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Newsletter No. 11 September 2021

Photo: Phil Laybourne 100% of sales from Phil’s website go to Thames Hospice in Memory of his late wife Gail who passed away there on 9th May 2020.

In this issue:

  1. From the Chair: a message about BCF from Sean Wheeler

  2. Welcome from the editor: Judy Taylor introduces this season’s newsletter

  3. Feature: Lorraine Gill and Tony Buzan - two inspirational people; their story

  4. Review of BCF Summer event: Lorraine and friends celebrate Tony’s life and Lorraine’s art

  5. Thomas Hoby, Poet or Puritan? Chris Highley, Professor at the Department of English at Ohio State University, gives us his perspective on the man and his life

  6. Hidden Treasures: A new series focusing on special supporters of the church community. Christine Gale and the Eagle lectern

  7. Alan Randall: DCC (district church council) report

  8. Dates for the diary: A few reminders from Sean

  9. Rev Sarah Fitzgerald: A closing thought

Re-igniting our community

By Sean Wheeler, BCF Chair

Since taking over as the chair of Bisham Church Friends, the team and I have been busy looking at how we can continue the good work that Robert started. Our shared aim is to bring the Friends community back together again after the isolation we all endured due to Covid 19.

The aim of the Friends scheme is to promote a shared sense of community, both locally and further afield, centred around a beautiful historic building in a peaceful Thames-side setting. Anyone interested in this special place, wherever they live and whether or not they are church goers, is welcome to join. We hope to achieve our aims by encouraging more people to enjoy the church either by attending our Friends’ events, using the new community space we have now created, and / or attend weekly church services, while also increasing our Friend’s membership and Instagram social media followers.

Our first Friends event took place last month, which some of you will have attended. It was a great evening with Lorraine Gill, Australian Artist, who lives in Marlow, about her passion for art and her life with Tony Buzan the inventor of Mind Maps. Lorraine was joined by her and Tony’s good friends Stewart Collins, Artistic Director at Henley Festival & Alan Hooker, long term friend and senior coach at Marlow Rowing Club who also shared their insights about Lorraine & Tony and how special their time together was. There is more to read on them and the evening event in this edition of the newsletter.

This first event set the tone for what we are hoping to achieve going forward; for Bisham Church Friends to feel part of the church and local community, even if they live far away. Now we have a great new community space. We have used some of your kind donations to provide china, glassware & equipment so that we are able to open up the church for many more local activities in the future.

As a start, we have reintroduced community coffee mornings. Our first was on the 24th August for the church congregation, Friends and the local community. Many came along to connect with old and new friends, enjoy the art show and hear the first of a series of history talks on the church from our own local historian, Sheila Featherstone-Clark.

Overall, not counting the congregations for the Sunday services, 111 people attended the evening with Lorraine Gill and friends, the coffee morning and the art exhibition. This feels like a great start and we thank you all for your support. Special thank you to the BCF team and to Gina Palmer & Catherine Randall for the amazing homemade cakes which were very popular!

As Friends of Bisham Church I want to thank you for your continued support and ask for your help in raising awareness of who we are and what we do by “Recruiting a Bisham Church Friend”. I am sure you know many like-minded people that have an interest and passion for Bisham Church and the village. If they would like to join, they can go to to join. If they need a paper copy of the membership form please let me know and we can email this to you

Finally, the church is one of the most photographed locations along the Thames tow path. Please like & follow us - and send in any images you have of the church or village that you are happy for us to share on our Instagram page here to help us showcase the beauty of this unique church and location.

Many thanks again for all your support and hope to see you at future events.

Sean Wheeler BEM

Chair Bisham Church Friends

A warm welcome to all our readers

by Judy Taylor, BCF newsletter editor

This first edition of the new look Bisham Church Friends newsletter aims to celebrate all that’s best about the church and its community.

However much or little we know about the church we all love, we are aware that it’s the people, past and present, who are the beating heart of the Church community.

Our feature article is about a very special member of the Bisham community, Tony Buzan, whose ashes are laid to rest in the church grounds near the river, and his lifelong friend Lorraine Gill. Her visit to his resting place a few months ago was the trigger for a wonderful evening celebrating Tony’s life and showcasing their prodigious talents.

We have some interesting insights into one of the Hoby family, Thomas Posthumous, including his link to Shakespeare. Chris Highley, American Academic, helps shed some light on this complex and fascinating Hoby family member.

