The Girton Community Web Site


Girton Parish News - May 2001

The Front Page.

Community Magazine Awards 2000

Well, the Girton Parish News didn't win.  Nor did it come second, nor even in the top seven.  But from a subjective point of view I think we were well up in this year's field of 57 entries.  And for that, I think we should be proud, seeing how far we have come in the last few years.

This year's Community Magazine Awards competition, sponsored by the Cambridge Building Society,  was won by the Melbourn village magazine.  It was glossy, laid out by volunteer professional graphic artists and funded by what seems to be a considerable grant from a local partnership. However, like the Girton Parish News, it was a monthly publication with a similar circulation of 2000.

Before the prize giving, held at Over Community Centre on 21st March, there was a little talk, more of a pep talk, given by Chris Elliott senior feature editor of the Cambridge Evening News to encourage us in our work of producing our community magazines.  His three main points were that "professional" news writers go for the personal angle; we should try to include more photographs; and that the reader should be drawn into the magazine by encouraging him to read it.

The criteria against which we were judged included, content, layout, community involvement, information, "sign-posting" - that is indicating where certain articles might be found, circulation size and frequency of publication.  For the last criterion, a magazine coming out quarterly has different requirements from a monthly one.

However, apart from the prize giving itself it was really encouraging to talk to the other editors and typesetters to exchange views on layout, production methods and the vexed question of how much advertising there should be, if any.  Some magazines with no adverts were self funded, by car boot sales and other fund raising events.   Others, like us, had grants from various bodies.

Each magazine was very different from the rest, and each had a personal story behind it.  How big was the production team?  Some magazines had a team of 20: some had one or two.  How did they produce the magazine? Some were produced on the top-of-the-range publishing computer software with proper printers and binders: some were done on a typewriter and photocopied.  How were they funded?  Some magazines apparently had a huge industrial sponsorship: some had no sponsorship and were published by voluntary contributions.  How did they get their news?  Some seemed to have loads of roving reporters: some, with a small production team relied on news being fed to them.

What anguish did they go through about advertising?  How much would it cost? What proportion of the magazine should be laid to adverts?  And where should they be?

And they all said, "If only we had that money, software, printer, size of team (select one or more) we could really spread our wings..."

So this is where you come in.

What sort of magazine do you want?  Are we providing the service and information you want and need?  How can we get more news?  What would you like to see in the Girton Parish News? Should we go to another format?  Is a monthly magazine too frequent?  Can you send us more articles of general interest?  What about recipes or poems too?  Please let us have your comments by phone, email, letter or even by talking!

A community magazine is produced by the community and for the community.  It requires community involvement - involvement and commitment.  The Girton Parish News does take a lot of time to produce month by month, and involves a lot of people in its production and circulation.  We are not belittling what we - you - have already done but it would be really nice to be a runner up next year or even the winner!

Dugald Wilson

Message from St Andrew's

God helps those who help themselves

"God helps those who help themselves."

This  well-known expression always puzzled me as a youngster. Does it mean that God also helps those who help themselves to other people's property, for example? Or does God only help once we've made the first move in times of need? Or does it say something about our responsibility to take charge of our own lives?

I think two alternative accounts might help us make up our own minds.

One way of helping ourselves for later life relates to making provision for retirment savings. The traditional ways are pension and to investments. Here's another way.

"Just by making a few small changes in your life, you can really make a big difference in  your savings and retirement," says Bryan Olson of the Schwab Centre for Investment Research.

As the year 2000 was drawing to a close, the centre released results of a recent study that showed  giving up potato crisps with lunch could save £117.80 a year and generate retirement savings of £6,989.08 in 20 years, assuming a ten percent return. The same principle was illustrated with a number of common indulgences.  Giving up two pastries a week could boost your nest egg by £4,368.17 in two decades.

Switch from double latte with whipped cream to regular coffee, and you could save £286 per year a whopping £18,018.71 at ten percent over 20 years. 

