It has been the usual busy year for the Branch, which now has 30 members. We said Goodbye to our dear friend and member, Audrey Bower, when she moved to Cromer to be closer to her family, and then had the pleasure of welcoming two new members, Doris and Barbara, at our Enrolment Service in September.
2016 was the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Mothers’ Union by Mary Sumner and theme was ‘A Celebration of Faith’ – which we certainly did at the Diocesan Garden Party in June, held in a marquee in the shadow of Ely Cathedral. We were treated to strawberries and cream and enjoyed more singing from the children’s choir, as well as Susan, our Diocesan President, dressed as Mary Sumner, giving a history of the MU over the past 140 years. Two of our members even won hampers in the splendid raffle. Two other members, Audrey Webb and Joan Barnes, were signatories to the Queen’s 90th birthday card from the MU, having been born in the same year. Her Majesty is our Patron.
Members enjoyed a wonderful outing to Trinity College in June (conducted by Denise’s son -in-law), with a behind the scenes look at areas where tourists are not usually permitted. Some members also went to the National Meeting in Winchester in September – the big celebration of our 140 year history. We enjoyed the usual social time in Phiippa and Mary’s lovely gardens in July with our friends from Milton branch – and they reciprocated with their ‘Sausage Sizzle’ in October (always fun and always with a brain-teasing quiz). The Coffee Mornings held in April and October were a great success, especially the second one where we attracted friends from outside the Branch. That one resulted in a splendid sum of over £200 for the AFIA fund.
We’ve had some good talks as well – everything from ‘The best idea in the world’ by the CEO of Romsey Mill to hearing about challenges in the Voluntary Sector, to ‘Reflections on church of England membership’, as well as in the same month of November, a splendid afternoon on ‘Church Music’. Kay presented the WWDP slides again in February (which preceded the WWDP service in March, organised by Joy). Suzanne conducted a reflective evening in church in February which left us with much to think about; we heard about how Lay Minsters are trained (a long process!) from our Prayer and Spirituality Unit leader; we had an interesting evening with Pam Reed, our Associate Priest at St Andrews , as well as a talk by Joy called ‘Stop and Stare’. Hilary contributed a talk on Art in Churches, showing members where they can find art by Chagall and Lalitte.
Members continue to support the Thursday Prayer services when they can – either in Ely or Little St Marys in Cambridge. We enjoyed a social celebration of Mary Sumner Day at Valerie’s house in August. There were two Diocesan Days – one in March and one in Milton – which were enjoyed by those who attended, especially the one in Milton, when we heard about the MU in Zambia from a former Diocesan President there – their lives are so different from our ours – where the MU is the backbone of society. In September some of us went to a Saturday Breakfast and heard a wonderful talk from Jean Thomson (Bishop David’s wife) – we have already booked her to come to us in 2017, so that is one not to miss.
We supported Village events as always; the Village Show in June and the Nachingwea Fair in December, both with our splendid cake stalls, thanks to members’ baking skills. Further afield, support was given to the MU Mother and Baby Tent at Stow cum Quy show which provides a place where mothers can feed or change their babies and is always greatly appreciated. A very large number of toiletries were collected in December in 2015 to support the Campaign Against Gender Based Violence which were sent to the Cambridge Women’s Refuge (we are doing the same this year and hope to beat the three boxes collected in 2015). There was an excellent Deanery service at North Stowe attended by members as well as a lovely Advent Carol Service at Sawston in November.
Members continue to be active in St Andrews congregation, whether as Church Warden, Sidesmen, Flower Arrangers, Link Committee members, singers in the Choir and so on and so on – we are grateful for Simon’s support of Branch and were delighted to welcome him to conduct our Opening Service in September. We led one of the Compline Services in Lent, a feature of St Andrews Lent preparation.
So as usual, it has been a very busy year! I’d like to thank the Committee for their support and guidance in running the Branch – and of course a Thank You to all members for coming to meetings, supporting our events and generally being pretty wonderful! We look forward to another busy year in 2017 when the theme is ‘Faith in Action’. The committee has arranged an excellent programme of talks so pay your sub (still held at £17 per annum) and then you are entitled to a programme to find out everything we have planned!