Back to the present, we then begin our Hidden Treasures series, with a feature on Christine Gale, a stalwart of the Bisham Church community who helps clean the church along with a team of other volunteers, without whom the building and grounds wouldn’t appear so well cared for. She in turn, has a treasure of her own within the church…

We have a BCC report from Alan, to keep us abreast of what’s happening in the wider community, and a final note from Sarah, our vicar

We hope you enjoy this edition, and please give us any feedback or suggestions for future editions. We have a couple of interesting articles up our sleeves, but are always excited for ideas on how to evolve.

Two inspirational people

The lives of Lorraine Gill & Tony Buzan

by Judy Taylor

A chance meeting between Sean Wheeler and Lorraine Gill in the churchyard at All Saints Bisham has provided a window into the life of a wonderful man through the eyes of his lifelong friend and muse. This is the world of two people; Tony Buzan, who died in 2019 and whose ashes are in the church’s memorial garden, and Lorraine Gill, still very much alive and excited to be given a chance to tell Tony’s story to our Bisham Friends.

Lorraine is extraordinary in her own right. She was born in the Australian Outback, has lived, studied and painted in Spain, England, France, Italy and Australia. She has also been the subject of chapters in two books devoted to exceptional women, has had a television documentary of her life and work produced by the BBC and has appeared with Henry Moore in a feature one-hour BBC television documentary on the work of Cezanne.

Despite her phenomenal life, she wanted to tell us all about Tony, or Googs as he was known to her and his close friends. So, this is the story from Lorraine - the artist and creative, about Tony - the scientist, poet, philosopher, author and innovator.

Tony and Lorraine met in in 1967. She was teaching Latin American and Ballroom dancing while waiting for her passage back to Australia, her original home. He’d been teaching troubled children in the East End.

A life-long special friendship was forged between Tony and Lorraine that year, one that was sustained throughout Tony’s life, and lives on in Lorraine’s memories and in her aspirations for the future. His legacy will be with us for decades to come and she wants to make sure people know of his life and his achievements to recognise his brilliance and his warmth. He made such a positive difference to so many people’s lives, and Lorraine wants him to live on through the stories she and his friends can share.

So, where to start? Tony was born in Whitstable, but his family emigrated to Canada in the early 50s, in part, Lorraine thinks, due to the floods. Tony was fascinated by animal and human life and was curious about all kinds of different perspectives on the world from a very young age. He went to university in Canada, graduating from Simon Fraser University, during which time he became very involved in Mensa, ultimately going on to become editor of the International Journal of Mensa.

When he came to live in England, Tony and Lorraine had separate homes, she in Brixton with her own art studio, he in Hampstead.

Tony had a vision to educate people, enlightening people about the power of their own brains and how they could use their potential to improve their minds. He began his working life teaching struggling and troubled children in the East End of London. He wrote academic and business books that revolutionised how people engaged their memory, collated and analysed data, managed their own complex lives and learnt new things. Most famously he was the developer of Mind Maps, models for collecting, controlling, encapsulating and memorising thinking that are used worldwide by educators, students, businesses, artists, governments, medics and lawyers to this day.

While Lorraine left England to further her art training in Florence, Tony remained in England and became an International lecturer. He launched a publication on infant and early childhood development, set up a business, founded the Learning Methods Group and wrote and published over 80 further books. His five BBC books had, by 2003, sold over 3 million copies, and were turned into a TV series, first broadcast in 1974. Lorraine still has his first typewriter; such a treasured possession.

As well as changing the way people learned, he was a very talented poet. He was part of the Artists and Poets movement in Hampstead, who’s other members included the English Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. By the early 80s Tony had a yearning to leave Hampstead and head for a more bucolic life. Lorraine and Tony used to enjoy country stays with Ted and other great artists who were part of their circle of friends. Tony made his decision to move out of London.

He took a helicopter and flew around the area West of London looking down on where he might want to settle. He was a fan of Three Men in a Boat and Wind in the Willows, and from the sky he spotted willow trees around the Harleyford Estate. He relocated there, and remained happily in the area, subsequently moving to Cookham, until he died.

Tony had nervous exhaustion at about the time he moved from Hampstead, and he asked Lorraine to come and support him while he recovered. She upped sticks from Brixton and bought a home in Marlow, where she lives to this day.

