• A bit from me...
  • Crossman Hall
  • HM Coastguard Holy Island
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Barn Owls - good and bad news
  • Peregrini Lindisfarne landscape partnership
  • Lindisfarne NNR
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From our United Reformed Church minister
  • From the Vicarage
  • St. Mary's notices

'The Old Lifeboat Station'

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

 Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

Welcome to our final issue of 'SitEzine' until we return again after a winter break in February 2018.

Some of you may have joined us at St.Mary's on Sunday 26th November when Paul presided at the Eucharist for his last time as the 'Vicar of Holy Island'. Thank you to Rachel for our gathering afterwards at the St. Cuthbert Centre for refreshments and Paul's presentation. We are grateful to you, Paul, for all you have done for our community during your all-to brief time with us. May we ask for your prayers as Paul and Pauline prepare to move from the Island and begin a new stage in their lives. Particularly, we wish them happiness in their new home and better health for Paul.

And keep us in your thoughts as our parish will then go into 'interregnum' and begin the search for a new Vicar. Until one is appointed, please remember that any matters concerning the Church must now be referred to the Church Warden, Samantha Quilty, at Marygate House, or the Area Dean the Revd Rob Kelsey at Norham Vicarage.

On a more happy note, during half-a-gale of wind earlier in this month, we conduced the formal opening of 'The Old Lifeboat House'. None of this could have happened without 'Heritage Lottery Fund' financial support. Of course, without the personal energy and tenacity of Dick Patterson (chairman of our development trust) the Peregrini project and many of the other new and revived structures on the island may well not have come about.

Opening the Old Lifeboat House
Jane Crossman (centre) opens the Old Lifeboat House with the help of Dick Patterson (Lindisfarne Development Trust) with Ellen Creighton (Heritage Lottery Fund)

Despite the bitterly cold and frosty morning a goodly, lifeboat house-filling crowd turned up together with Sue from 'The Oasis Cafe' bringing a hamper of grub and hot drinks to stave off 'Jack Frost'! Readers of the 'Berwick Advertiser' will have noticed a bobble-hatted press photographer posing the dignitaries and mingling amongst the crowd. I wonder how many noticed Thelma, a key member of the 'Archive Group' whose efforts resulted in the display within; and Jon, without whose well-rounded management skills, the Lindisfarne Trust would crumble; and that 'big bloke' moving around taking these pictures...

Residents and members of the Lindisfarne Trust and St. Mary's PCC were amongst the many visitors.

At the end of the month the cold snap and strong winds continue so please heed the causeway warning - even more so during these winter driving conditions. For instance: yesterday throughout the day, in many places, the sea never cleared the road providing a mile-long lane of salt-sand mush to coat and corrode the bottom of your car. Please check the crossing times and above all take care!

Returning home in the evening a note in my letterbox was inviting us to: "Linda's Christmas Lights and Carol Singing at 5pm on Friday 1st December in the market square." Unfortunately, due to his illness Paul is incommunicado so I do not know if he will be leading the carol singing or switching on lights on behalf of our Parish Council. We will discover tomorrow night!  Do bring a torch as we have very sparse street lighting. Any donations will go to 'Berwick Hospice' and 'Linda's Lights'.

For the community 'Linda's lights' signals the start of  Christmas on Holy Island. This is complemented by our church warden (Sam) who, at the end of the newsletter, includes a list of 'Christmas Services' and an update to the pattern of worship at St.Mary's over the winter period.

To those of you who receive a copy of the 'The Holy Island Times' (our community newsletter): whilst HIT was completed on schedule and print-ready, we face a delay in resolving bulk printing this month.

Also beset by difficulty is Annie whose server problem resulted in her NNR article arriving after HIT publication. Being paperless, subscribers to our international version are fortunate in that the article by our 'reserve warden' is included. Alongside this are contributions from our other writers together with an input from our local 'Citizens Advice Bureau' as a 'Catch 22' example of how our everyday, essential, public services are reliant on support and funding from the community that they serve so well.

On behalf of all our writers: wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Enjoy our wintery issue - we look forward to writing for you again in February.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine) 

PS: And finally, a poem from Mrs Zan S - a 'Friend of Lindisfarne'....

