Despite the snow and ice, around 70 parishioners braved the elements last Saturday evening to help Fr Charles celebrate his Golden Jubilee of ordination. The evening commenced with a Festal Mass in the church, followed by a party in the hall.
Although Prior Administrator Dom Leo made valiant attempts to travel up from Downside, the inclement weather prevented him from joining us. In his absence, his tribute to Father Charles was read out during Mass by Fr Martin from St Benet’s, Beccles (you can read this fitting tribute by following this link.) To add to the celebrations, the choir was accompanied by a solo trumpet played by Lucy Cranfield during the closing hymn, Now Thank We All Our God.
On arrival into the hall – decorated with bunting and gold and white balloons – parishioners were offered refreshments and a light buffet supper, organised by Sonia Montagu, Carole Hunt and Chris Lindsay.
Meanwhile, on the interactive smartboard, there was a slide show which featured parishioners holding a small whiteboard, on which they had written a single word or phrase to describe what Fr Charles means to them: comments were revealing and demonstrated huge admiration for our beloved parish priest, his humour and his hobbies!
A special banner, designed by Amelia Heath, also decorated the hall. Talented art student, Amelia, chose the Downside colours for her creation, which was entirely hand-stitched. A true labour of love, as well as a beautiful work of art.
The weather outside certainly didn’t seem to dampen spirits as Fr Charles, Fr Martin and parishioners mingled and chatted until a trumpet flare brought everyone’s attention back to the main purpose of the evening. Chair of the PPC, Helen Kirby, led with a tribute to Father Charles, and then handed over to Parish Treasurer, Carole Hunt, to present him with his gift from the parish – an electric bike or, as Fr Charles later corrected us, a pedal assisted bicycle! You can read Helen’s tribute by clicking on this link.
Brian Lewis, Chair of St Benet’s PPC, then presented a gift to Fr Charles on behalf of St Benet’s parish.
Following the presentation of gifts and expressions of thanks, Fr Charles cut the rather gigantic celebration cake, prepared by our ‘Queen of Cakes’, Aida Shaw.
Aida’s son, Benjamin, later entertained us with a performance of ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables, followed by a rather apposite reading by Andy Parris on the qualities of a good shepherd, taken from the Ezekiel, chapter 34.
The evening was drawn to a close with everyone joining in a rousing rendition of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, accompanied by Fr Martin on piano.
Huge thanks to all who contributed to making Fr Charles’s Golden Jubilee such a wonderful parish celebration.
You can see more photos of the evening by clicking on the picture below.