‘We were each other’s helpers and muses, the poet and the painter, co-supporters for more than 50 years’

Tony was a committed supporter of the local area. He loved nothing more than walking through the bluebells around Harleyford each year or messing about on the river. He became very involved with and accomplished at rowing. ‘He was a man of the river’ says Lorraine. He developed a firm friendship with Sir Steve Redgrave. He was also very involved with Henley Festival, was a member of Phyllis Court, The Leander Club, Marlow Rowing Club and Dorney.

His contribution to Marlow, Bisham, Henley, Harleyford, Cookham and beyond was extraordinary, but Lorraine believes he wanted to give back; to contribute to the area, as he felt it had given him so much joy, peace and friendship.

After his death, Alan and Sheila Hooker, close friends of Tony, suggested that All Saints’ Bisham would be a fitting place for him to be remembered. Like Tony, the church itself is unique. The ancient architecture and stunning monuments make it so inspirational, just like the man. Lorraine put it so well…

‘The church has a wonderful, intimate feeling. It holds people in an embrace that larger churches fail to do. It’s one of the most unusual churches I’ve ever experienced, and it nestles, it doesn’t overtake. The church mirrors the warmth and intimacy of the local people.’

Extracts from Press Release following the Evening Celebrating Tony’s life

Lorraine Gill, Australian Artist at Bisham Church   Wednesday 18th August 2021 (Photo: Robert Frost)

Bisham Church Friends hosted an evening with Lorraine Gill and friends talking about her lifelong passion for art & her lifelong partnership with Tony Buzan writer, academic, educator inventor of Mind Maps. Lorraine was joined by Alan Hooker of Marlow Rowing Club & Stewart Collins Artistic Director of Henley Festival where they shared stories about their lifelong friendship with Tony Buzan. Nearly 40 people attended the first Bisham Church friendsevent for 2021.

Lorraine who resides in Marlow, has lived, studied and painted in Spain, England, France, Italy and Australia during that time Lorraine spent 7 years training about the basics of drawing detail and graduated in science & art – including abstractness of Optics. One of Lorraine's most significant accomplishments was being invited by the Australian Aboriginals to live with them on their settlements as an 'artist in residence'. They befriended and protected her and knew her affectionately as "that women with them sticks" - her pencils and paintbrushes.

Lorraine’s work is owned by a growing list of influential international collectors and institutions: Prince Philip of Liechtenstein, Raymond Keene OBE, International Chess Grand Master, author and chess correspondent for the Times, International Herald Tribune and Spectator, Lord Christopher Portman, Dr Fay Brauer, International Senior Lecturer, Sydney University, John Berger, Art Critic, Steve Redgrave OBE, sportsman Margaret McCall, producer BBC, Count Roderick Sangorski and Lady Granville.

Tony’s ashes are laid to rest in Bisham Church memorial garden and was passionate about Marlow and the Thames, playing a huge part in the local community.



Abridged: Chris Highley’s insights into this complex man

Chris Highley is Professor at the Department of English at Ohio State University. He specializes in Early Modern literature, culture and history. He is the author of several books: Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Crisis in Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Catholics Writing the Nation in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2008) and co-editor of Henry VIII and his Afterlives (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Highley is currently working on two unrelated projects: the posthumous image of Henry VIII and the history of the Blackfriars neighbourhood in early modern London. This piece includes Chris’s insight into Thomas Hoby the man and his life

As some of you may know, among many other achievements, Thomas Hoby translated The Book of the Courtier, by Baldassare Castiglione from Italian. Like the rest of his family he was a serious scholar. Lady Hoby was a polyglot and clearly interested in academic improvement for herself and her children, educating even her daughters to a very high level – most unusual for the times.

Raphael: portrait of Baldassare Castiglione: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York

Chris says; ‘I became interested in Lady Elizabeth Russell and her Hoby sons when doing research for a book on the Blackfriars neighbourhood in the 16th and 17th centuries. Blackfriars: Theater, Church, and Neighborhood in Early Modern London is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Blackfriars is named for the imposing Dominican priory that had stood in the south-west corner of the City until Henry VIII dissolved all of England's religious houses in the 1530s. In the case of the Blackfriars, dissolution did not mean destruction.

The crown gifted, sold, or leased parts of the multi-story stone buildings that surrounded two cloisters to favored courtiers and developers. Sir Philip Hoby was one of the beneficiaries of this scheme; when he died in 1558, he left the townhouse he converted in the Blackfriars priory, as well as his country estate at Bisham Abbey, to his half-brother Sir Thomas Hoby. Sir Thomas had two sons with Elizabeth Cooke before he died in 1560. Elizabeth and her sons, Sir Edward Hoby and Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby (so called because he was born after the death of his father) continued to use and develop the Blackfriars residence as their London base whenever they were not at Bisham or their other homes’.