Rock me like a lullaby
You gentle waves
Blow me in the chancel
You whistling winds
Shriek high songs of storms yet to arrive
You oystercatchers
Trill of the blue skies of summer
You skylarks
Rustle the susurration of autumn brown
You reeds
Serenade me on The Heugh
You seals

Sun play hide and seek
Between the cross of Hobthrush
And the purple Cheviots

Groan with the countless years
Of ages past
Of people beyond counting
You bricks

Tower in timeless strength

Count the sheep in the field
Count pebbles on the shore
Count the prayers to The Lord
Count the faithful seeking God

And come

Come to Aidan
Come to Cuthbert
Loving, living
In pain or in faith
Saints or sinners
From any corner
Arrive with the tide
Reach out
Now and


As the month draws to a close Trustees consider the use made of the hall locally and by a wide range of incomers to have been satisfactory, with the income matching annual running costs plus a little extra to begin building a small nest egg.
The Trustees and other 'Charities' in particularly, thank Islanders for their help fund raising during a variety of 'Coffee Mornings'. The is nowhere quite like Holy Island and The Ladies for providing for a successful fund raising event. Well done everyone.

Less satisfactory has been the lack of progress achieved by our legal advisors in acquiring an easement across neighbouring land to run the rainwater drain to the main sewer.

It is not a contentious legal issue, so quite why we are being delayed in completing this the final stage of the hall build and 'official' handover is difficult to understand. This has delayed issue of our the 'Certificate of Completion', as well as exposing us to an accusation of failing to conform with Planning Requirements. Nagging is now the order of the day as we struggle to resolve this long standing issue.

Earlier this month I met with the Programme Manager to discuss completion of the snagging list and as a result the remedial works should be completed soon.

As the use of the hall becomes quiet over the Christmas - New Year Period, we plan to set up the table tennis and badminton kit in the main hall, in addition to continuing to provide the tread-mill and static cycle. To use this equipment, for now a small donation is required and please remember children playing in the Hall must be supervised by an adult.
Don't forget as you're clearing out shelves and cupboards, all books, games DVD's etc., have a value to the Hall and other Charities. Donated items may be left at the Oasis Café or in the Hall for the charity table. Thank you.

Now just before I go, I have to say that bookings for 2018 are coming in at a surprising rate of knots and it looks like we are about to have a proper booking secretary for 2018!!!! Wonderful and Yippee from me.

Before I end, on behalf of the Trustees I wish Paul (our Church Representative on the Trustees) and Pauline good luck on the next step into a new life. Thank you Paul for your input into our new Hall.

My final job before Christmas; on behalf of the Trustees we wish all our Volunteers, helpers and Friends of Holy Island a Happy and Peaceful Christmas & New Year.  "long may ya big jib draw".



Exercise Rough Sea

On the 23rd of November a joint exercise was carried out between the Fire Service and Coastguard Service.
Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service contacted Coastguard Operations Centre (CGOC) Humber just after 1800 to request assistance to deal with a holiday cottage kitchen fire on Holy Island.

As the Causeway was closed CGOC Humber dispatched both Berwick and Seahouses RNLI All-Weather Lifeboats (ALBs) to transport Fire Personnel from both Berwick and Seahouses Fire Stations to Holy Island.

Both Lifeboats made best speed to Holy Island and arrived at Holy Island Pier around the same time.  The Fire Crews were disembarked into the care of Holy Island Coastguard Rescue Team Officers who transported them to their Fire Station on Holy Island.

We are recruiting in 2018...

If you think you've got what it takes to be a Coastguard Rescue Officer on Holy Island, contact or call 01665710575 / 07824837263.

Ryan Douglas
HM Coastguard.


As the nights start drawing in work continues up at the Castle, albeit with lighting now installed on the scaffolding for the occasional late finish.

I mentioned last week that the main stairway was approaching completion and that is now all done. Last week (w/c 13 November) the final skim coat of lime plaster went on the walls with the help of a fairly cosy scaffold in what is quite an awkward space in which to work. After the scaffold was taken down then the final finishing touches could be added. The walls aren't getting painted just yet but it already looks amazing; particularly the old medieval door (probably pinched from the Priory) which now stands out as a feature rather than being lost in the old scheme of modern masonry paint. If you haven't already you can read all about the history of that stairway and the thought process behind the plaster and paint scheme in last month's Island Times. The attached photo though gives a 'before and after' of the stairway, showing the undulating painted stone aesthetic introduced by Oswald Falk in the 1920s and the original scheme from 1906 he replaced. Hopefully the new scheme more accurately reflects what Hudson and Lutyens intended in the space, although the 1906 photo also shows the walls before they were painted - the same situation we are in now - so it will be great to see them when the paint finally goes on.

