Think Ahead!
Check Causeway Crossing Times
  • A bit from me...
  • A tribute to Br Damian
  • How safe is our causeway?
  • Holy Island village hall rebuilding appeal
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Curlews join Britain's threatened birds list
  • Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
  • An artist's inspired journey & welcome to Holy Island
  • Update from English Heritage
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • Berwick bandits speedway
  • Lindisfarne: Holy Island Archaeology Project
  • The 'Yorkshire Post'
  • From the Community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From our United Reformed Church minister
  • From the Vicarage
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear !*NAME*!,

Photo by: John Tierney


Welcome to our March Sitezine and thank you all who have contributed towards this being one of our most well-filled issues ever!

Over the half-term holiday our car park was well-filled and even as I write the cafes are still bustling with activity. I wonder why my weather 'App' is saying cloudy when the Sun is so bright that I am having to close the blind in order to see my screen...

An early Easter means that the current bustling will rise to fever pitch by the end of the month. Again I look forward to arrival of the Northern Cross Pilgrims but don't envy the cold nights as they trudge the dedicated routes from across the country. My mind fills with their flower bedecked crosses being brought before the altar on Easter Day. Paul includes the Easter week programme at the end of the newsletter. And in preparation for the 'Holy Island Festival' he also includes the emerging programme.

If you are visiting during the early part of the month do not miss "The Witnesses", a dramatic presentation of the life of St Cuthbert written and narrated by Canon Kate Tristram. Appropriately, the first performance will be on 20th March and enacted in  St.Mary's, the site of Aidan's monastery.

Another special day for visiting is Sunday 6th March when a Service of Prayer and thanksgiving  in loving memory of our former vicar, Br Damian SSF, will be held in St.Mary's. We thank Ellie Bowen for her 'a tribute to Br Damian' published in this newsletter.

On the right I include a photograph sent in by John Tierney who recently opened a picture gallery, "Impressions of Holy Island", conveniently located en-route to Lindisfarne Castle - just opposite the Ship Inn. Judging by his website the location is well-sited for tourists to drop is as they pass. We welcome John's first article to our pages describing his 'journey to Holy Island' and wish him every success. Why not check out his pages at: ?

Again I thank our regular writers: Ian, David, Elspeth, Malcolm, Mhairi, Nick, Paul, Rachel, Ray as well as Natalie and the intrepid Thomas Jørgensen without whom there would be no Sitezine - and of course you dear readers without whom there would be no need for us to write!

We all hope you enjoy our newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again in April.

God Bless - Geoff Porter

STOP PRESS: As I was about to press the button ! I received news of a 2-year Archaeology Project that to be conducted on the island. The article is from Dr David Petts FSA - Lecturer in Archaeology / Associate Director of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Dept. of Archaeology, Durham University

PS: A Happy Easter to you and yours!


Brother Damian was one of the warmest and most generous people I have ever met, truly humble and inclusive in his ministry. A rare spirit.

Some assorted memories:

Early morning Eucharist, standing in a semi-circle before the altar to take the bread and wine.

Evensong. A rather stressed-out Damian ringing the bell at the back of the church. 'Here,' he said as I came in, 'Take this', thrusting the bell-rope into my hands. 'You just pull it every time you breathe in'.  And he hurried off to do whatever it was he had do. As Kate says, he was self-confessedly absent-minded. On the other hand, this was a great moment for me - so far the only opportunity I've had to ring that ancient and familiar bell!

St Mary's Church, Holy Island
Sunday 6th March

A Service of Prayer and Thanksgiving
in loving memory of
Br Damian SSF

Once I told him I'd lost confidence in my practice as a painter, but that being on Holy Island at Easter was one of the few occasions when I did paint - tiny watercolours on miniature hand-made cards for my friends, one of which I gave him. He said to me quietly after the early morning Eucharist on Easter Day, 'Did you see it?' 'What?' I asked him. 'The painting', he said, 'I put it on the altar'. That, to me, was typical of Damian's empathy and sensitivity to others, and is partly what made him such a great pastor.

That, and the way he seemed to embrace the whole congregation as he held out both arms towards us in blessing, beaming broadly.

Oh, and - if you were lucky on a visit to the Vicarage at lunchtime - there was the home-made soup...