We know that Lady Hoby stopped the building of the Globe in Blackfriars – an early version of NIMBY, or ‘Not in my Back Yard’

Chris continues, ‘Although the Blackfriars house eventually passed to Edward, his younger brother Posthumous put down deep roots in the Blackfriars. Sir Thomas Posthumous was cut from the same religious cloth as his zealous mother and together they helped make Blackfriars a stronghold of radical Protestantism in the City, especially through their support of local preachers like Stephen Egerton and William Gouge’.

A signed petition was taken to Privy Council to stop the development of the Globe and had it moved to the other side of the river.

There has been some suggestion that Hoby was the inspiration for Shakespeare's Malvolio. Was Shakespeare getting back at Lady Hoby because she stopped the original building of the Globe?

William Pleater Davidge as Malvolio in 'Twelfth Night' by William Shakespeare, Henry Andrews (1794–1868) (c.1846)

Thomas Posthumous Hoby: Wikiwand

Chris tells us, ‘After Posthumous married the Yorkshire heiress Margaret Dakins/Sidney in 1596, (an especially radical Protestant), they spent most of their time on her family's estate at Hackness in the North Riding of Yorkshire, while continuing to make regular trips to London. We know of these trips mainly from the 'diary' of Lady Margaret Hoby (which incidentally was the first diary written by a gentlewoman in England). This 'diary,' a fascinating record of one gentlewoman's public engagements and private, spiritual, struggles, has understandably received much attention from historians and literary scholars.

‘It was in reading the 'diary,' however, that I became intrigued by Sir Thomas Posthumous, (Margaret’s 3rd husband) who features in it as a rather shadowy figure and one always referred to by his wife as 'Mr Hoby.' At first glance, the 'diary' reinforces the sense one gets from other sources that Posthumous as an archetypally dour puritan’.

Chris continues, ‘We learn, for example, that he wanted neither music nor dancing at his wedding, only a sermon and a meal. We also know that like his mother before him, he tried to stop theatrical activity in the Blackfriars neighborhood. My revisionary perspective paints a more complicated and, I think, interesting, portrait of the man even his mother considered... I want to put pressure on received ideas about what it meant to be a puritan in Early Modern England. I hope to shed new light on Posthumous by examining the dozen or so books that bear his distinctive signature and that mostly survive today in the Minster Library, York.

Before they were deposited there, most of the books were part of the Hackness parish library, presumably gifted or bequeathed by Posthumous himself. It is a fair assumption that all the books had once formed part of his private, gentleman's library, the other contents of which have perished or are no longer traceable. Some of the surviving books conform to what we would expect a sober puritan gentleman to have on his shelves, including John Calvin's The Institution of Christian Religion and John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments or Book of Martyrs. But other titles are slightly harder to reconcile with the prevailing image of Posthumous.

’Alongside works of theology and religious controversy, for example, are two books of maps, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1592) by Abraham Ortelius and the Atlas Sive Cosmographicae (1595) by Gerhard Mercator. Both works feature title pages that have been painted in vivid colors by a professional artist—quite an expense for a man thought to have had no truck with frivolous ornamentation. What is even more remarkable is that Posthumous also owned the first 1590 edition of Edmund Spenser’s chivalric epic The Faerie Queene. Posthumous’s copy is held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, where until recently it attracted little attention.

‘For hardline protestant culture-warriors, poetry, like theatre, was a dangerous temptation that self-respecting Christians needed to shun. In another copy of the Faerie Queene from this time, an angry puritan reader has written comments in the book’s margins that register disgust at what he sees as the poem’s Catholic imagery.

‘But this was not Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby’s response to the poem. His only annotations are explanatory names and glosses that seem designed to help a reader keep track of what is going on at the basic narrative level.

So have we misjudged him? Was there in fact room for poetry and beauty in a life that was also devoted to Bible-reading, prayer, psalm-singing and the prosecution of Catholics? Puritan culture, I believe, was more diverse and contradictory than its detractors have been willing to admit’.

