparrow. I couldn’t just put it into the dustbin, so I buried it and thanked God for His love and care. So, what started off as a miserable day was really a day full of Blessings.

Written by Joy Wilson

Lambing Time

April is an exciting time on the farm. Preparation has been made months before; getting the lambing shed ready and keeping a close eye on the expecting ewes. We wait with anticipation as the lambs arrive and ensure the mum and her babies have bonded well before the little family are let out into the paddock in the warm sunshine.

It’s easy for a ewe and her lambs to be temporarily separated as she leaves her youngsters asleep under a tree while she moves around grazing on fresh spring grass. When the sleeping lambs open their eyes and realise mum is no longer next to them they feel abandoned. They call out alarms with their bleating, rushing around to locate their mother. The ewe responds and bellows for her lambs. Quickly enough, the lambs recognise their own mum’s call, distinct from all the other ewes’ bleating, and once again they are reunited. Lambs rush in directly underneath her as if they had never fed before.

Occasionally, a young lamb will need to be bottle fed, 3 times a day for 3 months. They know who is bringing them their warm milk and will rush to the side of the pen, clambering over each other as if calling out “Feed me first!”. The person who feeds them needs a calming voice, to gently settle the excitement, with each lamb called by a nickname rather than just a number. This unnatural bond becomes regular and familiar as time is spent talking to these little characters.

Months go past and all the season’s lambs are ready to be weaned off bottles and their mums. They no longer get all their nourishment from milk and so roam the fields like gangs of teenagers. When it’s time to bring them in for routine jobs like vaccinations or medications, its easy to spot the bottle-fed lambs amongst a group of a couple of hundred lambs. You only need to stand in the field and call for them and a dozen 30kg sheep come galloping, close to bowling you over. No bottles or any other enticements needed to gather this group together as they know the voice of someone who protected and nurtured them.

Just as Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me’.

by Anna Birt (Pam’s daughter)