In response to the dissatisfaction expressed by many Holy Island residents subscribers may have read my comment last month:

"The deterioration of the causeway continues to accelerate with a 2-foot bank of sand now building along its length and maintaining deep puddles of seawater throughout each tidal opening. Apparently, for months the government body (Natural England) have wanted to overcome the problem by cutting drainage furrows in the sand but have had permission denied by another government body (AONB). For years our local council has been unable to break this deadlock."

David Feige, the AONB Officer for the Northumberland Coast, responded explaining that the AONB Partnership was not a regulatory body and so has no powers over Natural England's work (or anyone else's). They had never been consulted about or expressed a view about these particular proposals. He asked that I publish his correction in our next issue.

I then wrote to Andrew Craggs, the Lindisfarne NNR Manager eliciting his views on the matter who responded: "We (English Nature and now Natural England) are not responsible for the causeway and the associated drainage.  What I have tried to do is facilitate and support the measures needed to maintain the safety of the road as well as the integrity of the sensitive adjacent saltmarsh.  I was a at a site meeting when a large grip like ditch was proposed for the sands to the south of the open causeway and I believe permissions were in place for this but I don't know why the works were not carried out.  It is my understanding that the works (including on-going maintenance of grips) are the responsibility of NCC."

In summary it would seem that neither 'Natural England' nor 'AONB' accept any responsibility for the deteriorating state of our causeway.

Nevertheless, there can be few who would disagree that the causeway is becoming unfit not only for residents but also the additional half-a-million visitors who will be drawn to our shores across this often-perilous highway during coming months:

  • Standing seawater never drains away
  • Sand-obscured road markings are dangerous
  • Potholes are hazards
  • Signage is needed warning of possible single-lane operation

Even now there are many visitors to the island who are unused to the conditions they find on the causeway. Many of us who have experienced 'near-misses' from an encounter at night or during inclement weather feel the causeway is an accident waiting to happen!

However, having now heard from AONB and Natural England, can we reasonably presume that NCC will be allowed to arrange for the clearance of the sand and vegetation around the causeway and make our 'only road' safe for all users?

Your Northumberland County Councillor, Dougie Watkin, has been included in all correspondence.

ED: Friends of Lindisfarne might understand that feelings are running quite high on this topic. A local reader has written:

Dear Editor,

Further to your article highlighting the deterioration of the island causeway:

The Highways Authority/NCC have a responsibility for the provision of a road that is fit for the purpose, use by walkers, cyclists & motor traffic.

Furthermore, I recollect that as well as the road, NCC technically control the area from Beal Shore to the Chair Ends, including 2 or 3 metres of land either side of the metalled surface.

However, whilst the immediate area of the Causeway is the main problem, the areas near the Chare Ends and the Snook turning are also problematical where significant volumes of sand and sea water are held for a greater part of the year to the detriment of road users and accelerating the deterioration of the road surface.

Has anyone produced an up to date safety audit and risk assessment for that area of almost permanent inundation?

I would suggest that the Highways Authority could be failing in their Duty of Care to users because of a substantial area of liquid sand and deep standing water increases the risk to road users since the Highways fail to maintain a clean and hazard free road.

Not only do the Highways Authority owe a Duty of Care to provide a risk free road; But those who use the road, walkers, cyclists and motor transport also owe a Duty of Care to other road users and to those beside the road and not hazard other users. This includes the ever dashing 'white van man'...

[Contact details withheld]


It's good to see the day's opening out, a sign that spring could be on the horizon and the garden will soon be demanding attention. Earlier this month I was lucky to see one of those great free events that give great joy; the Northern Lights. I saw them twice and from local media reports, this winter has been good for such observations.

The Hall: some aspects of the work being finalised have gone well, the suspended ceilings are installed in most areas, the loo's have been tiled, some floor coverings have been laid, the heat exchange pumps are plumbed in and landscaping has begun. The main delay is the lino flooring to be laid in the main hall. We were waiting for the manufacturer to complete a production run. That has been done and it should soon be delivered. Another delay, the partition walls for the Ladies Gents cubicles will not be delivered until March.

The big job this month was the grading and concreting of the wheelchair access ramp. The retaining walls are complete and the hard-core fill is in place and next week the 'ready-mix' wagon will drop the topping.

It is all coming together like a rather large jigsaw puzzle and soon the last piece will be fitted. However, life never runs smoothly, I'm currently struggling to comply with the Lottery bureaucracy.

