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Girton Parish News - May 2000

The Front Page.


After our report last month of the award to Girton Youth Works to enable young villagers to work on the Hibbert-Ware garden, readers maybe interested to read about the history of the garden.

Many people passing the garden opposite the Church must have wondered, on reading the plaque, about its origins and why there is a Memorial Garden there. Infact, before the Second World War it was a neglected site, at the heart of the village, with a likelihood of building development.

Miss Alice Hibbert-Ware came to Girton in 1931 living in 'Hilary' on Cambridge Road until her death in 1944. Her great enthusiasm was to spread interest in natural history, especially to children, and this she achieved during her career as a teacher and through involvement with the School Nature Study Union. On coming to Girton, she became actively involved in the community and will no doubt still be remembered by some older residents as the organiser of the Girton Village School Field Club. She served as a manager of both the Village School and Impington Village College and as a member of the Parish Council. Whilst in Girton Miss Hibbert-Ware was approached because of her considerable knowledge of the Little Owl to organise a study of its feeding habits. It was asserted by the hunting lobby that the Little Owl was a pest and killer of game birds but her dedicated and detailed work over two years exonerated the Little Owl from the charge and it became a protected bird.

Upon her death her friends and many who had known her in Girton felt they wished to establish an appropriate memorial to her life and her contribution to the parish. What better than to establish a memorial garden in the centre of the village near to where she had lived?  Luckily the site was available and an appeal for funds was made. Within a year sufficient had been raised to purchase the land and make arrangements for it to be cleared and prepared for grass, trees and shrubs.

The garden was opened on 24th April 1948. About 80 visitors were present including the Rector (the Rev. Tucker), the Mistress of Girton (Miss Butler), the former Head of Girton School (Mr Garner) and the Secretary of the Memorial Trust (Mrs H.W.Leakey); also relatives and representatives of the Nature Study Union. The Parish Council had previously agreed ownership and maintenance of the garden and Mr Pease (Parish Council Chairman) accepted it from the Trust.

Of course the garden today is not as planned and laid out over 50 years ago. All gardens change and evolve over the years and are adapted to different needs and ideas, also some species thrive better than others. However, the Hibbert-Ware Garden stands as a permanent memorial to a dedicated and much-loved naturalist. We may take it for granted as part of the village scene but without the foresight of those who seized the opportunity to establish this garden we should not be able to appreciate and enjoy it today.

Message from St Andrew's


On  Tuesday May 16th at 7.30pm we shall be having our third confirmation in 8 years, when the Bishop of Huntingdon comes to confirm six of our
teenagers in the parish church.  It is an unusual privilege to be able to hold a Confirmation Service in the parish church, and we have had more than our fair share in this Deanery over the last decade. 

‘Confirmation’ means confirming the baptismal vows made by ones'  parents at baptism.  It means saying ‘YES’ to  the same voice  that Jesus heard at his baptism,  ‘You are my beloved son...’ Saying Yes means, ‘I recognise that same voice is calling me beloved as well, and I want to say Yes to that voice’, because the one who speaks is the Father who calls us to be  his own.

A second part of  the service follows directly on from the vows, and that is the bishop praying for each candidate to receive the power of the Spirit  as he lays hands on the head of each one to ‘confirm’  that they are blessed by God.

A third part of the service follows after this; the receiving of the sacraments of bread and wine. By long-standing convention and custom, once someone is confirmed they can also receive  Holy Communion, although there is neither a biblical nor a necessary connection between confirmation and communion. 

We want to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join us to come to the service. This is also Bishop John¹s first visit to Girton, and we would like to give him the welcome he deserves as he has shouldered the burden of leadership in Ely diocese awaiting the arrival of a new bishop (Anthony Russell) in September.

