A Village Christmas 2009 – by Helen Castle

Now it’s January – it seems the village is a little bit like Narnia – always winter and never Christmas, but no – Christmas came in the village and here’s how!

Saturday 12th December
: this year, Christmas began for us in the Parish Rooms (village hall)  when we ran the Bradden Christmas Café.  Margaret Walgate decorated the room beautifully and it was transformed into a café for a day.  Villagers and others could take a break from the crowded shopping alleys of Milton Keynes and Northampton to enjoy home-made cakes and savouries (by Margaret Pickering), teas and coffees and minestrone soup, to keep out the cold.  Bradden resident, Julian Abrams played excellent live music, on acoustic guitar.  A Phoenix Trading stall by Helen Havell  and a Fair Trade stall (with donations also by Bob and Jill Thompson) helped with last minute presents, with proceeds going to TEAR Fund and Toybox, a charity caring for street children in Latin America.  Bradden Christmas Café was definitely the place to be!

Sunday 20th December: the Parish Rooms once again hosted a village event, the grand Christmas raffle, organised by Maggie Barwell.  The room was packed as investors eagerly awaited the outcome of the raffle.  Some lovely prizes were generously donated and everyone enjoyed light refreshments and a glass of wine.  Over £600 was raised towards the upkeep of the church building.  Thanks to all who contributed to make this event such a success.

Monday 21st December: it wouldn’t be Christmas in Bradden without carol singing!  About 20 villagers congregated outside the gate to Bradden House and sang carols by the light of lanterns.  Hannah Drage and her brass ensemble, Fourtissimo, accompanied us.  Geoff, Lynn and Ruth Markham provided us with hot mulled wine to keep out the cold.  As the snowflakes fell, the Little Town of Bradden, welcomed Jesus our Immanuel – God with us.  We then all returned to the village hall for comfort and joy in the shape of mince pies and more mulled wine!

Thursday 24th December:  Christmas Eve is always a special time in Bradden, as we all join together to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a family crib service.  Father Peter Boyland, curate in the Tove Benefice, led the service, beginning with a quiet reflection.  Then, village children told the story of God making a breakthrough from heaven to earth.  Shepherds (Andy Payne, Oliver Beck, Matthew Martin, Jamie Atkinson, Chloe Atkinson and Harry Payne) in true Blue Peter fashion, brought along some sheep they had made earlier, and were stunned by a bright light shone on them by William Martin.  Two giants – Peter Hughes and Tom Castle – held up the sky, which was an old door frame, covered with tissue paper and stars.  Suddenly, two lovely angels, in the shape of Poppy Bevan and Samantha Martin, broke through the sky and landed on the earth!  Stunned shepherds looked suitable impressed, as they were told about the Messiah’s birth, and just in case they did not know where to go, Ollie Bevan held up a big sign with Bethlehem on it.  As the congregation sang “While Shepherds Watched”, the children processed around the Church, eventually reaching the crib on the altar steps.  The narrator, Callum Beck, handed the story over to Father Peter from that point onward and he blessed the children, after they had sung “Away in a Manger” alone and unaccompanied!

Prayers of intercession were led by James Musgrave, Olivia May and Joe Castle.

The collection this year, was rather special.  Every year, since he had lived in Bradden, Jamie Brigstocke had always taken the collection at the crib service.   He sadly passed away in the Autumn of this year.  So, we decided that this year that we would donate half of the collection to the Leicestershire Special Olympic Cycling team, of which Jamie was an unforgettable member.  Every penny will be used to buy much needed equipment, as bicycles need special adaptations for the cyclists.

Over the Christmas period, the church was open to all, to view the annual memorial flowers.  Each year, a beautiful floral arrangement is made, to remember those loved ones who have passed away.  The 2009 tribute was another beautiful one, which enhanced the church  with its colour and fragrance. This year was particularly poignant for Bradden as we especially remembered three villagers – Mike Baylis, Dr Vince Sanger and Jamie Brigstocke.

Friday 25th December: the bells rang in Christmas Day for us and we celebrated morning Eucharist, with Rev, Hugh Kent.  Our bellringers are from Greens Norton and faithfully come over every service, to summon the village to prayer and worship.  Thanks as usual to Jim and Betty Linnell, Derek Wenham and John and Penny Pardoe.

Helen Castle – 13/01/2010

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