Chris finishes with a question: ‘As you know, an effigy in Bisham church depicts Posthumous kneeling next to his brother. ‘The little knight,’ as he was known, is considerably the shorter of the two. But has anyone seen a painted portrait of Posthumous? At Bisham Abbey (apparently) can still be seen the portrait of his brother painted when he was eighteen. The National Portrait Gallery in London has the more familiar image of a slightly older Edward clad in black Greenwich armor. Any further leads on the Hoby brothers would be much appreciated.

Chris can be reached at

Hidden Treasures

This is the first in a new series of articles, celebrating all that’s best about the church and its community. For the next few editions, somebody who is a treasure to our community will be featured, and they will point me in the direction of a hidden treasure they’d like to speak about

September’s hidden treasure is Christine Gale

Christine and her nominated hidden treasure, the Eagle lectern. Photo by Henry Taylor

I met Christine before she moved house* – in her beautiful – and very clean and tidy - kitchen and immediately sensed I was in the presence of a ball of energy, a tour de force.

After a brief story-swap about our lives and how we both came to the area, and a peek at her husband’s incredible classical music collection, we settled down to the business in hand and I asked about her time as part of the church cleaning team.

Christine has been cleaning the church for 13 years. She began as a favour to Pat Burstall, who many will remember fondly as part of the heartbeat of the church. ‘Just for a few weeks, I agreed. That was well over a decade ago…’

Christine works with her cleaning partner Mandy once every 2 months. They are part of a roster of 7 teams of wonderful church cleaning supporters who clean every week, without fail.

Christine remembers one of the first times she cleaned the church…

‘I pushed the vacuum cleaner round the back of the alter table and knocked into the raised shelf behind it, and the cross nearly fell off! I managed to catch it, but never made that mistake again’.

How do Mandy and Christine tackle the space?

‘I always start with the loo’…

Christine thinks the new disabled facilities are very high-spec and took a lot of work and investment. She is happy to keep them perfect - a job that wouldn’t be up everybody’s street. Once the loo is sparkling, she cleans the kitchen and works her way down, meeting Mandy, who starts on the other side, somewhere in the middle.

They hoover the carpets, polish the choir stalls, the pews, rails, pulpit. ‘Anything wooden gets dusted and polished. I take my own dusters…’

Christine’s favourite item, the thing she loves looking after most, is the eagle on the lectern. ‘I love polishing him, his lovely big fat belly and his claws’.

From time-to-time she meets cyclists, walkers, people who wander into the church and the grounds for some peace. Once she bumped into a fake bride. If you ever see Christine, I’ll leave her to tell you that story, but it also involves a fake groom and a teacher.

With real weddings, cleaning up afterwards means the discovery of all kinds of left-behind artefacts; toys, biscuits, juice cartons, dummies, ‘sticky things' I’m always fascinated by what people leave behind’ says Christine; ‘actually I’m fascinated by what they bring along in the first place, and why!’

None of the cleaners enter the bell tower or the gallery as both are out of bounds. Of course, none of the cleaners touch the Monuments either, as this is a specialist job.

So, after two and a half hours of hard graft, Christine and Mandy’s work is done. I congratulated her on staying with the volunteer job for so many years. She quickly pointed out that she was just one of many supporters of the church and enjoyed doing it. She wanted me to know that there are many other unsung heroes who help look after this wonderful piece of local history. Volunteers look after the graveyard, do the church flowers, polish the brass, deliver church magazines and many other much needed support jobs. ‘We all get something from this lovely old building. As locals, it’s our building and we want to help look after it.’

With the help of her husband, Christine’s community support extends beyond this though, to helping some of her neighbours with errands, IT jobs etc. Her approach to cleaning the church, I suspect, is similar to her approach to tackling most things in her busy life – full of enthusiasm, care, curiosity and thoroughness – and a great sense of fun.

*Christine has moved to Moyleen Rise in Marlow since this was written and wanted her friends and neighbours to know that she’s moved, but not far away!

The Eagle lectern; Christine’s Hidden Treasure

Christine and I were unsure about why so many Christian churches have an eagle lectern. Bisham’s lectern is certainly handsome. With the help of Sheila or resident expert historian, we did a bit of digging.

The eagle at All Saints Bisham was, according to a letter from the Reverend W Farrer in 1912, given to the church as a memorial gift. An inscription underneath the eagle reads:

In Memoriam. General Arthur Newbolt Rich 1912’

Some light research has led to the discovery of an Arthur Newbolt Rich who was in the Madras Infantry where it may be that he in some way became connected to the Vansittarts? Anybody who knows more on this, please get in touch.