Hopefully, the issue will be resolved soon.

It has been a long hard struggle striving to achieve our aim, some of our colleagues have fallen by the wayside but without your help, support and encouragement we may not have made the final furlong.

Thank you all, especially Geoff Porter our Editor and Webmaster for his determination to spread news of this vital community project across the globe.

David (February 2016)


March 2016

As with every passing month things seem to change so quickly at Lindisfarne these days, and since we last spoke further progress has been made with the building project. We have had a full survey of the chimneys carried out, which has identified the surprisingly few weaknesses in the fourteen flues we have in the Castle and also seen the installation of clay cowls replacing the old lead caps. These lead caps were perforated on the surface, but had slumped down into an almost 'bowl' shape. A few quick calculations based on average rainfall and we reckon between 2-5 gallons of water will be entering the building per year, per pot! The clay cowls also have holes for ventilation, but these are on the side of the cowl rather than the top.

There has also been a full drainage survey carried out which for the first time has allowed us to see exactly where all of our foul water pipes are, and also get a better understanding of how water is moving around the roof spaces and gun batteries. There is a bit to do with this as we would like to lift a few slabs on the Upper Battery to see what is going on under there; we think that there should be a bituminous layer under the surface somewhere which would have been installed to help absorb the vibration from the guns, if this is damaged in any way then we could have water getting through and potentially getting into the building.

We are now open to the public (as of 13 February) so the current challenge is introducing visitors - not to mention new staff and volunteers - to the changes that have been made over the winter, and those planned in the coming months and years. At the moment our interpretation is basic but effective, although my use of numbered post-it notes and zip-lock sample bags was likened by one mason to a 'crime scene'. The West Bedroom is now host to a variety of objects and materials used and discovered during the winter, including the notorious railway lines, bits of Priory, and even a couple of carbon fibre rods. That reminds me, the rods were used in a timber repair to a Tudor ceiling joist in the West Bedroom. The joist was deemed to be rotten and in need of prompt repair. However once the joiner began cutting through the rotten end of the joist, he reached the heartwood and began blunting blade after blade on his fein cutter; the joist was a piece of oak with concentric rings - essentially a tree - which was as solid in the centre as it was when it was felled c.500 years ago. Hopefully we might be able to get the timber dated using dendro-chronology.

In our shop Mel tells me that the back garden is due to open on 7 March with all the plants, flowers, and garden bits and bobs you can imagine being on sale. The little garden has been a nice little success story for Mel so she is very proud of it; do call in and see it if you haven't already. Inside the new spring product lines are available with loads of new gifts in stock, while believe it or not there are still a few leftovers from the winter sale so if you are still short of that sort of thing get in while stock remains.

Elsewhere, I'm sure Daniel won't mind me telling you all that he and Claire are now proud parents to Jack Adam Wilson (8lb 4oz), born on 16 February. Daniel is due back in the Castle in a couple of weeks (just before I go off for the same reason!) so go easy on him if he looks tired!

All the best

Lindisfarne Castle
01289 389903


Once it's still daylight at six in the evening I always feel that we've broken the back of winter. These lengthening hours of daylight and the distinctly unwintry weather, apart from a few frosts, have combined to produce the first early signs of spring across the island.

Right through from mid-February, there have been days when, at least in shelter, there has been the first warmth from the sun which daily gets higher in the sky. While winter can have a disconcerting habit of departing with a March sting in the tail, everything else combines to signal that spring is rushing on.

All the signs are there. In the village gardens there are masses of snowdrops, the first daffodils, crocuses and polyanthus while around the place many wildflowers are starting to show. Even back in January, I kept coming across the odd Wallflower in yellow bloom on the Heugh, Daisies on the back lawns in Crossgates and the odd little patch of blue on mats of  Ivy-leaved Toadflax hanging precariously on stone walls in the lanes.

I noticed in the Straight Lonnen the other day that there were other early indications of the coming season. Willows were heavy with curling pale green catkins, the first pink shoots had appeared on Elders and tiny white pinpricks of flowers on the otherwise bare Blackthorn. Blackthorn is, of course, one of those rather strange shrubs where flowers appear before leaves. Even some Hawthorn was already tinged with fresh green, something not usually seen until April.

