Grand Reopening Day - 7th February 2015

To celebrate the completion of our Restoration Project we invited everyone in the parish to an open day.
Many people came along.
Programme     reopening pic 1The Chiltern Music Academy Youth Choir at the start of the day

around the stalls - for Traidcraft, cards and books
11.00-11.30 Chiltern Music Academy Youth Choir directed by Tim Venvell
11.30-12.00   Sabatini Dance
11.45   “Tower Run”
12.00-12.15   String Quartet - Chiltern Music Academystring quarter pic
12.15-12.30   St Francis Church Choir
12.30-1.00   T’ai Chi demonstrationtai chi picture
1.00-1.30   Messy Church
1.00   “Tower Run”
1.30-2.00   Highworth School Choir
2.00-2.30   Ballroom Dancing
2.30-3.00   Keep Fit
4.00-5.00   Opening Service led by
The Bishop of Buckingham

We wanted to celebrate the completion of our Restoration project in a way that involved the local community, and so the idea of a grand re-opening emerged. After weeks of preparation, at 10:45 on the day those of us waiting were more than a little nervous. Would anyone respond to all those invitation cards delivered to virtually every house and flat in the parish? And then the Chiltern Music Academy Youth choir and supporters arrived, and by the start at 11:00 the church was full. The choir, conducted by Tim Venvell, were brilliant, and certainly demonstrated the acoustics of the building.

They were followed by the Sabatini Dance group, who sang, and then a string quartet, also from the Chiltern Music Academy. Our church choir were in excellent voice for the next slot. There was then a change in tempo and style with a demonstration of Tai Chi. There were tables full of activities for children throughout the day, and Messy Church had a half hour session at 1.00pm, followed by the Highworth School Choir, and ballroom dancing.

The event programme concluded with a vigorous Keep Fit session involving as many people as possible. I missed a lot of this action – the ‘Tower Run’ was really popular and I spent most of the day going up and down with the young and not-so young - neighbours, many from Highworth School, our Bishop and some distinguished visitors from the local Islamic Centre. Through the day refreshments were provided, and many bought from the Traidcraft and bookstalls. There was also a Giles Gilbert-Scott display, featuring hitherto unknown earlier designs, a photo display of the restoration project, and the impressive restoration of vestments and furnishings. The day concluded with a service of rededication led by Alan, Bishop of Buckingham.

In fact many neighbours and friends did respond to our invitations; it was a very happy day and all seemed to be impressed with the restored building. It was heart-warming to see the extent of interest and support from the local community for St Francis Church. There is much there to build on. Thanks are due to all involved in organising the day – particularly Sarah Brooks and Martin Davis and all on the organising team, Keith Gordon and all the refreshment team and everyone who helped setup and take it apart. And of course we are also very grateful to English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust for funding the restoration work, and Tony Mealing, our architect, for overseeing the project.

Peter Gee