Most of us can identify with the excitement of planning and waiting for a holiday. That chance to get away and do and experience new things, see new places, meet new people. An opportunity to leave the everyday routine which so often results in a refreshment of spirit and energy. I hope you have enjoyed such an experience this year if not this summer.

But for many of our Senior Citizens there is no opportunity for such experience. Each day is the same, often lonely existence, sometimes painful and frustrating, monotony. It was therefore an absolute joy to be able to offer “Holiday at Home” again this year at St Mary’s. God was certainly at work and for those of us who had the pleasure to be able to join in it was a certain blessing.

On Wednesday 48 Senior Citizens from Burghfield and the surrounding communities gathered in church for an afternoon of reminiscing and exploring around the theme of “Summer Holidays” facilitated by the Staff and Archives of MERL (Museum of English Rural Life – recently renovated, free to visit and an excellent venue to take grandchildren and friends alike!). Phillippa Binks, Learning and Engagement Manager and Volunteer Sue brought films, photos and a mystery item from the Archives which led to many happy memories being shared and some interesting discussions and all of us learning from each other. The time in church ended with a sing-along to some summer hits of yesteryear before we moved into the Parish Centre for a traditional tea beautifully provided, prepared and served by Anne Burtenshaw and her team.

On Friday 28 folk made up the party who visited Henry Street Garden Centre in Aborfield for a mooch around the shop and the plants, the traditional Chips and ….? Lunch and then a stroll down to Maidenhead Aquatics to feed the koi carp for some before returning to church to round off the outing with tea and cake.

Neither venture would have been possible without the generosity of the Burghfield Handy bus drivers and escorts who collected and transported folk. We are most fortunate to have this service in Burghfield and grateful for the use of their time and care.

It was an absolute joy to see happy faces and hear the buzz of friendly conversation. And it was a deep pleasure to hear that it had enable some folk to get out of the house for the first time in weeks in some cases. One person telephoned me in the evening to thank the church and said it had totally transformed their mindset. Feedback of enjoyment and interest was echoed from many who are now looking forward to the next time….?

Thanks must be given to so many members of the church family who helped in so many different ways. Bakers, furniture removers, techy setter-uppers, drivers, shoppers, sandwich makers, servers, washer-uppers, printers, and not least but probably most importantly companions to sit and listen and chat. So don’t miss out next time, there will be a way just right for you to be involved.

Reverend Lorraine Colam

On behalf of the Holiday at Home Team