Then  a few days later, on Sunday 21st at the 10am service,  we shall be admitting a group of children to Holy Communion before Confirmation for the first time in Girton.  This follows both a period of preparation for them with their parents, but also  arises from a change which is taking place throughout this diocese and the whole of the Church of England.  If  baptism marks the beginning of our discipleship in Christ -  our  ‘spiritual journey’ -   then the sacraments of bread and wine are   the ‘food’  for that journey. 

In the years to come  we can expect confirmations to take place at a later age.  One consequence of this is that fewer people cease to attend church after confirmation than is the case with young teenagers.

Parents wishing to explore this step for their own children are very welcome to contact me and explore the implications for their own families. 

Please pray for those preparing both for communion and confirmation this month, and for their families,  and for the ‘family of the church’ at this very special time in the life of  St. Andrew¹s.

Rob Mackintosh.

Message from the Baptist Church

Who do they say I am?

There is a new meaning of an old word that has entered our language.  This new meaning, like so many new words and new meanings these days, has come from the United States.  The word is “spin” .  Not the meaning to describe what happens to your washing when it is flying round in your washing machine, or what you do when you take your new car out for its first drive.  No, the meaning I am referring to is where politicians put a particular bias, slant or interpretation on information when it is presented to the public or in a press conference.

This meaning of the word spin was first used in 1984 in an editorial in the New York Times about the aftermath of the television debate between US Presidential candidates Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.  It has now become an accepted buzzword.

Across much of the developed world where the media has come to dominate so much of what we do, no longer is it good enough in politics for government announcements to come to the media with a simple press release.  Instead, governments of the political right, left or centre, employ armies of people, usually very bright young people, to telephone their media and other contacts giving them special briefings, in-depth analysis, off the record insights or even blatant leaks ahead of the official announcement itself.  They put a slightly different “spin” on each conversation, bringing out what they think will be the most positive interpretation given the particular listener’s view of the world.  The young people who do this are the spin-doctors we now hear so much about.

Because my work means I have a good deal to do with the media, I find myself immersed sometimes in this rather murky world of spin and counter spin, where truth can so easily become merely a relative concept.  Contrary to popular belief this is not a unique feature of “New Labour”.  It was just the same with the previous government and is certainly the way the Clinton administration operates in the USA. 

I am struck by the fact, glancing at St. Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament part of the Bible (chapter 9, verses 18-27) that Jesus Christ clearly never employed spin-doctors.  Not for him the importance of image, presentation or popularity. 

On the contrary, Christ did not seem to mind who they said he was.  When he asked his disciples they replied: “some say you are John the Baptist, others Elijah; and still others that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life”.  This did not seem to bother him unduly.  He didn’t send them off to correct these impressions.  He did not engage in the “instant rebuttal” tactics so beloved by governments these days.   Frankly, he did not seem to consider it important.

Instead, he just wanted to be judged by what he did and how he lived.  “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the leaders, chief priests and teachers of the law and must be killed and on the third day be raised to life”, he told his disciples. 

His message was not all positive spin, not all superficially good news.  It was not like governments’ announcements - an attempt to be all things to all people, in a bid not to offend any potential voter. Instead, it was tough and uncompromising.  It had a down side.  “Those who would come after me must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For those who want to save their lives will lose them”.

Isn’t it remarkable that despite this uncompromising stance, his was a message for all to hear?  Since it was first proclaimed so starkly some 2000 years ago it is a message that has become accepted, wholeheartedly and willingly by millions more than any western democratic government today could hope for one of their own messages.

So my message to the doctors of spin?  Have a glance at Luke chapter 9 verses 18 to 27 to see how powerful a really straightforward, honest and ultimately authentic message can be.

Stephen Thornton

Message from the Girton Glebe School

Girton Glebe PTA Fun Run and Mini Fete

Saturday 13th May 2pm at the Recreation Ground

The PTA is organising a fun run to raise money for the school's computer and technology programme. Everyone is welcome to come and cheer on the runners, and to enjoy the stalls at the mini-fete. These will include the ever-popular plant and cake stalls!

Last updated: 15th May 2000