Dropping the potato crisps would also eliminate close to 10,000 calories per year. Suppose you eat a bun with say cream cheese three times a week. Just by skipping the cream cheese, you would lose 54,000 calories a year from your diet and save £78 - or £4,914.19 over a 20-year investment period.

Olson released these facts to underscore one of the oldest investment maxims in his industry: Regular investments, even in small amounts, will make a big difference in savings and retirement. There is a spiritual principle here too. All the positive steps you take, even the smallest ones, make a significant difference over time.

But not everyone can invest in this way.  Len Sullivan tells the story of how, in the mid 1980s, his family moved to a small northern town to start a new church. As a 'church planter', part of his support was funded by the local mission. Most months were difficult financially.

Len wrote, "One week in April, when the ground is still frozen and snow-covered, we were down to only a few pounds in the bank. Our usual reaction to that need was to look for our own solution. This time, however, in a stroke of faith, I went before God and told him that we needed eggs, bread, and milk. I would wait upon him in prayer.  That afternoon, a man came to my little fix-it shop with a leaky tea kettle. He said, "I know I could get another, but it's my favorite kettle. Could you fix it?." In a matter of minutes the job was done, and I didn't even charge him for it. But he pulled out a £10 note and insisted that I take it - just enough to buy  milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of  bread.  As he left, with a bit of pride in my faith decision, I thanked God, to which I had the reply: "Now don't you wish you had asked for  a couple of pounds of steak as well?"

Perhaps 'regular investments'  in kindness and care for others enables us to take the occasional bigger 'risk' that says we are ultimately dependent on God, and it is good to have the confidence to know that.

Rob Mackintosh.

Message from the Baptist Church


It’s funny how some people can suddenly come into your mind.  Robert Johnson and Peter Wilson, two boys I used to teach, came into mine the other day.   Both boys were farmer’s sons, but there the similarities ended for they were as different as corn and potatoes.

Robert’s family were tenant farmers on the edge of the fen and life was not easy.  Robert was responsible for giving me the best excuse I have ever heard for not doing his homework.  It was near Christmas and he simply said, “I couldn’t do it Mr. Staves, Dad’s had me up half the night plucking turkeys and I’m all in!”  I cannot remember now how I dealt with the situation, it was difficult to be cross with Robert for he was basically a nice lad, if not very bright up top.  I once spent some time trying to teach him how to measure angles with a protractor, a difficult task, for his memory was very short.  Starting a new lesson I pulled a protractor out of my desk and asked him if he remembered using it before.  He nodded and feeling encouraged I ventured to ask if he could tell me its name.  He looked blank, so I thought I would give him a clue, “It sounds a little bit like something your Dad drives on the farm, Robert.”  He scratched his head and then suggested, “What, combine harvester, sir.”

Peter was the son of a wealthy local landowner, who owned many of the acres I could see from the school windows.  He had the best of everything, an expensive watch, a graphical pocket calculator and a top of the range racing bike.  He also had brains, and would have done extremely well at school if only he had applied himself, but as it was he was lazy and self centred.  Another teacher once gave him some lines, only to discover that he had paid a first year to write them for him.  As far as Peter was concerned his path through life was well gilded and money talked.

I bumped into Robert a year ago at a school reunion.  He came up to me as an old friend and told me all his news about how he was now running the farm.  He confessed that he was still weak with figures, but I knew the girl he had married, she did the books, he just signed the cheques.  I have not seen Peter since he left school.  I believe he has now inherited the land and as his social status will be way above mine, I doubt if he would bother to acknowledge me if we were in the same room.

Robert and Peter both came into my mind because I was praying about the Foot and Mouth crisis and thinking about the anxiety and uncertainty touching many in the countryside.  Two people linked by Foot and Mouth which if nothing else is a leveller, with no respect of background, rich and poor are all involved.  Two very different people side by side in my memory and in a similar way all of us, different though we are, stand together before God.

Phillip Staves

Message from the Girton Glebe School



Susan Baker, Headteacher

Last updated: 3rd February 2001