Many of our common birds are singing and I'm sure everyone will have heard Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Robins around the village. I don't think anyone can have failed to hear that our resident Collared Doves have also been enlivened by the general excitement. Our chimneys are very efficient echo chambers for their admittedly monotonous cooing on the pots up there. Barn Owls, which failed to breed last year for the first time since re-colonisation in 2008, are very active around the village nest sites so will, hopefully, return to normal.

One of our most wonderful songsters, Skylarks, are in full liquid song over rough ground and the dunes and the first Lapwings are tumbling and calling over the pastures along the lonnens. I noticed my first Frogs active in the ponds on February 20 with the first spawn appearing within a couple of days.

A few Black-headed Gulls around the Rocket Field and Lough already have their dark hoods of the breeding season. But will they, after their disastrous experience at the Lough last year when a Fox wiped out the small colony, attempt to breed there again?

Out on the flats and the sandbars beyond St Cuthbert's Island, our myriad wintering wildfowl and waders seem to be declining by the day. Brent Geese have rapidly diminished over the past month as parties move off to Denmark, first stage of their return to breeding grounds in the fastness of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.

North-bound Pink-footed Geese are also on the move, passing high over the island with wonderful musical calls. Many have wintered further south but are already feeling the irresistible tug of their Arctic breeding grounds even though they will still be locked in winter's snow and ice. Nearly all of our Pinkfeet are from Iceland.

Elegant little Long-tailed Ducks, the islanders' 'Jackie Fosters,' have now been excitedly courting for over a month in the channels off St Cuthbert's, the drakes flying, splashing down and calling to the browner ducks. They too will soon be vanishing northwards to nesting areas around pools and lakes in the tundra of northern Scandinavia and Russia. While with us they have few enemies. Once back in the north, they face threats from Arctic Foxes, Snowy Owls, the various skuas and large gulls and even from the super-predators, Polar Bears, who face real problems of finding food once the sea ice breaks up.

Also vanishing soon will be the Red-breasted Mergansers and the slender little Slavonian Grebes for which the reserve is their main wintering area in the region. The grebes might just have one final treat in store for us before they vanish: the transition into their wonderfully bright breeding plumage with brilliant yellow head tufts. I usually manage to find one or two looking really splendid before they depart, usually in early April.

Yet despite all this activity we are still, at the time you are reading this, three or four weeks away from enjoying the first of our summer birds. No doubt Sandwich Terns will be enlivening the place by the end of March with their harsh, far-carrying cries. The Arctic, Common and Little terns will gradually start to appear later in April and well into May to occupy their usual colony across on the Black Law.

Long before that the first Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails will have returned to take up breeding territories, pipits in the rougher fields and dunes and wagtails typically in crevices in the walls.

Then, of course, will be the true summer visitors which will be arriving back from wintering areas in Africa. It past experience is anything to go by, among the first will be Wheatears, Sand Martins and perhaps the odd Ring Ouzel.

Spring Wheatears always look so smart as they bound along the field walls with white flashes of their rumps. Early Sand Martins speeding across the island are sometimes mistaken for Swallows. Ring Ouzels, mountain cousins of our Blackbirds, never seem to linger very long, such is their urgency to take up territories in upland areas still brown and stark without any obvious signs of spring.

Then, provided the weather is kind, during the early days of April we'll see the birds many of us regard as the true bringer of spring. I refer, of course, to everyone's favourite, the Swallows. Males, with their glossy purple-sheened plumage and long tail streamers, are almost inevitably the first to appear. Usually the first indication of their arrival is when they tear in and out of the fishing sheds, farm hemels and other out-buildings, excitedly claiming old nesting sites and awaiting the appearance of the females.

Last year proved fairly poor for our island Swallows. Many birds were late in arriving because of poor weather conditions on their epic 10,000-mile migration from wintering areas in South Africa. Then they faced poor weather here too which reduced the availability of flying insects which delayed the exhausted females getting into breeding condition, The summer which followed was pretty wet too and I had the sad experience of finding several broods of dead young in nests. They appeared to have died from starvation, a direct consequence of the inability of the adults to catch enough food.

While our Swallows had a poor breeding season they at least coped better than those in some other areas. It was an absolute disaster for the species right up the east coast of Scotland with reports of very widespread failure.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that Swallows everywhere have a much more successful time this year.


