Yesterday was an extraordinarily busy day at St Mary & St Giles, indeed for all of Stony Stratford, for it was our Christmas Fayre as part of the annual switch-on of the lights in the town. On Friday some of us helped rearrange furniture in the church to accommodate stalls, the model railway, tables and chairs for refreshments, and performance space for the various musicians. On Saturday I wasn't the first to arrive when I got to the church at 9am, others were already very busy, and we didn't really stop until after 7pm.
Once again the organ fund team ran the Golden Spot Tombola - the tombola in which you choose your prize if you win, which seems to be a winner with the punters. We soon had the tables covered in the prizes - one area was covered in red card with the prizes for numbers ending in 5, there was the blue area for numbers ending in 0 and the yellow area for the top prizes - those which had the golden spot on the tickets. This means we don't have to label up the prizes with numbers (a tedious job) and people can choose any prize from an area. Sylvia, Marian, Ivanne, Sue, Dave K and myself ran the stall from 10am until 6pm when the decision was made to close the church and pack up. Because we took it in turns, I was able to photograph the teddy bear zip wire in action, take photos of other activities in the church (Russell Street school children singing, St Mary & St Giles school children playing handbells, a small group from our band, other stalls, the model railway and Christmas pudding making by some of the parish children) and at one stage I ran the main raffle when it was short-handed.
Brian, Fiona, Charlotte and Jacob set up the teddy bear zip wire with Boy Scout help. They had a rope looped on a pulley which they had rigged up at the top of the church tower - this was to hoist the teddies up. There was another rope attached to the flagpole on the tower with the other end tied around the tree beside the shed. This was the landing zone, where the brave teddies received their certificates after being caught at the end of their terrifying flight above our heads. It attracted a lot of attention, with children bringing their favourite cuddly toy for a flight, and they raised £66. Brian's feet did get cold up at the top of the tower and he was glad to warm them at lunchtime, and Fr Daniel helped take the cash at the bottom of the tower whilst the teddies started their ascent.
For the tombola Sylvia had done a wonderful job of collecting prizes, we had 80 'red' prizes, 52 'blue' prizes and 15 'golden spot' prizes, and these lasted us until closing time. We counted £240 for the organ fund which was great.
The Church restoration fund benefited from the model railway collection bucket, raffle, plant stall, Christmas decoration stall, craft and most importantly refreshments of tea, coffee, mince pies, soup, rolls and sausage rolls. The grand total for the restoration fund was over £1,400. We noticed last year that at the time we were closing up (4.30pm) many punters wanted to come into the church for warming refreshments, so we made the decision to keep open until 7pm at the latest this year, in the event closing at 6pm when the demand dropped. It was definitely worth the later opening hours, even though it made the day long and tiring for everyone involved.
Today is the first day of Advent - it really does feel, now that the lights are on, that the waiting and watching for Christmas has well and truly begun.