And as for the eagle itself, symbolism of the eagle derives from the belief that the eagle is the bird that flies nearest to heaven. It was capable of staring into the sun, as Christians similarly were able to gaze unflinchingly at the revelations of the divine word. ... The eagle came to represent the inspiration of the gospels.

The flying eagle is the symbol of John the Evangelist (Revelation, ch 4 v 7) who proclaimed Christ as the word of God at the beginning of his gospel. As such, the flying eagle is a suitable emblem from which God’s word is read, reaching (we hope) the ends of the earth.

There is a debate about whether eagle lecterns are confined to the Aglican church. The lectern became prominent in ordinary parish churches only predominated until the Reformation.

Records tell us that General Rich was a regular donor to local associations and causes, including the Institute, the football club and the flower show, always donating 1 pound and one shilling.

District Church Council Report – August 2021

by Alan Randall

Not surprisingly, this year’s DCC meetings have been dominated by the realities of trying to arrange services, weddings, funerals, baptisms etc. with an ongoing global pandemic and all its restrictions that thankfully are now beginning to be relaxed. It was an absolute joy to be able to sing, even with our masks on, to taped recordings for which we are most thankful.

It now seems very unlikely that our regular organist, John Craddock, will return to play for us anymore. With very few organists available to take his place, the DCC are presented with a real problem. One solution is to purchase a sophisticated sound recording system, to which Bisham Church Friends might consider making a contribution as a very worthwhile investment. Financially, we have been boosted by the return of the Marlow Sea Cadets, using our mooring facility and a number of weddings that had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Planning queries regarding the placement of a Bisham Church information board on the Buckinghamshire side of the river will be resolved by placing it within the field boundary fence with the cooperation of Stoney Ware Estate on behalf of the owners. Having resolved this stumbling block, there is no reason why this very worthwhile project, mastered by Robert Frost, cannot now be completed.

We all look forward to the first BCF events that are approaching and hope that the inaugural use of the space created by the removal and rearrangement of the pews will be successful in widening the church’s appeal to the community but always remembering that Bisham church has been a place of worship for over 900 years.

Church diary dates :

  • Harvest Festival 26th September

  • Patronal Festival and All Souls Day service (p.m.) 31st October

  • Carol Service 19th December 5.00p.m.

  • Crib Service 24th December 3.00p.m.

  • Christmas Day Service 25th December 9.30a.m.

  • No service on Sunday 26th December

Some dates for your diary

Future events include offering coffee & cakes to the local cyclist & walking clubs and a family tea & cake in the church while preparing the church grounds for the autumn & winter.

Both events will take place on the 25th September and it would be great if some of our Friends could join us or volunteer to help with either event – please contact me for more information

Our next community coffee mornings will be on the 27th October and 1st December from 10am-12noon where our series of history talks by Sheila will continue, details will be sent out nearer the time. Look forward to seeing you.

Future events in the planning stage include an evening of music in the winter, offering guided history tours and in 2022 opening the church one day a week to the public, so watch this space and our website for more details.

And finally…

By Reverend Sarah Fitzgerald

I’ve been thinking recently about failure. Not a very positive subject you may think. And if you are like me, failure is something to be avoided at all costs. The problem is, if we take this approach to failure, it can prevent us from attempting anything where there is a risk we won’t succeed. And by taking the safe option we limit what we are able to achieve.

Two things related to this thought have caught my attention recently. Firstly the current British Army recruitment advertisement; the army we might think would be an organisation where it is all about success, and failure seen as a weakness. But instead this ad promotes failure as a means of learning and growth, leading to eventual success; “Fail, learn, fail again, learn more, then win when it really matters” goes the strapline of the ad.

The second item was the post-race interview with the Paralympian swimmer Ellie Robinson. If you haven’t seen it, do google it- but have a tissue ready, I’ll warn you it is emotional! But she very powerfully talks about different ways you can view success. She failed to win a medal but refused to see this as defeat because, just by being there and racing she had succeeded in overcoming months of pain that had threatened to prevent her from swimming.

I hope these two examples encourage us to see failure differently and to be prepared to try something even if we fail and use that failure to learn from as we try the next thing. This is very much the approach we as a friend’s group are taking, we hope to see the church building used and loved by many people. And we are trying a number of things to do that. Some of those may fail but when they do we will learn and try the next thing. By keeping trying I am confident we will succeed in our goals. (And I must say the recent events were very successful!) So remember: “Fail, Learn, Win!”

Best wishes,


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