It was about this time last year when we moved almost the all the contents of the Castle away into storage, including almost all of the historic collection. I suppose then it is only fitting that a year on we commemorated that mammoth task by moving some more furniture last week, although thankfully it was only a few pieces and over a matter of yards. Three large pieces of furniture remained in the Castle's Kitchen during the work as they were too large to move; in fact they had to be simply 'boxed in' where they stood, effectively creating a room within a room. The rest of the Kitchen could then be worked on and now that work is complete, the boxing needed to be taken down, the furniture moved across the room, and the boxing re-erected. One item, a huge dresser designed by Lutyens for the room, could not be moved. The dresser has occupied the same space for the last 111 years and we weren't about to change that. The wall it sits against is internal and so not at huge risk of water ingress, so the dresser could be protected on its own while the other two pieces moved across the room.

Just after my article for the last issue was fired off to Geoff, the news broke that we had seen Barn Owl chicks successfully reared at the Castle this year. I think Ian Kerr might be talking about this elsewhere in this issue but from my point of view it has been a real privilege to follow the birds' progress over the summer via the weekly updates from our ecologists. The birds have now fledged but I did see a couple hunting in the field at dusk recently so do keep an eye out for them if you are passing. A few folk from the village are coming for a look around the Castle with me in late November so maybe they'll get to spot the owls from high up on the scaffold which is a great vantage point for birdwatching. I'll do some more hard-hat visits in the New Year if people are interested in coming up, and might even squeeze a couple more in before Christmas; dates and times will be circulated either in this noble publication or by email.

Best wishes

Lindisfarne Castle @NTLindisfarne
01289 389244 (press 1, then 1903)


BARN Owls are among everyone's favourite birds around the island and whenever people see them they usually tell me about it. They're among a small number of species, early Swallows being another, which seem to have that effect.

This year there's both good and bad news about our owls. The welcome and encouraging news for the future is that pairs have bred in four different locations around the island, the first time that's happened since regular nesting resumed in 2008 after a gap of well over half a century.

The bad news is that the success rate of these local pairs was generally poor in a season when the species had an excellent breeding season on the mainland with large numbers of young successfully fledging, including many second broods.

Barn Owls are given the highest degree of legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act so normally I would never give details of nest sites. Among the main threats these days is disturbance from photographers who will stake out nest sites for hours in the hope of getting pictures.

This year things got so bad at one site elsewhere in Northumberland they blocked the only flight line for a pair feeding young to such a degree that the behaviour of the adults was affected. Police had to intervene and warn them off.

Here, I'll be making an exception and referring to a pair which bred at the Castle, the first recorded nesting there since the late 1940s. I mention it only because the National Trust has already publicised the fact and there seems little point in trying to keep it secret.

The Castle pair used a cavity in the masonry to lay their eggs. The first attempt failed but they re-laid and fledged four young during October.

Two regular nest sites around the village were again occupied. At the first, the pair fledged three young in May but shortly afterwards one of them was found wet, starving and grounded. It died shortly after being taken into care. The pair produced a second clutch of four eggs. Two young hatched but both vanished during October, probably the victims of a Stoat which had been regularly seen around the site.

At the second regular site the resident pair hatched four young in May. Three chicks died shortly afterwards but the sole survivor seemed to be doing well. But when it was fully feathered and ready to fledge it also died from unknown causes.
Local people who passed the site daily walking their dogs noticed that all adult activity had suddenly ceased. We just don't know whether something had happened to the adults or whether they had simply moved away when their youngster died in the nest.

At the fourth site a pair produced three eggs. Two hatched and one youngster fledged. The other perished after apparently attempting to leave the nest box when it was too young and not well enough feathered to survive.

All in all, it was a pretty poor season for productivity, the four pairs between them fledging only seven youngsters which were known to have survived the early dangerous period out of the nest.

The poor productivity of the island pairs raises a lot of questions, particularly in a season when the population of their favoured food, voles, appears to have been high and when pairs elsewhere were enjoying a very high degree of success.
Four breeding pairs in such a small area is highly unusual leading to the suspicion that some degree of inbreeding may be taking place which could radically affect productivity. Against that, we do know from recoveries of ringed birds that "fresh blood" in the form of Barn Owls from elsewhere does occur.

Regular readers may recall that back in March I told the story of a ringed owl which was dashed to its death against the Lough hide during violent storm. It had been ringed during 2016 at a nest in Cambridgeshire and had travelled 401 kilometres northwards to the island, an astonishingly long movement for a species generally regarded as sedentary. It was one of the longest movements so far recorded for a Barn Owl.

Owl chicks at the Castle, the first there for over half a century.
Picture: Nick Lewis (National Trust)

A couple of years ago another dead owl bore a ring fitted as a nestling at a site down the coast near Low Newton, a much more normal distance for a youngster to disperse after fledging. The arrival of these individuals probably means that fresh blood is entering our local population which would seem to rule out in-breeding.