March 2016

Geese have been leaving the Reserve in small numbers and they are now starting their journeys back to  their breeding grounds. For species such as light-bellied brent geese, of which there are currently around 1200 still on the Reserve, this means a long journey to Svalbard and the Arctic Circle. We still have around 1200 pink-footed geese, 850 barnacle geese and a hand full of dark-bellied brent geese also using the Reserve before their migration.  The Lough hide has been in place for several months now and is starting to blend well into its surroundings as the natural larch cladding weathers slightly and the living roof takes hold. The roof has not been planted instead it has seeded naturally from the surrounding areas. With the shorebird nesting season just around the corner we have our first EU Life Little Tern project meeting with other organisations from the coast next week. The seasons doesn't kick off until the end of April so keep an eye out for more information on our blog and facebook.

Our peak bird counts showed some interesting numbers for February and we have large numbers of golden plover feeding on the flats at Chare Ends. There have been good counts of bar-tailed godwit (1159), dunlin (1100), sanderling (165) and knot (1000).

Finally we have just started a facebook page to complement our blog. They can be found at and .

Mhairi Maclauchlan
Reserve Warden, Beal Station,
Tel: 01289 381 470

ED: Mhairi's blog and facebook page can be found at and .


Our journey started fifteen years ago on a cold Saturday autumn October morning in 2001. My friend Bob and I went out cycling in Sutton Park in the heart of the midlands.   We came across a beautiful lake that reflected all the autumn colours of gold , browns, yellows, peaches , reds, and oranges and a flock of birds were skimming across the water . I put the brakes on and shouted to Bob to "stop".    I said, "Bob,  I would love to be able to paint something like that ".   Bob replied, " If you really want to, you can;  everyone can paint..  It doesn't have to be a perfect picture, just paint what you see and feel. " I laughed and replied, "My brothers & sisters were really good at art but I was hopeless.  There was no way I could paint ; I wasn't artistic in any way . I hadn't painted since I was at primary school .  Anyway, I asked, what did he know about painting ? He said he had done a course ten years ago but hadn't painted for the last five years.  He then offered to bring some paints over to my house next weekend instead of the cycling.  I laughed again and could have easily told him to forget it and I would still be working now as an engineer .  But luckily, being positively minded, I accepted his idea; that is where our life changed forever, a real life sliding doors (film) life changing moment .

The next Saturday Bob came over to my house carrying two small canvasses and some paints, brushes, palettes, and a vase with some real sunflowers. He put them on the window ledge in the front window and told me a few basics of using mediums and said, "OK, John, j go for it."  I was terrified this white blank canvas just  staring back at me like an imbecile mesmerising me.  Bob said, " Don't worry about it, just paint what you see & feel." I remember I got two different colours on either side of my brush and in one stroke painted a curled leaf light & dark, I still have the painting and ok it was never a masterpiece but I would never sell it ! I was amazed considering I hadn't painted since the age of eleven, but that was It.  Something inside me burns like a  furnace inside me and is still burning in my soul even now .

At this time we visited and fell in love with Holy Island.  Visiting the island at least twice a year for 14 years, I have taken thousands of incredible photos especially in that golden hour at dawn & dusk.  Sometimes you can get 4 or 5 different skies in a half hour.  I painted most nights over the 14 years sometimes till one or two in the morning.   I soon had a huge collection of original oil paintings of Holy Island: the house was full of originals .

On June 28th 2014 Lady Rose Crossman kindly cut the ribbon to the door of our Holy Island art gallery, Impressions.   My brother Jimmy left his job as a graphic designer for twenty five years and now holds the position of Art Gallery manager .

We have been open now for 20 months and really had an amazing welcome from the Holy Islanders.  So many have been so kind to us.  On our first anniversary in the island we were to celebrate with a free buffet in Kyle's  Crown & Anchor but that day our beloved mother passed away, so we are planning on celebrating our 2nd anniversary this summer and welcome all islanders with a heartfelt invitation. We shall let all know when we organise a night.

By the way every summer I buy a bunch of sunflowers and leave them in Bob's porch as a thank you for being part of the journey.


Step into the story of Lindisfarne at the Priory this season.