Another possibility for poor success and unexplained death is that our Barn Owls are the unintended victims of poisoning. National studies of dead owls have shown that many are carrying traces of various powerful rodenticides.

Owls are at the top of the food chain and are being affected by catching and eating mice, rats and other target pests which have ingested poison.  This toxic build-up in their bodies can either prove fatal or simply interfere with their breeding behaviour.

Another possibility is, of course, just had luck. Barn Owls, like nearly all birds, have natural enemies. Possible predation by Stoats has already been mentioned. They are certainly around the island, although in much smaller numbers than in the past when we had a huge population of Rabbits.

Adult Barn Owls will vigorously defend eggs or young. But Stoats are skilled climbers and clever predators and in the absence of adults would certainly swiftly move in on eggs or defenceless chicks.

The fact is that we simply don't know why are island owls seem less successful than those on the mainland. But the fact that four pairs bred this year really does give hope for the future. It also means that this winter there are likely to be Barn Owls regularly around the place to brighten up many a winter afternoon. 


A message from Helen Griffiths, Programme Manager

This will be the final submission of news to the Holy Island Times readers as after 3 years of hard work the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership draws to a close. On behalf of the staff team and Peregrini Partnership Board, I would like to extend my gratitude to the editor for his continued support in submitting our updates. We would also like to say a final thanks to those residents who have participated in our events, activities and helped shape some of the work delivered through the partnership.

Final call for the Peregrini Volunteer Conference - Book now

The final conference to celebrate our volunteers and successes of the landscape partnership will be held on Saturday 9th December. Keynote speaker, Max Adams, author of best-selling titles including The Wisdom of Trees and In the Land of Giants will speak about 'Landscapes of learning: travels in early Northumbria and beyond'. Book your free ticket by Monday 27th November via the Peregrini website. Refreshments and lunch are provided.

The Old Lifeboat House

The Old Lifeboat House, opposite St Cuthbert's Isle, has been restored and officially opened.

As part of partnership's suite of restoration projects work on the Old Lifeboat House was carried out with the support £1.37million of Heritage Lottery Funding. It now contains interpretation boards telling the story of lifeboat rescues.
The lifeboat house was officially opened by Jane Crossman, daughter-in-law of Lady Rose Crossman, who was a major benefactor on Holy Island. Before cutting the ribbon, Mrs Crossman thanked all the volunteers "who have done so much in order to make this a fantastic part of Holy Island."

At the opening, Dick Patterson, from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust, said: "It's 50 years since our lifeboat was taken out of service by the RNLI. The memories have faded a bit but I think this might revive the memories of the lifeboat crews, men and women and the 10 lifeboats that have been stationed on the island."

Chare Ends tree planting

In November the project planted 24 trees to help the 'greenification' of the view of the Chare Ends car park on Holy Island. 10 Peregrini volunteers braved the rain, which fell all day, and helped plant the new trees which include Hawthorn, Rowan and Hornbeam.

New seat for The Pilgrims Way

As part of the Sacred Places Project, a new seat is to be installed at the end of The Pilgrims Way. Inspired by pupils from Lowick and Holy Island CofE First Schools the seat has been designed by Anna and Richard Turnbull from Biteabout Arts. The seat has been made from reclaimed wood, steel and willow and depicts the wing of an Arctic Tern.


A Busy November

Natural England's chief Scientist reported this month that Lindisfarne has the lowest nitrogen deposition of any National Nature Reserve in England! No wonder we have such a great diversity of plant life here.

The reserve staff and volunteers have worked hard cutting and clearing the dune slacks. This clearing supports the new life that will appear next spring. Dune slacks are the most biodiverse habitat across the reserve in terms of floral species including eleven species of orchids, one of which 'Lindisfarne Helleborine' is unique to the reserve. We have also been removing scrub from the dune system. The removal of regeneration of species such as hawthorn allows the dunes to stay open so that other dune flora can flourish which improves the biodiversity of the system.

Additionally, we collected our monthly seagrass samples with Dr. Catherine Scott from Natural England's marine team. Samples have been collected every month since 2012 to assess the calorific values of the two species found on the reserve. Lindisfarne NNR boasts some of the most extensive seagrass meadows in England, these plants are a vital food source for several species of birds including Light-bellied Brent geese that feed here every autumn/winter and are a protected species due to their decline globally.