The long cold winter will be officially over from 25th March which as well as being Good Friday, marks the official start of the 2016 season for English Heritage. Lindisfarne Priory will switch from weekend opening back to daily opening and we have our annual programme of events which bring the story of the priory to life for visitors. Old favourites like Viking Life and Times our main Viking re-enactment event will be held on July 23-25 and we have a new event The Story of Lindisfarne, where actors will re-interpret key moments in the island's history. Full details of events, opening times and prices will be uploaded soon to the  English Heritage website.


There is going to be a lot of archaeology going on and around the Holy Island over the next couple of years. As one of the groups that are going to be carrying this out, we thought it would be useful to get in touch, say hello, and give you a sense of what our current plans are.

To avoid any confusion I want to start by clarifying who is doing what. There will be two separate projects underway. First, is the community archaeology scheme being run as part of the HLF Peregrini Project - this is being run by Richard Carlton of The Archaeological Practice, and is part of a wider range of community projects relating to Holy Island's historic and natural environment being rolled out under the Peregrini Project.  Distinct from this is our work (Lindisfarne: the Holy Island Archaeology Project) which is being run jointly by DigVentures ( and Durham University ( - we'll be focussing on several archaeological projects on the island over the next few years.

For organisational and practical reasons the two teams are distinct. However, we talk regularly and are exploring ways of co-operating to ensure we can carry out really exciting archaeological research on the island and provide lots of opportunities for members of the local community to get involved.

Our main plan for this year is to excavate two small trenches in the village to explore anomalies that were detected in a geophysical survey we carried out in 2012 with the support of National Geographic. This is an attempt to try and identify remains associated with the Anglo-Saxon monastery. The work will take place in mid-June and will involve a team of professional archaeologists and members of the general public. At the same time we will be carrying out a number of other smaller projects including photographic recording using a small quadcopter.

Throughout our time in the field, our trenches will be open to the public and we will regularly be sharing information about our discoveries. We also hope to have a number of trench tours for local residents. When we are out and about please feel free to stop us and ask about our work; we're keen to share the results of our research with those on the island, as well as visitors. We also look forward to coming back to the island and giving more detailed feedback once we have carried out the all-important post-excavation work.

If you have any concerns, comments or simply want to know more about the project please don't hesitate to contact us. We hope to be up on the island several times before we start our excavation, so we'd be happy to meet up and talk through our plans if anyone would like to hear more. For those so inclined we also have a Facebook page ( and Twitter account (@medcaut) and will soon have our website up and running.

We've already spoken to some of you; for others, this may be the first you've heard of our plans. We are keen to build links with the island community, so do share this email more widely with anyone you think might be interested.

With all best wishes

Dr David Petts FSA
Lecturer in Archaeology / Associate Director of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Dept. of Archaeology
Durham University


A belated Happy New Year to all on Holy Island and subscribers to 'Sitezine'!

I would appreciate it if you can mention my website:

My team is Berwick bandits speedway and they ride on a Saturday. It's in the premier league. The website is

I also ride in Denmark and Poland too.

Kind regards,
Thomas Jørgensen

THE 'YORKSHIRE POST' Malcolm Bentley

An airplane was about to crash; there were  5 passengers on board, but only 4 parachutes.

The first passenger, Holly Madison said, "I have my own reality show and I am the smartest and prettiest woman at 'Playboy', so Americans don't want me to die." She took the first pack and jumped out of the plane.

The second passenger, John McCain, said, "I'm a senator, and a decorated war hero from an elite navy unit from the United States of America." So he grabbed the second pack and jumped.

The third passenger, Donald Trump said, "I am going to be the next president of the United States, I am the smartest man in our country and I will make America great again". So he grabbed the pack next to him and jumped out.

The fourth passenger, Billy Graham, said to the fifth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolgirl, "I have lived a full life and served my God the best I could. I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute."

The little girl said, "that's okay, Mr. Graham. there's a parachute left for you. The smartest man in America took my schoolbag..."

THE 'YORKSHIRE POST' Malcolm Bentley

An airplane was about to crash; there were  5 passengers on board, but only 4 parachutes.

The first passenger, Holly Madison said, "I have my own reality show and I am the smartest and prettiest woman at 'Playboy', so Americans don't want me to die." She took the first pack and jumped out of the plane.

The second passenger, John McCain, said, "I'm a senator, and a decorated war hero from an elite navy unit from the United States of America." So he grabbed the second pack and jumped.

The third passenger, Donald Trump said, "I am going to be the next president of the United States, I am the smartest man in our country and I will make America great again". So he grabbed the pack next to him and jumped out.

The fourth passenger, Billy Graham, said to the fifth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolgirl, "I have lived a full life and served my God the best I could. I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute."

The little girl said, "that's okay, Mr. Graham. there's a parachute left for you. The smartest man in America took my schoolbag..."


Cyprus and Farewell

Greetings from Cyprus, which is also known as the island of saints.  We have visited the final tomb of St. Lazarus and the cell of St. Thekla, who they say was once the would-be girl-friend of St. Paul. He visited here with the Cypriot Barnabus, Son of Encouragement.

I have been invited here by a friend of our community who is Spirituality Advisor of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. Each week during Lent I will be hosted by one of six geographically large parishes. I will make my own retreat in an Orthodox monastery and will lead one for military people at the Anglican Retreat Centre.

This means that I will have missed the February 29 farewell meal for Graham and Ruth Booth given at The Open Gate by staff and trustees. Before I left, an Islander said that Graham was always available, helping people sometimes night and day. And Ruth used her days off from the Eyemouth GP practice to help with similar care. Graham also worked for the harbour development on behalf of the Holy Island Development Trust, and they both gave service at St. Mary's.

Although they leave the island at the start of March, they will not arrive at their new Shetland Isles home just yet - Ruth does not retire until later this month. They will live in their new camper van on the mainland!

They were presented with a memento picture of the island produced by Mary Fleeson at Lindisfarne Scriptorium which contained this blessing:

Blessing of memory be yours - of heaven opening gates in pilgrim hearts.
Blessing of journey be yours - of companioning others in their sorrows.
Blessing of homestead be yours - its gravel bejewelled by God.

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian,
The International Community of Aidan and Hilda


The end of March sees the important change in seasons in the western churches' year.  Since the second week of February we have been journeying through the season of reflection that is Lent, remembering how Jesus spent 40 days in a wilderness wrestling with his personal demons.   The week before Easter is Holy Week, where day by day we remember how, 3 years after his time in the wilderness, Jesus' ministry led him inexorably to a place of danger in Jerusalem, where there were many who saw him as a troubling threat to their authority and practices.  The last days of his life on earth saw Jesus continuing to preach about love of God, of oneself and of one's neighbour, and about the service to others that God calls for.

Throughout that week he was accompanied by travelling companions from many backgrounds, including fishermen.  They could not understand the events that unfolded,  witnessing,  in a state of grief and bewilderment,  Jesus' arrest, his  trials and his brutal execution on a cross.  They reached their lowest point as Jesus died a heart rending death, still proclaiming words of love - 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do'.  Their season of darkness was profoundly real.

It was only after inhabiting that season - as Christians do on Good Friday - that the first followers of Jesus could enter the life-changing new season of Easter.  On the third day after his death, they found his tomb empty, and there followed several miraculous appearances of Christ still bearing his scars, and still proclaiming that the love of God could not be defeated, even by death.

However we relate to Jesus and to his story, there are profound truths for all of us to remember during these changing seasons.  We all experience lonely 'wilderness' times where we struggle to make sense of a particular stage of life.  Sadly, most, if not all of us, have experienced the darkness of bereavement, and of other deep loss.  There is no fixed time scale for how long we inhabit these seasons, and often no blueprint for navigating them, but the story of Jesus points us to hope and to love never being completely defeated.  Jesus after his resurrection still carries the scars of what he has been through; new seasons of life can never be the same as previous ones, but they will come.

At this time of year, nature reminds us in a different way of the themes of new life; the nights get shorter, bare earth becomes alive with colour, lambs are in the fields, and birds are nesting. The seasons change, but always they are permeated with hope.

May this be a hopeful for season for you and yours.

Rachel Poolman
The Manse
01239 389254

FROM THE VICARAGE Revd Dr Paul Collins

Lenten journey to Easter

The journey of the season of Lent emerges from the practices of the Early Church when candidates were baptised usually at Easter (and over time also at Epiphany and Pentecost). The sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy communion were celebrated in a single act of worship which we know today as the Easter Vigil. The six weeks prior to Easter were the final and intensive period of preparation for those who were to be baptised and confirmed. In the early centuries of the church, candidates for baptism spent up to 3 years as catechumens and then would be baptised, confirmed and receive Holy Communion for the first time at the celebration of Easter.