The upgrade of the fencing around the Lough which is the largest body of freshwater on the Reserve is progressing well. We hope this addresses the otter and fox predation issues that have blighted this area in recent years.

And finally, 24 trees were planted at Chare Ends car park last week by reserve staff and Peregrini volunteers who persevered despite the rain. We think it's looking good!

The reserve staff would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018!

Annie Ivison
Reserve Manager,
Natural England
Tel: 01289 381 470

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Please checkout our posters below for information on Heatherslaw Railway Santa Specials and Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre Christmas Fayre.

Elspeth Gilliland
Tourism Manager
Phone: 01890 820338

Citizens Advice Bureau Jane Brown

New Year, New Challenge  - make a difference by volunteering

Volunteering for Citizens Advice has been described as 'the most rewarding experience of my life' by one of our current volunteers.  Citizens Advice is a registered charity and we rely on volunteers to provide the invaluable service which helps so many people within your local community.

Last year, the Citizens Advice offices across Northumberland helped over 13,700 people on a wide range of subjects. The problems we are most often asked about concern benefits, employment, debt, housing or relationships but we will help people who come to us with any enquiry including consumer rights, legal matters, and immigration.

Citizens Advice Northumberland is currently looking for more volunteer advisers, to join our teams across our offices in Ashington, Berwick, Morpeth and Hexham. Training is given to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to help our clients and we are able to cover expenses such as travel costs.

People volunteer with us for lots of different reasons, but one thing that our volunteers tell us is that volunteering with their local Citizens Advice is enjoyable, rewarding, challenging and varied.  For many volunteers, the best thing is getting to meet a variety of new people, whilst for others it's learning new skills and gaining confidence.

There's a real team spirit and we provide a supportive environment to make sure that you get the most from your time with us.

Whatever your reason for volunteering, this is your chance to make a real difference to the lives of other people. You can read about volunteering opportunities at

For more information, please contact Michelle Turnbull by telephone on 01670 522008 or by email:


Links with Saint Hilda

November 17 was Saint Hilda's Day. Four Community of Aidan and Hilda members renewed their vows on Holy Island and another  six at Berwick.

That week I led a retreat at The Open Gate. The retreatants voted to forego my talk (!) and attend the Archaeologists' presentation at the Village Hall instead.

Although we in the Community have always known that Aidan had a link with Hild, it was news to learn of the links between Lindisfarne and the monastery at Hartlepool that she developed. The archaeologists informed us that the inscribed stones they have found on the island are the same style as those found at Hartlepool's monastic remains, and that both the monasteries were larger than previously thought.

Some months back Ash Barker, one of our Explorers and the founder of Urban Companions of Hope, which works among the most deprived in Birmingham, brought some youngsters for a week on the island.  This month he is to be licensed by the Bishop of Birmingham and will be supported by the Chair of our Trustees who is frequently on the island.

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian.


The ending of the year is a time of short days and long nights.  And, into what could be a season of sustained gloom bursts the light of Christmas.  This is literally the case as decorations go up around the village, and elsewhere. Hopefully, our lives are also lightened by the giving and receiving of gifts and by spending happy times with family and friends.

It seems that there is a human need to punctuate winter with a time of celebration.  Pre Christianity there were festivals to mark the winter solstice and the changing of the year.  Some believe that Dec 25th was chosen for the celebration of Christ's birth so as to build onto existing traditions - there is no way of knowing precisely when Jesus was born.

The celebration of Christ's birth doesn't detract from the human need to mark the turning of the year, but should address other human needs, such as the need for hope in a world that can seem hopeless, and the knowledge that beneath all human experience is a Love that will not let us go.

Jesus, the Son of God, arrives in the world in the humblest of surroundings and immediately embodies a knowledge of what it is to be human.  Angels, and a bright shining star point to his divinity, but he is soon fleeing for his life from King Herod.  Whatever the complexities of our life, or the state of our world, the birth of Jesus points us to the Good News that in times of darkness and of light God is with us.

In the opening verses of John's gospel we read of Jesus:

"What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."

May you and your household know light and love in this season.

Rev Rachel Poolman
St Cuthbert's Centre


Services for Christmas at St Marys
Sunday 10th December 4pm Christingle Service
Sunday 17th December Carol Service 6pm
Christmas Eve BCP Holy Communion 8am
Christmas Eve Crib service (with Parish Communion) 10.45am
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass 11.30pm
Christmas Day Family Service 10.45am
(followed by short communion service afterwards)

Pattern of worship for Weekdays [Winter]
Morning Prayer8amMonday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Holy Communion8amWednesday and Friday
Evening Prayer5.30pmEvery day


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