Baptism was the ritual which Christians used to demarcate themselves: and St Paul in the letter to the Romans sets out his spiritual understanding of what happens in this water ritual.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.             Romans 6. 3-11

This Easter we are welcoming Bishop David Stancliffe (retired bishop of Salisbury) to be our preacher for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day. As we have candidates for baptism and confirmation, bishop David will preside over the Easter Vigil on Saturday 26th April at 8.30pm and we will celebrate the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as has been done since the very earliest days of the Church. The candidate to be baptised and confirmed is Stuart Graham, who made the wrought iron railings for the steps and ramp into church; Anne Hamilton and Fiona and John Weightman will be confirmed. Please pray for them as they prepare to celebrate and receive these Easter sacraments.

The Easter Vigil was the first special act of worship which emerged in the early church. Jesus had given the rituals (sacraments) of Baptism and Holy Communion to the Apostles for them to use as signs of the Gospel. In addition, the Church began to celebrate a feast each year to remember and celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection on the first day of the week around the time of the Jewish Passover. This celebration took the form of an all-night vigil. This began on Saturday evening and concluded after dawn on Sunday - Easter Day. This vigil was a waiting on Jesus, a waiting for Jesus' return or second coming (in Greek the parousia). When first light emerged and the parousia was still awaited the church baptised the candidates who had been preparing to become Jesus' disciples. Baptism at this time was akin to taking a bath - which in the Roman world of the time was naturally done with the candidates being naked: so this part of the ritual was done in a special place. This gave rise to the building of separate baptisteries - ancient ones can still be seen in such places as Florence, Pisa, Rome and Ravenna in Italy. After baptism the candidates were taken into the main congregation who had been keeping vigil and the newly baptised were welcomed by the bishop. He prayed over them with arms outstretched and anointed them with the scented oil of chrism. This is the equivalent of what we now call confirmation. The candidates would then celebrate the Eucharist along with the whole congregation, and receive Holy Communion for the first time.

The candidates were baptised as St Paul says 'into Christ'. They were made members of his body - the Church. And they were baptised into Christ's death and resurrection. The one-off event baptism is then 'repeated' and reinforced by the Eucharist. For the celebration of the Eucharist came to be understood as the symbolic or sacramental presence of the Christ whom the Church awaited in vigil. The Eucharistic presence of Jesus is a symbolic parousia. And this presence re-makes those who receive Holy Communion into members of the Body of Jesus: the Church; and takes them again and again into the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Baptism and the Eucharist are sacraments and symbols of the Body of Christ and of our sharing in the salvation which is found in Jesus' cross and empty tomb. These are concrete moments in our lives which encourage us each day to die to all that is amiss in our lives and become alive with the life of Jesus.

Paul Collins (December 2015)
The Vicarage, Holy Island
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2RX
Tel. 01289 389 216

"The Witnesses"

a dramatic presentation of the life of
St Cuthbert
by Canon Kate Tristram
- first performance -
Sunday 20th March

Holy Week and Easter 2016
St Mary's Church, Holy Island

Sunday 20th March
Palm Sunday
10.30 Palm Procession from Market Place
10.45 Parish Communion
5.30pm a dramatic presentation of the life of St Cuthbert by Canon Kate Tristram
Preacher for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day:
Rt Rev'd David Stancliffe, formerly Bishop of Salisbury and Chair of the
Church of England's Liturgical Commission
Maundy Thursday
8pm Eucharist of the Last Supper and Watch until Midnight
Good Friday
12 noon Meditation on the Passion of Christ
1pm Stations of the Cross
2pm The Liturgy of Good Friday
Holy Saturday
8.30pm Easter Vigil with Baptism and Confirmation
Easter Day
Prayers at dawn
8am Holy Communion
10.45am Parish Eucharist
5.30pm Evening Worship

Holy Island Festival 2016

Friday 24th June
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Saturday 25th June
Ex Cathedra
Sunday 26th June
Festival Eucharist 10.45am
with the Scholars of St Martin in the Fields
preacher: Very Revd Christopher Dalliston
[Dean of Newcastle Cathedral]
Sunday Evening
Headline Concert: The Unthanks
also performing during the weekend
Pons Aelius
Anna & Martha Raine
The Five Ring Circus